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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo NewsThe Syracuse New Times, Big Stir magazine, and AHOY Comics.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

VIRTUAL TICKET STUB GALLERY: Paul McCartney (Introduction)

In 1964, I was four years old. I loved music. And music meant The Beatles.

It wasn't just The Beatles, of course. Music was "The Twist," Percy Faith, Gene Pitney, TV themes, show tunes, miscellaneous 45s, and all manner of incidental magic and melody. The Beatles ruled over all of it, moptopped kings of all they surveyed. The Beatles were the biggest thing ever. Even a four-year-old kid knew that. I knew it, my friends knew it, and we sensed that it would always be so. We were absolutely right about that.

I can't quite say I followed The Beatles with more-popular-than-Jesus devotion throughout the '60s. I heard them on the radio. I saw them on The Ed Sullivan Show. I saw A Hard Day's Night at the drive-in. I watched The Beatles cartoon series on TV. I had Beatles bubblegum cards, a Beatles wallet, and a Beatles toy guitar. Batman and The Monkees became more immediate obsessions in 1966, and I've never seen any reason to relinquish my affection for The Caped Crusader or The Prefab Four. And nothing's ever really shaken my belief that The Beatles were the all-time greatest among great rock 'n' roll bands. In my mind, to suggest otherwise is empty iconoclasm, white noise, irrelevant. Your mileage may vary. I know what I know, yeah? Yeah. Yeah!

My true Beatles immersion really began in the '70s, as I listened and discovered and embraced more and more of this act we've known for all these years. That included awareness of solo Beatles. I didn't really know about The Beatles' breakup in 1970, but I heard the esrstwhile Fabs on the radio shortly thereafter. My gut says it was George Harrison I heard first, I think, with "My Sweet Lord." I probably heard Ringo Starr's "It Don't Come Easy" when it was a hit in '71. I don't recall hearing John Lennon at all until a couple of years later.

And then there was Paul McCartney.

To me, as an adolescent Beatles fan in the early '70s, Paul McCartney was The Beatles. My appreciation of John Lennon would form within a short time, but Paul was assuredly Beatle # 1 in my mind. This notion was inherently flawed, and based in part on misinformation: my ears heard Macca as the lead voice on some Beatles records I later learned were sung by John. Fine. I'm a real nowhere man, then. Nonetheless, I sure heard Paul's voice on Top 40 radio in the moment, commencing probably with "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" in 1971. I saw a video of Paul and his new band Wings singing an unlikely cover of "Mary Had A Little Lamb" on The Flip Wilson Show in '72, and thought the lovely 1973 McCartney and Wings hit "My Love" was The Greatest Record Ever Made. (I've, uh...revised that opinion since then.)

1973 also brought a TV special, James Paul McCartney, which I absorbed with wide eyes and wider ears. This was my introduction to a Beatles song called "Blackbird," and the first tease of Paul's new James Bond film tune "Live And Let Die" (aka The Greatest Record Ever Made). Paul, his wife The Lovely Linda, and their band o' Wings continued to rule my radio. I heard the somewhat naughty "Hi Hi Hi" and the beautiful "Another Day" after the fact, and "Helen Wheels," "Jet," "Band On The Run," "Junior's Farm," "Listen To What The Man Said," and "Venus And Mars/Rock Show" as they hit WOLF-AM and WNDR-AM with efficient, pure pop dispatch.

And then: "Silly Love Songs" in 1976, followed by "Let 'Em In." I tried to like them. They were Paul McCartney singles! But...but...no. These seemed vapid, empty in a manner that even my Fab-coloured glasses couldn't correct. This first fissure in my formerly steadfast devotion proved impossible to mend. I was never quite as invested in McCartney's singles after that.

Which is not the same as saying I dismissed his stuff outright, either. He remained Paul McCartney, and I would have absolutely preferred to just immediately love everything he did. And I did like--and occasionally love--much Macca work after that, including Wings' sublime 1979 single "Getting Closer" (which renewed my faith), 1980's "Coming Up," parts of the Tug Of War album (though not including his awful duet with Stevie Wonder, which stands as probably the greatest waste of two--two!--monumental talents in pop history), the soundtrack to Give My Regards To Broad Street. Hell, I must have remained a fan--I went to see Give My Regards To Broad Street in the theater! I loved "My Brave Face," adored both Flaming Pie and Run Devil Run, and even seemed to like Off The Ground more than most folks did.

And I wanted to see McCartney in concert. I wanted to see Wings in 1976, but they flew nowhere near Syracuse. I wanted McCartney to tour with his Give My Regards To Broad Street band, with Ringo Starr, Dave Edmunds, and Chris Spedding, but that wasn't gonna happen. My lovely wife Brenda and I bought tickets to see our Paul at The Carrier Dome in 1993, but the show was cancelled and never rescheduled.

And then.

This year. 2017.

I finally got my chance.


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Our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin' pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe Flashcubes,Chris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins' BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here.

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