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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.

Friday, July 6, 2018

PAUL McCARTNEY: In This Ever-Changing World In Which We're Touring

Have you all seen James Corden's recent Carpool Karaoke with Sir Paul McCartney? I finally had the chance to watch it with my wife Brenda and our daughter Meghan. Brenda and I went to our first Paul McCartney concert last September (as chronicled here and here); Meghan's 23, and she never really developed much interest in McCartney or The Beatles, but she respects their importance and appreciated the vast joy of the segment. (Plus, since she adores England, Meghan very much enjoyed the Liverpool scenery, too.)

After the Corden-McCartney show concluded, the three of us discussed all matters McCartney for a few minutes. We talked about his seemingly easy-going nature, and his apparent ability to take everything in stride as people freak out (in a good way) wherever he goes, his casual determination to somehow remain an Everyman in spite of his incredible wealth and fame. If his humility is fabricated, then he's a better actor than his appearances in A Hard Day's Night, Help!, or Give My Regards To Broad Street ever indicated. His aura of likability is palpable and infectious. Brenda was surprised to learn that McCartney is preparing a new album for release later this year, and we chatted about the nonpareil enormity of his catalog o' hits. I don't think there's anyone else alive--not The Rolling Stones, not Bashful Bob Dylan, not Springsteen or Stevie Wonder, not even Smokey Robinson--who could match the sheer towering mass of big, well-known song choices in McCartney's arsenal. Brenda wondered if he was going to tour again (and he is). And Meghan asked, if McCartney wanted to, could he perform an entirely different set list on each tour, with no repeat from his previous tour?

Wow. Good question.

In the real world, of course, Paul McCartney wouldn't do that. He knows there are specific songs people expect to hear in each McCartney concert; he changes things around here and there, and I thought there were many surprises contained within my one McCartney show, but you don't mess with the core foundation of McCartney Live. You're going to hear "Yesterday." You're going to hear "Hey Jude" and "Let It Be." You're going to hear "Live And Let Die" and "Band On The Run," you're almost certainly going to hear "Maybe I'm Amazed," and the encore's not gonna vary much.

But what about the rest?

I was (and remain) perfectly happy with the song choices Sir Paul made in my only live McCartney concert experience. So this is just in fun. What if McCartney decided to give his set list a near-total makeover, leaving only a few can't-do-without-that essentials, and otherwise replacing his mix of crowd pleasers, deep cuts, and new stuff with different crowd pleasers, deep cuts, and new stuff? Let's start with a review of what Paulie played at The Carrier Dome in Syracuse on September 23rd, 2017:

A Hard Day's Night

Junior's Farm
Can't Buy Me Love
All My Loving
Let Me Roll It
I've Got A Feeling
My Valentine
Nineteen Hundred And Eighty-Five
Maybe I'm Amazed
We Can Work It Out
In Spite Of All The Danger
You Won't See Me
Love Me Do
And I Love Her
Here Today
Queenie Eye
Lady Madonna
Eleanor Rigby
I Wanna Be Your Man
Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite
A Day In The Life
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Band On The Run
Back In The U.S.S.R.
Let It Be
Live And Let Die
Hey Jude



Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
Helter Skelter
Golden Slumbers
Carry That Weight
The End

The selections in bold are the six songs we said are carved in stone for a McCartney concert. There are many others that are unlikely to be omitted; "Junior's Farm," "Jet," "And I Love Her," and "Blackbird" are probably nearly as much a given as those six in any real-world McCartney show, and I doubt Paul would consider skipping "Here Today" or "Something," his tributes to John and George. Nonetheless, let's keep that set list as a template, and start messin':

I Saw Her Standing There

Helen Wheels
Drive My Car
Getting Closer
Paperback Writer
My Brave Face
For No One
Another Day
Not Such A Bad Boy
Maybe I'm Amazed
Penny Lane
It Don't Come Easy
The Night Before
Magical Mystery Tour
Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey
Power To The People
The World Tonight
Come On To Me
I Don't Know
Eleanor Rigby
On The Wings Of A Nightingale
Getting Better
When We Was Fab
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
I'm Down
Band On The Run
Twist And Shout
Let It Be
Live And Let Die
Hey Jude



Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
Helter Skelter
Hi Hi Hi
Golden Slumbers
Carry That Weight
The End

Not a bad show; not superior to the one I saw, but not bad. In addition to the staple sextet of "Maybe I'm Amazed," "Band On The Run," "Let It Be," "Live And Let Die," "Hey Jude," and "Yesterday," I retained most of the rest of the encore (subbing "Hi Hi Hi" for "Birthday"), and I also retained "Eleanor Rigby." I included the two tracks we've heard so far from Paul's forthcoming new album Egypt Station ("Come On To Me" and "I Don't Know"), threw in songs Paul wrote for Peter & Gordon and The Everly Brothers ("Woman" and "On The Wings Of A Nightingale"), grabbed some solo Lennon ("Power To The People") and Harrison ("When We Was Fab") in place of "Here Today" and "Something," added a Ringo tribute with "It Don't Come Easy," swapped out the rest for more Beatles, Wings, and solo Macca, and assembled what one would presume to be a splendid time guaranteed for all. 

Listen (to what the man said): I know there's no way in hell Paul McCartney's dropping "Blackbird" from his set, and even less chance he'd perform "Not Such A Bad Boy" (from Give My Regards To Broad Street) or even "The World Tonight" (from Flaming Pie). But it illustrates the answer to Meghan's question: yeah, Paul McCartney could radically revamp his set list for each concert tour, but he doesn't have to. Even as he does indeed refresh his presentation with each tour, the man has a lot of great material at his disposal. The act you've known for all these years. Yeah, yeah, yeah--I'm fab with all of that.


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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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