Happy 70th Birthday, Sir Paul! MACCA! Mr. McCartney! My imaginary boyfriend! (What?!)
Paul McCartney is 70 today, which is incredibly hard to believe. Especially considering I have only been alive a little less than a third of his life, 70 seems like quite a success.
Six years ago, my family went to Paul McCartney’s 64th birthday party at the famous Austin movie theater, Alamo Drafthouse, and we ate cake, played kazoos, and sang ‘When I’m Sixty Four’ as a crowd. It was hard to imagine he was 64, much less today’s big day.
So I want to review for a popular at the time yet possibly not as well known album of Paul’s, and a special one to me: ‘Flaming Pie’. It was released in 1997, and was only about a year before the Lovely Linda passed away from breast cancer. Being at the height of my Beatles fandom, I could not get enough Beatles music. And Paul was my love. I thought him talented, the best songwriter and incredibly cute (hey, I was 11 years old). I’d spend my time listening to every Beatle song possible, fantasizing about meeting them, being friends with them, and kissing them, maybe? There were few mental options for a 11 year-old when it came to sexuality. All innocent stuff.
I also grew up on Wings. Some people feverishly hate Wings (I’ve met and argued with them), but I think they are great and so much fun. True, Linda couldn’t sing, but who cares? Neither can Britney Spears.
When ‘Flaming Pie’ came out, I, for some reason, wanted to listen. There weren’t any real singles, but I wanted to expand my love of Paul. I would listen to this album late at night in my room, with only the light of my small stereo, absorbing the entire album. It is filled with many emotions, tempos and has a very balanced ebb and flow of music, going from peaceful to pulsing in a matter of minutes, but it all fits. Said to be written after the Anthology came out, McCartney suddenly had a surge of Beatles-inspired creativity. The title, ‘Flaming Pie’ also rumored to be from John Lennon mentioning the ‘a’ in Beatles came from a dream he had about a man with a flaming pie. No drugs there.
The opening, “The Song We Were Singing” was so beautiful and lended itself to a rousing chorus. It is also apparently about the Lennon-McCartney writing process. The main single, “The World Tonight” I think is so fun and a great mid-tempo song. It also has the perfect range for me, so I would sing it as loud as I could whenever possible.
The parts that stuck out the most to me from ‘Flaming Pie’ were the hints of sexuality in the music and lyrics. Paul was 50-something years old and he was still talking about having sex with his wife, loving her, being affectionate, and still keeping the flame alive.
I remember listening to ‘Somedays’ on loop because I thought it was the most beautiful song in the world, and, in my tween-age drama, I would cry with anxiety that I would never find my Paul. I would never find a man who loved me, was affectionate or cared for me. This song personified all the aspects I was looking for, and in fear I would curl up in my room at night and cry. Drama queen! Now, great news since that fear has been remedied because I’ve found my Paul: a man who personifies all the qualities I projected on Perfect Paul. In fact he is better, I’m married to him, and this song is even better now.
When Linda died, I played it the song for my sixth-grade class and my teacher, who was one of the best teachers I ever had and was an avid Beatles fan, became teary-eyed and sympathetic while the rest of the class didn’t get it. But I didn’t mind. I was fine going my own path.
“Young Boy” is a great, spread song that fills your entire head. I was overjoyed when Paul played “Calico Skies” at his concert in Dallas two years ago, because I think it is a simple yet sweet song. Very basic but effective. I love that song.
The title song, ‘Flaming Pie’ is fun, upbeat, and had the naughty line (at least to this 11 year old), ‘Making love underneath the bed’. Hot. Plus it’s got a sweet piano solo.
So many wonderful songs on this album, including the comforting, lullaby-style “Little Willow”. Again being 11-12 years old was rough, but it was so comforting hearing Paul tell me it would fine. I still listen to that song today when I get upset or frustrated since that song transcends generations and situations. I really would like to sing that song to my baby because it is so sweet and positive.
I really like the song “Beautiful Night” as the chorus is catchy, sweeping and epic. And the best part is the tempo change in the end. And then Ringo joins in. Hello, fun! The combination of the rocking beat with the orchestra is just so…lovely Paul McCartney.
But the surprise arrives with the final song on the album, “Great Day”. I’m surprised it was only discovered by movie folks a couple years ago with Judd Apatow’s ‘Funny People’. It is such a simple yet catchy and optimistic song that I could listen to over and over. It’s also incredibly fun to sing with its bit of soul and a perfect hand patting song. It is a great final song as it leaves you wanting more. You leaving on a hanging chord that does not resolve.
It’s just a fantastic album that holds up over time. It’s 15 years old (yikes) but is still relevant and contemporary.
Regardless of what you listen to, enjoy Paul’s birthday with some of his finest and travel back to the time you were a Beatlemaniac.