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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Silly Love Songs. What's Wrong With That?

"Silly Love Songs" is a song written by Paul and Linda McCartney and performed by the group Wings. Wings was a group formed by Paul McCartney after the breakup of The Beatles. The song appears on the 1976 album Wings at the Speed of Sound. It was also released as a single in 1976. and reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

McCartney had often been teased by music critics as well as former Beatle and friend, John Lennon, for writing lightweight songs. He wrote Silly Love Songs in response to those critics. Part of the reason that the Beatles broke up was the direction that Paul and John wanted to go. Paul wanted to keep writing more pop friendly songs, while John wanted to be political.

 "I always had an easier time with lyrics, though Paul is quite a capable lyricist who doesn't think he is. So he doesn't go for it. Rather than face the problem, he would avoid it. "Hey, Jude" is a damn good set of lyrics. I made no contribution to the lyrics there. And a couple of lines he has come up with show indications of a good lyricist. But he just hasn't taken it anywhere."

-John Lennon 

 Paul McCartney and John Lennon had a long history together long before McCartney wrote this song. That has been well documented.
 Being the primary forces in what was considered the greatest rock and roll group to that point, they were both revered as the greatest songwriting team to have written pop songs to that point. But they had significant differences. Paul wanted to write pop songs. Love songs. Fluffier songs. John wanted to change the world. To make a difference. He was tired of the type of stuff the Beatles were putting out when he quit the group.

Paul wrote Silly Love Songs in response to a post-Beatles breakup comment by John Lennon, in which Lennon claimed that the only songs that Paul wrote for the Beatles were "Silly Love Songs." 

 You think that people would have had enough of Silly Love Songs
I look around me and I see it isn't so
Some people want to fill the world with Silly Love Songs
And What's Wrong With That?

The song both starts with that lyric and ends with it. Clearly, Paul is making a statement to the critics and to John. He makes no apologies for what he does. That is his thing. John did what he did,  and Paul did what he did. 

 You say you want a revolution 
Well you know, we all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well you know, we all want to change the world

John Lennon wanted to change the world. Paul McCartney did not have such lofty aspirations. He wanted to write pop songs and have a happy life with his wife and kids. He was happy to write Silly Love Songs. He didn't view them as Silly. He viewed them as meaningful.

 In 2008, the song was listed at #31 on Billboard's Greatest Songs of All Time, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

This was the answer to much soul searching on McCartney's part to whether he put too much stock in "Love Songs." He once commented: 

 "The fact is, deep down, people are very sentimental. If they watch a sentimental movie at home, they cry, but in public they won't. We don't like to show our emotions; we tend to sneer at that. And in the same way, people may not admit to liking love songs, but that's what they seem to crave."

John's thought was that Paul wrote about silly love while John wrote about true love.

Isn't all love really silly anyway? It can be true love, and still be silly. John took until close to his death, when he wrote "Woman" , to figure that out.

 I've always thought there was this underlying thing in Paul's "Get Back." When we were in the studio recording it, every time he sang the line "Get back to where you once belonged," he'd look at Yoko.

-John Lennon on how he thought Paul resented Yoko.

Well, you could say that he provided a lightness, an optimism, while I would always go for the sadness, the discords, a certain bluesy edge. There was a period when I thought I didn't write melodies, that Paul wrote those and I just wrote straight, shouting rock 'n' roll.

-John Lennon

 But, of course, when I think of some of my own songs -- "In My Life" -- or some of the early stuff -- "This Boy" -- I was writing melody with the best of them. Paul had a lot of training, could play a lot of instruments. He'd say, "Well, why don't you change that there? You've done that note 50 times in the song." You know, I'll grab a note and ram it home. Then again, I'd be the one to figure out where to go with a song -- a story that Paul would start. In a lot of the songs, my stuff is the "middle eight," the bridge.

-John Lennon

"Still, in the early days, we didn't care about lyrics as long as the song had some vague theme -- she loves you, he loves him, they all love each other. It was the hook, line and sound we were going for. That's still my attitude, but I can't leave lyrics alone. I have to make them make sense apart from the songs."

- -John Lennon

Paul didn't have the burning desire to have the lyrics make sense the way John did. Neither of them is wrong, just different in how they chose to express themselves. But it was a wedge that drove a large division between them.

  "I think everything that comes out of a song -- even Paul's songs now, which are apparently about nothing -- shows something about yourself."

- -John Lennon

John Lennon could not see what Paul was trying to show the world. That was because it was not what John wanted to show the world. If you didn't do it the way John wanted to, then he could not relate to it.  

 "The Beatles didn't make a good record of "Across the Universe." I think subconsciously we -- I thought Paul subconsciously tried to destroy my great songs. We would play experimental games with my great pieces, like "Strawberry Fields," which I always felt was badly recorded. It worked, but it wasn't what it could have been. I allowed it, though. We would spend hours doing little, detailed cleaning up on Paul's songs, but when it came to mine -- especially a great song like "Strawberry Fields" or "Across the Universe" -- somehow an atmosphere of looseness and experimentation would come up."

Much has been made over the years of the Paul/Yoko feud. Yes, it is true that Paul had some resentment toward Yoko and in some way blamed her for the breakup of The Beatles. But really, John was ready to leave The Beatles. He simply did not want to keep doing the types of things The Beatles were locked in to. They needed to go their separate ways, and when they did they each made the type of music they wanted to. They were a great team while it lasted, but that team needed to dissolve, just like any team does at some point when it runs its course.

 "We recorded the song twice. The Beatles were getting really tense with one another. I did the slow version and I wanted it out as a single: as a statement of the Beatles' position on Vietnam and the Beatles' position on revolution. For years, on the Beatle tours, Epstein had stopped us from saying anything about Vietnam or the war. And he wouldn't allow questions about it. But on one tour, I said, "I am going to answer about the war. We can't ignore it." I absolutely wanted the Beatles to say something. The first take of "Revolution" -- well, George and Paul were resentful and said it wasn't fast enough. Now, if you go into details of what a hit record is and isn't maybe. But the Beatles could have afforded to put out the slow, understandable version of "Revolution" as a single. Whether it was a gold record or a wooden record. But because they were so upset about the Yoko period and the fact that I was again becoming as creative and dominating as I had been in the early days, after lying fallow for a couple of years, it upset the apple cart. I was awake again and they couldn't stand it?"

-John Lennon on the eventual breakup of The Beatles.

In my mind it simply boils down to this. Paul is laid back, happy go lucky, while John is intense. Paul was simple, uncomplicated while John was very complex, angry and searching for answers.

Their diversity made them great and also drove them apart.

When they went their separate ways, Paul did what he always did best, write pop songs with catchy lyrics and melodies and mostly with a simple theme. Love. John simply could not relate to that at that point in his life, so he mocked him. I think if he were alive today, older and wiser, he would admit that Paul got it right the first time. 

There really is nothing wrong with Silly Love Songs.

Imagine that John!

Imagine all the people, living life in peace

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