Cult Of Lennon’s Myopic View Addressed

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beatleshamburgThe Cult Of Lennon has long had a myopic death-grip on the legend of the Beatles. It was, of course, spearheaded by Lennon, who was utterly shameless when it came to promoting his own importance and alleged superiority as well as grinding his axe in public. Unfortunately, the public (and Rolling Stone) bought and adapted Lennon’s myopic self-mythologizing without questioning it… and the bullshit sat, rotted, and permeated the fans and press. When Lennon died, this fragile myopic mythology became set in stone. Here, 30 years later, McCartney has finally decided to speak truth to bullshit with his touching song, “Early Days”. What is most striking to me about the song is not merely how moving it as a song, as pure melody, and not merely how stirring the production and arrangement both are, but how naked and honest the lyrics are. All of this suggests that this has been hurting McCartney for a very very long time.

Unlike Lennon who wrote first-person narratives, McCartney took the more challenging approach and chose to deal with his personal trials and tribulations by creating songs that were no less honest than Lennon’s, but far more universal. This is a technique McCartney has used since the Beatles, and continues to use. Recently, however, he has begun speaking rather frankly, and this song is one of the finest examples of his frankness. repeatedly it has brought tears to my eyes.

Here are the first few verses:

“Early Days”

[Chorus:]
They can’t take it from me, if they tried.
I lived through those early days,
So many times I had to change the pain to laughter,
Just to keep from getting crazed.

Dressed in black from head to toe,
Two guitars across our backs,
We would walk the city roads,
Seeking someone who would listen to the music,
That we were writing down at home.

[Chorus:]
They can’t take it from me, if they tried,
I lived through those early days,
So many times I had to change the pain to laughter,
Just to keep from getting crazed.

Hair slicked back with vaseline,
Like the pictures on the wall of the local record shop,
Hearing noises we where destined to remember,
We willed the thrill to never stop.

Now, of course there is more. So far McCartney has simply set the stage and made his thesis clear. “We willed the thrill to never stop” may be one of the most profound lyrics in the song, as that is of course, the challenge in life. Keeping the thrill alive is an immense challenge to those of us who want to maintain our energy… and Sir Paul has certainly proven through this high energy album that the thrill has never stopped for him, even if it has stopped for most of his fans and colleagues.

Then comes the next verse, and a blessing that has made me cry each time I have heard this song. The blessing is not merely moving, but revealing… McCartney is wishing upon the world the true blessings of his spiritual wealth. More specifically, this song is touching as he is talking to “US,” other musicians and artists, by so beautifully wishing us that our inspiration may last.

May sweet memories of friends from the past,
Always comes to you, when you look for them,
And your inspiration, long may it last,
May it come to you, time and time again.

But that is not all… he follows that with a statement so achingly personal that the tears kept coming from me, and a statement that lays to rest all the silly contortions Lennon Cultists go through to maintain the absurd purity of their myopic view.

Now everybody seems to have there own opinion,
Who did this and who did that,
But as for me I don’t see how they can remember,
When they weren’t where it was at.

Case closed, I would like to add. How could all these writers and fans really know? Of course they don’t, didn’t, and won’t.

[Chorus:]
They can’t take it from me, if they tried,
I lived through those early days,
So many times I had to change the pain to laughter,
Just to keep from getting crazed.

I lived through those early days
I lived through those early days

Hearing an artist with the staggering dignity and magnificence of McCartney address this persistent source of pain with such openness is truly a gift we all should cherish. Songs from “New” are not to be judged, criticized, or picked apart by fans (or worse… sludge and grudge critics), they are not to be dismissed or shrugged off, no, these songs are to be approached with respect and gratitude, and the knowledge that if you don’t get it… it may well be because McCartney is firing these songs (just as he always has) way over your heads. This album is to be listened to on McCartney’s terms, not on yours, ours, or the terms dictated by critics. At 71, he still matters, is nowhere near through, and remains as relevant as ever… if only you have the ears and minds to hear it for what it is… wisdom from on high.

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