Thursday, December 8, 2011

Golden Slumbers

Richard Furnstein: Paul is a tugboat captain on a sea of oozing strings. A friendly anamorphic frog from a forgotten Disney moving steering us through the heavy shadows of a painted jungle. It's sleepy time on Abbey Road. Paul ushers out the creepers and shaking perverts from John's section. Yet, while Paul promises a lullaby, he never quite delivers. Paul offers his promise to the sleepy children, but then we either get Ringo bang crashing his well loved calf skins or the surging "Carry That Weight." It's then we realize that Paul already sang us the lullaby and the band is about to break up. Melodies come rushing back. The future is beautiful.

Robert Bunter: Sure, everything is beautiful when you’re asleep. Lack of awareness is the only respite from the harsh realities (John Lennon) that surround us. Go to sleep, Paul (he’s singing to himself). Being awake is too painful. “Once there was a way to get back homeward.” Well, James, that’s in the past. Nobody’s going home to the dank stage of the Cavern where you discovered what it means to be truly alive… nor to the screaming crowds and black-and-white overcoat years of Beatlemania … nor to the sunny psychedelic vistas of the “Paperback Writer” video shoot … nor to the joyful “Hey Bulldog” overdub sessions … There’s no way home anymore. For the man who believed most faithfully in the beautiful dream the Beatles represented, the cold, brittle sunshine of 1969’s reality was intolerable. Paul was the only one who never lost faith or quit. When the others bickered and frayed and spaced out, he was always trying to corral the boys into another wonderful project or set up another ramshackle tour on a magic, colorful bus. Now, with the dream falling apart, he attempts a desperate lullaby in the vain hopes of recapturing the departed glory of the past. Paul’s contributions to the long medley of Abbey Road’s second side are a heartbreaking, elegiac swan song for the group’s entire career, and it’s all just so beautiful and sad it make me have to cry.

Lack of awareness is the only respite from the harsh realities (John Lennon) that surround us. Go to sleep, Paul (he’s singing to himself). Being awake is too painful.

Richard Furnstein: There are a lot of tears to go around, especially on a day like today. But listen, I think Paul was looking forward to the trip home. "Golden Slumbers" is a companion piece to "Two of Us." Where "Two of Us" was a nostalgic trip back to the youthful promise of skiffle and finger pies, "Golden Slumbers" is a resigned whisper from a man facing his thirties. It's time to hang up the nappies and tuck in the rugrats. See ya in the papers, John. Stop by when the All Starr Band is making the rounds, Ringo. Good one, George. We're men now.

Robert Bunter: Looking forward to the trip home? Don’t you see, Rich? THERE IS NO WAY HOME. Once there was a way, but no more. I’d like you to cue up this track on your copy of the new 2009 stereo re-master of Abbey Road and listen to dear Paul’s voice on the words “smiles awake” at :43. That, my friend, is not the usual wonderful Paul McCartney intensity voice (“Long Tall Sally,” “Hey Jude” or “Oh, Darling!”) I would submit that that is an utterly primal, crucial expression of deep pain; possibly the most genuine vocal moment that Mr. hide-your-inner-pain-behind-a-wall-of-showbiz-schmaltz-and-good-guy-charm McCartney ever committed to wax. Your vision of a resigned acknowledgement of the solo future is bewitching, and maybe that’s even part of what’s going on here. But I think that vocal moment belies such pat explanations. Oh, wait, what’s that? You don’t own a copy of the 2009 Abbey Road stereo re-master? I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was dealing with somebody who doesn’t care about having all the Beatles’ albums. You’ll just have to forgive me.

Richard Furnstein: I'm completely and utterly leveled. 

Robert Bunter: I’m sorry man. I didn’t mean that. I’m just really emotional today.
  

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