Friday, March 15, 2013

P.S. I Love You

Richard Furnstein: Paul McCartney was a dangerous young man. His loose balloon eyes would draw the helpless ladies of Liverpool into his warm cloak, where a dark cloud of aftershave and sweat would swarm around their wilting bodies. The women were easy prey: Paul would snatch them up like a giant ripping the roof off of a girls' school. He always seemed to be the secret man in a gaggle of boys. "P.S. I Love You" finds Young Paul reaching Aleister Crowleyian levels of control over sexual energy and power. The song--a breezy appropriation of Buddy Holly's white man samba--seems innocent enough. The P.S. of the title may even be a reference to Holly's figurehead of rock and roll innocence, "Peggy Sue." There's something sinister going on in this song. John Lennon serves as the dashing wing man on this recording, gently easing his friend into each line of the verse. Paul remains steady and confident during the pitch to Earth's women. He only breaks a sweat during the climax of his mating call ("YOU KNOW I WANT YOU TO remember that I'll always-YEAH-be in love with you"). You don't even really notice that the man is screaming until he comes down off that powerful run to join the measured tone of his buddies. It's powerful stuff.

Robert Bunter: Well, that’s just it. Paul’s greasy charm was irresistible, and the whole song is delivered with brisk professionalism. It’s difficult to listen to this one and not form a cartoonish mental image: a single blue spotlight illuminates the shabby wooden stage of a darkened nightclub. A quartet of unctuous smoothies sways gently back and forth as they effortlessly sketch a gentle tropical melody; the singer cradles an old fashioned microphone and leans into the foreground of the frame at an exaggerated, physically impossible angle. His eyebrows arch and tighten with hideous sincerity; his pursed lips glisten with shiny secretions. The audience members are the featureless black silhouettes in a George Peed album cover. The sincere intensity of Paul’s contrived insincerity begs all sorts of questions. Is it possible to tell a lie so well that it becomes your truth? The real Paul McCartney and his emotional feelings might be the real illusion; the cartoon nightclub crooner in our mind’s eye, the reality.

Richard Furnstein: The music suggests motion: a tender blend of the precision stride of a seasoned nag and the comforting creaks of a an tugboat. Where are we going? Paul suggests that he is "coming home again to you, love." It's a nice image, but Paul is reluctant to put a timeline on this return. It feels more like a tender kiss off from a man who realizes that his future his full of tender fragrant nubs, moist jazz cigarettes, and the simple elegance of teak. Paul's never coming home. His love is still true; in fact, he loves you so much that he can't break your heart. I'm sorry. It has to be this way. You'll understand years from now. See you around, sweet Penny Lane.

Paul's never coming home. I'm sorry. It has to be this way.

Robert Bunter: Penny Lane – the heartsick, immature Liverpool dalliance whom smarmy Paul is brushing off with a casual letter and postscript – is US. The fans, the record buyers, the listeners – from the damp screaming 12-year-old in the upper decks of Shea Stadium to the sad, fat old man with a shopping bag full of officially-licensed Apple Corps towels, jackets and Magical Mystery Tour DVD’s at Beatlefest 2009. The “letter” is actually the record album itself; “treasure these few words while we’re together / keep all my love forever,” he tells us. “Send a few extra bob to the fan club and you may even receive an autographed glossy photo and a lock of hair shipped via postal mail!” Paul seduced the world and then tossed us aside like so many nickels and dimes, scattered across the rumpled bedsheets of our lives from where they fell out his pants pocket during the tussle and roll of physical love. Thanks for the trinkets, Paul. I guess I’ll just hold onto them and treasure the memories. PS, I love you. But … who are you?

Richard Furnstein: That's the burden that James Paul McCartney must carry. He's just a man who was sent to this planet to keep our memories alive. George and John are dead. Ringo doesn't want to sign autographs for you anymore. It's all on Paul. You say it's your birthday? Let me play you this Paul McCartney song. Are you sad because you are lonely? Here is a magic spell called "No More Lonely Nights." Wait, you want him to live forever and play a thousand songs in a single concert? I'm sorry, he has to travel to Pittsburgh in the morning to heal their citizens. But aren't you glad that you heard "Mrs. Vanderbilt"?

How much are these memories worth to you? That depends. Are they truly longer than the road that stretches out ahead? I'm not sure if there is an answer. All I know is that I want more of it. Forever. Give me your collected letters of John Lennon. Give me "Press To Play" in multiple formats. Give me Ringo and Steve Miller jam sessions. Give me the overpriced remastered mono vinyl box set (rumored for an Xmas 2013 delivery). I want it all. I'm alive.

Robert Bunter: Yeah, I want it all, too (London Town illustrated songbook and “Take It Away” 12” single with the picture of him holding the teacup, please). I’m human. But you’d better go into this thing with your eyes open. The thing you really want is the one thing you can never have: Paul McCartney’s true heart. I’ll bet that even when you were in his actual presence, you found yourself staring at the pixilated eyeballs on the JumboTron and not the flesh and blood human at the other end of the sports arena. Paul’s voice is an electronic signal coming out of a speaker, his face is a 8"x10" glossy promo photo and his soul is a haunting melody that captured the heart of a world called Earth, I’ll bet not even Paul McCartney knows who the real Paul McCartney is at this point. He looks in the mirror and sees an album cover; his grandchildren visit for Boxing Day and he gives them autographs. He sits down at the piano and everything he plays is a Paul McCartney song. His burdens are as weighty as his gifts. The love you take is equal to the love you make, but at what cost?

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