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Who the F*@# Is
Paul McCartney?

It must be no coincidence that Sunday’s Grammy Awards show will probably be remembered for the absence of a big star and a major lapse about another. And it may be ironic that in those two mishaps may reside all the relevance this year’s edition will ever get.
When multi-winner Whitney Houston died the night before, it gave a suddenly rewritten show the ratings boost it wouldn’t otherwise have. But when the Web went abuzz about who was that Paul McCartney dude, those ratings weren’t worth a slow-speed car chase on TV.
Houston’s cliché-ridden, tabloid-fodder ready rise and fall has already managed to all but erase the memory of who won what, along with the embarrassing attempts, on stage and behind the scenes, to cash in on her death.
In this context, the suddenly second fake death of Paul McCartney (if you have to ask, it’s not worth knowing it) may be as beneficial as a cleansing herbal bath would be to a former 1960s hippie. That is because, who needs accolades from this kind of admirers?

Here’s another clue to you all: John Lennon, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and so many more of that incredible generation of singer-songwriters who dominated the world culture and musical charts for some 10 to 15 years or so, have no need for new waves of supporters.
In fact, periodically even the music they’ve became known for, rock, has been declared dead more times than Houston’s won the Grammys. And remains as vital as ever, or as toothless as grandpa, depending on who’s talking.
It doesn’t really matter. The music the so-called post-war ‘baby boomers’ grew up to and loved, was not created by them. Most of those artists were born before the WWII was over. And rock was a combination of styles, race, sex and social-economic conditions that will hardly ever be repeated.
Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, even Bill Halley were already teenagers when the war started. And, after 60-odd years, rock’s becoming closer to the American Standards, than with anything that Chris Brown will ever touch. Thank goodness for small miracles.
Those jazz-infused standards, by the way, the 20th century’s other soundtrack, can arguably be traced back to black music brought to America by slaves, just as rock does. But while it incorporated Jewish melodies from Eastern European immigrants, rock put its emphasis on the beat and the tribal rhythms.
What does this rambling digression about music have to do with the Grammys? Absolutely nothing. And that may explain why part of the show’s audience had no clue about who’s McCartney.
It’s a waste of time to argue over musical tastes, of course, or whether the 1960s music was better, had a stronger social pull, or it’s forever captive inside amber, from where one can see its shape and pretty forms, but none of its past visceral quality.
Another irony about the Fab Four lad is that, unlike his peers, he did record some of his best music ever only recently. For over two decades, his fans loved his melodies but hated his multiple albums, none of which got any close to his work with the Beatles.
Forever, and unjustly, marked to be the one who writes ‘silly love songs,’ McCartney’s actually stretched his artistic limits as few others of his generation, with evident mixed results. And then he recorded Chaos and Creation in the Backyard and Memory Almost Full.
He probably didn’t need to record anything else after these two albums. A similar argument that was likely made, after he released Band on the Run still in the mid 1970s. But, alas, he hasn’t stopped nor will he, apparently. But why should he?
The fact is, despite their quality, these two late albums came out at a time when, well, it no longer matter. We’d hate to use that word about the former Beatle, but his work is now irrelevant, except to himself, those who’ve loved him and his music since back when, and a still strong set of the newly converted.
Which is a moot point, of course. McCartney is probably the most successful musician of all time, both artistically, warts and all, and financially, and at his prime, he did it better than anyone else. Now, though, he can’t get close neither to Justin nor to Adele.
And, really, who cares? Is not that those Twitters are ignorant or even deserve all the trash talk they immediately got after posting. They’re just reflecting the temporal quality of the music the Grammys tries to frame as ‘it’ every year, and more often than not, fails.
The Beatles, themselves, never showed up to collect a single award of the 11 or so they won throughout their career.
Except in 1970, after they were no longer a group, when guess who? Paul, and first wife Linda, received the award on their behalf for a song of his, Let it Be. Last Sunday, he seemed just as happy, singing another silly (but lovely) love song, My Valentine, to new wife Nancy.

Things have a way of folding around themselves, one may say. Most of us will still remember, and treasure, the memories the Beatles, and Paul, brought to our lives. Those who don’t know who he is may just as well have their own melodies as soundtracks to their lives.
Perhaps those who think of themselves as baby boomers will realize this is no longer their world to demand attention from their elders. They’re now the elders, there’s no other way around it. There’s no point in pretending they’re still running the show.
Their children may appreciate efforts to speak their language, wear their clothes, or sing their songs, but most likely, will not.
For when they may want to buy the latest gadget, so they can hear or watch or play to the tune of what’s-his-name again? they’d rather have someone acting their age and footing the bill. Not another kid just like them.

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