I'm a sucker for experts. It doesn't matter what they're experts about; whether it's politics, the environment, sports, art, health, science, astronomy or what have you...when experts are being interviewed on a timely topic because of their particular expertise, I'm watching it on TV, or I'm reading it in a newspaper or magazine.
I'm a sucker for experts. It doesn't matter what they're experts about; whether it's politics, the environment, sports, art, health, science, astronomy or what have you...when experts are being interviewed on a timely topic because of their particular expertise, I'm watching it on TV, or I'm reading it in a newspaper or magazine. It's like I can't soak it all up enough, as I hit the 10-second rewind button on the remote control over and over to hear various knowledgeable, even profound things being said, again and again. Take HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" as an example. It's an hour-long show, but if some of his guests strike a particular chord with me because of their particular genius, it can take me 90 minutes to get through one episode.
But if I'm a bit obsessive on this, when it comes to musicians talking about their craft, I'm certifiably manic. Watching, or reading about a songwriter discussing his or her craft, or telling a poignant story behind why a particular song or lyric was written, I am transfixed. I can take an hour to read a 5,000 word article in Rolling Stone magazine because I read many paragraphs two, three or four times.
All of which means I was essentially incapable of doing much of anything for an entire afternoon last week after someone reached out to me, wondering if I'd yet seen the latest "Carpool Karaoke" feature from the Late Late Show on CBS, hosted by James Corden. "He has McCartney!!! You’re going to be a puddle!!!" the text read.
Paul McCartney, my favorite Beatle. He comes across as this perpetual child-like person sometimes, just kind of floating around in his own perfect bubble, foot-loose and fancy free. And he's actually criticized for his alleged flippancy. John Lennon devotees and Beatles fans who try to be extra clever by claiming George Harrison is the best Beatle will say McCartney was the covertly selfish Beatle, the one who insisted on getting songwriting credits even when Lennon was far more deserving. They say many of McCartney's lyrics are hokey. Simple. Shallow. Largely meaningless. Not Lennon-worthy.
Not true. My two-word defense: Eleanor Rigby.
The Beatles are my go-to band. I remember those old records in my bedroom when I was, like, 5.
So if you're unfamiliar with Corden's "Carpool Karaoke,” just know that the singing-in-the-car with musicians bit is the best part of his show. Corden is from a musical family and has a musical background, and the dude belts out songs with his famous passengers with all of his heart and soul, with zero caution or pretension. He hit a high note that dropped Adele’s jaw.
Corden brought his talk show to London for a week, and spent a day in Liverpool singing in the car with McCartney and accompanying perhaps the biggest living musical icon on the planet on a stroll around some of his old hometown’s haunts. I know the story behind McCartney's "Let It Be" - his deceased mom came to him in a dream as a teenager and told him that everything would be OK, if he would simply "let it be" - but to hear him retell it to Corden while cruising through the streets of Liverpool, well, for me, it was nirvana. Corden couldn't keep his emotions in check, as he recalled being a kid and his musician grandfather and his dad putting on "Let It Be" and telling a young Corden he was about to hear the "greatest song ever." McCartney looks from his seat at the weeping Corden and says, "Isn't that amazing, what music can do?" Beautiful.
McCartney is still relevant. He tours the globe constantly, and he still tries with all his might to hit the high notes of his youth in his live performances. He's making music today; he and Corden sang one of his newest songs in the car, and the beauty of it is that it could have been released during the height of Beatlemania and it would have fit seamlessly on any of those early Beatles records. McCartney detractors might find fault in that notion, but why expend the energy? Just appreciate the guy’s efforts.
The knowledge of The Beatles’ greatness must be carried forward. It’s like LeBron James fans saying he’s the best ever without seeing Michael Jordan play.
Corden mentioned Beatles songs being more relevant in today's turbulent world than perhaps they ever were. In typical McCartney form, he replies, simply, "Yeah, we thought we'd be around for 10 years."
Done in by ego and mistrust, they barely sustained the band even that long. And yet, The Beatles live on, as they must, thanks in no small part to Paul McCartney. Don’t fight it, accept it. Embrace it.