Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Earlier this week, likely in anticipation of Father's Day, John W. Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute explored the subject of Paul's strong and artistically generative relationship with his dad. James McCartney, who passed away in 1976, was a musician himself, at one point heading up a group called Jim Mac's Jazz Band. Because of his influence, Paul learned to play the piano, developed into an expert vocal harmonist, and, in general, became possessed of a passion for music. As a Beatle, he devoted a number of songs to his parents (i.e., "When I'm Sixty-Four" and "Let It Be"), which ran counter to the youth-in-revolt milieu of the late '60s. Whitehead writes: "With the exception of John Lennon, The Beatles grew up in loving, stable homes. And they generally respected and revered their parents, which came through in their music—especially Paul McCartney's." Indeed. This is one of the more intriguing aspects of The Beatles' body of work: Though musically forward-looking and even ground-breaking, a fair number of their songs exude very bourgeois, straight-society notions about family. Consider the titles I mentioned above and also "She's Leaving Home," "Your Mother Should Know," "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," and maybe even "Julia." You'll notice that, yes, Paul was behind most of them.

As a whole, the topic deeply interests me, and I'll expound on it more as I treat these and the rest of The Beatles' songs in greater detail.

Here's another excerpt from Whitehead's piece:

The happiness and security of Paul's life were brutally shattered when his mother, Mary, died in 1956, leaving his father James with the task of guiding his two teenage sons through the difficult period of adolescence. Paul later preserved his mother's memory in the beautiful ballad "Let It Be," based on a dream he had about her a decade after her death. Paul's younger brother Michael commented on how their father was there for them after their mother died. "We both owe him a lot. He stayed home and looked after us." But it would be the musical influence of Paul's father that would last.

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