Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rock of Ages: McCartney - "Maybe I'm Amazed"; Harrison - "Beware of Darkness"; Lennon - "God"; (1970)

After the Beatles broke up, a fountain of music exploded from the three main songwriters minds. We got three great albums filled with songs from Lennon, McCartney and Harrison (whose album was three LP's long!) Beatles fans should have shut up since now they were getting more great material from their favorite artists, just separately. Let's take a look at three different, but ultimately great tracks.

First released out of the gate was Paul McCartney's first self titled release. It is a collection of collected home recordings and some other more well produced nuggets of personal pop glory. It's not the most memorable posthumous Beatles release for McCartney (that would either be Wings' Band on the Run or McCartney's second solo effort in '71 Ram.) On this record, McCartney writes easily his greatest love song to date in "Maybe I'm Amazed." Lyricaly simple and honest, McCartney shows how he's amazed at the dedication of his love and questions his own ability to return the deep love he is shown. The song was a dedication to Linda McCartney who helped him during the Beatles break-up. Musically, it's a simple song and on this recording, McCartney plays all instruments himself. The song is beautiful and simple thus making it memorable. McCartney would release a live version as a single in '77 and many other artists would interpret this great love song.

George Harrison would be the next Beatle to release a solo effort and it is easily my favorite of the three. All Things Must Pass is a collection of songs that were shelved due to contractual obligations that Harrison was only alloted one song per side of an LP during the Beatles career. The album is exploding with greatness. Signature Harrison spirituality with a slew of guest stars (Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Dave Mason, Peter Frampton, John Lennon, Phil Collins, Ginger Baker, Ringo Starr and Badfinger to name a few... oh and Phil Spector produced.) My personal favorite track is "Beware of Darkness." It's a cautionary tale to those in search for happiness and enlightenment that pain and suffering is all around. However, it's a message of hope to look past the "greedy leaders" and "soft shoe shufflers" that fill this world with greed. It's also a gorgeous composition with some great guitar work and very deep, lush and sweeping waves of sound. A poetic delight from the most contemplative and deepest Beatle.

Finally near the tail end of 1970, John Lennon released his amazingly deep and personal album. Lennon was trying to excise his demons with his first solo run. The album is very stirpped down and bare, quite like McCartney's, but rather a collection of collected brain musings, Lennon rips his soul out through Plastic Ono Band. Specifically heartbreaking and introspective is Lennon's song "God." Musically, the song has gorgeous piano chords during the main verse that turns into an chreschendo of emotions in the mid section bridge that builds and builds as the pain of politics, religion and his own career are washed aside for what he really needs to believe in: himself and his love. His vocals are angry and melancholy during the bridge and then reflective yet optimistic by the end. Such straightforward soul searching is rarely felt on record, especially coming from one of the members of the biggest pop band to ever record music. It's an astonishing acheivment.

Up Next: Tim Buckley crafts an ethereal love song

No comments: