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My Favorite Beatle

by vaughn skow April 05, 2011 5 min read

Abby Road was the very first Album I ever owned.  I was about seven when it came into my life; it was the soundtrack to my summer that year.  By the end of that summer I knew every song by heart, and I’m fairly sure I sang it in my sleep.  That was also the year the Beatles officially broke up.  Talk about catching the VERY tail end of a wave, huh?  From there I went on to other "heavier" bands, like Deep Purple, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, and the like.  Then I got a job as a DJ at a local country station and went through my Urban Cowboy period and started diggin’ on country.  But through it all, Abby Road continued to play in my head.  And of course the voices of John, Paul, George, and Ringo still floated over the airwaves often enough.  All four experienced a fair amount of solo success.  So I have a question for you, do you have a favorite Beatle?  Call me nuts, but I’ve really given this one a lot of thought.  I’ve devoured every book written on the fab four, and done a lot of web-investigation ... and I have arrived at a favorite.  You’ll have toread on to know who.

Okay, so did you guess John Lennon?  Well, if I was still about 21 or younger, you’d be right, but right here and now I can tell you that I’m a Paul McCartney fan all the way!  I could probably write for the next 24 hours solid before I ran out of reasons, but I’ll try my best to avoid that.  I saw Paul in concert here in Nashville last year, and let me tell you, he still hit all the high notes and had all the energy and stage presence of a superstar in his prime.  His hair is still as full as Justin Bieber’s, and he’s got Brad Paisley’s physique.  What’s up with this guy?  I don’t know, but whatever it is, I want some, too.

But, and this is important, it’s not his thick hair or boyish good looks that make me so crazy about McCartney.  It’s his Friggin talent.  Rush Limbaugh boasts that he has "talent on loan from God"; I’m not so sure about Rush, but with McCartney, I think that’s true.  The breadth and depth of his work is staggering.  Most any singer/songwriter would be satisfied to produce just one "Yesterday", but to McCartney that was just a "little ditty I banged out one night".  Wow. 

I gotta tell you, I really love the work he did with the Beatles, but that ain’t why he’s a dad-gum hero to me.  Nope.  It’s what he did after the Beatles.  Paul didn’t want the Beatles to break up, but when they did, he just jumped right back into making music ... and man what music it was.  I like Junior’s Farm, Jet, Live and Let Die, and Band on the Run as much as I love Day Tripper.  But it’s not just the music that makes me a fan, it’s the story I’m about to tell you.

I’m piecing this together from various books and accounts, mostly Geoff Emerick’s and Bob Spitz’s books; it sounds like fiction, but it’s perfectly true.  I’m paraphrasing and going off the top of my head here, so please kindly pardon me if I don’t get it all just exactly perfect.  It’s the story of the making of the album Band On the Run. 

For tax purposes, Paul agreed to record the album in South Africa.  I’ve never made enough money to understand the exact reasons for this, but that’s the way it was.  He was assured that EMI’s studio there would be similar to what he was used to in the UK.   His band, who I presume didn’t necessarily share Paul’s tax dilemma, were not thrilled about the trip; and just days before they were to leave several members quit.  Paul wasn’t fazed; he’d simply play the drum, keyboard, and extra guitar parts himself.  No biggie.

When they arrived at the EMI studio in South Africa, they found out that it was little more than a shed, with no real acoustic treatment or sound proofing, and it only had an 8-track machine that was capable of recording on a maximum of four tracks at a time.  Again, Paul takes it all in stride. No big deal Paul tells engineer Geoff Emerick and wife Linda, it’ll be fun, like in the old days with the Beatles!  Paul suggests to Lynda that they put it all behind them with a nice little walk on the nearby beach.  While walking, they got mugged, and the dude made off with the satchel containing all of the demos, lyrics, and music Paul was considering for the album; around a hundred songs!  (The satchel was never found, by the way.)  Okay, I don’t know about you, but at this point I would have been on the first flight back home, and by the time I got there, the plane would be all out of those little bottles of Whiskey.  But not Paul; he sees the silver lining in the event.  He decides that the songs he can’t remember must not have been good enough to make the album anyway, and goes with what he can remember.  As he saw it "that thief did the tough work of deciding what made the cut for me".  Damn, I wish I had that kind of attitude.  Forget Dale Carnegie or Norman Vincent Peal, Paul McCartney is the real positive-thinking king of the world.

But of course all of this would be a moot point if McCartney would have went on to produce a real turd of an album, and who could have blamed him if he did?  But, of course that wasn’t the case at all.  Band on the Run was just as pivotal an album as ... dare I say it ... Abbey Road.  Just listen to the title track (seriously, if you haven’t listened to it in a while, do it NOW)!  Any, and I mean ANY, artist could go to his grave happy for having produced that one single track.

So there you have it:  My Favorite Beatle, aka Why I’m a McCartney fan.

Paul McCartney, Nashville, July 26, 2010:

Paul McCartney, Nashville, July 26, 2010


Next week I’ll be back to talking about speakers.  I spent some time at the WGS factory last week and I saw and heard some incredible new stuff.  I’m just dying to spill the beans on all of it, but it’s too early for some of the products to be revealed just yet.   But what I can tell you, I WILL tell you ... next time!


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