The Steve Miller Band (with Paul McCartney): “My Dark Hour”
Really, you’d never make a lot of connection between Steve Miller and the Beatles. Miller’s music has always been blues-based; he never showed a whole lot of Beatles influence (although I suppose you could make a case for “Rock ‘n’ Me” being somewhat like “Get Back”). So it surprised the heck out of me back in the late ’70s when I bought Miller’s Anthology double album, which compiled the best of his late ’60s, pre-“Joker” era (when the Steve Miller Band’s biggest hits were still “Space Cowboy” and “Living in the USA”), and found that he had worked with Paul McCartney on a pair of songs on his 1969 album, Brave New World.
I don’t know the circumstances behind their meeting up, or how McCartney ended up playing bass, drums, and singing background vocals on “My Dark Hour” and “Celebration Song” (under the pseudonym “Paul Ramon”). And I’m going to resist the temptation to research that information, because if I still haven’t felt the need to figure it out over 30 years later, I ought to just let it go. Better that you hear this song (if you’re hearing it for the first time) in that cloak of mystery, the way I did — I think it makes it sound even better. What I do know is that McCartney really seems to be having a great time, and in a way it sounds very much like a track that McCartney would have put on his Ram album a few years later (most reminiscent of that album’s “Smile Away,” perhaps). McCartney’s solid drumming is on display here, along with energized vocals that make you wonder if this was the most fun he’d had recording a song in some time, given that the Beatles’ days of having fun together were by then a thing of the past. In any case, it’s a great, obscure track that deserves to be showcased — rather than hearing “Fly Like an Eagle” again for the 5-millionth time (and you may note a very distinct resemblance between this song’s intro riff and the one from “Fly Like an Eagle”).