Paul McCartney and Wings: “Junior’s Farm”
I’m back from a 7-day, 3000-mile driving trip with the family, covering, in order: Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, and Washington. That’s a lot of miles on the road — and as a result, I didn’t have much access to WiFi along the way and just not a lot of time for writing.
But on the Friday before that, as you may recall from my post that day, I saw Paul McCartney play at Safeco Field in Seattle. And boy, were my low expectations (as I stated in that post) way off base: it was a remarkable show. Paul is sounding better than ever at 71 (well, not ever — it’s hard to sound as good as he did with the Beatles, of course), and still has tons of energy. If anything, it was a better show than the previous time I saw him in the ’90s. His band was right on the money, he was always upbeat and engaging, and they even threw in a special surprise at the end: since he was playing in Seattle, he brought out Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and Pat Smear during the first of two encores for an impromptu Nirvana “reunion” (as much as can be without Kurt Cobain, anyway — now THAT would have been something, seeing Cobain and McCartney singing together). They stayed with him through the second encore as well, joining in on “Cut Me Some Slack” (a song this odd collaboration wrote and performed and later recorded to benefit Hurricane Sandy victims), “Helter Skelter,” “Get Back,” and others.
Even without the energy of Grohl and Co., McCartney was truly amazing — it was easily one of the best arena concerts I’ve ever seen, and really, it’s up there among all of the hundreds of concerts I’ve been to. I never would have thought I’d be saying that, but it’s true. He has found a new reserve that should keep him rocking as long as continuing good health allows him to. See him if you can.
So I feel inspired to post one more McCartney song in honor of the show — this time, it’s his great 1974 single, “Junior’s Farm.” One thing that I think has turned some people off over the years of McCartney’s solo career has been that there has often been a self-consciousness to his rockers. Sort of like he’s just pretending to rock — on songs like “Rock Show,” to name one of the most obvious. It’s a type of good-natured goofiness that doesn’t work for everyone — personally, it’s never really bothered me, but I understand how it could. And of course, he has produced his fair share of material that’s simply too light to take very seriously anyway. But then there are the times when he’s produced rockers where he seems to forget himself and simply rocks with abandon. Songs like “Jet,” for example, and then, even more so, “Junior’s Farm.” There’s something like a heaviness to it that is present on very few songs in McCartney’s solo and Wings catalog — and I love it. I think it’s always been one of my top 3 of his post-Beatles songs. It never appeared on any of his albums aside from greatest hits compilations, and in a way that makes it stand out even more as one of the best radio singles of the ’70s. Rock on, Paul.