In my opinion, “Hot As Sun/Glasses” is one of Paul McCartney’s best instrumental tracks. However, it is actually several different compositions put together and there are some lyrics at the end.
The first part, “Hot As Sun”, written in 1959, is one of the first instrumental songs McCartney wrote. A happy-sounding guitar-based melody, it uses an organ to make the carnival-sounding middle part. It then abruptly cuts into “Glasses”, which is mostly composed by the sound of electronic waves traveling through the rims of drinking glasses. This is a technique that McCartney seems to be fond of; in the PBS TV special Chaos and Creation at Abbey Road (available on The McCartney Years DVD set), he shows how it can be done.
“Every Night” is one of Paul McCartney’s greatest solo accomplishments. For the life of me, I don’t understand why it (or any songs from the McCartney album) wasn’t ever released as a single. It is rare to find a song that paints such a perfect view of romantic love while staying unique, personal, and cliché-free. Several artists have covered it, including Richie Havens, Phoebe Snow, and Claudine Longet, but not as many as you would expect from a song this great. At least McCartney himself seems to hold it in high regard, featuring it on several live albums (Concerts for the People of Kampuchea, Unplugged (The Official Bootleg), Back In The US, and Back In The World) and a greatest-hits collection (Wingspan: Hits And History).
A lot changed for Paul McCartney in the year 1969, and he reportedly didn’t handle it well. The band that his entire life revolved around—the biggest band in the world, the Beatles—was falling apart, and the resulting tangled mess of hurt feelings and legal matters left him sorely depressed. Getting him through this difficult time was his wife, Linda, who suggested that he should start working on his own music apart from the group. “Every Night” became the resulting tribute to his inspiring spouse.
This week, we look at “Valentine Day”, a short instrumental track from Paul McCartney’s his first solo album McCartney. Perhaps because it appears on the same album as five other instrumental songs, it isn’t commonly known. McCartney himself doesn’t seem to place much emphasis on it, describing the song as, “Recorded at home. Made up as I went along…, This one and ‘Momma Miss America’ were ad-libbed with more concern for testing the machine than anything else.”
I’ve heard it described as only an acoustic guitar riff, but drums, bass, and electric guitar can also be heard in it. Paul played all of the instruments on the entire album himself, a lengthy process that he currently rarely attempts. In recent interviews, he said he feels silly doing all of the instrumentation by himself.
With its short length, maybe we should reconsider “Valentine Day” as a bright, lively interlude that eases the transition from the slow-paced rocker “That Would Be Something” to “Every Night”, a tender, romantic ballad.
Despite the fact that it was never released as a single, “That Would Be Something” has been well-loved and critically praised throughout the years. Shortly after the McCartney album’s release, George Harrison, who harshly criticized the rest of the album, called both it and “Maybe I’m Amazed” “great”. He wasn’t its only admirer, though. The Grateful Dead started covering it at some of their concerts in 1991. A part of their version appears on the Dick’s Picks, Vol. 17 CD. Paul McCartney himself seems to have some fondness for it, performing it at his 1991 MTV Unplugged TV special. That version also appeared on the Unplugged (The Official Bootleg) album.
Similar to how Barry Lenser set out to profile every song by the Beatles in a series of Sound Affects posts last year, I’ve decided to do the same for the solo work of Paul McCartney. In this installment, we take a look at “The Lovely Linda” the first track off McCartney’s first solo album, McCartney.
Though McCartney was a No.1 hit album that went double platinum in the US, it is still mostly remembered for the controversy behind it. Released the same month as Let It Be, it spelled the end of the Beatles. To this day, certain fans blame McCartney for the group’s break-up, and comments by his former bandmates about the quality of his early solo work didn’t help matters much.
However, “The Lovely Linda” fits in with the album’s overall low-key, do-it-yourself approach. Recorded as a way to quickly test out his new Studer 4-track tape recorder that he had installed in his home, it is arguably McCartney’s first ever solo recording. I say “recording” because I’m not really sure if it can be considered as an entire song or not. It’s only 43 seconds long and is comprised of 30 words, if you count the la’s. In fact, McCartney himself once referred to it as “a trailer to the full song which will be recorded in the future”. However, Webster’s dictionary defines a song as either a “short poem set to music” or “the act or practice of singing”. Whether it is or isn’t really a whole song doesn’t really matter, though, because it is so pleasant and has a certain charm to it. You can’t help but be touched by the story behind its meaning. Like much of the album that it appears on, it is a delightful ode to Linda McCartney, Paul’s wife and future Wings bandmate. As a matter of fact, it has been said that you can hear her footsteps walking through the room in the background.
Next time, we’ll look at “That Would Be Something”, another song inspired by Linda.