Paul McCartney has had a longstanding love affair with New York City––this was the place, remember, where he landed when he landed in America––and so, on September 11, 2001, the former Beatle found himself on a plane that would not take off as it was on the runway just as the Twin Towers came under attack. Ever the idealist, Sir Paul immediately began looking for a way to help bring about some healing.
The Love We Make follows McCartney as he prepares for The Concert for New York City, held a month after the terrorist attacks on the Big Apple. Directed by Albert Maysles (Gimme Shelter), a man who also documented the Beatles’ 1964 visit to America, this 90-minute doc captures Macca walking around the city, greeting fans (including Ozzy Osbourne), rehearsing for the concert, and being interviewed by Dan Rather very near the height of the 2001 anthrax scare.
There is, of course, some talk of McCartney’s artistic process, his general affability––which doesn’t seem forced, even in a film that’s only going to show him in a good light––and his life as a young man in the wake of World War II. For all the good McCartney may have done during this time, there’s an awful lot of talk about doing good. While the Liverpool native’s intentions never seem anything less than honest, the lack of real action in the film tends to grate.
There’s not much in the way of performance––although those of us who witnessed the original concert can still feel The Who kick the living daylights out of our teeth, so to speak, even from the distance of a decade and a television screen. We wait and wait to hear a song that Sir Paul wrote in the aftermath of 9/11 and when it finally arrives, it’s little more than a track that would have been buried in the middle of side two on the 1986 bummer set Press To Play (his first thoroughly bad album). Good intentions don’t always make for good art and this tune––Is it called “Freedom”?––serves as Exhibit A. (He would later sideline the track, suggesting that in the wake of Jingo Fever after 9/11 the song had been “hijacked”. Sorry to say, it’s more likely that it was “forgotten”.)
There’s also footage of McCartney and his band rehearsing––seeing him tear into “I’m Down” with fervor and unrivaled professionalism is worth the price of admission––and some downtime with Bill Clinton, James Taylor, and Eric Clapton. Taylor reminisces about his early days on the Apple label while Clinton seems unsurprisingly glib and repeats a joke about the staying power of his generation at least twice. (Neither time is it funny.)
There’s not much in the way of cloying sentimentality––perhaps a surprise given that some see you-know-who as the Exalted Ruler of sap––and with a decade of distance between the filming and this picture’s airing on Showtime, it’s hard to muster enthusiasm for something that documents a painful time that only grew more painful.
Maybe the best thing to with this was to, ah, let it be.
Options include German, French, and Spanish subtitles plus PCM stereo and Dolby 5.1 sound. Available as DVD and Blu-ray.