Imagine you went to an all-you-can-eat buffet, but the restaurant forced you to eat all of the food on a single plate. Every course. No matter how full you are. That is the best way to think of listening to a song by Wings. Paul McCartney has put all of the music, including every instrument, into a single song, and now he expects you to listen to it. I suppose that after the Beatles, he figured he had to go big or go home, and you can’t go bigger than Live And Let Die, a song so big that after three minutes you feel like you’ve listened to a decade of music. I don’t mean that the song encapsulates or defines a decade in three minutes: no, it’s like if you listened to an amount of music that would equal a decade of listening, and then haphazardly condensed it into three minutes.
Within seconds of questioning the grammar of “But if this ever changing world in which we live in”, the songs hits you with every instrument on Earth. Not one of each: all of them. Which tells you that McCartney really means “Live and let die”, whatever that means. Some Ayn Rand thing? Don’t worry about that. There’s this ripping flutes and marimbas section which is only there because the song was going to be used for a James Bond movie (and not a good one, either), and then a reggae part about doing your job (Ayn Rand, see? See?), then another action movie sequence, then a quiet part, then all of the instruments in the world again, and I’m having a panic attack and here comes the action movie sequence again only more intensely and- say what? It fades out? It should end with an explosion or a head getting chopped off by a sparkling purple guillotine, shouldn’t it?
Another big-production Wings song is Band On The Run. How big is it? So big, that by 1:17, nothing interesting has happened in this song, but we’ve been subjected to an instrumental intro to an intro to the intro to the song. Things pick up there, because that intro also has an intro, with some of the least necessary synth playing in the history of uncalled-for synth playing. And what is he talking about? If we ever get out of where? Being a Beatle? I wouldn’t wish being a Beatle on my worst enemy. Pardon? Oh, I said Beatle when I meant cystic fibrosis. How did that happen? Well, I must have been confused, because Paul McCartney paid an entire orchestra for ten seconds of playing. You want to complain about overproduction, it’s right there. Remember before, when he said he’d “give it all away to a registered charity”? Well, he thought of that, and then used that money to pay 2,000 classically trained musicians to play one riff one time.
I’m not going to tell you that simply singing the title of a song can’t be a chorus, but in the case of Band On The Run, it feels as though McCartney didn’t even consider that there might be better notes. Or better lyrics. I can picture a “jailer man”, we’ll forget what his business with this band is, but “Sailor Sam”? Wings must have done something really reprehensible to get that guy on their tail. Or Paul McCartney made it up. And where is the ending of the song? Paul McCartney apparently jammed so much into the beginning of the song that it literally couldn’t go anywhere. It just ends after a final disappointing chorus. It doesn’t even fade out on a meandering synth solo.
Between Band On The Run and Live And Let Die, Paul had “WHOA! TOO MUCH MUSIC!” all sewn up. The only place left to go? To write the dumbest song anyone had ever written. Magneto And Titanium Man is that song. I can picture Paul, pen in hand, with two guitar riffs, writing “doop dee doop dee doo IN THE MAIN STREET something something WE WENT TO TOWN IN THE LIBRARY zoop dap dee doo IN THE MAIN STREET”. Then he put that piece of paper in a file folder marked “DONE”. Again, this song has no ending. What was going on in the seventies that made Paul McCartney hate songs with endings so much?
Silly Love Songs, from Logan’s Run: The Musical, asks the question “What’s wrong with that?” And what’s wrong with the mime who shows up at 2:40 in the video? My vibe on the costumes is that The Ghost Of Terrible Ideas, a distant cousin of The Ghost Of Christmas Future, but no less grim. Paul was visited by this ghost, who showed him this clip, but Paul’s competitive streak kicked in and he said “I’ll throw in an abysmal slap bass solo and beat you at your own game, ghost!” and then he went one better and not-ends the song where you least expect it. Here’s a picture of the souls Paul McCartney had devoured by this point in his career:
Those shrieking, tortured souls, paying for their vices and cruelties, were instrumental in writing With A Little Luck. A more hateful, spite-filled song has never been written or performed, and Margaret Thatcher was prime minister when punk was relatively new.
“Right, then, fade in that sound it made when we electrified the Pacific Ocean. Perfect. And again… brilliant!” Fact: more of Paul’s money that didn’t go to a registered charity went towards making the Pacific Ocean a sea of high-voltage death just so Paul could have that sound in this song for no reason at all. The video features families from a small town near Liverpool whose souls Paul had removed so they could enjoy and dance to this number. Look at their faces: they’ll never feel again. Some of them are children! And again: this song has no ending, which makes the joke all the more callous.
Perhaps Paul was content to Let It Be, but I think it was more than that. The entire discography- an entire decade- and not one ending to a single song? That indicates some sort of motive. Paul McCartney’s hatred of songs with endings was the driving force behind Wings, and that hatred of endings inspirited Wings to release seven albums and then…