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Well, Happy Birthday to James Paul McCartney, who was born this day in 1942 and grew up to be one half of what became arguably the greatest songwriting partnerships in popular music.
What a gift he had, to seemingly exhale melodies. What a remarkable, innovative bass player, to boot. What unforgettable harmonies — so tightly wound, so perfectly matched — he and John Lennon and George Harrison brought to us out of their scrappy Liverpudlian backgrounds, all grounded by Ringo’s perfectly-honed fills and metronomic backbeats.
Thing - Paul - McCartney - Youth - Dude
But the thing about Paul McCartney in his youth is this: he was a much tougher dude (and a better lyricist) than we remember. He was very much a driving backbeat himself — an original “lead from behind” sort — who acted like he was giddy to be along for a ride when in fact, he often had control of the wheel.
He was the one who taught Lennon how to tune a guitar, how to play actual guitar chords, not banjo chords, how to find chords on a piano and grow from there, and even how to write a song. He was the one who brought George Harrison in as lead guitarist. He was the one who argued vociferously against Stu Sutcliff — a talented artist but no bass player — remaining in the early band, to the point of physically brawling with him in the middle of one of their roustabout, amphetamine-fueled all-nighters in Hamburg, while the band played on. He’s the one who made bold to replace Pete Best with Ringo. He was the one, ultimately, who decided the Beatles would tour no more.
Lennon - Beatles - Crown - McCartney - Force
If Lennon wore the Beatles crown, McCartney was the diplomatic force behind it — the guy who would get his way while making everyone else think an idea was theirs. He maneuvered...
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