I feel torn. I have a problem with something, and it’s bugging me, and I’m not sure if it should, but it sure does.
I’m going to say it. (heavy sigh) Here it comes. Gonna say it. Right. NOW.
Paul McCartney, at age 68, has lost his voice.
There are those of you, perhaps having watched his appearance on SNL last week
, or heard him play last night, broadcast live from the Apollo Theater in New York City, who may agree with me, and some who will not. Hell, I
don’t even completely agree with me. But I considered my statement carefully, reviewed the recent evidence, and I sadly stand by my assertion. The man with the pure, effortless voice, who never hit a bum note in over 40+ years in his performing career, now struggles.
It stands out to me so much, mainly because my ears are so used to hearing his recorded work, always flawlessly sung. Up until the last couple of years or so, McCartney seemed to have no problems mirror-matching his vocal work live. It was expected of him, and he always delivered. But now I hear him do things that I never heard him do before – pushing into a gritty scream to attempt to hit a high note, the long, dragged-out, wobbling vibrato to cover dodgy held notes, the tightening of the throat to try to keep pitch. It doesn’t work. He sounds old.
Well, he is old, and I have no problem whatsoever with that. Music is for everyone, all ages, to listen to and to perform and enjoy. I guess my problem is that you can be damn sure McCartney knows what’s up with his voice. He’s a very particular musician (OK, outside of having Linda
in the band). Imagine one of his sidemen singing like that. The guy would be history
. It bothers me to think that Paul knows he is offering up a substandard Paul to audiences who will pay to see him anyway. Is that OK? (However, the most notorious shot-voice-still-playing musician is Bob Dylan. Not that he had a beautiful voice like Paul’s to begin with, but WTF? He sounds like a rock tumbler
It makes me uncomfortable. I cringe with every blown note, wishing this wasn’t what people might judge and remember later. I about died when I heard AUTOTUNE
on Paul’s last album. Oh god no. Not YOU TOO, Paul! NOOOOOOO! Sometimes, it’s just better to stop.
Or is it, I thought again, as I listened to the Apollo broadcast with MissEight. She wasn’t making any faces at flat notes or weak warbles. She was delighted at the idea of the songs being live, drumming along on her legs, telling me that “Maybe I’m Amazed” was her favorite Paul McCartney song. I felt glad – actually, really glad – that she had the opportunity to hear him at all.
Perhaps I should worry less about what has happened to Paul’s voice. After all, the real point is that he is still here, and still wants to play for people, and people are thrilled to hear him play. If he can entertain people, he should. The world needs it, flaws and all. There is still a bit of that magic in there – how else could you explain my daughter’s natural reaction to his music?
So what do we do about Paul McCartney? Well, duh. We let him be.