Sunday, December 27, 2009

Autotuned Out

I'm Talking to You, 67-Year-Old Rock Stars.

My unsolicited advice to a certain beknighted ex-Beatle?

Here's a list of 10 things you might want to avoid:

10. More plastic surgery. Seriously, dude, your face is looking more and more like Angela Lansbury's every day.

9. The reappearance of your 70s mullet. (C'mon, you're worth a half a billion dollars. Get a haircut that's less than 30 years old.)

8. Sucking up to Simon Cowell on the X-Factor.

7. Mugging for cameras. (Do you even know these days that you're doing it?)

6. Playing the ukulele. Seriously.

5. Rereleasing your albums in "deluxe editions" months after they first appear so your die-hard fans (who waited for Starbucks to open to buy the album in the first place) have to buy it again. Again, you're worth a half a billion dollars -- you don't need to do this.

4. Indulging in endless revisionist history about John Lennon. Yes, yes, you were cool too in the 60s. We get it.

3. Refusing to admit that your vegetarian lobbying stems from being attacked with a ham sandwich thrown by Suzanne Vega's punk boyfriend in the 1970s.

2. Writing and recording a protest song to promote "Meat-Free Monday" in under 5 minutes and then expecting people to take your message seriously.

1. Autotune. As great as it is that the Good Evening New York CD/DVD is the full concert, some of the songs are autotuned half to death. No one expects you to sing perfectly live (especially at age 67)... but it would be nice if you sounded human. (And fuck that "Citi Field" bullshit. It's Shea Stadium.)

Come to think of it, though, I'd rather see a non-autotuned concert for a few hundred people in a record store in Hollywood than an autotuned stadium show shot with 15 High-def cameras.

Paul McCartney Live at Amoeba Music 2007:


Anonymous said...

#10 -- because he's the cute one? lol

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Well said, Alex! Paul sure can be and often is incredibly frustrating, though of course (I predictably note, lapsing into senile maudlin as I am wont when it comes to the lads) in the end I think it’s clear that he really DID make John a better songwriter and really WAS irreplaceable in creating the Beatles sound. (That all the rest of the Beatles were vital to reigning in Paul’s excess hokum is of course inarguable -- and nearly goes without saying.) Admittedly, part of my tolerance for the old man’s tomfoolery is surely due to my own incredibly old age. What to you youngun’s is plainly just an old man’s sad play at “acting young” can look to an old fart like a peer’s understandable refusal to sit down and shut up.

Speaking of which, I’ve daydreamed about how interesting it would have been to live in the alternate universe in which, instead of pushing their ill-fated ‘65 & ‘66 summer stadium tours, Epstein had instead encouraged them to continue playing live – and having fun as a group – with unannounced small-club mystery dates while simultaneously developing parallel solo careers with the blessings of all …

Alex said...

Who, you have it completely right (I think) -- the competition between Paul and John pushed both of them to heights neither would have reached alone -- and (mostly) helped reign in both of their excesses. You know, I don't want Paul to sit down and shut up either -- and his casual and effortless brilliance at times makes his hokum all the more infuriating. (And the Amoeba show was so good -- imperfect vocals and all -- that it makes it clear how great a performer Paul can be when he's concentrating more on the music and less on pleasing each and every person in each and every stadium seat.)

PS: And I like the idea of your alternate universe -- maybe if Epstein saw himself more as a manager of the Beatles career and less as a manager of tours it might have happened.

Holly A Hughes said...

Well, I was at that CitiField concert (hey, Shea Stadium was such a pit, I refuse to try to perpetuate that name). Paul's voice sounded pretty excellent to me -- astounding, really. Not to mention his energy level, which put all of us more-than-30-somethings to shame.

I do wish he'd lay off the cosmetic surgery; I wish he'd stop dyeing his hair, too. But I'm still in love with the man, and always will be. I believe all he needs is someone whose honest opinion he values as much as John's once did. I'll wager Paul is surrounded by toadies and panderers and flunkies and sycophants who tell him that everything he does sounds great. In point of fact, 90% of it still does sound great (that Electric Arguments album was fantastic) but the other 10% spoils it all.

One of my recurring daydreams is that Paul will read my blog, realize what great musical taste I have, and hire me to review all his music before he releases it, just to prevent occasional lapses like "Wonderful Christmastime" and "Ebony and Ivory." Of course, he'll become so dependent on my approval that he'll then ask me to choose his clothes, vet his public appearances, share songwriting credits, and, oh, maybe marry him....well, a fangirl can dream, can't she?

Alex said...

Holly, I'd thought that Paul's collaboration with Elvis Costello might provide some needed musical balance for him... but since that doesn't seem like it's going to happen, your plan seems like a good alternative! :)

Alex said...

And is it wrong to hope that Paul will someday again do something as cool as this (starting around 2:32)?