Sunday, June 18, 2006

Paul turns 64 today. He has, over time, ripened to take the pole position of My Favorite Beatle.

True, John is the one you're supposed to like; you'll tell all the leather-jacketed kids smoking behind the gym that he's your favorite, citing the ratchety scrape of "Helter Skelter" and the clap-trap backbeat of "Instant Karma," which balances out the hippy vibe of "we all shine on" by threatening that "pretty soon you're gonna be dead."

Yet despite Paul's maddening bourgeoisie sentimentality and embarassaing high-brow aspirations, he wrote the treacly confections that linger: the muted enthusiasm of "Blackbird," the anthemic sap of "Golden Slumbers," and of course, the exuberance of "Hey Jude" and "Let It Be," well-nigh unlistenable these days due to their heavy rotation on classic rock radio, reduced as they have been to so much sonic wallpaper and commercial jingle.

(The Red House Painters did establish the brilliance of "Silly Love Song" by washing it out with feedback and barbituates.)

John is still the author of Best Beatle Song Ever ("All You Need is Love"), but he turned his back on the game, testaments to love and peace engaged in a tug-of-war with the vitriol. And we can't forget George's late-era blooming, although he opted for esoteric, less-traveled Eastern paths, and never quite made good on the promise he showed on "Let It Be" and "Abby Road." Steadfast Paul is the one knocking on your door, begging to be let in, flowers in one hand, heart-shaped box of chocolates in the other, a candy-pop paean to love on his lips.