by RIP RENSE
PAUL'S SILLY TREATMENT
Seeing as Sir
Paul McCartney is in town, and next week marks the 25th anniversary
of John Lennon’s murder, I thought it especially timely to share an amusing document
sent to me by Mark
It is entitled simply
“film treatment,” and it outlines the theme of the forthcoming official
documentary of the 2005 McCartney tour. Haefeli Productions is a very wealthy and
prestigious outfit that did, among other things, the “Paul McCartney in Red
treatment came my way because I was asked to appear in the film,
commenting about McCartney’s music, but they wound up with too many people
so I didn’t make the cut.
Now, one expects these
tour videos to be all fluff and fawning. But what we have here is, well,
let’s just say that if hype were a weapon of mass destruction (when it comes
to brains, maybe it is!), the McCartney treatment would have bumped
“nukes” to number two on Saddam’s list.
READERS REACT. . .CLICK
Sir Paul’s reputation for being every bit as demure about his
accomplishments as, oh, Donald Trump, I find it hard to believe he would
approve of this. Let’s have a look, shall we? Starting with the title:
Paul McCartney; US
Yes, the man
looks great for 63, but I suspect someone is being a bit optimistic about
his longevity. Onward:
It has been said that
our emotional response to music is deeply rooted in memory. Often, whether
we realize it or not, music is reconnecting us to events in our lives, many
of them from childhood, to which the birth of our imagination is
Quick, call the high
school term paper police!
This theory might
explain the open weeping---
Wait a second. Theory?
Yes, it seems that it now requires a “theory” to explain the appeal of
McCartney. E equals Mc(Cartney) squared. In this case, the “theory” seems to
involve puerile patter about “memory” and “imagination.” Well, I do remember
The Beatles, and it does help me to appreciate McCartney, but I don't think
this idea is very competitive with Relativity. Meanwhile, here’s my theory:
music makes people happy, and McCartney’s music makes people happy, too.
This theory might
explain the open weeping, rapturous physical expression and seemingly
uncontrollable outpourings of human emotion that mark audience’s (sic) behavior
during the Paul McCartney US Tour of 2005.
Open weeping, rapturous physical expression. . .You'd
think “Lady Madonna” shed tears of blood. Well, I attended
the last two shows of the Paul tour. I saw a whole lot of
people having a pleasant time (although some left to beat the traffic!) I did not see or hear any open weeping,
thank goodness, but I’m sure it was there. Screaming Beatlemaniac girls
grown old, mourning the loss of their youth is enough to make me weep right
now. But. . .rapturous physical expression? Well, I guess it beats
rapturous non-physical expression, which doesn’t show up well on camera. The
only uncontrollable outpouring I noticed was in the men’s room. And
as for human emotion, no argument there---I saw absolutely no evidence of
cat, dog, chicken, or any type of animal kingdom emotion in the crowd.
Hmm. . .Of course,
perhaps Haefeli's group based its findings on only one audience, judging by
their use of the apostrophe. Let's continue:
|Yessir, Paul songs are
napkin rings in your psyche, finger bowls in your heart. . .Are they
talking about music here, or Prozac? Or maybe Viagra?
McCartney’s music, in so many ways defines the rock era, it has become more
then (sic) that.
Make that it has
become more THAN that, but let’s not fault a multi-million-dollar film
company for first-grade spelling errors. It’s the content that matters, and
numbers, not letters, preferably with dollar signs in front. Funny thing,
but I didn’t know there was a “rock era.” I knew there was a Pleistocene
Era, and a classical era, and maybe even an Oprah era (and an Uma era), but well, okay, let’s
say there is a “rock era.” So McCartney’s music “defines the rock era?”
“Silly Love Songs?”
“Ebony and Ivory?” “Bip-Bop? “
To quote Seinfeld: “I. .
.don’t. . . think. . .so.”
Call me a stickler, but I
think The Beatles’ music, not McCartney’s, went a long way toward “defining
the rock era,” whatever that means. And McCartney’s Beatles songs, it must
be noted, are not McCartney songs. Okay, with the exception of his lovely “Yesterday,” a tune which, contrary to rumor, does not cure cancer.
Yes, he also appeared solo on "Blackbird" and a couple more, but the rest of
McCartney’s Beatles songs are Beatles songs, because no matter how much
McCartney wrote or arranged them, they were played and sung and recorded
with. . .other Beatles. (Sometimes when those other Beatles could barely stand it.)
In other words, these
songs would simply not have been as splendid without John Lennon, George
Harrison, and Ringo Starr. Doubt it? I cite 98 percent of McCartney’s
Beatle-less solo catalogue, and rest my case.
Gee, the Haefeli
“treatment” sure is taking a long time to getting around to mentioning The
Beatles, isn’t it. . .
Now for those readers who
think I am being unduly harsh or sarcastic here, please lock up the dog and
hide the kids. You are not going to believe the next paragraph.
It has become a
multi-generational time capsule that extends through the lifelines of
children, parents and grandchildren, in a unification process that heals the
wounds of the fractured, uplifts the spirits of the masses, and transcends
the mundane lives of so many into a special place.
Yes, but when will Paul
be turning water into wine?
A grammar question.
How does one “transcend” a life “into a special place”? Transcend is
something that happens to the transcender. One does not transcend objects
into other things. Note to Haefeli Productions: Joseph Conrad did wonderful,
oddball things with English because it was his second language, but you
Let's give the benefit of
the doubt to the author of “Treatment” (is it Haefeli himself?) and assume
he does not mean that “Band on the Run” will literally mend your broken leg.
But what he does seem to say is that Sir Paulie’s music is a panacea for
uniting broken families.
Well, it sure hasn’t
worked in my case.
As for uplifting the
spirits of the masses, fine. Snickers bars and “Desperate Housewives” do
that, too. But here is the part that really should prompt Sir Paul to
immediately un-hire Haefeli: transcends the mundane lives. . .
Now it’s true that
McCartney is a knight, and it’s true that most of the people who attend
his concerts are not. But to imply that his fans lead “mundane lives," and
that they require Paul-music to transcend them, is
condescending to the point of cruelty. This is a long way from McCartney’s
touching “Another Day,” which expressed sympathy for a woman character who
was. . .leading a mundane life. Perhaps Haefeli consulted Barbara Bush?
(Er, um. . .still no
mention of those Beatles. . .)
But wait---it gets even
Paul McCartney has
been there so often for the American people in times of need.
Um. . .yes. Paul was here
during Civil War, The Depression, Pearl Harbor, the McCarthy era, the Nixon
resignation, the Loma Prieta earthquake, Hurricane Katrina, and the O.J.
trial. Forgive my lack of imagination, but isn’t McCartney just a
singer-songwriter? Have I missed his decades of devotion to the poor and
starving? Did I overlook his years of activism in the United States on
behalf of civil rights?
Look, it’s quite true
that he wrote a dreadful song, “Freedom,”
after 9/11, a time when he also urged all Americans to get firmly in line
behind George W. Bush. He said something like “he’s the boss, and you get
behind the boss in a crisis.” Not exactly “Give Peace a Chance,” eh? It’s
true he organized a nice benefit concert for New York City. It’s also true
that The Beatles happened to arrive in the States a couple months after
President Kennedy was shot, but once again I am forced to distinguish
between Beatles and McCartney history---something that the Haefeli crew just
does not seemed so inclined to do.
didn’t say, “Here they are! The McBeatles!”
|It seems that Haefeli Productions has decided
that each coming of Paul McCartney to the United States, at least to
the “finest working class” suburbs, is akin to celebrating the birth
We press on:
His musical anthems, that we have so many times turned to, have become
bigger then (sic) the joyous events and devastating tragedies of our
Eh? “My Love” and “Say
Say Say” are bigger than the loss of my father? Bigger than the death of
John Lennon? Bigger than my recovery from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Okay,
they’re not really anthems, that’s right. But exactly what anthems has Paul
written? Aside from the odious “Freedom,” I come up with exactly one: “Give
Ireland Back to the Irish.”
(Regarding yet another
“then” instead of “than,” well, another memo to Haefeli: best to check the
elementary school report cards of prospective employees.) And. . .
They have become place
holders in our soul, giving people the power to cope, the power to excel,
and the power to love again.
Whoah! This crème brulee
has been over-torched by about twenty minutes. That ain’t PR, that’s PU. An
excellent verbal imitation of suet. Yessir, Paul songs are napkin rings in
your psyche, finger bowls in your heart. . .Are they talking about music
here, or Prozac? Or maybe Viagra?Coming soon to NBC---Dr. Paul! Power to the people! Wasn’t that a
No other artist has
managed to capture the soul of the people in such an influential and
powerful way. . .
Congratulations are in
order here. By Haefeli’s appraisal, Mr. McCartney has surpassed Van Gogh,
Billie Holiday, Mahler, Edgar Allan Poe, Debussy, Duke Ellington, Ella
Fitzgerald, Kandinsky, Rodin, Gaugin, James Brown, Jane Austen, and Elvis.
And, apparently, John Lennon. That’s quite
an achievement, and all I can add is that it’s a good thing Jesus didn’t
sing. More Haefeli huff-and-puff:
These are the moments
that our film will capture and expound upon in an extraordinarily produced
concert documentary. The performance will be captured in the most state of
the art technology possible. High Definition concert production shot at a
frame rate 23.98p. This cinematic technique, combined with the most
sophisticated camera instruments and technology in the world to bring a
concert to life that has never been produced in such a “Star Wars” like
fashion, yet capturing the intimacy of a tear shared by thousands or the
gaze of grown man who was once young.
Never mind that that
last two sentences are not sentences, as we’ve come to expect this from
the Haefeli lierati. It’s good, though, that they are using the best
possible equipment. After all, it takes only the most advanced gear to
photograph the gaze of a grown man who was once young. As we know,
most grown men were never young, and their gazes are easily captured.
Our cameras have
traveled the country with Paul documenting the people who his music touches;
visiting families in the suburbs of America’s finest working class where
they gather in ritualistic fashion prior to his concert and celebrate the
day like it were Christmas. There (sic) homes tastefully accented with
mementos of the one who has so touched there (sic) lives.
Hey, it’s just great the
Haefeli only visited the “finest working class” people in America, because
you sure don’t want any riff-raff working class people talking about Sir
Paul, do you? One wonders how these finest working class people gather in
ritualistic fashion. Do they have McCartney prayer groups? Do they dance
naked around a fire and chant “ooga-booga,” or sacrifice small working class
animals? Okay, forgive me---maybe they dance naked around a fire and chant
“Live and Let Die” or “C Moon.” Guess this makes Paul a working class
hero. Wait---that was another Lennon song.
|After all, Sir Boss is the guy who wrote “my
love does it good” and “in this ever-changin’ world in which we live
Christmas? Didn’t Paul’s people learn anything from John? Don’t they
remember the trouble John inadvertently caused by comparing the Beatles to
Jesus Christ? Or his lyric, “Christ you know it ain’t easy. . .they're gonna
crucify me?” Guess not. It seems that Haefeli Productions has decided that
each coming of Paul McCartney to the United States, at least to the “finest
working class” suburbs, is akin to celebrating the birth of Christ.
(Unless, perhaps, they
meant a secular Christmas, and the Santa Claus simile instead. But that
doesn’t hold up so well, either, given that Paul is rumored to have had his
beard removed through electrolysis because he has a deep lifelong hatred for
As for their misuse of
“there,” let’s just be forgiving and assume at this point that
English is their second language.
We will hear from scholars,
astronauts, actors, poets, and musicians who articulate this phenomenon of
change in such a way, to admit that although they may have not been around
for Mozart, Beethoven or Bach, they feel privileged to have been around for
Now, I would really like
to know what buffoon has likened Paul
McCartney to Johann Sebastian Bach. I think he or she might need a music
appreciation class, or perhaps a change of underwear. And um, what phenomenon of change are they
referring to? Paul's hair color? Well, it's good that these astronauts
and poets admitted they were not around for Mozart. No shame in
For the record, Sir Paul
does not read or write music, does not have a background in counterpoint or
harmony, and as one critic noted of one of his symphonic works (written by
Carl Davis, using McCartney themes), “he does not do development.”
McCartney is every bit as much like Mozart as Oprah is like okra. One
suspects that even Sir Paul is humble enough to admit that he is not fit,
musically speaking, to kiss Beethoven’s ear-trumpet.
Finally. . .
It has also been said
that when two or more gather, sharing a common goal, enormous power can be
Sure. Abbot and
Costello, Hitler and Goebbels, Mickey and Minnie, Steve and Edie, The
Three Stooges. . .
In our film we touch
upon the thousands whose lives have become a better place as a result of
gathering around in song.
I know it will come as a
surprise to the Haefeli team, but a place is not a life. Here’s a grammar
lesson from John Lennon: “there are places I remember all my life. . .” See?
They are actually two separate kinds of things, and entirely different kinds
of nouns! Isn’t it wonderful?
But I realize it is
unfair of me to expect intelligible syntax and decent grammar, let alone
weighty thinking, from an outfit hired to facilitate idolatry. After all,
Sir Boss is the guy who wrote “my love does it good” and “in this ever-changin’
world in which we live in.”
Both of which are lyrics
from McCartney songs, not Beatles songs.
The Beatles being that
group that Haefeli Productions does not mention a single time in its
“treatment” for documenting a tour built almost entirely on The Beatles’
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