It’s not often that a musician releases his first full album at the age of 35, but that’s the case with James McCartney. James is not related to the pop rocker Jesse McCartney, but his father once wrote a catchy tune called “When I’m Sixty-Four.” It’s said that the senior McCartney also wrote a few other songs that have been played on the radio.
Me is an album about a person facing adversity in his life. He’s not sure about his love life, his health, his career, his familial relationships, but he tries to display a stiff upper lip: “We’re on our own and we’ve got to go on…”; “I am strong enough to make it through/I am strong enough as strong as you…”; “You think I’m going to lose/But I’ll win in the end….” Still, he has his doubts, “[W]e’ve got to go on but we can’t go on forever.”
Here’s a look at the lyrics and songs on McCartney’s Me:
“Strong As You” – “It’s hard for me to say how happy I am/Happy man….” On this single from the album, James sounds like Julian Lennon and the lead guitar part that he plays will remind some of George Harrison. Badfinger also comes to mind.
“Butterfly” – “Little bird you don’t quite understand/Everything is lying in the sand….” Here James sounds more like John Lennon than Julian, especially in his phrasing. It’s a song that might have fit on the Imagine album, and there’s a trace of Dave Mason’s “Sad And Deep As You” in the melody.
“You And Me Individually” – “You and me are different/You and me were different individually….” It’s acoustic guitar opening is reminiscent of “Blackbird” from the Beatles’ White Album and reflects the fact that James and his father reacted in different ways to the death of Linda McCartney. The lighter-than-air quality of the song shows that James may have listened to Harry Nilsson’s sui generis creations.
“Snap Out Of It” – “You know that I’m not here/The candle’s burning at both ends … And I know that I can make it/And I think that I can take it/I’m not going to fake it anymore….” This is a song that’s very much in the style of George Harrison, who often mixed fear and self-doubt with grit in his compositions.
“Bluebell” – “Something pulls us close to you/Like a moth to a flame like a music box/Unwinding rewinding/I’m on my own/I’ve got to go on but I can’t go on forever….” This melodic piece sounds like a cross between two of John Lennon’s songs, “Across the Universe” and “Beautiful Boy.” It’s nicely done, although the slow pace of the music to this point begins to feel plodding. A change is on its way.
“Life’s A Pill” – “[N]ow I’m bleeding still/I know the pain will leave/When troubles disappear … Life’s a pill give it to me now.” Now the rocking begins. “Pill” sounds like a merger of “Things We Said Today,” “Running On Empty,” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and it’s just a warm-up for the next track.
“Home” – “I kind of heard it on the radio/Oh my god what am I to do….” James and father Paul kick out the jams on a song that’s a melding of Wings’ “Helen Wheels,” “Magneto and Titanium Man,” and Styx’s “Mr. Roboto.” It’s presumably the senior McCartney that kicks, punches and violently pounds on the drum kit until it’s destroyed. Yes, some serious behind is kicked!
“Thinking About Rock & Roll” – “Walking around Disneyland/It’s so pretty to me and Mickey the Mouse/And he turns and says/It’s so fine and it’s going to be mine/Life’s so fine and it’s already mine.” This is the “Silly Love Songs”-style track on the album. It’s a song about celebrating life and living and appreciating what one already has (rather than what one wants and desires). A bit silly, but fun.
“Wisteria” – “Baby if you know what love is for/Let me know what it means to you….” This one’s like a track from Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend album. It’s pure energy. Wisteria is apparently a woman’s name, although it might relate to Wisteria Lane.
“Mexico” – “Moving down to Mexico where the women treat you right/Moving down to Mexico where no one gives a shite….” A celebration of the joys of living in Mexico; it’s no threat to James Taylor’s song of the same name and theme.
“Snow” – “Nighttime falls on Manhattan city/New York like white snow/I’m on the fence for you/I’m in the zone glancing at you/Dancing with you for the very first time/Dance for the first time….” James channels John Lennon in a stunningly beautiful piano-based composition about love and winter in New York City. It’s like a lost love song written for Yoko Ono.
“Virginia” – “[M]y baby’s gone and left me … She left me at the station/And I don’t give a toss….” This is a non-essential bonus track that displays the McCartneys’ sense of wry humor. It would have fit well on the Wings’ Wild Life album.
Me is definitely a good album, but the question is where does James McCartney go from here? He is so clearly fascinated with the Lennon family sound that it might make sense for him to join with the 50-year-old Julian Lennon to write and record a collection of songs together.
What would they call such an album? That’s easy, Lennon & McCartney.