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Paul McCartney At The Superbowl
By Peter Cross
(more articles from this author)
2005-04-25
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Paul's show at the Superbowl was an historic event for a number of reasons. We were all watching a living legend in action, a star from the 1960s up there on stage acting like a teenager entertaining teenagers in 2005, and the audience reacted on the most fundamental level. Now I've seen a lot of shows by many rock legends, including Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Grateful Dead, and many others, and I have to say that Paul's Superbowl show was the best short rock and roll show in history.

To begin with, I did not fail to notice his choice of songs. He began his show with "Baby You Can Drive My Car," a driving piece of simple rock and roll, and then followed up with two more simple Beatles songs. Of course, Paul can afford the best musicians to back him up, and I also did not fail to notice that these expert players stayed true to The Beatles tracks and played them note for note like the records. Each song was one that Paul wrote, and they were all straight ahead, simple rock and roll. I also thought it was significant that he chose "Get Back," and that at the end of the song he asked the audience, "Do you want to Get Back?" The audience roared their approval. Now what do you think they all want to get back to?

The significance of what he did proves a concept that's occurred to me recently. I believe that the cycle of creativity in music is just about over. If you examine human history, creative bursts never remain in any one genre indefinitely. Ever since the early 1990s when Van Halen, Alanis Morrisette and Jewel hit the charts big time, there haven't been any more rock acts that are capable of sustaining their success in the recording studio. On account of this and the phenomenon of free MP3 downloading, most record companies are losing money. The old formula of having the record company put up well in excess of $150,000 to promote a new act simply doesn't work any more. In order for a record company to recoup their initial investment in recording time and promotion, it's absolutely necessary to have an act that can write and record more than one hit record, and that's the missing key. There are no more acts who can do that, and the record companies are painfully aware of this.

After Paul finished his three Beatles songs, he performed one Wings song - Live and Let Die. I think he chose that one because it has great dynamics, which lent itself naturally to the impressive light show that accompanied the song. But then Paul chose to end his show with "Hey Jude," which is certainly one of the definitive Beatles songs. In terms of the dynamics of his entire show, it was a natural choice for an ending.

I also could not fail to miss that whenever the camera panned out over the audience, all I could see were young people in the teenager to early 20s age group. I would have expected to see old hippies from Paul's generation, but there were none that I could see. Of course, the audience adored Paul and did the usual arm waving thing and massive lighter thing in the dark, and that means nothing because audiences do the exact same thing for famous acts with no talent. But the point I'm making here is that the young people are definitely turning back to real rock and roll, Paul is one of the originals, and the audience was fully aware and appreciative. There are at least three reasons why young people are turning back to rock and roll:

1. Forgive me for saying this, but Hip Hop and House "music" is beginning to bore them. There simply isn't enough variety in the genre, and everything the artists have to say lyrically has been said, said, and said again.

2. The body of rock and roll music that was created between the 1950s and 1990s is staggering in its size and variety. It dwarfs all other genres except for classical music, and because of its depth, it's not boring.

3. Rock and roll music can be defined as sexual energy expressed in sound. I don't think the young people are aware of what is happening, but they are "coming of age" and what that means is they are experiencing their own powerful sexual energy for the first time in their lives. Simply put, they are connecting subliminally with the very music, which embodies that energy. No other form of music has ever done that so well, and that's why so many adults and religious fanatics have called it "The Devil's music." I couldn't disagree with those misguided people more. I won't argue about it. All I will say on that subject is that ALL creativity comes directly from God, who is the creative force itself.

So in conclusion, Paul's performance at the Superbowl represents the sports world's biggest show honoring one of the greatest and most talented rock stars ever. As an historic event, it signals the beginning of a massive return to what was the most creative time in musical history, including the classical Bach, Mozart and Beethoven era because although the music was very complex, it just doesn't have the breadth of style that rock and roll has. I'm talking about doo wop music, country rock, rhythm and blues, soul music, top 40 rock, the British invasion, reggae rock, ballads, political songs, sex songs, love songs, comedy rock, and the list goes on. Jazz is certainly high on the list of creative musical forms, but again, it just hasn't got the breadth and depth.

The Recording Industry Association of America, who has the correct statistics, lists The Beatles as the best selling artists of all time with 166.5 million albums sold in the USA alone, Elvis is second with 117.5 million, and Led Zep is third with 106 million. I think it's very significant that those statistics are becoming geometrically times greater than the number of albums that they sold during their performance lifetimes. What has happened and is happening is that the young people of today are discovering them in droves because they are coming of age sexually, and they recognize and connect with the most powerful musical example of that sexual power.

Considering that Paul is known as being the most popular songwriter in history, Paul was typically humble too. After he finished playing, he shouted to the audience, "You were great ! Thank you Superbowl." Now THAT is a true rock star in action.

For more information and to contact the author, click on the author’s name at the top of the page.


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