Following last year’s underwhelming take on The Great American Songbook and an embarrassing performance at the London Olympics Opening Ceremony, Paul McCartney was in danger of being written off as a hasbeen who should gracefully retire while he had the chance. However, after hooking up with a string of producers young enough to be his grandchildren (Mark Ronson, Paul Epworth) for ventures into everything from fuzzy electro-rock to echo-laden grunge, his 16th solo album proves that he still has plenty to offer. But despite its title, New still contains its fair share of nostalgia, from his most Beatles-esque number in years (the title track) to several trips down memory lane. Here’s a look at five songs which allude to his eventful past.
Proof that the Fab Four’s early days were hardly the stuff of glamour, Macca recalls the ungodly hour’s journey he used to take each morning to the Liverpool delivery depot he worked for in between the band’s famous residences in Hamburg. This jaunty acoustic ditty not only reveals his habit of scrabbling around a particular big green bus for leftover cigarettes but also his penchant for top-shelf magazines featuring water-skiing topless history students: [LISTEN]
Featuring shades of “I Am The Walrus,” this trippy slice of psychedelia may have been named after a ball game that a young McCartney and his friends used to entertain themselves with on the streets of Speke. But there’s little that’s playful about its bitter and biting attack on a particular pouting ‘wicked witch’ who will stop at nothing in her quest for fame. His second wife’s ears will almost definitely be burning: [LISTEN]
Harking back to the days when McCartney and Lennon used to walk around their hometown in search of a gig, this reflective ballad does little to dispel the rumours of his frustrations over the lack of critical respect he received in comparison to his songwriting partner. McCartney has never sounded so vulnerable as he points out that only the duo themselves know who had the bigger creative input on an unnecessarily defensive account of their pre-fame beginnings: [LISTEN]
Inspired by the early stages of his relationship with third wife Nancy Shevell, this soppy serenade finds McCartney in the same anxious mood he appears in throughout the record. But instead of his usual anguished pleas for some form of emotional stability, “Scared” addresses his inability to utter the three immortal words that have appeared throughout his back catalogue on countless occasions. The fact that it’s buried as a hidden track suggests that even McCartney might be slightly embarrassed by its mushiness: [LISTEN]
Referencing Revolver‘s attack on the high levels of tax taken by the British government during The Beatles’ heyday while also name-checking the jungle-based reality show that he once described as ‘compulsive but like a traffic accident,’ this old-school acoustic blues number sees McCartney pleading with the Lord to whisk him away from an impending visit from the Inland Revenue who are no doubt hoping for a bigger slice of his $800 million dollar fortune: