It was 46 years ago Paul McCartney answered his critics and John Lennon, who claimed he often wrote songs that were too corny and sentimental, with the No 1 smash, “Silly Love Songs.”
In the song’s opening stanza, McCartney sings, “You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love songs/I look around me and I see it isn’t so/Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs/And what’s wrong with that?/I’d like to know/’Cause here I go again.”
Though McCartney wrote the song somewhat tongue in cheek, like so many geniuses, he turned out to be stunningly prophetic. Because watching McCartney Friday night at L.A.’s Sofi Stadium it was abundantly clear how much the world still needs his silly love songs.
The eternal optimism of McCartney, at least publicly, is the ninth wonder of the world. Most perceptive people look at the world, and even before the horrific racially motivated shootings that happened this weekend in Buffalo and Orange County, California, know the world is pretty screwed in 2022. Racism, war, poverty, hatred, inflation, class warfare — these are dark times that see us as divided as ever.
Yet, when you watch McCartney — who is a very intelligent person and not oblivious to the horror of the world around us — you feel that not only does he still believe in Santa Claus, he may have had dinner with him the night before.
From the sublimely joyous opening of the Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love,” McCartney delivers two hours plus of happiness, faith and love. And he does it with an earnestness that is beyond admirable. Just look at the Beatles’ song “We Can Work It Out,” in which he sings,” Life is very short, and there’s no time
For fussing and fighting, my friend.” Man, that line rings different in 2022. But with the sincerity and passion in which he gets 60,000 people singing along while smiling you believe maybe it is still possible.
Throughout the night he delivers more serious moments, like the civil rights-era inspired beauty of “Blackbird,” the haunting tribute to John Lennon, “Here Today,” the beautiful “My Valentine,” for his wife Nancy Shevell, the calm of “Let It Be,” and the sublime “Maybe I’m Amazed,” still one of the most beautiful love songs ever penned.
Being the master showman he is, all those songs are strategically placed for maximum effect between the barrage of feel-good numbers, which on this night included “Love Me Do,” the rocking “Get Back,” the theatrical rock of “Live And Let Die,” the unabashed silliness of both “Dance Tonight” and “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite,” and the superb “Band On The Run.”
The main set ends, as always, with the jubilant sing along of “Hey Jude,” forever one of the most powerful live moments you can experience live. It is joyful, spiritual, life affirming, chill-inducing and a bucket list moment in life.
But it is not the signature moment of the show. That comes in the encore when McCartney and his superior band take the audience on the winding journey through the Abbey Road closing medley, “Golden Slumbers.” As has been well documented throughout history the song ends with McCartney singing in a pronounced vocal, “And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
It is another line that takes on a very different connotation in the turbulent times of 2022. It might be hard to remember that in these divided times of anger. But the magic of McCartney is that for two plus hours he makes you feel that is still the way to live your life. And for that, the eternal optimism of McCartney is even more appreciated and necessary in 2022 than ever before.