Songs of grace

When the talented songwriter and Fountains of Wayne bassist Adam Schlesinger passed away from Covid 19 on April 1 in Poughkeepsie, it was, for me, the closest to home the virus had hit to that point. Not very close. He was no one I knew personally, but a favorite songwriter, five years my junior, felled in his prime, a good 20 years before his gaudy season of career achievement awards was to have begun. Seems like a world ago now, and of course the hits have kept coming, many considerably closer to home.

When he died, I surprised myself with a wordy and rhapsodic tribute on social media. I don’t often obituate when famous musicians die. I have no policy against it and no judgment of those who offer tribute. I’m just most times disinclined. Schlesinger’s passing offered the occasion to ask myself why. All I could come up with is: I’m saving it all for Sir Paul.

Of course that all but assures he is going to outlive me.

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McCartney turns 78 today. He breathes melody. Plays the snot out of every rock instrument. Sings like a bloody angel to this day. Writes songs of such effortless grace it makes you feel you could do it yourself. You can’t. He was the one behind the Beatles’ innovations, a worker, a studio rat, a tireless joy-driven creator with golden ears and a taste for the outre and experimental every bit as genuine as his infallible pop instincts. My regard for McCartney never needed much of a boost, but when I watched the documentary Going Underground: McCartney, the Beatles, and the UK Counter-culture, it got one anyway. Recommended for you on this Sir Paul’s Day.

Read more installments of Village Voices by John Burdick.