Paul Is Not Dead

Newcritics - Paul McCartney: Memory Almost Full
It is not a depressing album — one could really never accuse McCartney of trying to bum out his audience. What it is is a record by a man who has led an astonishingly full life, who knows he’s not immortal, and who faces his inevitable demise with clear-eyed honesty. It’s the artist’s fate ever to express in public what we all feel privately. This is a grave responsibility, and McCartney’s always been at his best when he takes it seriously.

Perhaps the most touching song on the record is “That Was Me,” a look back over his childhood, his adolescence, his mindboggling fame, with the astonished thought, “That was me!” It can’t be easy to have been Beatle Paul McCartney without let or hindrance for some 50 years without some coping method, some mechanism to shut oneself off from oneself, and here we see him reconnecting with the parts of himself that he shut out: “And when I think that all this stuff/Can make a life/It’’s pretty hard to take it in!” The song, despite its melancholy theme, is actually quite a fine rocker, with his voice rather more successfully roughened to his Little Richard tone.