It seems like yesterday's come round again. Paul McCartney sits alone, stage center, angling slightly forward in a straight-backed chair as he holds his six-string Ovation guitar, playing the first sinuous chords, softly easing into the familiar words.
Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away; Now it looks as though they're here to stay. Oh I believe in yesterday.
The song is a good ten years old. The place goes up for grabs: the collective memory of a generation is galvanized into sweet lyric communion; 16,500 fans in Atlanta's Omni arena stand, cheer, and start to drift away, remembering.
Or nearly. This is also a brand-new day, and a whole new generation. For a great many members of this crowdperhaps most this wonderful, wistful ballad recalls a time they never knew. Beatles are legend. McCartney, 33, is here, right now, in barnstorming triumph, making his first concert tour of the States since he and his three noted mates sang their last song together at San Francisco's Candlestick Park in the late summer of 1966. McCartney still draws many of the Beatles faithful, to be sure. He has also found a whole new audience, his audience. They have come to hear him, not history.
The concert is a study in controlled flash, spectacular but not gaudy. Even the trappings of the typical rock super-productionsmoke bombs, laser beams, meticulous lighting and shifting backdropsare used sparingly, for maximum effect. McCartney, wide-eyed, boyish, bounces along eagerly on the warm good will of the crowd. He swings into his syncopated little ditty Silly Love Songs, a current hit single (number two on the charts) taken from his latest hit album, Wings at the Speed of Sound, out two months and already gone way past gold (a million dollars' worth of album sales) into platinum (a million albums sold). His group, Wings, provides him with full-force backing, surprisingly stronger in performance than on records: Lead Guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and Rhythm Guitaristand sometime vocalist Denny Laine, co-founder of the Moody Blues, give McCartney a brawny underpinning of sound, while Joe English whacks away at the drums. Paul's homey wife Linda, 34, is there too, at his insistence. She is hardly a professional musician, but she inflicts no damage either. Linda pokes at keyboards, occasionally chiming in to provide some harmony.
Silly Love Songs is just the sort of tune that comes at the unwary out of car radios and open windows, attaching itself like a particularly stubborn lap cat. It will probably never go away. The brazen breeziness of the music is unshakable.
You 'd think that people would have had enough of
silly love songs,
But I look around me and I see it isn't so; Some people want to fill the world with silly love
And what's wrong with that I'd like to know.
It is a sort of refined disco tune, made for dancing and casual listening. At every concert Silly Love Songs gets the same amuck reception as Yesterday or any of the other five Beatles tunes McCartney performs during the course of the evening. Sometimes even bigger. Like much of McCartney's recent work, the song slips neatly, without fuss, into the mainstream.