In Defense of the People Who Don’t Know Who Paul McCartney Is

I was going to call this “an open letter to…” but then I realized that I hate “open letters.” Anyway, let’s calm down for half a second.

First, the background on this little Internet kerfuffle. Kanye West recorded a song with Paul McCartney. To be fair to both, and to you, our readers, I have decided to link to their Wikipedia entries. (If you don’t know what “Wikipedia” is, please Google it. If you don’t know what Google is…)

For a snapshot of what happened next, venture over to the webpage of Perez Hilton, who curated the tweets as only he could. Fabulous!

(The Atlantic has their take on the story over here.)

Next came the weeping and gnashing of teeth – Kanye does call himself “Yeezus” so that sort of Biblical behavior is to be expected – from those who “fear for the future of our country” and “don’t know what this world is coming to.” And, Moses himself, who publishes Rolling Stone magazine (there’s no other way to explain the fact that U2 was feted with the honor of “#1 Album of 2014″ by the magazine), decreed that “All Young Hebrew Men Shall Learn of the Ways of Young Paul.” Or, more accurately, it looked like this:

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney and Why Mindset Is Everything

Every Fall, Beloit College publishes its Mindset List. It makes news not just because it’s smart, but because it also serves as a bit of a time capsule whipsaw thing. Tupac Shakur has never been alive during the lifetime of a student who started college this past fall? That’s illuminating as heck – and probably brings us back to our original point here, eh?

I did a flashback of my own when this Kanye/Sir Paul story broke – to when I heard that John Lennon was murdered. TBH (shorthand for “to be honest”), I had no clue who he was and, since there wasn’t a CNN screen crawl back then, my first guess was that he had something to do with the Communists. I was nine at the time and was stuck in the world of what pop music was being crammed down my throat on the Top 40 station, or what sports event was on one of the four channels of TV we had. The Beatles hadn’t done anything to make me know they existed – and the 8-Track tapes in the van DID expose me to cool stuff, but it was Simon and Garfunkel, Stevie Wonder and the Guess Who.

So, December 1980 – could you blame me? January 2015 – can you blame someone who is in their late teens, or even early 20s?

We’re a much, MUCH more fractured, narrowcasted world than we were in 1980, or 1990, or even 2010.

My Annual Exercise in Cluelessness

Name the industry, name the genre, name the thing – it’ll pass you by in an instant. In my lifetime, the Beatles didn’t exist – they broke up before I was born, all went off to their own solo projects, rock and roll continued to evolve. Bringing me to one of my annual highlights – and, hopefully, bringing us full-circle. Each year, I pick up (virtually, no one READS PAPER MAGAZINES ANYMORE) SPIN Magazine’s Top 50 Albums of the year. Since I consider Rolling Stone’s list so laughable – really, U2 and Bruce Springsteen as 1-2 on the list? REALLY? – I won’t even link to it, I’m looking for something legitimate. Plus, the writing is outstanding. (As Elaine told us on “Seinfeld,” “People love interesting writing.”)

This year, of the 50 artists, I had heard of – HEARD OF – five.

I consider myself to be somewhat pop-culture literate.

Kanye’s Advantage

So really, can you blame all the people who asked whether Paul McCartney’s career would now catch fire because Kanye West recorded a song with him? Consider the fact that Kanye is married to a woman who is famous for being famous, everyone not only carries a computer in their pocket but uses it all the time to talk about Kanye and his wife, AND we’re living in a world with thousands of channels not just on television but on computers and phones and all sorts of internet-of-things devices. There’s no off button, it seems, and no way of escaping Kanye – and no way of hearing about every single exploit of a septuagenarian musician.

Then again, maybe that’s Paul’s advantage.


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