"Got To Get You Into My Life" / Paul McCartney
Technically it's a Beatles song, of course, but I'm grooving on this song today because last night I finally got to see Paul McCartney perform live, this fulfilling a lifelong dream. Despite my longstanding McCartney infatuation, somehow I've never been able to catch him in concert before (believe me, I'm still harboring grudges against everyone who's frustrated that ambition over the years).
Did he live up to 45 years of high expectations? You'd better believe he did.
Just to be in the same room with Paul was all I asked. (Okay, Radio City Music Hall is a very big room, but I'm sure I breathed in at least some of the air he'd exhaled.) I didn't even bother to wonder ahead of time which songs he'd sing; I'd have been happy with "Silly Love Songs" and "Uncle Albert," I swear. It didn't matter; as he began each song in his set, I'd scream, "I love this song!!" What a pushover fangirl I am.
Of course I've heard all these songs hundreds and thousands of times. But that's the thing about a live performance; it intensifies everything, it makes you hear new dimensions in even the most familiar song. It's not just because Paul is such a great live performer -- though he is; I couldn't believe how strong his voice still is -- it's just the phenomenon of live performance, something flesh and blood happening right in front of you in real, unfiltered time.
It's so easy to pick apart the Beatles catalog and label some songs as "commercial" and others "artistic," or to parse which ones Paul wrote and which ones John wrote. In the long run, though, with songs this wonderful, it's all irrelevant. True, I've always thought of this song as a Paul song, not just because he sang it on Revolver but also because its breezy syncopation, internal rhymes, and all-over-the-scale melody are McCartney hallmarks. It's infectiously joyful, and not just because of those perky horn flourishes we know so well. (There wasn't a horn player on stage last night -- it was all handled with synthesizers -- and yet the flourishes are an indelible part of the song.)
Listen to how Paul tapdances through the verse: "I was alone / I took a ride / I didn't know what I would find there / Another road / Where maybe I / Could see another kind of mind there." I love that feeling of a new world opening up. If this had been a George song, it might have been about expanding consciousness and finding God, but no, this is Paul -- it's about romantic love, the thing his universe is built around. "You didn't run / You didn't lie / You knew I wanted just to hold you / And had you gone / You knew in time / We'd meet again for I had told you." Paul's irrepressible faith in love-ever-after is so touching.
That's the secret of sincere pop; you have to believe in it. Nobody has ever believed in romantic pop the way Paul McCartney does. But just to make sure it doesn't get too goopy, he pushes into a wilder rock-and-roll voice in the bridge -- "Got to get you into my life!" -- and the repeats of the fade-out. His joy just overtakes him, and he can't hold it in any more.
Watching Paul last night, it never occurred to me to wonder how many times he has sung this particular song. All I knew was that he launched into it with all the bubbling, buoyant energy of a brand-new song. For that moment in time, it was a brand-new song.
Is it my favorite Beatles song ever? No way. But that's holding it to a crazy standard: In this great world, most Beatles songs are wildly superior to most other songs. I already knew that, but last night's show convinced me all over again. My 45 years of loving Paul McCartney have NOT been wasted.