Daily Song Study

Paul McCartney – Ou Est le Soleil

In songs on December 20, 2011 at 7:51 pm

I’ve spoken here before about the undervalued joys that instrumental tracks can contain, and this is one of my favorites in that regard. Though not technically sans lyrics, the words are minimal and serve mostly to drive the instrumentation.

Post-Wings McCartney is often justifiably impugned on a variety of counts, but his 1989 album Flowers in the Dirt succeeds much more often than it fails, not least on this number. Taking a simple progression and putting it through a variety of arrangement changes is a nice technique, one that was used to great effect throughout the ’80s by acts like U2 and Depeche Mode. Here it is done in identifiable Macca style, but with a definitive late-1980s palate. For some, that phrase conjures up images of Milli Vanilli and Technotronic, but remember that this period did bring some of the decade’s greatest audio triumphs (Graceland, So, The Joshua Tree, Deep, and Violator, among others). This may not quite reach those vaunted heights, but it shares many of their better traits.

Someone whose best work took place with arguably the most important rock band of the past century is thereafter going to be held to a standard that even the best songwriters would be hard-pressed to approach. Forget for a moment whose brain this escaped from, and just see if it doesn’t strike you as a really cool track.

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