brent johnson introduces a new column to pop-break: Lost Songs …
I prefer to listen to my iPod on shuffle.
The reason is simple: As I skip from song to song, I get a little burst of excitement when the wheel lands on that special track that few seem to understand. The one that wasn’t a hit. The one that was sadly buried on some forgotten ’90s album. The one that is so brilliant, so subtle, so gorgeous that you can’t fathom why nobody champions it but you.
It’s time to change that. From now on, every Wednesday — a day of the week made for undervalued beauty — I will present one of my favorite little-appreciated tunes. Welcome to Lost Songs.
We’ll start with one of pop’s most unfairly ridiculed acts: Wings.
Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles band has been bashed for many crimes: for being too sweet, too fey, too crappy for the man who wrote ‘Eleanor Rigby.’ (See one of this blog’s first posts for more on the issue.)
Screw that. McCartney may have a penchant for over-dosing on sugary goo like ‘Silly Love Songs.’ But no one — not John Lennon, not Andrew Lloyd Webber — has a better ear for immediately catchy and lasting melodies. And that came through on nearly every Wings album.
Especially their masterpiece, 1973’s Band On The Run. It’s possibly the second-greatest recording made by a former Beatle — bar George Harrison’s 1970 wonder-work All Things Must Pass. And if you ever want to draw me into an argument about how Wings’ music was slight, I will simply play you this track: ‘No Words.’
Just listen to the weeping melody, the escalating guitar lines, the Beatlesque chord changes, the robust harmonies — and my favorite part, when the song slows down in the middle, revealing McCartney, alone, singing one of his most challenging vocal parts:
(Bonus points: Macca co-wrote it with underrated Wings member Denny Laine — one piece of proof that Wings was a GROUP and not just Paul’s backing band.)