Paul McCartney & Wings - Band on the Run
“My mama said the time would come when I would find myself in love with you”- Paul McCartney, “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five”
My mother was unique: her parents were Dutch entrepreneurs who came to Canada against the advice of their families to start a garden centre; she was bilingual; she was skipped ahead one year in school, landing in the same class as her older sister (a fact that I find almost incomprehensible); and she exclusively wore homemade clothes until she started buying records. But the most interesting part, at least as far as the world of pop culture is concerned, is that she could sing you the reprise section of “Picasso’s Last Words” before she could draw you a Bohr-Rutherford diagram for hydrogen (this is an unfounded claim made for hyperbolic effect, though her chemistry teacher was legendarily inept).
Music defines us. Having a favourite album is a seminal part of growing up, at least for people who were born after the 50’s. That’s at least the central idea to this project, but a large subsection of that demographic is perhaps even more defined by the musicians they love. It’s why we know who Linda McCartney is. Paul wanted to go on tour with his wife so he created Wings. Linda’s love for Paul McCartney is her only trait known by absolutely everyone who recognizes her name (followed closely by her dietary habits which were made popular by The Simpsons). It’s not her only defining quality, but it’s the most historically important. We know Linda because she loved Paul.
The funniest thing about the third and most successful Wings album, Band on the Run, is its cover: Paul McCartney, dressed completely in black except for brown shoes, is caught under a police spotlight in a crowd of similarly dressed people (burglars?) that include his wife, all caught in the headlights, all unrecognizable despite looking straight into the light. It’s funny because the burglars aren’t just burglars, they’re Pauls bandmates and life partner, and even though he is trying so hard to stay out of the spotlight by immersing himself in their tangle of un-famous limbs he can’t help but prove that even though these other people are on the record, it’s a Paul McCartney album.
I hope I’m not the only one who has more contempt toward Sir Paul than I do admiration. I’m certainly not the least interested person in my family when it comes to Wings. My dad has literally nothing to say about this album. This is my third time ever listening to the record from top to bottom, so I’m second last. My brother is a kid who went through a Beatles phase in high school (a phase I somehow dodged), so he loves Band On The Run making him number two. This leaves my mom, who doesn’t own a single Beatles album, at number one. My mom loves Wings.
“When I heard "Jet" on the radio, I HAD to buy the album as soon as I could.”- Trudy Counter
This is not how most people got into Wings. My mother obviously knew about the band before she heard “Jet,” and as a non-angry child of the 70’s had to at least like The Beatles, but from our conversation I’ve come to suspect that she only ever listened to the fab four on the radio. This seems reasonable. Given that even now I can turn on the ol’ squawk-box and expect to hear a Beatles song within two hours of fiddling with the dial or less. She still vividly remembers when John Lennon died, but her Wings records are the only ones in her collection to feature a cast member from the motion picture Help!.
She took turns buying records with her sister, Rina, with whom she shared a bed in her teenage years (again, her parents were poor Dutch immigrants who sold flowers), and when “Jet” blew her mind over the radio it was her turn to buy the vinyl. The sisters had been listening to Wings for a few years, and they liked them, but this is the album that they listened to on repeat. My mom still knows every word.
“We had a turntable that the family got for Christmas a couple of years before. It was in the living room and Opa had it rigged up so that we could switch the speakers from the living/dining room to ones he wired up in our bedroom upstairs.” -Trudy Counter
Band on the Run was such a big deal that my mom convinced her dad to take the time out of his evenings, which followed days of hard immigrant outdoor labor, to rewire the stereo in his house so that his little daughters could hang out and listen to an ex-Beatle say “bluebird” over and over and over again. He was a good father, doing that. Re-listening to music is the best way to learn how to use your ears, especially with songs that, as far as pop go, are pretty complex.Sitting on her bed with “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five” blasting on her speakers while her father sat in altruistic silence a floor below her doing whatever Dutch guys do after work, little Trudy sung along with Paul McCartney and slowly became more interesting. The thing my mom loved most was Paul McCartney, and that’s why you know Trudy Counter.