Paul has always been my favorite Beatle.
I was in junior high school when I got hooked—during that time there’s a good chance that if you found me listening to music on my iPod nano, it was The Beatles.
Perhaps it was Paul’s youthfulness and humor that made him approachable to me at that age in a way that John wasn’t. Paul was someone you might have known in real life, but John and George seemed otherworldly.
That otherworldliness is a part of why John in particular is regarded as the driving creative genius of the group.
But this has never sat right with my love for Paul, so I was delighted to discover Ian Leslie’s 64 Reasons To Celebrate Paul McCartney which makes a very strong case for the boyish Beatle.
It’s a long list full of excellent reasons to rethink your choice of favorite Beatle. There was one aspect in particular that stood out to me.
For McCartney, the domestic isn’t opposed to the world of the imagination; it is a portal to it. He is a poet of the mundane; a writer who will start off writing about his dog, or fixing a hole, and see where it takes him.
I think this is the one that sums up the whole thing, and is what a large part of makes Paul appealing. His work offers me reassurance that inspiration can and does come from the most unassuming of places.
The need to find or manufacture deeper meaning in our work by tracing its inspirations can be paralyzing—Paul is a good reminder for me to not ignore ideas sparked from humble circumstances.
It’s clear that being a “poet of the mundane” extends beyond creative work and into the way we choose to live our lives:
His unashamed “normality” was an act of inverted rebellion, as transgressive, in its way, as Lennon and Yoko posing naked. But neither fans nor critics saw it that way, and to this day it is Lennon who best fits our Romantic idea of a great man; tortured, difficult and deep. Long before it became commonplace for male public figures to hymn the joys of parenting, Paul McCartney was showing us a different way to be a man, and we have never quite forgiven him for it.
This echoes the timeless advice from Stephen King: “Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.”