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Paul's show at the Superbowl was an historic event for a number of reasons. We were all watching a living legend in action, a star from the 1960's up there on stage acting like a teenager entertaining teenagers in 2005, and the entire audience reacted on the most fundamental level. Now I've seen a lot of shows by rock legends including Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Grateful Dead and many others, and I have to say that Paul's Superbowl show was the best short rock and roll show in history.
To begin with, I did not fail to notice his choice of songs. He began his show with "Baby You Can Drive My Car", a driving piece of simple rock and roll, and then followed up with two more simple Beatles songs. Of course, Paul can afford the best musicians to back him up and I also did not fail to notice that these expert players stayed true to The Beatles tracks and played them note for note like the records. Each song was one that Paul wrote and they were all straight ahead, simple rock and roll. I also thought it was significant that he chose "Get Back" and that at the end of the song he asked the audience, "Do you want to Get Back?" The audience roared their approval. Now what do you think they all want to get back to?
The significance of what he did proves a concept that's occurred to me recently. I believe that the cycle of creativity in music is over. If you examine human history, the creative burst of energy never remains in any one genre indefinitely. Ever since the early 1990's when Van Halen, Alanis Morrisette and Jewel hit the charts there haven't been any more rock acts that are capable of sustaining their success in the recording studio. On account of this and the phenomenon of free MP3 downloading, most record companies are losing money. The old formula of having the record company put up well in excess of $150,000 to promote a new act simply doesn't work anymore. In order for a record company to recoup their initial investment in recording time and promotion, it's necessary to have an act that can write and record more than one hit record, and that's the missing key. There are no more acts who can do that and the record companies are painfully aware of this.
After Paul finished his three Beatles songs, he performed one Wings song, "Live and Let Die". I think he chose that one because it has great dynamics which lent itself naturally to the impressive light show that accompanied the song. But then Paul chose to end his show with "Hey Jude", which is certainly one of the definitive Beatles songs. In terms of the dynamics of his entire show, it was a natural choice for an ending.
I also could not fail to miss that whenever the camera panned out over the audience, all I could see were young people in the teenager to early 20's age group. I would have expected to see old hippies from Paul's generation but there were none that I could see. Of course the audience adored Paul and did the usual arm waving thing and massive lighter thing in the dark, and that means nothing because audiences do the exact same thing for famous acts with no talent. But the point I'm making here is that young people are definitely turning back to real rock and roll, Paul is one of the originals, and the audience was fully aware and appreciative. There are at least three reasons why young people are turning back to rock and roll:
So in conclusion, Paul's performance at the Superbowl represents the sports world's biggest show honoring one of the greatest and most talented rock stars ever. As an historic event, it signals the beginning of a massive return to what was the most creative time in musical history, including the classical Bach, Mozart and Beethoven era because although that music was complex, it doesn't have the breadth of style that rock and roll has. I'm talking about doo wop music, country rock, rhythm and blues, soul music, top 40 pop, the British invasion, reggae rock, ballads, political songs, sex songs, love songs, comedy rock, and the list goes on. Jazz is certainly near the top of the list of creative musical forms, but again, it hasn't got the breadth and depth of rock and roll. The Recording Industry Association of America, who has the correct statistics, lists The Beatles as the best selling artists of all time with 166.5 million albums sold in the USA alone, Elvis is second with 117.5 million, and Led Zep is third with 106 million. I think it's very significant that those statistics are becoming geometrically times greater than the number of albums that they sold during their performance lifetimes. What has happened and is happening is that the young people of today are discovering classic rock and roll, not only because they are connecting with the sexual power, but also because they recognize and enjoy the sheer brilliance of the music.
Paul is recognized as being the most popular songwriter in history and that status would explode the ego of most other artists. Instead, Paul showed his humility by shouting to the audience at the end of his show, "You were great ! Thank you Superbowl". Now THAT is a true rock star in action.
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