Okay, confession time. New music from Paul McCartney can sometimes feel like a dicey proposition. While thankfully he never destroyed his voice like Brian Wilson did, he does occasionally fall into the trap of the other entertainers his age, vainly trying to replicate the pass while attempting to remain relevant by either hiring young contemporary producers for trying to write songs that sound contemporaneous. Sir Paul is 76, and that his age it is easy to overlook and forgive any faltering or shortcomings.
Last week, he released a two song digital single for his upcoming album, Egypt Station. The first song,” come on to me,” underwhelmed. Though the melody was upbeat, lyrically the song, dedicated to pursuing a young woman, came off as a bit silly–if not slightly creepy–as hearing the romantic exploits of a 76 year old man comes off as extremely cringeworthy.
But Macca is still a masterful songwriter, and “I Don’t Know” certainly makes up for the other songs weakness and silliness. It starts as a somber piano ballad that soon morphs into a song about the frustrations of life and the tiny little universal struggles everyone goes through on a day-to-day basis. Surprisingly, it’s one of Paul’s most effective and meaningful songs from the past two decades. Why? Because he’s not trying too hard to make a statement, and he’s speaking in a universal way that makes sense to listeners of every stripe.
“I Don’t Know” shows that Paul has not lost touch with the common man, and is still able to conjure wonderful songs with a universal message. At his age, the sad fact that we could soon be losing him and his voice becomes more realistic as the days pass, so the very fact he is still writing and recording is an impressive enough accomplishment. That some of this material can easily stand up with is work from his prime golden years only makes “I Don’t Know” even more special.