I have briefly touched on this and other blogs about the one album I love which my father and my Uncle Richard, who basically taught me what I needed to know about rock music, both seriously dislike with a passion: Sir Paul McCartney’s Ram.  It’s akin to our 2001 debate, because my respect for Ram comes from something very special about it which is hidden under the surface.

But first, let me make one thing clear: Ram is not a deep album in the way John Lennon and Bob Dylan and The Who made deep albums.  The melodies are childishly simple, even when Sir Paul crams three or four of them into five minutes.  And the lyrics…all I need to say is that “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” was on this album.  That song topped the Billboard charts even though it’s nothing but nonsense, Sir Paul squeaking and moaning at every bit of his register, and a French horn.   If you’re looking for profound statements about the human condition, you don’t go here.  If you’re looking for the kind of songs you make up when you’re sitting on the back porch drinking with your buddies or trying to calm down your kids in the bathtub or just fiddling around with your new guitar singing whatever nonsense comes into your head, you’ll find it on Ram.

But that’s the point.

I think about how my friends have sat around with their guitars and written songs that try to be poetic gems but instead come out all corny, but they don’t care because they’re songs for their girlfriends and their girlfriends love them.  Near the end of Ram, Sir Paul writes a song for Linda McCartney (who plays a few instruments and does back-up vocals…there’s a reason why she’s credited) called “Long-Haired Lady.”  It’s THAT kind of a song, but he arranges the band and the back-up singers with so many levels of harmony, so much care, that it sounds like a smash hit record.  And the rest of it…it doesn’t matter if he’s singing about looking for a home in the heart of the country or dogs with three legs or eating monkberry moon delight, whatever the heck that is, his voice is pitch-perfect, the instruments sound divine, the arrangements bring out everything the melodies can give.  This is an album of stuff you make up with your family and your friends, and it’s being recorded by a man who KNOWS that our spuses, kids, and buddies/girlfriends are the most important parts of our lives (after God, but that’s just me).  Ram is a beautiful shout-out to simple domesticity, to being ordinary, and Sir Paul doesn’t celebrate it by turning the ordinary into the mythological like in Bruce Springsteen’s epics, but by letting it be goofy and ordinary.  That’s why his wife got the credit.  And that’s why “The Back Seat of My Car,” which is as ridiculous as “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey,” ends the album on such a triumphant note.

And Ram has “Dear Boy,” a kiss-off to Mrs. McCartney’s ex-husband which is one of my special favorite Sir Paul McCartney tunes.  It’s two and a half minutes of piano, chorus, and dancing-shoes ready pop bliss.  It also just kinda sorta sounds like “Honey Pie,” so I don’t even have to ask my dad what he thinks about it.

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