Skip to comments.Sir Paul, Elvis now perceived as 'safe'
Posted on 02/11/2005 6:19:28 PM PST by qam1
Sir Paul McCartney certainly cleaned up the Super Bowl half-time show's image, didn't he? Nothing racier was to be seen than a spiffy red shirt, revealed by McCartney removing his coat.
It was during the first half of play, however, that Mr. McCartney impressed me with his supreme confidence. If you were watching the game, you saw a number of "cutaways" of Paul McCartney enjoying the proceedings from a V.I.P. box. If I am not mistaken, one of those closeups was seen at the two-minute warning, just moments before the half-time show was to begin.
That may not seem like much, but I have been around performances all my life, and it would be unusual -- almost unprecedented -- for a musical performer not to be in place, checking with the musicians, the stage manager, the producer, the TV director and then taking a few final moments to go through the lineup in his mind, long before the downbeat for a big show.
And this was a big show. I have not seen the estimated audience number, but it must have been in the hundreds of millions worldwide. Not just because of the global popularity of Sir Paul, but because of the previous year's calamitous peep show. Would there be redemption? Or just another adolescent display? None of that seemed to bother Mr. McCartney. He was so confident that he went directly from his luxury box to the stage in the middle of the field just minutes before being hit by the spotlights.
The musical choices were interesting. Picking " Hey Jude" was obvious. In terms of sales of singles, it was the most successful Lennon-McCartney song of the Beatles era. For those who don't remember, it was released in late summer of 1968, and it was No. 1 for nine weeks in that year when America was having its nervous breakdown. "Hey Jude" reigned in the aftermath of assassinations, riots, a contentious convention, and it was the national soundtrack under the presidential election of Richard Nixon over Hubert Humphrey.
In other words, it was -- and is -- a baby-boomer anthem, charged with nostalgia for those who reached their majority in the Vietnam-era. Serious articles have been written about its deeper meaning. All of that seemed evident in the reaction of the huge crowd on hand in Jacksonville to watch a football game.
Another choice of song had me scratching my head. It was post-Beatles, written by Sir Paul and his late-wife Linda McCartney in 1973 for the James Bond movie "Live and Let Die." Whether there was a hidden meaning to its selection or not, it provided an excuse for a remarkable pyrotechnic display, all timed to the music in the best tradition of the WEBN Labor Day Weekend fireworks.
For some of us, it is difficult to think of Paul McCartney as a "safe" choice for America's favorite event. Was it really so long ago that the Beatles were being denounced by parents coast to coast as a terrible influence on the nation's teen-agers?
Yes, I suppose it was.
And just a few years before that, Elvis Presley was viewed as the devil incarnate by many parents and religious leaders for his suggestive leg and hip movements while he was singing. Those same parents and religious leaders now hail him as an icon of wholesome America.
And a few years before that, Frank Sinatra, "Frankie Boy," was severely criticized in the wake of mass swoonings by "bobby-soxers" at his performances. His style was called "unmanly."
Only the most mature among us will remember that even Bing Crosby in the early days of his career was not immune. One critic wrote, "His 'ba-ba-ba-boo' is a flagrant attempt to seduce the young and innocent girl." That was 1932.
The pattern is familiar, and it will not change. But it does give us an opportunity for interesting speculation. Which of today's pop artists, particularly the most outrageous, will be the "safe" choice headlining the half-time show in 30 years? Any predictions?
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Who in 1968 would've ever mistaken Ozzy Osbourne for Ward Cleaver in 2005?
Frank Sinatra's style was 'unmanly'?
You gotta be kidding me!
Paul always was the "safe" Beatle, wasn't he? Or maybe that's just his reputation. Was he basically an old fashioned guy just following John or George in the 1960s? Or is this just anti-Paul spin from the John Lennon camp?
I'm betting Keith Richards. He'll never die...
he was definatly the safe beatle (ringo too)
john was the R&R cutting edge guy and george was the
Xian alternate religious experimenter.
i could never make up my mind who i liked better between john and george.
man they really influenced me i can't believe either is gone. ouch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Somehow, I don't forsee any of the Gangsta Rappers so popular these days as ever being deemed "safe." Not in the near future, at least.
"Another choice of song had me scratching my head. It was post-Beatles, written by Sir Paul and his late-wife Linda McCartney in 1973 for the James Bond movie "Live and Let Die."
I'm a Boomer, not a Gen X-er, and I think that song rocks. It always gets me up. I love the orchestration behind it.
Safe bets for 2035? I haven't a clue. :)
At any rate, given that the current controversy has been about boobs popping out of clothing in front of 300 million viewers -- a spectacle that, if elaborated this year, would probably have inspired another fanatical muslim attack on our soil within the next few months -- I agree that McCartney was a good choice to redeem the Superbowl halftime image.
And his show contained far more substance than one would have experienced had another abysmally untalented 20-something pop star been strutting across the stage, her fat ass and belly spilling out of her ill-fitting and overtight pants, moaning her lyrics like a cow in heat.
He's already dead - but the drugs keep him moving
How about Marilyn Manson? Maybe he would be considered safe on another planet?
"Didn't Beatle Lennon once say that they were more popular than Jesus?"
Yes he did and he meant that as a criticism.
The Beatles hated Beatle Mania and the quasi religous ferver of 100,000 screaming fans gave them the creeps.
That's why they stopped touring after the US tour where they opened at Shea Stadium.
"Safe" is dead. The only "safe" performers are those directly aimed at pre-teens, like the Wiggles. Looking back beyond 30 years ago, there were a multitude of pop stars who didn't need to venture out on the edge in order to maintain their appeal -- in fact, back then, "the edge" was dangerous. Jerry Lee Lewis was, in his time, even "edgier" than Elvis by suggesting that girls "shake baby shake." Marrying his 14-year-old cousin wasn't fatal to his career, but it sure stopped it with air brakes.
I still remember the first time I saw a commercial with a Ramones song on it -- it was a Budweiser spot in which a Bud truck morphed into a hot rod. After NYC and LA, San Francisco was huge hotbed of the punk movement (spawning the then-shocking Dead Kennedys), and I never thought that the grimy, scuzzy likes of the Ramones would be deemed worthy of commercial embrace. Just as surprising was the fact that such a licensing deal could only occur with the complicity of the "punk."
At the time, I thought that this would never happen with the so-called "Only band that matters," The Clash. I was wrong. Before the end of the 20th Century, "London Calling" was the soundtrack for Jaguar ads, and "Should I Stay or Should I Go" was plugging Stolichnaya vodka.
I was thinking about the devaluing of pop stardom that has occurred in the past decade or so -- such that half way through the '00s, a frog-voiced lightweight like Ashlee Simpson has a #1 CD. (BTW, I believe the "acid reflux" story; it isn't as if she wouldn't have sucked if she wasn't syncing to a CD, because, after all, it's still her.) I was thinking about the last pop star that actually grew over the years of his/her stardom, and I could only think of one person: Madonna. As much as I detest her activism, her promotion of immorality, and her mocking of organized religion, when she first came on the scene she was a thin-voiced chirper singing Latin-tinged dance pop ("Holiday", "Borderline," "Lucky Star" ) that was the specialty of her boyfriend, Jellybean Benitez. But in the same way that I reluctantly admitted the genius of Edward Van Halen (the guy who took Valerie Bertinelli away from my marriage -- and honeymoon -- fantasies), I acknowledge that Madonna progressively grew as a singer. The early-80's Madonna could have never managed "Vogue." (However....recently, she has shown she is behind the times and running out of it. Music and everything after has been dreadful.) Britney Spears is, in my opinion, looking forward to being a mother because she knows the sand is just about out of her time as a performer -- she has stretched her meager talent to the limit, and now, even her earliest fans see right through it like gauze.
Oh, yeah, back to Clooney's question. I don't know who will be "safe" in 2035. If Eminem is up on the 50-yard-line during halftime of Super Bowl LXX joking about telling his mother to lie still as he rapes her, I am not sure I want to be in a world in which that's family fare.
That makes sense.
Actually, the parents of the teenagers of the 1950's would be pushing 90 by now so they are almost all dead. They probably went to their graves thinking that Western Civilization went down the toilet after Elvis Presley.
Today's parents and religious leaders think of Elvis as that guy that their own parents used to when they were teenagers.
Anyone who would confuse Elvis with "an icon of wholesome America" is too young to remember how he died.
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