The Rock n Roll Curmudgeon Rides Again!

By Mike Jurkovic


Author’s Note: I’m hoping that many in the HudsonValley & NY region will recall my maligned musical musings as the Rock n Roll Curmudgeon, a monthly column of cultural insight and rock n roll ridiculousness that ran in Rhythm and News Magazine from 1996-2003.

 Paul McCartney at 76


With the recent release of one of his strongest solo collections, Egypt Station, and this year’s 50th anniversary of “Hey Jude” and The WhiteAlbum, imagine Paul McCartney bounding across the global stage and not playing any Beatles songs. He's done it before on the Reeperbaum and at the Cavern.The Jacaranda in Liverpool. St. John's Hall in Lancashire.The Star Club.The StanleyAbattoir Social Club Dance.The Casbah Coffee Club.TheTower Ballroom in Brighton.

I've been obsessing over the following hypothesis forever, but most stridently since Friday, July 17, 2009. It was opening night at Citi Field - a for-the-ages show Emily and I were truly fortunate to attend with our two great friends Jodie and Jeff. Even with a dicey mix along the first base line, there was a surging spirit from the stage that rainy, celebratory night. It was the gut level feeling of man looking to bask in his achievements, yet, at the same time, cast aside all stringent fan expectation.The roiling evidence were the twists and turns of a lacerating and scorching “Helter Skelter.”The shredding fierceness of “PaperbackWriter.”The relentless “Let Me Roll It” and the exultant, childlike wonder of  “SingThe Changes.”


For over fifty years, McCartney - great humanitarian that he is - has always held his adventurous, creative fluency in check, held his deeper musicality at bay in favor of the people's hits. Sullivan, Madison Square, The Concertgebow. Shea, Wembley, the Vatica. Always the hits. Always the charming grin and chatter to make the girls swoon. Who in their right mind, you might ask at this late juncture, would want to screw with that?


Associates still alive ‘n kicking might recall how I came home from that firstWings rock show, his first NY appearance since the big Beatle bye-bye. Scalping my way into the nose bleed seats, Madison Square Garden, 5/24/76 and buzzing about the music and a girl named Maria, decked head to toe in Beatle memorabilia whom I sang with all night. (For the record, they performed five Beatles song that night and for most of the tour, unlike the twenty-three out of thirty-six he performs regularly now.)

It’s nagged me through shows in '89, '90, & '93. It hit me again at Carnegie Hall for “Standing Stone” in '97.This idea of a no Beatles show came at me again at shows in '02, 04, ’09, ’10. Yankee Stadium 2011 seat 5, row 5, section 211, and at subsequent shows since.

When last I saw him (9/11/17) McCartney performed a nearly 3 hour, 36 song set (including encores.) Sooo, with the new release featuring such strong, satisfying songs as “I Don’t Know,” “Happy With You,” “Confidante,” “Dominoes,” the none-too-thinly-disguised anti-Trumpian, suite “Despite Repeated Warnings,” and “Who Cares,” I’ve taken the nervy and painstaking freedom to arrange a set-list sans Beatles. I’ve also attempted to lay out the tunes as Macca might perform them, full band, solo piano, solo acoustic, full band. I’ve also included the highest Billboard chart position, original album, and other ephemera I thought necessary to win you over to my righteous side of the argument.

Now imagine, not one Beatles song:

1. My Brave Face (full band) (#25, Flowers in the Dirt, 1989)
2. Helen Wheels (#10, Band On The Run, 1973)
3. Jet (#7, Band On The Run)
4. Let Me Roll It (concert staple, Band On The Run)
5. Ever Present Past (sharp, concise rocker, Memory Almost Full, 2007)
6. Drink To Me (Picasso's Last Words) (Band On The Run)
7. Sing The Changes (anthemic tune, Electric Arguments, 2008)
8. Call Me Back Again (solo piano) (New Orleans sway, Venus and Mars, 1975)
9. Ballroom Dancing " (Tug of War, 1982, Grammy Album of the Year)
10. Wanderlust " (Tug of War)
11. We All Stand Together " (Rupert & the Frog Song, 1983 UK #3)
12. My Love " (#1, Red Rose Speedway, 1973)
13. Maybe I'm Amazed “ (#10, McCartney, 1970)
14. Queenie Eye “ (#27, New, 2013)
15. The World Tonight (full band) (#23, Flaming Pie, 1997)
16. Nothing Too Much Just Out Of Sight (blistering distorted blues, Electric Arguments)
17. New (New, 2013)
19. Here Today " (Lennon tribute, #46, Tug of War)
20. Early Days “ (New)
21. Calico Skies " (Flaming Pie, 1997)
22. Jenny Wren “ (Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, 2005)
23. Ram On/Junk “ (Ram, 1971)
24. That Would Be Something " (McCartney)
25. The Songs We Were Singing (Flaming Pie)
26. Every Night (full band) (McCartney)
27. Too Many People (Ram)
28. Tug Of War (Tug of War)
29. I Can See The World Tonight (#64, Flaming Pie)
30. Band On The Run (#1, Band On The Run)
31. Wine Dark Open Sea (Off The Ground, 1993)
32. No More Lonely Nights (#6, Give My Regards to Broad Street, 1984)
33. Live And Let Die (#2, 1973 Wingspan, 2001)
34. Mull Of Kintyre (Britian’s biggest single, Wingspan)
35. Fine Line (#31, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard)
36. Hope of Deliverance (#9, Off The Ground)