Paul McCartney kind of saved my life once; he has no idea of course

I was away at my first year of engineering school working harder than ever before or since. My full class load was delivering six to ten hours of homework every night. I tried to keep up but it involved too many late nighters. My life consisted of meals, class, homework, and too little sleep. As my fatigue mounted I became increasingly isolated and my health began to suffer. I lost hope. I fell into a deep funk. I began thinking a lot about how I might be better off no longer walking around on the face of the Earth.

That’s when I came across this record.


This is Paul McCartney’s first solo album after the Beatles broke up. He released it in 1970, but I first heard it 15 years later in my dorm room at the center of my despair. The music sounded spare; many mixes were rough and some songs seemed unfinished. The music gave a strong sense of a man shut away in a room, playing alone, trying to get his head together. Indeed, I learned later that Paul produced and engineered the album himself, and except for an occasional backing vocal from his wife Linda he played and sang every note.

McCartney’s signature musical move has always been to find a bright side even when the going is rough. This song, which closed side 1, is a perfect example. It led me to consider that after the Beatles ended, he released (at that time) more than a dozen albums and had given concerts all over the world. It had been impossible to listen to the radio and not hear his music! He’d done quite all right in the intervening years. I could see that perhaps so could I, and so perhaps I should push through. I did, and now I’m fine all the while.

If this story sounds familiar, it’s because I first posted it in 2011.


24 responses to “Paul McCartney kind of saved my life once; he has no idea of course”

  1. Lone Primate Avatar
    Lone Primate

    Well now he might have heard about it. Maybe you’ll get a call. Or an autographed copy. :)

    I think it’s a great story that imbues something fairly day-to-day, a rock album, with a much deeper significant, but one that’s at least due in part to its own properties. I’ll bet you Paul would consider it entirely appropriate. I hope he or his press agents come across it. It’ll make his day.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Wow, what a thought, to hear from McCartney or his people because of this! I remember reading an interview with him once in which he said something like how much he enjoys the interpretations his fans bring to his music.

  2. davidvanilla Avatar

    I remember your story from an earlier date. It is an experience well-worth recalling and resharing. We need to be mindful of the little things that sometimes jog us off top-dead-center.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Absolutely, David.

  3. kiwiskan Avatar

    This one is new for me – poignant

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      And it happened going on 30 years ago now.

  4. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    Still the best live concert I have ever been to…Paul performing in the 90s at ASU’s Sun Devil Stadium in front of 80,000 plus. I was high above in a skybox and it was quite a sight to see most everyone in the crowd with their lighters in the air during Hey Jude! For those younger readers…we used to use lighters. You all hold your smart phones up now. :-)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I saw Paul in 1990 in Indianapolis. My friends and I stood in line at 5 am to get tickets and were rewarded with floor seats – no nosebleeds for us! It is a cherished memory. I love Paul’s music; my life would be immensely poorer without it.

  5. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    Mine were free and there was a private bathroom, adult beverages and food. One of the perks of buying advertising in Phoenix back then. Far from the stage, but swanky. Had I known how good the show was going to be, I would have rather been down on the field in the masses.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I got lots of free tix thanks to my time in radio. The McC tix were a rare time I had to pay for them back then. I should rerun my Rock Shows post again – a review of all the concerts I’ve been to. Just bought tix to see Heart again, I think this is the 6th time.

  6. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    I saw Ann & Nancy in a little bar in Alfred, NY before their first album charted. They were playing college bars back then. And Ann was thin.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I met Ann and Nancy once. Search for “brushes with greatness” here to read the story.

  7. Jim Grey Avatar

    My radio station tix were always in the first ten rows. Saw several first-class acts that way. I remember an Aerosmith show, and Ozzy, and Metallica. There were probably others.

  8. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    Second best show, Stevie Nicks benefit with several members of The Eagles, Tom Petty, Sheryl Crow, and walk ons from the rest of Fleetwood Mac.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Best show, believe it or not: Ozzy in 1990. He may have but one functioning brain cell, but he sure knows how to use it to charm an audience.

      1. bodegabayf2 Avatar

        I wouldn’t have taken you for an Ozzy fan. Hmmm.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          I went through some heavy metal years. I’ve seen Iron Maiden and Metallica three times each.

  9. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    And somewhere in my archives, I have a photo of Faith Hill and me backstage at a country bar in Scottsdale when she didn’t know enough songs to fill a set. :-)

  10. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    And you can still hear?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar


  11. hmunro Avatar

    I sincerely hope Sir Paul stumbles across your post somehow, Jim. I think he’d be very moved and inspired to see that his music quite literally changed the course of your life. Great post.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oh, thank you, Heather. What a dream, to have Paul find this post.

  12. bluecarpaintedgreen Avatar

    What a sweetly compelling post. I’m glad somebody shared your site on our Blogging 101 course.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m delighted my site was shared, and I’m glad you stopped by!

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