Personal, Stories Told

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

After two recent high-profile suicides in the news, I am reminded of this piece I wrote in 2011. If you ever stand on that edge, wait, because it always gets better.

I was away at my first year of engineering school working harder than ever before — or since, for that matter. My full class load delivered six to ten hours of homework every day. To keep up, I worked each night into the wee hours. My life consisted of meals, class, homework, and too little sleep.

As my fatigue mounted, my health began to suffer. Worse, I became isolated and 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 songs gave a strong sense of a man shut away in a room, playing alone, trying to get his head together. Indeed, Paul produced and engineered the album himself. 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.


14 thoughts on “Paul McCartney kind of saved my life once; he has no idea of course

  1. There’s always that music that gets us through the tough times :) For me it’s movie scores. There’s always one to match my feelings and help me either express or cheer up! :)

  2. Heide says:

    Paul McCartney sure has seen his share of heartbreak, hasn’t he? And yet he has persisted, through loss and grief and everything that has come in between. I think you’ve found a great role model (or maybe mentor), Jim.

  3. Marcus Peddle says:

    I was saved from suicide by pessimism. Sort of. I was in my early twenties and thinking about ways I could end it all. But then I thought, “You know, with my terrible luck, I would kill myself and ten minutes later some girl I like would ring me up to ask for a date. Better not do it. Just in case.” I never got the call, but the idea that I might miss good or interesting things kept me alive.

  4. Jim, may I share this blog entry on the Global Beatles Day Facebook page? I think it might be of benefit to someone. Besides, it’s a lovely story.

  5. DougD says:

    When in a funk in engineering school I used to listen to Cowboy Junkies’ Trinity Session album, which I do not recommend for getting out of a funk.

    One co-worker whose wife took her own life said it’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

    • Wow, the Cowboy Junkies — haven’t thought about them in a long time.

      When the funk is deep enough, it’s nigh onto impossible to see beyond the present. That’s the problem.

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