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  Abstract 0434
  McGrath, James (2003), "Like a second needs an hour: Time and the work of Paul McCartney." In: Interdisciplinary Literary Studies, Pennsylvania State University, Spring 2003, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 1-20.
  Unlike the work of John Lennon, that of Paul McCartney as an individual, both within and without the Beatles, has received little scholarly attention. This 9,000 word essay seeks to introduce interdisciplinary academic approaches to McCartney's songs through literary, social historical and psychoanalytical discussions of his work, particularly his lyrics. It does so by focusing on an evolving theme throughout McCartney's work from 1962-2002: time.
  McCartney's lyrics and music invoke tensions between attachment to the past and the embracing of an uncertain yet promising future. These tensions often converge in McCartney's songwriting to depict a present of transition. The essay discusses how this pattern is most strongly evident in his contributions to The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), focusing on Side One's sequence of three McCartney-led songs, "Getting Better", "Fixing A Hole" and "She's Leaving Home". The shared progressive tense of these titles reflects themes and moods of change in each lyric. The three songs are considered amidst social-historical changes which came to the fore in 1967 with amendments to the Abortion Act, the National Health Service Family Planning Act, and the Sexual Offences Act, all passed that year. McCartney's more playful fusions of past musical styles with lyrical contemplations of the future are addressed in a discussion of "When I'm Sixty-Four". Music Hall is explored here as a motif of nostalgia with reference to his Liverpool upbringing and his father Jim McCartney's work.
  As well as drawing comparisons between McCartney and Lennon's lyrics, the essay identifies differences in how Bob Dylan's influence is discernible in the mid-1960s work of both songwriters. Ways of aligning undercurrents of personal change in McCartney's 1969-71 lyrics with those of Lennon, Dylan, George Harrison, Van Morrison and Neil Young are demonstrated, and themes of personal transition are noted in each. McCartney's early solo work is briefly considered in the context of country rock.
  Most persistently, McCartney's songs address the past, often confronting the experience of loss. The essay explores this in biographical terms, illustrating ways in which McCartney's work can be approached from psychoanalytical perspectives. Three experiences of loss in McCartney's life as reflected in his songwriting are discussed. Expanding on Coleman (1995), the essay considers "Yesterday" (1965) as an unconscious lament for McCartney's late mother Mary, comparing the song with his first composition, "I Lost My Little Girl" (1956), written shortly after Mary's death when Paul was fourteen. The essay then explores both the imminence and eventuality of the Beatles' split as intimated in McCartney's 1968-71 songs. Particular attention is given to McCartney's addresses to Lennon in "Dear Boy" and "Dear Friend" (both 1971) alongside Lennon's contemporary attack on McCartney in "How Do You Sleep?" (1971). McCartney's 1982 elegy for Lennon, "Here Today", is compared with these earlier songs. Implications of Lennon's absence as McCartney's lyrical, musical and vocal partner are addressed in relation to the content and quality of McCartney's solo work. Turning to his 2001 album Driving Rain, the essay focuses on themes of grief and resilience in McCartney's later work, following the death of Linda McCartney (1998) and the announcement of his engagement to Heather Mills (2001). Themes of loss, time and continuity in Blackbird Singing, McCartney's 2001 collection of poems, are discussed.
  The essay seeks to introduce new perspectives on familiar songs by concentrating on time as an under-explored theme in McCartney's work. Other compositions considered in this study include "I Saw Her Standing There", "There's A Place" (Lennon), "Things We Said Today", "Eleanor Rigby", "Strawberry Fields Forever" (Lennon), "Penny Lane", "A Day In The Life" (Lennon and McCartney), "All Together Now", "Your Mother Should Know", "Blackbird", "The Long And Winding Road", "Oh! Darling", "You Never Give Me Your Money", "Every Night", "Tomorrow", "Waterfalls", "Free As A Bird", "Fluid", "Nova" (poem), "From A Lover To A Friend", "Freedom" and "Magic".
  The author is currently completing his Cultural Studies doctoral thesis, titled "Ideas of Belonging in the Work of John Lennon and Paul McCartney".
  Copies of this journal article are attainable through the British Library Direct.
  References cited:
  • Coleman, Ray (1995), McCartney Yesterday ... and Today. London: Boxtree.
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