“However Absurd”: Unraveling the Absurdity in Paul McCartney

Few names in the music industry have resonated as powerfully or as enduringly as that of Sir Paul McCartney. His vast repertoire is a testament to his musical genius, but one song stands out for its embrace of the absurd – the intriguingly titled, “However Absurd.”

As the concluding track on McCartney’s sixth solo studio album, Press to Play, “However Absurd” is a unique blend of surreal storytelling and introspective thoughtfulness. It’s an ode to the absurd, brimming with strange imagery and profound musings (source).

From its opening lines, “Ears twitch, like a dog / Breaking eggs in a dish,” the song immerses us in a world where the mundane is transformed into the bizarre. Despite the initial oddity, McCartney insists, “Do not mock me when I say / This is not a lie,” hinting at the deeper truths concealed within the absurdity (source).

The song’s chorus further explores this theme, asserting, “It’s a funny thing, half serious / With our hands on our ears.” McCartney encourages listeners to engage with the absurd, to seek understanding amidst the seemingly nonsensical. It’s a tribute to the surreal and a recognition that reality can often be more peculiar than fiction.

“However Absurd” is not just a catchy tune; it’s a philosophical journey. McCartney demonstrates his knack for integrating complex themes into his music, presenting the absurd as a source of profound insight (source).

An analysis on amoralto.tumblr.com dives deeper into the interpretation of the song. The blog suggests that “However Absurd” is a reflection of McCartney’s own experiences and his perception of the world around him. It’s his way of making sense of life’s inherent absurdities.

Listeners are invited to lose themselves in McCartney’s dreamlike narrative, yet remain “wide awake” to the song’s potent messages. This track is a testament to McCartney’s genius – his ability to craft music that is not just melodious but also deeply thought-provoking.

Paul McCartney’s knack for capturing the absurdity of everyday life in his lyrics is evident in many of his songs. The Beatles’ “Lovely Rita” is a perfect example. On the surface, it’s a playful serenade to a meter maid, yet, underneath, it subtly captures the mundane absurdity of everyday life. The song’s protagonist falls for Rita while she’s performing a routine task – issuing a parking ticket. This juxtaposition between the prosaic and the romantic is absurd and delightful at the same time.

“Penny Lane” is another instance where McCartney uses ordinary scenes to reflect on life’s absurdities. The song paints a vivid picture of a bustling neighborhood, complete with a barber, a banker, and a fireman. Yet, within this seemingly normal setting, the characters and their actions hint at a deeper, more profound sense of existential absurdity.

In “A Day In a Life,” McCartney’s the middle 8 juxtaposes his seemingly mundane narration of a day in a life against Lennon’s poetic stanzas about our collective obsession with news and current affairs, often filled with tales of tragedy and disaster. It’s a commentary on how we’re drawn to these stories, even though they might not affect our lives directly.

“Another Day,” a solo McCartney single, also echoes this theme. The song tells the story of a woman trapped in the monotony of her daily routine. Despite its upbeat melody, the lyrics depict a life of Sisyphean struggle, echoing Albert Camus’ philosophy of the Absurd.

These songs, much like Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet,” reveal profound truths about human existence within the context of everyday life. In fact, “However Absurd” contains a nod to Gibran, much like Lennon’s “Julia” did when he wrote, “Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it just to reach you…” McCartney writes,

I couldnt say the words
Words wouldnt get my feelings through
So I keep talking to you.
However absurd
However absurd / It may seem“.

He reminds us that even amidst the banality of our daily routines, moments of absurdity and profundity can emerge, often when we least expect them. McCartney’s ability to capture these moments in his lyrics is part of what makes his music so timeless and universally appealing.

“Junk” is another McCartney song leaning toward this vein. Originally composed in 1968 during The Beatles’ trip to India, the track was ultimately released on McCartney’s debut solo album, “McCartney,” in 1970. The song reflects upon the objects and their transient nature, presenting these items from an outsider’s perspective, looking through a shop window.

Motor cars, handlebars
Bicycles for two
Broken-hearted jubilee

Parachutes, Army boots
Sleeping bags for two
Sentimental jamboree

“Buy, buy”
Says the sign in the shop window
“Why, why?”
Says the junk in the yard

“Soldier’s Things” by Tom Waits always reminded me of McCartney’s “Junk”. His use the motif of material possessions to explore deeper themes, presenting these objects from an outsider’s perspective.

In “Junk”, McCartney lists various items like motor cars, handle bars, and bicycles for two, suggesting the absurdity of attaching sentimental value to objects that are ultimately disposable, peering into a shop window, observing these discarded items from the outside.

“Soldier’s Things” by Tom Waits paints a poignant picture of a soldier’s belongings being sold off, item by item. Each possession carries its own weight of memories and emotions, reflecting on the human cost of war through the lens of the soldier’s personal effects.

This refrain is reflected the book, “Junk Shop Window: Essays on Myth, Life, and Literature” by James J. Patterson as well. The book, much like the songs by McCartney and Waits, uses the metaphor of a junk shop window to explore a variety of themes and ideas. The essays in the collection are described as a “dusty and intriguing hodgepodge”, which echoes the way both songs juxtapose seemingly disparate items to convey deeper meanings.

Paul McCartney is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest songwriters in pop music history. However, his ability to capture post-war suburban angst in his lyrics is often overlooked.

“Junk,” for instance, isn’t just a song about discarded items; it’s also a reflection on the aftermath of World War II. The list of objects in the song can be seen as relics of a bygone era, discarded in the wake of societal changes that came with the end of the war.

In many ways, this song and others by McCartney encapsulate the sense of nostalgia, loss, and longing that characterized post-war Britain. His ability to capture these complex emotions in simple, relatable lyrics is a testament to his skill as a songwriter.

Despite his fame as a member of The Beatles, McCartney’s solo work often doesn’t receive the same level of critical attention. However, songs like “Junk” show that he was capable of crafting deeply meaningful and evocative music on his own, proving his worth as a standalone artist.


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dabodab is a blog about various things DiY and the creative people and activities surrounding them. I am Briyan Frederick (aka Bryan Baker), probably best known as the publisher of GAJOOB and a founder of Tapegerm Collective read more.

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