Who is Paul McCarthy?

January 3, 2015 1:00 pm

When I was growing up my musical education was based on the Golden Era of Hip Hop. My ears were dominated by such lumnaries as Biggie Smalls, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, NWA, Cypress Hill, De La Soul, The Gang Starr Foundation, The Likwit Crew…. I could go on. Yet that didn’t stop me from expanding my musical horizons. On the contrary, by the very nature of its construction Hip Hop music encourages any listener with even the slightest inclination, to give themselves a musical history lesson simply by reading (and by consequence investigating) the sample credits of albums released by the artists I have just listed. But even with this in mind should those that cried ignorance on twitter in the last few days really be upset by the teens and tweens lack of ‘Beatletastic’ knowledge?

Paul McCarthy

The musical landscape has changed. Popular urban music is not sample driven anymore, EDM has put a totally different spin on the structure of today’s mainstream charts and the fFacebookgeneration have a collectively short attention span. Amalgamating this with the influence of an increasingly throwaway society, makes it is easy to see why some of the modern worlds younger consumers have no idea who Sir Paul McCartney (or McCarthy as some have christened him) is and just how inestimably wide his musical net is cast.

But being that Sir Paul first cast that net more than half a century ago I would question how many of us are really that surprised at the apparent lack of scope shown by some of Kanye’s more wide eyed fans. I am personally more concerned by the stuck up, snide and occasionally abusive reactions to some of the highlighted tweets. Don’t forget that many of these tweeters are under 18. Taking the mickey and giving them a ribbing is one thing. But to resort to crude name calling and aggressive belittling in the name of someone as squeeky clean as Sir Paul is probably more insulting to the man himself than those who sent the tweets in the first place.

Social snobbery has always been an issue among music fans. Certain factions of fans across all genres are well known to turn their virtual, comment laden noses up at those who aren’t as knowledgeable as they are. Rather than educate the ‘newbies’ and in doing so enhance the profile of the artists and music they hold dear, they choose to castigate those who don’t ‘dig as deep’ as they do and even verbally attack DJ’s who don’t move a crowd with the correct vinyl pressing of a song. These are people that want to keep some artists to themselves yet have no problem turning on those who don’t know about others.

Okay so Sir Paul is a special case in this regard but far from considering such a lapse in musical knowledge an affront to the arts, shouldn’t we be praising the fact that through Kanye West’s profile, many of those recently enlightened teens and tweens will be on YouTube as you’re reading this, becoming familiar with We All Stand Together, the beautiful Maybe I’m Amazed and the iconic (and McCartney penned) Hey Jude? After a we are talking about a man who made his first chart appearance in 1963.

Just because I know who Bob James, Roberta Flack and Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson are, am I entitled to feel let down by the fact that my daughter had to give some of her friends a basic run down of Sir Paul’s quartet based exploits? Should I feel “proud” that she is in a position to do that? Or perhaps I should take the reasoned view that, as with all aspects of knowledge…. a question is only easy when you know the answer…and nobody knows everything.

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