For one reason or another, I recently found myself looking up the musical career of Lindsay Pagano. While she remains one of the more obscure teen pop singers of the early 2000’s, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the music of hers I have heard. She first came to prominence due to a song on a 2001 AOL commercial, “Everything U R,” and on the strength of that airplay she released her debut album that year, although she did not have any other successful hit singles. The rest of her music career is a series of cameos–she had an unreleased album (like many artists ), a soundtrack song from Scooby Doo, and a short appearance on The Voice on Team Shakira. Yet, for all of that, there is one moment of her career that shines through and that she must treasure despite all of the ups and downs she has faced as an artist.
Locked away on the deep album cuts of her debut release, “Love & Faith & Inspiration” is a beautiful acoustic ballad called “So Bad.” The song itself is a spare one, with only Lindsay’s delicate soprano, an acoustic guitar, and backing vocals by Sir Paul McCartney. yet the song is immensely effective because of its restraint, making it a song that could have easily become a classic wedding song or soundtrack hit of its own (likely on a romantic comedy). Given the obscurity of Pagano’s career, it is unlikely that many people came across the song at all. Even to this day, the music video to the song has fewer than 10,000 views, which is a shame, as the song stands the test of time. It is the sort of gentle love ballad that is indeed very timeless, and one that translates well even nearly 20 years after it was recorded.
The song, though, was not an original. Instead, “So Bad” is itself a cover of a Paul McCartney song from the early-to-mid 1980’s. The song first appeared as an album cut on Paul McCartney’s 1983 “Pipes of Peace” release. The music video to the original version shows Paul McCartney and his wife Linda being very cutesy together on a set while Ringo Starr (the drummer) hams it up to distract the camera from the loving couple. The song features delicate strings and a very high voiced and innocent vocal from McCartney that is remarkable in its emotional resonance. Yet the song was never released as a single. Only two tracks were released from “Pipes Of Peace,” the Michael Jackson duet “Say Say Say” and the title track, and the album has not been a popular one in McCartney’s large back catalog, especially when compared to his first two solo efforts and his extensive and massively popular work with Wings and the Beatles (obviously). When one has released as many songs as McCartney has, it is easy for some to fall through the cracks.
The song was also featured on the 1984 soundtrack “Give My Regards to Broad Street,” which was widely considered a flop on its release. Yet the song was not featured as a single and did not even appear on the LP release to that album, which featured three versions of “No More Lonely Nights.” (*sighs*) While the cd version does feature “So Bad” in its proper placement, it also features two more versions of the album’s only single. And so, “So Bad” is one of those obscure deep cuts from a very productive and successful career that is only known to those who are diehard fans of Sir Paul. Some consider it among the best unknown gems of his career, and I have to agree. Paul McCartney got a lot of guff during his career for making “silly love songs,” but he wrote them well, and one can tell from the singing as well as from the video that this song was full of genuine and mutual love between Paul and Linda. Only the most cynical of people would be unmoved by that.
This story, then, has the makings of a classic. Who was it that first saw in McCartney’s hidden gem a worthy cover song for a young woman making her debut album out of material that mines the same ground of sensitive and feeling love songs that McCartney has long excelled at? Did some producer for Miss Pagano find the song and realized it would work perfectly for her own high voice, not dissimilar from McCartney’s original? Was Lindsay herself fond of obscure classic rock and saw the song as a way of giving homage and respect to someone who likely served as an inspiration for her own music? I don’t know, but at any rate, someone managed not only to get McCartney’s permission for the cover, but to also get him to re-record backing vocals for the song, and maybe even play the acoustic guitar for it (similar to what he did in his successful later collaborations with Kanye West where his acoustic guitar on “FourFive Seconds” gave him his most recent top ten hit). And yet this song, like the original, was buried deep in the track list and was never released as a single. Like the original version, the track is a hidden gem, only recognized by a few very observant fans.
But what a story it must have been. How many fifteen year old singers making their debut can say that they cut an amazing cover of a song with a former Beatle? Not very many. No matter what else happens in Pagano’s music career, she will likely always have the memory of that recording experience in mind. Her own version does Paul McCartney proud, and manages to take a sweet soft rock song and turn it into a yearning and somewhat melancholy acoustic direction. Any artist would be proud to have a cover like that in their discography, with the hope that other people would be able to listen to it and appreciate it. Perhaps with time, and the attention of a few worthy viewers and listeners, the original and Lindsay’s cover will receive the attention and credit they so richly deserve.
 See, for example: