For most of the last week, when listening to Spofity I have seen the promotion of a new song by Paul McCartney. This song is called “Fuh You.” Before discussing this song and its context, I think it is worthwhile to get the obvious out of the way. Paul McCartney is at this point a senior citizen and he is proud of this song because he feels like he was being particularly naughty because his song is obviously coming as close to using profanity as possible while remaining possible to play uncensored on family radio. I know this. You know this. Everyone who hears the song knows this. Everyone who reads the title of the song knows this. Yet I feel it necessary to be Captain Obvious and point this out because it serves as a worthwhile entrance to the context of Sir Paul’s most recent attempt to have a hit solo song. I’m not going to bother analyzing this song and its lyrics–suffice it to say that the song’s conceit is to write a devoted love song that the singer/songwriter/legend thinks will appeal to the kids. I’m not sure whether this will happen or not, but I wish him the best of luck in making this silly love song a hit.
Why write about this song at all then? Sometimes the context of a song is more important than the content of it, or at least more interesting to talk about. There are, after all, very uncharitable ways to view the song. The lyrics of the chorus come uncomfortably close to Akon territory. The idea of senior citizen Paul McCartney trying to be naughty and appeal to the kids is like taking the cringiness that most people think of Train’s Pat Monahan trying to be cool and making it at least a generation older. If Pat Monahan is the uncool dad trying desperately to be cool, then Paul McCartney is the grandfather or great-grandfather who is trying to be cool. Sometimes you get an enjoyable if forgettable song that manages to fit within the body of work of the singer itself, as happens here. Sometimes you get “Bad Grampa.” Thankfully, this song isn’t the sonic equivalent of “Bad Grampa.” I think we can all feel glad about this.
For some reason, I write a great deal about Paul McCartney . I find this somewhat surprising, especially because he is already in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (twice) and does not release new music often enough for me to write about him as often I do about other artists. Yet one of the more notable aspects of Paul McCartney’s music career is that he has been deeply interested in collaborating with cool kids and appealing to cool kids for a long time. Perhaps he saw John Lennon as a cool kid and was impressed to be singing with him and writing songs with him in the Beatles, if more than a bit competitive towards him at the same time. As a solo artist, he has collaborated a lot with cool kids, ranging from Michael Jackson (most memorably in “The Girl Is Mine” and “Say Say Say”), to Lindsay Pagano (a remake of his obscure song “So Bad”) to Kanye West and Rihanna (with “FourFive Seconds, among at least three hit singles where Paul McCartney collaborated with Kanye West from the same epic recording session). The point is that the attempt to appeal to the cool kids with “Fuh You” is not in any way atypical of Paul McCartney’s desire for popularity and cultural cachet with the youth that has been a part of his musical and career choices since at least the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.
Viewed in this way, Sir Paul becomes an object of compassion, if not exactly pity, rather than ridicule. At his age, Sir Paul should be beyond having to care about what the kids think about him. His body of work over the decades is an impressive one in multiple genres of music, including the score to a ballet (!). Whether or not the cool kids think that the Beatles or Wings or his solo work is worth emulating, his place in music history is secure. If no one made another cover version of “Yesterday” and if no bagpiper ever played “Mull Of Kintyre” ever again, and if no one paid any regards to Broad Street, he would still be worth studying for both his quantity and quality of stellar popular music. Yet his body of work is not enough. He still feels it necessary to appeal to the young long after he has stopped being young himself. Having never been particularly cool at any point of my life, I can definitely relate to Sir Paul continuing to try way too hard to be cool long after most people would consider it worthwhile to keep trying. At what point is someone going to be able to tell him that he is never going to be cooler than he is and he doesn’t need to try to appeal to those who have never heard of his ridiculously impressive body of work. Fuh them, if they are such philistines that they do not appreciate the musical talents of Sir Paul McCartney.
 See, for example: