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The Paul McCartney Song We Need Right Now

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Paul McCartney went through a phase of embarrassing vests, or “waistcoats” as the Brits call them.

The one he wears in a 1993 televised performance of “Hope of Deliverance” is noteworthy, a rainbow-striped gem of a garment. As usual, Linda’s style matches Paul although hers is a more elegant white vest that is unbuttoned; her laid-back ease always complemented Macca’s try-hard ethos.

“We live in hope of deliverance from the darkness that surrounds us,” sings McCartney. As we shelter in place facing an uncertain future, “Hope of Deliverance” is perhaps the most applicable McCartney song for this coronavirus moment.

Related: “Paul McCartney’s ‘Flowers In The Dirt’- An Appreciation”

“Hope of Deliverance” is just one of many, many optimistic McCartney songs. Its album, Off the Ground, includes songs in the similar tune of a fairy tale, such as “I Owe It All to You” and the tribute to Linda, “Golden Earth Girl.”

With its simultaneous anticipation and doubt, “Hope of Deliverance” is the song just before the wave of death descends, the one we know is coming.

In real life, the promises that McCartney makes at the beginning of the song will soon be revealed to be impossible. “I will always be hoping,” he begins. And “you,” which we know is Linda as she answers in the backing vocals, “will always be holding” him in her “hand.” But that won’t come true, not in the physical sense.

Linda won’t be able to “go along” with McCartney’s “plan.” In two years, she will be diagnosed and, in five years, Linda will die of breast cancer, the illness that claimed McCartney’s mother. All of a Beatle’s money and love could not save Linda.

He will cry for a year. “I will understand,” the song goes.

In retrospect, “Hope of Deliverance” shows us how to go on, especially when wished-for plans dissolve. In McCartney’s case, he returned to write music and perform with more relentless hope even after Linda wasn’t there to sing and play music with him.

We “don’t know,” as he sings, what deliverance will look like and who or what we will lose along the way, but McCartney has given us an example of how to overcome loss.

The music video for “Hope of Deliverance” is another shamelessly corny McCartney treasure, which includes two plots. In one, there are nuns in a car stuck on a track with an oncoming train; some of its passengers, a group of Buddhist monks, pull the lever just in time to save the nuns. The metaphor for the current pandemic is almost too obvious: who can we trust to stop the train? Who will step forward to save us? Prayers are futile in the absence of effective human action.

And then the will-o’-the-wisp McCartney plot. Why is he wearing sunglasses as he wanders through the dark forest, you ask? That question does not matter: he is all of us now, walking alone if we walk outside.

The isolated Paul wanders into the forest and discovers Linda, the rest of his band, and a whole crowd of people eventually emerge, including the heroic monks. The members of this joyful assembly dance and sing and play music, all of the things we can’t physically do together anymore.

We don’t know “what it will be like,” McCartney sings.

We stay at home and do shadow versions of the activities in the video, but we are apart in these online spaces.

Related: “A Few of Our Favorite (Free) Things”

And this is how I came to be watching videos of “Hope of Deliverance” a few days before Dhani Harrison’s #innerlight2020 initiative asked all of us to find and post similarly inspiring Beatles lyrics.

 

“We live in hope of deliverance from the darkness that surrounds us.”

-Katie Kapurch

Photo: Paul McCartney via Getty Images

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Katie Kapurch is an Associate Professor of English at Texas State University, where she teaches courses on the Beatles and youth culture. She is currently working on two books, "Blackbird Singing: Black America Remixes the Beatles" (Penn State UP, forthcoming) and "Sex and Gender in Rock and Pop from the Beatles to Beyoncé" (Bloomsbury, forthcoming), the latter of which is co-authored with Walter Everett (University of Michigan). You can learn more about Katie's work at katiekapurch.com.

10 comments on “The Paul McCartney Song We Need Right Now

  1. Avatar
    Richard Short

    Very nice article Katie. Well done!

  2. Avatar
    Eric Gray

    Very nice article, Katie, thank you. It is hard to believe that an album that I still think of as “later” McCartney is now almost 30 years old!

    I am writing a book of peoples’ short stories, memories, about their experiences with concerts or music in general. Do you have a memory you would like to contribute? The artist, the genre, does not matter. It is the story. I would love to tell you more if you contact me at eric.concertstories@gmail.com Thanks!

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      My first date ever was to see Iron Butterfly and the Grass Roots. I was 15 years old and so my dates mother drove us to the arena(but did not stay). When we got there, we both took off our coats and sat down waiting for the show to begin. As we were sitting there, I put my arms around her shoulder and later when I went to remove it saw that my sweater was caught on the zipper of her dress at the neck. I was having trouble getting untangled and pulled hard and ended up ripping the whole back of her dress. When her mom picked us up, my date kept her coat on and when we got to the house her mother invited me in and wanted to hear all about the show. My date in her house kept the coat and the mother wanted to know why she didn’t take it off and she kept making excuses, that she was cold etc. I eventually left ( I lived down the street) and went home and my date went into her room and changed into PJ’s before her mother saw the torn dress.

      Scary thing that incident. that happened October 31, 1971

      Ray A

      • Avatar
        Eric Gray

        Ray, thank you, what a great story! I have my own Inna-Gada da-Vida story, but it doesn’t hold a candle to yours. May I use it for my book? Can you please contact me at eric.concertstories@gmail.com so I can be in touch, get a little information from you, and let you know when the book is done? Thanks so much!

      • Avatar
        Eric Gray

        Hi, Ray A. Just following up to see if I can use this story for my upcoming book. I can certainly use it anonymously if you prefer. Can you please contact me at eric.concertstories@gmail.com? Thanks!

  3. Avatar
    Janet Wilhelm

    A great song from McCartney we could use now? “With A Little Luck”. He did have a career in the 70s.

  4. Avatar

    Maybe a more appropriate song by Ringo would be ” A little help from my friends

    • Avatar
      John Rowe, aka Roctor

      By Lennon-McCartney co-wrote this song (originally known as “bad finger boogie”), as witnessed by the “authorised biographer” Hunter Davies, riser for the London Times. In fact it was his duty to write the obituary is for each of the Beatles as they pass.
      In other words, yes, Ringo sings it. But, no, Ringo did not write the song – it is a true Lennon-McCartney song. [Sergeant Peppers lonely hearts club band].

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        John Rowe, aka Roctor

        Was unable to edit. “Riser” should have read “writer”.I will leave the botched opening sentence alone.

  5. Avatar

    Love that song…Off the Ground is an underrated Macca album that more people should get to know.

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