Paul McCartney and Wings — “Tomorrow”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 13, 2022

THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE 1960s THAT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD

669) Paul McCartney and Wings — “Tomorrow”

After playing a song honoring each day of the week, I thought I’d play one for tomorrow. So, here is Paul McCartney and Wings’ wonderful “Tomorrow”. What, you thought I’d do “Tomorrow Never Knows”?!

From the at-the-time (‘71) universally derided Wild Life (the first Wings album) comes this “terrific pop song” (https://everyrecordtellsastory.com/2022/09/30/paul-mccartney-in-1971-wings-wild-life/) that Mark Smotroff calls a “now-classic, Beatle-worthy McCartney composition” (https://audiophilereview.com/audiophile-music/listening-report-paul-mccartney-wings-wild-life-half-speed-master/) and Kenneth Womack says is “the kind[] of rock confection[] in which McCartney specializes like no other — endearing, emotionally affecting, and eminently well-played.” (https://www.salon.com/2022/02/04/paul-mccartneys-wings-debut-wild-life-panned-at-the-time-shimmers-at-50-with-a-powerful-reissue/) Jamie Atkins is a bit more measured:

Tomorrow [is] perhaps the best song [on the album]. Still, the emotional tug of the verse melody alone makes you wish Paul had taken more time with the arrangement. It’s a sunny-sounding song with a surprisingly anxious lyric – a fretful Paul pleads with his love not to let him down while he puts his faith (not all that convincingly) in the escape the future offers. Allowed more time to breathe, its greatness may have shone a little brighter.

https://recordcollectormag.com/reviews/album/paul-mccartney-wings-wild-life-half-speed-master

The album generated some inspired invective. Dave Connolly writes that “[i]t’s important to note that Wild Life isn’t just a cut below Paul’s usual work–it’s a cut below his worst work.” (https://progrography.com/paul-mccartney/wings-wild-life-1971/amp/) And John Mendelssohn wrote in the original Rolling Stone review that:

One somehow convinced of McCartney’s basic perversity might argue that he’s quite intentionally making mediocre music, knowing that his ex-partner will suffer more watching effortlessly-produced pop quasi-Muzak easily outsell his own anguish–predicated soul-barings. A more likely explanation for a theory holding that McCartney’s records have been deliberately second-rate is that he’s attempting to comment ironically on Lennon’s obsession with putting yet another huge hunk of his personality on every 12-inch vinyl disk by himself sticking to the most banal imaginable themes. . . . “Tomorrow” [is] archetypal post-Beatles McCartney: banal, self-celebrating lyrics full of many of the most tired rhymes in Western pop, sentiments that Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy would embrace without a moment’s hesitation; glossy, if unfocused production; pretty, eminently Muzakable melodies . . . .

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-album-reviews/wild-life-us-bonus-tracks-100721/amp/

Paul himself explains:

Dylan inspired Wild Life, because we heard he had been in the studio and done an album in just a week. So we thought of doing it like that, putting down the spontaneous stuff and not being too careful. So it came out a bit like that. We wrote the tracks in the summer, Linda and I, we wrote them in Scotland in the summer while the lambs we gambolling. We spent two weeks on the Wild Life album all together. At that time, it was just when I had rung Denny Laine up a few days before and he came up to where we were to rehearse for one or two days.

https://www.beatlesbible.com/people/paul-mccartney/albums/wild-life/

Wild Life has been getting more respect as of late. Jamie Atkins says:

In a fantastically rebellious move, [McCartney] defied expectations by making Wings’ debut a raw, brilliantly sloppy and human album that sounds a lot like freedom. . . . All the things Wild Life was once disparaged for – its spontaneity, untidy corners, looseness and indifference to expectations – are reasons to cherish it . . . .

https://recordcollectormag.com/reviews/album/paul-mccartney-wings-wild-life-half-speed-master

And Stephen Thomas Erlewine’s views are, well, hard to pin down:

[I]t feels like one step removed from coasting, which is wanking. It’s easy to get irritated by the upfront cutesiness, since it’s married to music that’s featherweight at best. Then again, that’s what makes this record bizarrely fascinating — it’s hard to imagine a record with less substance, especially from an artist who’s not just among the most influential of the 20th century, but from one known for precise song and studiocraft. Here, he’s thrown it all to the wind, trying to make a record that sounds as pastoral and relaxed as the album’s cover photo. He makes something that sounds easy — easy enough that you and a couple of neighbors who you don’t know very well could knock it out in your garage on a lazy Saturday afternoon — and that’s what’s frustrating and amazing about it. Yeah, it’s possible to call this a terrible record, but it’s so strange in its domestic bent and feigned ordinariness that it winds up being a pop album like no other.

https://www.allmusic.com/album/wild-life-mw0000193832

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