The Songs of Summer #38: ‘Band on the Run’ by Paul McCartney & Wings
Paul McCartney was in The Beatles; this is a known fact. The Beatles were the biggest, best and most influential band in rock and pop history. Another known fact. A lesser known fact is that to a kid like me, born in 1969 as The Beatles were winding down, and raised in the 70’s, I was much more familiar with Sir Paul McCartney’s second band Wings than I was with The Beatles.
Paul McCartney’s solo work and recordings with Wings are often maligned by fancy-pants rock critics as being too sappy, too light and insignificant (think Let ‘Em In, Silly Love Songs, My Love, etc. etc.) compared to his Beatles days and the work of his former songwriting partner John Lennon. But you know what? They can kiss my butt, because as a kid, I heard Paul McCartney’s light fluffy pop songs on the radio, and I loved them. They were my gateway to The Beatles.
Now don’t get me wrong, ‘Band on the Run‘ is no sappy fluffy pop song. It’s classic Paul. The title track of the 1973 album Band on the Run, the single was released in 1974. It sold over a million copies in the U.S., and reached #1 on the Billboard charts.
What does this mean to the Songs of Summer? It means that in 1974, I was about 5 years old. It means that this song must’ve been popular during the summer of ’74 (I could check but I’m not going to) when I was spending almost every day at the community pool in my neighborhood (this is the pool, and the neighborhood, in a photo from 1967. The pool is still going strong today.) A pool where the radio was controlled by the teenage lifeguards, and it played all day long. Pop radio being what it was back then (and still today), ‘Band on the Run’ probably played 15 or 20 times a day (exaggerating, but only slightly) that summer, effectively implanting itself into my DNA, where it will live forever as a song I associate with the summertime. Voila! A classic 70s-era Song of Summer.
The song itself is kind of a patchwork of different song fragments including rock, folk, reggae, and funk. As soon as I hear that guitar start the song, then those “oo-ee-oo-ee-oo-ee-oo-ee-oo-ee-oo-ee-oo” synths, I’m instantly transported back to being 5 (amazing how much the human brain is soaking in at that young age), spending endless days at the Village pool, when life was as easy and as carefree as it would ever be. And for that, I say thank you, Paul McCartney. I love all my Songs of Summer, but this one’s special.