Driving Rain, the 12th official solo studio album by Paul, was released on November 12th, 2001.
This was another in his quickly recorded albums, following the lead of RUN DEVIL RUN. DRIVING RAIN was finished in basically two weeks.
He had a new recording band, with whom he intended to use as his touring band in 2002, to promote the album, and get back on the road for the first time since 1993.
The albums cover, a selfie taken by Paul on a Casio wristwatch with its built in camera. This was still at a time when watches such as this were just coming into the mainstream.
Many of the songs on the album were inspired by his new love interest, Heather Mills. By this time the press and the public knew of their relationship. Behind the scenes, things were not ideal.
Paul’s children were not fans at all of Mills, as were many of Paul’s fans.
Myself, after reading about the life of Mills at this time, I was sort of in the middle. While I wanted Paul to be happy and over the pain of losing Linda, I couldn’t quite get the words “gold digger” out of my head.
We will have a profile of Mills life and character in a future posting.
But back to the new album.
I bought it, like all of Paul’s others, the day it was released.
The cover was odd, but interesting. As Paul was now aging, having a very grainy photo of him on the cover was not only the best image this watch could produce, but a way of hiding this reality.
Paul had cut his hair very short in this period of his life.
Back in 2001 I was NOT blown away by this album, but today I have my headphones all charged up and will give it a listen with an open mind. Paul’s music, as discussed before (i.e. ear candy), can grow on you in different ways as it ages.
One last thing, as he has yet to come out with any sort of remastered archival issue of this release (it’s now approaching 20 years old) which indicates Pauls feeling of it in his overall musical cannon of work.
The disc was inserted and I pushed play.
“Lonely Road” – “Lonely Road’ was also written in Goa, where I was enjoying the beach and the sea and generally chilling out in the new century. Again, I had a few moments in the afternoon, which is always a good time for me, a quiet spell when it’s always cool for me to go off and fondle my guitar.
The songs basically wrote itself in about an hour. It is what it is, this song, you can make of it what you want to make of it. To me it’s not particularly about anything other than not wanting to be brought down. It’s a sort of anti-being brought down song, which is for anyone and everyone.”
Paul made a nice music video for this one. He double tracks his vocals, which are still as strong as ever on this track and the album.
He starts out in in his regular singing voice and ends the song in classic letting it rip Macca. A nice way to begin the album. Rating – 8
“From A Lover To A Friend”
“From A Lover To A Friend’ was a patchwork of a couple of bits I’d had, which I liked but I didn’t think I’d finished up the songs. That turned out to be a good thing because I got together with my man Eddie at my studio in England and we were going through these demos; I’d liked this bit and liked that bit and we just stitched together a couple of bits that weren’t meant to go together but they just felt like they would go together. Interestingly for me, just to make one or two cuts work for the edit and not chop into the vocal, I had to add a strange extra bar in, so the collage had some odd bars – instead of it all being 4:4, it was like 5:4 in places or 2:4, which was something I like.
And when I played the demo to the guys everyone was all very keen on faithfully following all those little 5:4 bars, just to give it a different musical structure. The other thing about the demo was that part of it was a rather, shall we say tired late-night demo, a bit out-of-it demo, but it had a very intimate quality in the voice and so I tried to keep that and not clean up the record so much that I’d lose that lazy late-nightness.”
I prefer the remix version (which comes in about a minute and a half longer) but this is a sweet little track. Double tracked jazzy vocals are the highlight. The band isn’t needed in this one. Rating- 8
“She’s Given Up Talking”
She’s Given Up Talking’ was about someone I know whose kid had gone to school and wouldn’t talk all day that she was in school. For a year she wouldn’t talk at school and his idea of her giving up talking seemed like a good title to me. I wrote the song a couple of years ago; when I was on holiday in Jamaica and remembered this story of this girl who wouldn’t talk to the teachers or anything – which I ended up thinking that was a pretty good strategy for school, I wish I’d have thought of that. Of course I would have just got caned, they were wise to that kind of shit, my school. Then I hastily put together the middle of ‘She’s Given Up Talking’ here in LA.”
The overall track has a robotic, electric feel (especially the drumming). My complaint with song and many on the album is with the lyrics…. In my opinion this is one of Paul’s least imaginative albums, lyrically.
Rusty Anderson guitar play is the highlight for me. Paul’s vocals are run through a filter for most of the song. Rating – 6.5
‘Driving Rain’ was written out here in Los Angeles – there was a lot of rain out here in February and so on our day off we went off for a drive in this little Corvette that I hired, we drove off up the Pacific Coast Highway and went on up to Malibu and had a bit of lunch. In the evening, feeling great after a nice day out, I was sitting around at the piano and I just started writing something half-based on the day out.
The funny thing about the song ‘Driving Rain’ was that the alarm system in the house we were renting in Los Angeles was always on. There was a little electrical, LED box on the wall and it always said ‘Something’s Open’. I thought what the FUCK good is that? And no matter if you shut every window and door in the whole bloody place, this alarm always said ‘Something’s Open’. Not very reassuring, but in the end I thought fuck it – and I took the words into a song; I thought, right, ‘Something’s open – it’s my heart’. I just used is as an opening line of ‘Driving Rain.’ So in that case the creativity came from this junk of an alarm.”
1-2-3-4-5….. Let’s go for a drive. 6-7-8-9-10, let’s go there and back again. A song that sounds great for a drive, great production, but the lyrics bring me down to earth.
Paul really tries on this and every track. He isn’t mailing this one in, for sure. He knew this was his first album of all-new material in six years. Sound is lush.
Rating – 7
“I Do”. – “I Do’ was the third of the India songs. It was one of those ‘if you only knew’ songs, like just talking to someone; ‘if you only knew, that it’s OK from my side’. It’s like a communicative statement to someone – ‘whatever you think at any given time, remember this – I do’. Like I may be goofing off but essentially I wrote this song to say it’s OK.”
Producer Kahne uses sound samples for the orchestration. Paul sings the first verse in regular voice then switches to an upper register for the remainder. An easily to forget middle eight… Nothing that makes me want to play it again. Rating – 6.5
“Tiny Bubble”. – “Tiny Bubble’ was a demo that I made up at my little studio in Scotland. It was just a stream of consciousness thing about all the world’s a tiny bubble.
On the record we’ve left in a few of the rough edges, a few of the studio noises, which makes for a good sort of atmosphere. We hadn’t tried to tidy this album up too much, it’s still got a sort of raw freshness to it.”
Gabe Dixon on Hammond organ drives the song. Weak lyrics again drag the song down (“all the world is a tiny bubble floating inside, those of us who notice are expected to hide”). Even the catchy pop melody can’t get this one fully off the ground. Rating – 6
“Magic”. – “There Must Have Been Magic’ This is about meeting Linda – ‘it must have been magic the night that we met’. I met Linda in a club and I always thought years after, particularly after she died, that if I hadn’t stood up that night in a club we might never have met again. It was something I never normally did; I wouldn’t normally stand up as someone was about to leave and say ‘Er, excuse me, hello.…’ I didn’t do that. It was a bit embarrassing for a young guy to do that. I didn’t normally do that but it was just one of those things that I felt I just had to do that night. Because if I hadn’t done that I might not have met her again.”
The sentiment on this one is very nice, which the lyrics fully describe. The bass line attempts to add some dimension to its stationary beat. Rating – 6
“Your Way” – “Your Way was a song that I wrote at the same time as I wrote ‘She’s Given Up Talking’, on holiday in Jamaica. It’s got a little country feel to it; it’s the first song with which we tried harmonies with the guys in the band and the nice thing about the guys is they can all sing.”
It’s got quite a country feel to it….with Rusty on pedal steel guitar. Everyone helps Paul on backing vocals. There’s even some knee slapping going on. Overall, while it is not offensive, it doesn’t affect me as many Paul songs have. Rating – 6
“Spinning On An Axis”
Spinning On An Axis’ – I was sitting in New Hampshire, visiting American relatives. The sun was going down and me and James, my son, were talking about how the sun actually isn’t going down, we’re turning around away from it. We had a little keyboard thing there and James was playing a little riff on it and I was doing a parody rap thing, just goofing off with no real melody, on those thoughts of spinning on an axis. I had my little cassette with me and I happened to tape that as a little reminder.”
Musically, this is interesting. Paul does indeed sing in a rap-like manner, with silly lyrics….
‘I watch the sun go down
With some sorrow
And now I know it’s gonna’
Come back tomorrow
Ain’t no reason
It has to do that
It’s the season of the culture bat.’
Okay….. Rating – 6
“About You”. – “About You was written in India, in Goa. We had such a relaxing start to an Indian holiday which was at the beginning of 2001.
It was exciting, I hadn’t been back to India since the Maharishi days, which was 25 years or so ago. It was great to look around a bit more. We started off in Goa, relaxed beach time, and one afternoon I wrote ‘About You’ on a little travel guitar I’ve got which has it’s own amp in it. I picked some words out for the song after seeing a copy of The India Times which was lying around.”
A song that sounds like a tribute to his new love for getting him out of his sadness….. Rating – 6.5
“Heather”. ‘Heather’ – there’s a funny story about this track. It actually came about early one morning. I’d got up and was just jamming on the piano and Heather, who doesn’t know all of The Beatles songs because she’s young, said ‘That’s great – which Beatles song is that?’ I said ‘It’s not, I’m just making it up’. And she’s like ‘What? Now? Making it up now?’ Yeah. Suddenly she’s saying ‘Get it down! You’ve got to get that down, get it on a tape, now!’ I’m saying ‘No, it’s OK, I’m just noodling’, but she’s insisting ‘get it down!’, so we found a little dictaphone and played it into that. And then she said ‘By the way, what’s it called?’ ‘Oh’, I said, ‘It’s called ‘Heather.”
Basically an instrumental that breezes by until the one verse.
‘I’m gonna fly to the moon
Check in outta spaceFind me a suitable plot
Build myself a place
There I will stay
For a year and a day
Until the cares of my life blow away.
And I will dance to a runcible tune
With the queen of my heart
Was Paul being honest about this for his adopted daughter of Linda’s or is this really for the new…. Heather? Rating – 5.5
“Back In The Sunshine Again”
‘Back In The Sunshine Again’ was written in Arizona about five years ago; the idea of getting out of the English winter and into the Arizona sun was very appealing, so I started writing it – with the help of my son James, who contributed to the riff and the bridge. I finished the song in California, shortly before I started the album. It’s a good time, back in the sun song – about leaving behind all our troubles and moving forward into the sunshine, which also fits with my present mood in life, my present situation.
James came and played rhythm guitar on the session with the band, he was the only guest artist on the album – which was fitting, as he had helped me write it.
Paul gets a bit bluesy on this one… his echo laden vocals and odd falsetto at certain points miss their target. A bit too busy production throughout. Rating – 6
“Your Loving Flame”
‘Your Loving Flame’ was written on the 36th floor of the Carlyle Hotel in New York, just because I thought I was walking into a Cole Porter movie – the room had a grand piano and a plate glass window overlooking Central Park. I wrote that really fast.
Paul piano love song we have heard before. Not bad, but we have heard this before, haven’t we? Rusty’s short solo on the break is the best part of the track along with the Wings like backing vocals. Rating – 6.5
“Riding Into Jaipur” Making up a song is always a great pleasure, it doesn’t seem like hard work to me. ‘Riding To Jaipur’ – funnily enough the melody for this was written outside of India. I had a back-packing guitar, a little Martin travel guitar that is absolutely slimmed down to nothing and weighs sort of zero ounces. I had one of those that Linda had got me as a “prezzie.” I took it when she and I went to The Maldives for a holiday. My particular back-packer – and I haven’t noticed this on other people’s – seems to have a bit of a sound on certain frets like a sitar, and because I was in the middle of The Indian Ocean, the two came together in that song. I didn’t have a title for the song, but when I went to India this year I took a train to Jaipur. It was a very exotic over-night train journey and I did some words that were in the same vein as that original melody. So those two things came together.
The most interesting song on the album, sonically it does take you into the world the song was created in.. Vocal effects add to the etherial feel. Rating – 8
“Rinse The Raindrops”
‘Rinse The Raindrops’ – “I’ve only ever written a couple of songs where the lyrics came first. I was sailing and some words came to me that I wasn’t sure whether they were a poem or a song. I liked them and sort of wrote a rough melody for them in my head. But then we were in the studio one day and I fancied doing something different with the guys. We’d come to the end of my more prepared tunes, so I thought I’d do something crazy with this.
I took the two verses, it’s only got two verses, and very hastily wrote a bridge and an instrumental bridge for it. I showed them the bits on an acoustic and then got onto bass and we just jammed the song for half an hour or so. David reckoned I sang the verse about 48 times. Because I was doing just the same lyric, I just sang it every way I could think of so that hopefully he could get something out of that. We went home and left him to stay up until four in the morning to work on it. We came in the next day and David said ‘I couldn’t get it down any shorter than this’, he’d collaged together all the bits he liked, and it’s like a ten-minute song. It reminds me of festivals in summer, hippies and bands jamming. There’s a good energy to it.”
Frantic level of effort from the band, led by heavy electric piano.
The song changes tempo mid song and speeds up even more.
Rudimentary lyrics roll by with no effect on me…. Rating – 6
McCartney, who said the attacks affected him emotionally, wrote the song the day after the attack. In the song, the narrator declares freedom to be a “right given by God” that he will “fight for.” The lyrics were thus in seeming contradiction with the antiwar sentiment associated with McCartney’s former act, The Beatles. But at The Concert for New York City where he first played the song live, McCartney explained to the crowd, “It’s about freedom. That’s one thing these people don’t understand. That’s worth fighting for.”
The song was released in two versions: a single billed as a studio version (recorded in Quad Studios, New York), and a hidden track on McCartney’s Driving Rain album billed as a live version. It appeared “hidden” because McCartney halted the pressing of the album to include the track at the last minute, and the artwork had already been completed. Both versions feature Eric Clapton on lead guitar, with McCartney’s touring band backing him.
The live, album version also featured studio overdubs from the sessions that produced the single version.
Another song where the sentiment was much better than the song itself. While maybe he envisioned this becoming his “Imagine” as a statement on the condition of that days world, it did not do that. A simple song, which doesn’t take advantage of Clapton or the stage it had to be heard. Rating – 6
Overall the albums 16 tracks grade out at 6.53/10. Not one of my favorites, twenty years on….
Next, the other songs of 2001 and on to the road…..