I found this period in my relationship with Paul and for himself as an entertainer were at a cross in the road.
While I found DRIVING RAIN pleasant to listen to, it became for me an album I could put on, and play in the background and do other things and maybe hum away at a few or the melodies or sing a few of the phrases.
I didn’t dislike it, but it failed to move me to play it.
The cross in the road was massive fame and massive success vs the new road. That road was critical success and self fulfillment. Paul, though he never lost sight of the other road, chose the new road. He would (most recently) enjoy the occasional foray into the other (Two #1 albums in 2020 and 2021) but it was in a new market, where sales of 10,000-20,000 copies of a physical release could reach the top of the chart. This is a long way from The Beatles (the ‘White Album” which sold 24 million copies).
I think when Paul passes his music will experience a massive increase in popularity spike, like many have before him.
So, as a fan, I chose to accept any and all releases and tours and could only hope they would continue. At around this time Billy Joel announced he would no longer create and release new music. While the thought of this for Paul (who has admitted he would like to be wheeled out on stage in his 80’s (we are keeping an eye out on this one)) was scary, I felt he still had more music inside him….
While reviews were generally positive for DRIVING RAIN, sales were way down for Paul. This was the first album which went in that direction for Paul. After this, each release would get for the most part “fantastic” reviews but the sales would be much less.
Two reasons for this…. Paul was now in his 50’s and music had moved in a new direction with young hip-hop and pop stars now dominating the charts.
Secondly, with the growth of the internet and result of sites such as Napster and all that followed in file sharing, artists were no longer selling their music in record stores throughout the nation.
This would lead to the ending of so many iconic “record stores” and end of vinyl (until it made it’s incredible comeback in the last half decade).
From the mid 2000’s the artist now made most or all of their money in touring, merchandising and reissuing back catalog in limited edition/deluxe/box/special edition etc releases.
All of the singles released from DRIVING RAIN would fail to chart in any decent fashion, and Paul soon began to accept these realities. He would continue to record at his own whim, release albums at his own pace, with singles pulled from them without the anticipation of Beatles/Wings/Early solo sales.
Reviews and attention to his legacy seems to move to the forefront. Touring regularly and re-embracing his Beatles past even further became the new normal and continue to this day.
Songs recorded in the 2001-2002 time frame not on the DRIVING RAIN album.
“Good Rockin’ Tonight (home recording)” Paul on acoustic guitar backed by Linda. I may have put this track in the wrong year, as it may date from much earlier. Still, he could knock these early classics out in his sleep. Mono recording, so very informal, but it must stay in my collection. Rating – 7
“India”. The unreleased song appears in the “Secret Website” show that was accessible through the “Back to the US” DVD. Nice little jam, probably played during pre-show soundchecks. Wouldn’t have minded if this was on the album, flushed out just a bit more.
Rating – 8
“Vanilla Sky” We can add this to the list of McCartney songs destined for motion pictures that appeared to be a blockbuster, that weren’t. Especially when he records the title track. This was written for the Tom Cruise thriller that was made when Tom was seemingly at the top of his game. Nominated for an Oscar for top song, but didn’t win. The movie was not the next “Mission Impossible” but this sweet acoustic ballad was not the reason. The double track vocals make this breezy one that deserved a bit more attention. Paul did break it out on the second leg of the 2002 tours and the BACK IN THE WORLD CD. Rating – 8.5
“Mary’s Song” – Played live instrumental which he jokes to the crowd about his fingers never leaving his wrist and only using two fingers on the fretboard. Was this the track that Kanye West used as the basis for “All Day?” This is followed by a jazzy New York City song that is also played before a crowd that occasionally bursts into laughter. I’m not sure where I stole these from, but I’m not getting rid of them. Rating – 7.5
“Yvonne” A demo of the song Paul wrote with Eric Stewart back in the 1986 PRESS TO PLAY era, and served as guide when Paul didn’t record it, and gave it to Eric to use on a later 10cc album. Eric then changed the beat, words and ruined the song. This is the definitive version of a song he should not have given away. I’m not sure why I have all theses odd songs in my I tunes under Driving Rain extras? Rating – 8.5
“Maybe Baby” The title track to the British comedy. They played it over the ending credits. True to the Buddy Holly original, only rocked up and given the full Jeff Lynne production.
Outstanding full sound, and could easily have fit on The Russian Album or RUN DEVIL RUN. A classic ass-shaking version of the song. Rating – 8.5
“Waiting For The Train To Get In” A soundcheck that was only done once and I somehow have this one. Paul appears to be making up the words, but maybe could have had something more with it, with the soundcheck as a starting point. Rating – 6.5
“Voice”. A little dance track that Paul does, but sadly, we have to hear Heather commenting on the purpose of the track. I think this may have to do with children who have lost limbs to landmines left after periods of civil war. Or to just the handicapped in general. Sounds good, but it is only if you are in the mood for electronic dance music of the period. Rating – 7.5 (Paul) and 5 (with Heather).
“A Love For You” A song Paul has worked on many times, over a period of many years, beginning with the the Ram sessions. This song was also intended for every version of the unreleased COLD CUTS projects. This is one that Paul couldn’t get out of his head to end up somewhere, but not on a proper release. This is the final version which he re-mixed and maybe re-recorded parts for the 2003 motion picture “The In-Laws” starring Albert Brooks and Michael Douglas. He also had a versions of “Live And Let Die” and “I’m Carrying” in the movie. Again, the movie was not the huge hit he or the studio thought it would be….. sigh…. I always liked this song but have heard at least three different mixes of it. This is probably the best, sonically. Rating – 8
“From A Love To A Friend (alternative mixes)” The first is a remix which comes in at 3:49, as the album version is 3:44. I feel the same way about this version, as it is one of the stronger songs on DRVING RAIN, bot musically and lyrically. Rating – 8
The longer 5:28 remix, is mixed mostly with Paul in the background vocally, and the lushness and sounds brought to the forefront. Probably form a cd single which included all three versions. This is my favorite, but probably not the most album friendly.
As 2003 got here stories began to circulate in the press (as he and Heather were constantly hounded) of major ups and downs in their relationship. He announced to give up smoking pot for Heather (was he no longer “Mother Nature’s Son lying in his field of grass?), stories of loud fights and engagement rigs heaved into the ocean. Stories of how the children (especially Stella) did not care at all for the new “Lady” McCartney, and I wondered how this would effect him creatively. Stories of Heather’s semi-sordid past relationships…..
Next, 2003 and onward….