Paul McCartney is undeniably one of the greatest musicians who ever lived. This is the man who wrote ‘Yesterday’, ‘Hey Jude’, and ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ in roughly a five-year stretch. This is the guitar player who put the explosive riff to ‘Paperback Writer’ and the exotic solo to ‘Taxman’ on record. From ballads to hard rockers and everything in between, McCartney is among the most formidable singers and songwriters of all time.
But this is also the man who made ‘Wild Honey Pie’. This is the guy who tried to bring eight ounces of weed into Japan in 1980. This is the guy who thought ‘Ebony and Ivory’ was a good idea. When you’re at the level of esteem and acclaim that McCartney is, inevitably there are going to be some stinkers. For Macca, this usually takes the form of just letting off steam and not worrying about writing the next ‘Blackbird’. It’s about having fun, and maybe even trying something you’ve never done before.
That’s what ‘The Fireman’, his experimented dance remix project with produce Youth, was in the 1990s. That’s the same train of thought that birthed songs like ‘Helter Skelter’, and, during a glorious 30 seconds in the early ’90s, that also meant creating what is likely the first and last Paul McCartney rap song.
Yes, on the set of the video for the much more serious ‘Hope of Deliverance’ video, McCartney was just goofing around when drummer Blair Cunningham began pounding out a beat. McCartney, clearly feeling the confidence of any 50-year-old white guy, began rapping the words to ‘Humpty Dumpty’ with the beat. For McCartney, it always went back to the egg.
McCartney is always game for these wild, off the cuff kind of improvised moments. They’re all over The Beatles: Get Back, and that’s how most of the tracks on McCartney I got their start. Because he’s primarily focused on creating timeless music, every once in a while, McCartney has to unwind with the complete nonsense.
But why am I trying to contextualise or add historical background to this tossed-off piece of nothingness? It’s Paul McCartney rapping ‘Humpty Dumpty’ for chrissakes. Look at that YouTube thumbnail! There’s nothing “important” or “meaningful” about this: it’s a light and goofy outtake from an artist who liked to be light and goofy from time to time. But there’s something fascinating about an all-time legend doing some very non-legendary things. Eminem, clearly not ready for this heat, wouldn’t release his debut album until three years later. Coincidence? I think not.