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Music

The keyboardist Paul McCartney imitated

@TomTaylorFO

Paul McCartney is the archetypal lover of music in all of its guises. As the comedian Vic Reeves once confirmed, he’s the sort of fellow who knows all the words and notes to just about any song that you can think of. Thus, out of the mausoleum of music contained within his fair-headed mind, it would be somewhat of an honour if you were the person he chose to imitate.

Thankfully, for Ron Mael of Sparks, McCartney was looking to push his imitation skills to their limit as he took on the look of one of the most singular men in music. “They don’t really look like a band,” British talk show host Jonathan Ross declared of Sparks, “They just look like people who’ve been let out for the day.” Macca thought that was the perfect musical style and aesthetic to incorporate into his performance of ‘Coming Up’.

“That’s maybe my number one career highlight!” Ron Mael told us when we caught up with him to discuss the musical film, Annette, he recently wrote with his brother and collaborator Russell (which you can read all about here). “To have a former Beatle, who could’ve chosen any keyboard to imitate, so to imitate me was certainly a very flattering moment.”

There’s no telling what sort of music you’d expect a band like Sparks to make from aesthetics and name alone, but a sort of Pet Shop Boys on acid with the intelligent satirical lyricism of a more dada-ist Randy Newman, all wrapped in a hue of DEVO-Esque art-rock, would not be the first guess. This clearly caught McCartney’s eye. However, like almost every other musician in existence, this influence ran both ways. 

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“It was also British bands that meant something to us other than maybe The Beach Boys who sort of encapsulated the Southern California lifestyle, but other than that it was British bands and then just to have Paul McCartney do that was wow!” Ron tells me. “There is a show here, Saturday Night Live, and McCartney was making his appearance and presenting that for the first time, and it was just like, well, I had a swelled head for a couple of weeks.”

McCartney went full parody mode as he took on the roles of a full band laden with familiar looks, but none more noticeable than his take on the wild ways of most peculiar keys player since Moondog. Unfortunately, for his pouting brother Russell, the whole thing must have been somewhat distressing. Fortunately, he hasn’t lost his sense of humour about it. “Hopefully he’ll do a new one and impersonate me!” Russell humorously quips as a slight disguised veil of vexation washes over his little zoom window.