David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 188: Paul McCartney & Wings (Let Me Roll It)

October 3, 2022

About ten days into this series, I realized that I better approach some entries with little bit of silliness. As much as I love music and talking about music, the tendency for music lovers to go overboard with "serious" analysis can suck the joy out of the music itself. This epiphany hit me with The Traveling Wilburys' "Handle With Care" (Day 11), their very sweet song fueled by the greatest supergroup ever formed. The only way for me not to descend into hackneyed praise for Dylan, Orbison, Harrison et al was to see the "supergroup" in a different arena and to have fun with it. Hence, the pick-up basketball game that forms that post.

I set all of this up as a way to contextualize why I became a bit concerned that too many of my posts in this series have been on the silly side: game show parodies; mock campaign meetings; conversations with God. Heck, one of my more serious entries focuses on a song about Snoopy. One can go to the well, too often, Fleming. Dang it, be serious.

As I probed applicable artists and songs (after all, Dylan, CSNY, The Sex Pistols, and Midnight Oil were all off of the board), I turned to Wings. Yes, that Wings, Paul McCartney's second band famous for "Silly Love Songs," "Let 'Em In," and "Junior's Farm." Since Wings appeared, perhaps unfairly, to be a cover for McCartney as solo artist, I could extend the list of non-serious songs to "Coming Up" or "Say Say Say" (with Michael Jackson). Sir McCartney hardly seems the source to find serious music (perhaps I am channeling John Lennon from the grave with that line).

On the surface, "Let Me Roll It," off of Band To Run, could appear pretty thin for my goal here. For five minutes, there isn't a whole lot to it, most of it building off of the chorus: "I can't tell you how I feel/my heart is like a wheel/let me roll it to you." The verses around this chorus are rather scant. The first verse: "You gave me something I understand/you gave me love in the palm of my hand." The second (and final verse) is not much more: "I want to tell you and now's the time/I want to tell you that you're going to be mine." Even that line sounds a bit too much like a stalker.

The drive of the song is inescapable, guitar riff and bass line straight from the Beatles' era. McCartney admits the guitar riff was supposed to sound like a Lennon riff. He knows of what he speaks (I know, "duh!"). One hears "I Want You" from Abbey Road. One might swear the riff was sampled from Revolver. Despite all of that, the song is simple. The song is lovely. But is it serious?

At the time, popular myth portrayed the song as a message from Paul to John, to accept his heart in some kind of forgiveness. God, I loved that myth. I am no big Beatles' fan, but I am a big fan of forgiveness and redemption (even if I am not particularly good at either). Long since then, though, McCartney has claimed that the song is more about rolling a joint.

A joint? Really, Paul? Good pun, lad, but we already know you were never dead, can't you let this myth go on?

Regardless, as with Don Henley's "The Heart Of The Matter" (Day 183), "Let Me Roll It" tells me to be a better freaking person. Even though I believe, as Henley sang, "it's about forgiveness, forgiveness, even if you don't love me anymore," there are times that forgiveness is so hard to find, our hearts stuck in the mud. We need to see past ourselves to the greater society we live in. Heads up, here comes my heart.

I hear this song and I want to roll my heart to all the people close to me who have hurt me. Accidental neglect/disconnection? "I can't tell you how I feel," but here's my heart. Disagreement about politics? "You gave me love in the palm of my hand," let me roll my heart to you. Friendly fire in a meltdown? "I want to tell you and now's the time," my heart is the wheel I roll to you.

I will admit that maybe the same worldview works with a joint. Just not for very long. And with a tad bit more expense.

Paul McCartney & Wings. "Let Me Roll It." Band On The Run. Apple, 1973. Link here.

Day 187: Blink-182 "Ghost On The Dance Floor"

Day 189: The Bangles "Following"

See complete list here.