Jun 07

Give the cute one his props

Guest Post By Julie Farin (@JulieFarin)


June 7
In a White House ceremony recently, Paul McCartney was awarded the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, which was created by the Library of Congress to honor artists “whose creative output transcends distinctions between musical styles and idioms, bringing diverse listeners together and fostering mutual understanding and appreciation.” Part of this honor recognizes McCartney for making “an impact far beyond music through his humanitarianism and activism around the world, which are emblematic of the spirit of the Gershwin Prize.”

A writer for NPR Music, Tom Cole, questions whether Sir Paul actually deserved this honor in the absence of his equally talented songwriting partner John Lennon, since The Beatles music catalog is comprised predominantly (with a few exceptions) of Lennon/McCartney tunes.  Cole challenges us to name a post-Beatles McCartney song that “holds even a dim candle to what they wrote together.” Furthermore, he feels that Lennon was the true humanitarian and activist, not McCartney, saying it’s unfair that “the Library’s website does not even mention John Lennon’s name.” 

While Lennon’s activism during the Vietnam era has been well-documented, most notably his 1969 anthem “Give Peace a Chance” still being used today in anti-war rallies, McCartney has also stood behind causes he feels strongly about, such as Animal Rights and Meat-Free Mondays.

Regarding his post-Beatles body of work, I would argue that “Live & Let Die,” “Here Today” (which he wrote for Lennon in 1982 and still performs in concert) and “Maybe I’m Amazed” are among McCartney’s finest compositions. Although the Library of Congress website might not have mentioned Lennon by name, President Barack Obama certainly made sure he did on the night McCartney was honored.

John Lennon has always been my favorite Beatle. But no one is implying that Lennon was less of a songwriter than McCartney by bestowing this honor on Sir Paul, who turns 68 on June 18th. And while the work McCartney has produced and continues to produce in the 40 years since the Beatles dismantled may not be everyone’s cuppa English tea, even the staunchest Macca foe would have to admit that the man and his music have staying power. Let’s see if anyone remembers Lady Gaga 40 years from now.

“In Performance at the White House” airs on PBS July 28 at 8 pm ET/PT.

Apr 28

Books are the training weights of the mind

April 28 - Books That's not my quote. It was written by Epictetus sometime around the year 99AD.

Thanks to a suggestion by RepMan, Jr., I just read 'The Art of Living,' a summary of the words and writings of Epictetus, a long forgotten, but highly influential Stoic. Ho hum, right? Wrong. While he may have been waxing poetic some 2,000 years ago, the Stoic's words are spot on for dealing with the oh-so-many nightmares of modern-day living. I won't belabor his many and most excellent points, but Epictetus is all about understanding what's important in life and what isn't. He's also all about dealing with life's many curveballs in a, well, stoical, kind of way. He's also all about happiness, the pursuit of which seems further away than ever. Get the book. It'll change the way you look at things.

Here are some other quick recommendations:

'The Thunderbolt Kid,' by Bill Bryson (one of my favorite authors). This is laugh out loud grist for any Baby Boomer who grew up with the Dick and Jane reading books, 'Father knows best' and grammar school janitors who looked like Richard Speck (Bryson's words, not mine. And shame on you if you don't know who Speck was or what he did).

'1453' is a Zara Lintin-recommended book that, in the re-telling the story of the fall of Constantinople also provides perspective on the ageless war between fundamental Christianity and its doppelganger, fundamental Islam. It also depicts torture tactics that make waterboarding seem like a walk in the park.

Outliers'  is another Malcolm Gladwell home run. I loved it. In essence, it explains why people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and the Beatles became successful. Success, says Gladwell, goes far beyond talent and perspiration and can be ascribed to everything from the month of the year in which one is born, the year in which one is born, the amount of hours one is able to commit to becoming proficient in one's future craft, and stuff like that. The book also gave me a whole new way of looking at brainstorming which we've begun to incorporate at Peppercom.

I love reading, and typically I read three or four books at a time. But, lest that sound boastful, allow me to end with a quote from Epictetus on the subject of reading: 'Don't just say you've read books. Show that through them you have learned to think better, to be a more discriminating and reflective person. (They) are the training weights of the mind.'

Ya gotta love it.