Linda McCartney. Dead of breast cancer at the age of 56.
Another Sixties icon gone. This one hits me more than any of the others, really, since John Lennon died. Linda Eastman took a big chance marrying the "cute boy" of the 1960s. The adorable Beatle. Not that the rest of them weren't the subject of unparalleled media frenzy, but Paul was the one everyone wanted. And she got him. Can any of today's William-watchers even comprehend the hate mail and threats she must have gotten? I can't. Gone. Just like that.
Shit. I don't even know what to say. I'm just so stunned....all I can think of is the album, "Double Fantasy," that John Lennon released right before his death. All right, John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It's so easy to ignore the wives of the men, isn't it? But they pick the ones they love (inevitably disappointing the millions who thought they wanted them) and go on with their lives. Their recording. So what if it's not the Beatles? It can still hold its own. "Double Fantasy" was a lot of John's music and a lot of Yoko's music. I had to admit I had to work hard to listen to Yoko's stuff, but it is apparently respected by a good group of people. Not mine to judge. It was a very together album and, for those of you who care, spawned some hits. But it was a damn good album anyway. Wings was never the band that the Beatles was. It didn't have to be. Maybe the Fab Four's time was over. Maybe they could just grow up and get on with their lives. Tough for the women who loved the Beatles. Tough for the musicians who wanted more of the most creative band ever to hit the recording studios. But the musicians know. And their families know. It's so damn easy to discount the families, and it was so damned easy to put down Linda as this publicity-marrying bimbo who attempted to play keyboards in hubby's new band after the Beatles broke up. Well, all I can say to that is that Wings produced some of the greatest rock music we have. As I walked over here to the lab, all I could think of was the song, "Band on the Run." One of my favorite songs. Is now as dead in concert as any Who song, now that Keith Moon is gone. Can't do it without the instrumentalists. I should be able to remember whether Linda did backup vocals or not, or something else...(went and looked it up. Background vocals and percussion, no less...) but there she was. She was part of the family. And she was part of the band. Damn good band, too.
We just don't give credit to the women who stand by their men through trouble and pain. Make it through the long years and keep going themselves, and help their men keep going. If nothing else, Paul McCartney is one of the greatest talents of our age. Anyone who can sustain him is doing a damn good service. Not to mention raising three kids, sensible by the looks of them, having her own meatless-meal business (or whatever), and doing all the other stuff it takes to run an incredibly complex household like that. It's easy to envy the fact that Paul McCartney, according to one report, was pulling in something like $500,000 a week (am I quoting this right) in royalties. But money adds problems. How do you handle it? How do you raise kids and go on with your own life in the center of media hoopla like that? What does it take to marry the man who sang "Yesterday?"
The picture they had of her and Paul (I know, Sir Paul, but he was Paul to musicians all over the world before he was Sir Paul to the socialites) showed her looking remarkably strong and serene. What it must have taken for her to make that public appearance with Paul, we may never know. Horseback riding two days before she died? Let's think about this. The woman died on vacation in California. The Beatles are the ultimate British band. Is there some sort of icon-shattering, I-will-do-my-own-thing significance in this? She wasn't bedridden at the family mansion or whatnot? Sometimes it takes grace to keep on going. It really does.
Thank you, Linda, for sustaining one of the great talents of our time. For whatever other good works you managed to do and keep relatively quiet. For being almost the canonical example of "see, you can raise good kids in the midst of the madness." For doing some not-inconsiderable musical work on your off days. Thank you.
Can we ever replace her? Guys, we're losing them. A culture is dying before our eyes.
What do we have to replace it?
I haven't worked on this music page a lot because I've been swamped with keeping my royalty pages up to date and catching up my figure-skating pages through high competitive season. But I guess this is the time.
The Linda McCartney Mailing List (And a Whole Lot More).
Paul McCartney Discography.
London Mirror Article on the Death.