Lonely Road by Paul McCartney
by Ron Powers
This month I’m bringing you the first of a series of articles I’m doing called “Flashback”. In this series, I’ll discuss some of the lesser-known work by the biggest names in music. First on the list is a song called “Lonely Road” by Paul McCartney. “Lonely Road” is the first track off McCartney’s 2001 album “Driving Rain”. It mixes mid-tempo rock-n-roll with a spooky vocal melody to create a sophisticated and cool feeling that is both energetic and relaxed. “Lonely Road” didn’t get much recognition upon its release, but it remains one of my favorite songs by the legendary Beatle and I’m happy to have a chance to share it with you here.
The song begins with a round stumbling bass line followed by a mix of drawn-out electric guitar notes and chords played through a high-quality tube amp. We also hear faint acoustic guitar chords mixing with tambourine and kick drum to create an intriguing rhythm that supports the topline nicely. With a cool and laidback melody, McCartney delivers the simple but relatable lines “I tried to get over you / I tried to find something new / but all I could ever do / was fill / my time / with thoughts / of you”. As the verse progresses organ chords are added along with a snare drum and other percussive elements. At the tail end of the verse, Paul delivers “Chuck Berry style” octave bends that create a classically cool feeling leading into the chorus.
McCartney’s guitar work is particularly remarkable during the chorus of “Lonely Road”. The rhythm is interesting and unpredictable: One second we hear swooping notes that ring out for a full measure and the next thing you know Paul is attacking the strings with vigorous strumming. A second guitar is peppered throughout the chorus delivering a mix of hauntingly plucked guitar chords and scat rhythms. Under the guitars, McCartney adds a walking bass line that creates an interesting movement in the music and works well with the drums and percussive elements. For the vocals, Paul’s voice is doubled giving the sound extra shine and power.
The depth of McCartney’s musical understanding and songwriting abilities are displayed throughout “Lonely Road”. Obviously, we know him as a great songwriter but he also plays all of the instruments heard on “Lonely Road”. Collaboration between band members can make for exciting music, however, I think there’s something to be said for one person generating all the musical elements. It opens up connection points in every aspect of the music between an artist and their listener. There’s a level of intimacy that isn’t possible any other way.
McCartney wrapped up the “Got Back Tour” in June and is currently writing new material for future releases. If you’d like to listen to “Lonely Road” or any of Paul’s legendary music, you can find it on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and most other places music is streamed or sold. If you’d like to learn more about Paul McCartney you can find him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
About the Author: Ron Powers is an independent A&R specialist and music industry consultant and is constantly searching for, discovering and writing about new talent.