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Jul 09

PAUL MCCARTNEY – “Pipes Of Peace”

FT + Popular70 comments • 5,769 views

#530, 14th January 1984, video

“In love our problems disappear”: ever since the high days of the Beatles, Paul McCartney had a thing about love. Even after – especially after – he’d had to play the hard-nosed one and break up that band, “love” remained as a presence in his songwriting, something increasingly abstract and mystical: a universal solvent.

There are worse things to have a bee in one’s bonnet about, of course. It’s easy to use McCartney’s lyrics to mock or dismiss his drippiness: the words to “Pipes Of Peace” are certainly clumsier, possibly even triter than those of “Ebony And Ivory”. “Songs of joy instead of burn baby burn”: eek! It’s a similar record, but I think a rather better one. Both songs walk a tightrope over an abyss of crassness: “Ebony” topples in, while “Pipes” has a humility and sincerity that lets it (just about) cling on.

It’s also – though George Martin’s attention-deficit production tries its best to disguise the fact – a sterling melody and a well-put-together song. The calm solemnity of the opening lines, the sad turn on “planet we’re playing on” and the carefree tumbles in the instrumental break are affecting no matter what guff Macca is singing. McCartney’s professed ideal of love is as inert as ever: as usual, it’s prettiness that pulls him through.

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Comments

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  1. 61
    Chelovek na lune on 10 Sep 2010 #

    I can only conclude that Macca was such a national treasure by now that he could churn out any old dross, dress it up with a meaningful and heartfelt video, and the people would say, Gor Bless ‘im, we’ll take ‘im to our bloomin’ ‘earts. We’d been singing “When I’m 64” round the old joanna at primary school a couple of years earlier than this, too. (My pop year: definitely 1982, aged 7; the month of May in particular. One lost gem – “I Specialize in Love” by Sharon Brown. And anything by ABC from then, obviously. But, ABC’s excellent, underrated, underplayed album apart, definitely not 1984)

    Anyway, the fact that this song has hardly been played on the radio since (at least within my earshot) – even at Christmas – says something about its enduring quality. Or lack thereof.

    Not the first dreadful record that Macca released. And certainly not the last, either. But, really: pure, dross. Road to hell, good intentions, etc. One out of ten.

  2. 62
    flahr on 19 Feb 2013 #

    “Six singles sold over a million copies, a figure that’s unlikely to ever be repeated”

    tee hee hee

  3. 63
    punctum on 19 Feb 2013 #

    Wasn’t it seven, or did “Ghostbusters” just miss the cut?

  4. 64
    Lazarus on 21 Feb 2013 #

    What were the six then? Two Frankies (not, I’m guessing, ‘The Power of Love’) Band Aid, Wham! (Last Christmas), Stevie Wonder and Lionel Richie?

    Wiki tells us that ‘Ghostbusters’ sold 1.09 million but it was on the chart well into 1985 – so it did pass the million, but in all likelihood not before Dec 31st.

    And did ‘Last Christmas’ sell a million before year’s end? Sales are high at that time of year of course, but its chart life was extended considerably by making it a double A side with ‘Everything She Wants.’

  5. 65
    DanH on 9 Aug 2013 #

    Still can’t believe this made it to #1…it’s not so bad, in fact it’s miles better than most of the rest of that album. what a fall-off from Tug of War that was. I distinctly remember “So Bad” being listed as a top hit the day I was born (Mar 1984) on some ‘on your birthday’ thing my parents had from the hospital. It was that one, some Dan Fogelberg song, and (I think) “Got a Hold On Me” by Christine McVie. Maybe they were looking at the A/C charts?

    BTW, Press to Play is horrendous. The mid 80s were very bad to the ’60s music regulars, like Macca, Clapton, the Stones…

  6. 66
    punctum on 19 Apr 2014 #

    The closing song on TPL #298: http://nobilliards.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/various-artists-now-thats-what-i-call.html

  7. 67
    weej on 29 Dec 2017 #

    I heard this on Costa Coffee’s Christmas playlist the other day, so maybe it’s a Christmas song now.

  8. 68
    Lee Saunders on 30 Dec 2017 #

    We might have Sainsbury’s to thank for that (actually though I’d see it sporadically on VH1/MTV Classic Christmas things in the early 2010s).

  9. 69
    Rose Sutcliffe on 9 Apr 2021 #

    The Pipes of Peace really is a dreary thing. Sorry but it’s a 1/10 from me.

  10. 70
    Gareth Parker on 11 May 2021 #

    Sorry, I think this one deserves a kicking. Good grief this is just irredeemably awful in my eyes. 1/10.

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