Discovered Treasure: "Ram" Paul McCartney's Second Solo Album
In my teenage years during the 1970’s my twin sister Terry was a big fan of Paul McCartney. She had the albums London Town, Band on the Run, Back to the Egg, and McCartney II, and I enjoyed listening to my favorite songs from those albums. Then I just drifted away from his albums though I did get the album Give my Regards to Broad street. When my sister moved away I never bought those albums she took with her. Recently I was watching YouTube and came across a review of Ram by Canadian Studmuffin and Rockboy680, and those videos had me hooked on Sir Paul McCartney once again.
I bought the album Ram and discovered a treasure of an album that hasn’t aged with time. Now I am on a quest to get all the Paul McCartney albums I can find. Paul is the master of pop and this album is a gem.
The album Ram was released May 17, 1971 and is the second solo album by Paul McCartney. Paul McCartney was in a depression after the Beatles split up. According to Rolling Stone magazine…McCartney now felt shattered; the band – the life he had been a part of since he was 15 – had been cut off from him. "John's in love with Yoko," he told London's Evening Standard, "and he's no longer in love with the other three of us." Paul stayed at home with Linda, her daughter Heather, and their infant, Mary, and began drinking in evenings and mornings alike. He stopped writing music altogether, and his temper flared easily. He'd fallen into a paralyzing depression, until Linda could take no more. "Here I am ... married to a drunk who won't take a bath," she told a friend, according to Peter Carlin's Paul McCartney: A Life. "You don't have to take this crap," she finally told Paul. "You're a grown man." During Christmas week 1969, McCartney took his wife's advice and started work on his first album as an independent artist. He called Lennon in March 1970 and informed him that he too was now leaving the Beatles. "Good," his longtime partner replied. "That makes two of us who have accepted it mentally."
The songs on the album range from blues sounds, country sounds, and pop sounds and some zaniness that gives the listener so much joy to hear.
The first song on the track is “Too Many People”. John Lennon felt like this song was written about him and Yoko and it was. One can hardly blame Paul for his feelings of anger because John was one of the reasons the band broke up. He was starting to think about life after the Beatles and Paul didn’t want the band to break up. He felt that John and Yoko were trying to preach to people how to live their lives and that irritated Paul. John felt the verse “You took your lucky break and broke it in too” meant that all of them being with Paul was a lucky break, but I think Paul meant being in the band the Beatles was lucky and then he threw it all away. It is a good song that starts out almost like a Roy Orbison song. The song has guitar and drums a sparse arrangement, and the song makes its point and shows just how Paul felt about John at this time.
“Legs” is the second song from the album and John and George both felt Paul was writing about the Beatles and their break up. The lyrics "When I thought you was my friend/But you let me down/Put my heart around the bend" and "My dog he got three legs/But he can't run" did sound like Paul was pretty crushed about the break up and understandably so since he had been with all them since he was fifteen years old. John admitted that he liked the beginning of the song. Legs is a throwback to those old blues songs with the guitar licks and the repeat lyrics. It is a crazy song, but it has a great tune and Paul gives the song great blues emotion.
“Ram On” is the next song on the album. Is more of an instrumental there are a few lyrics to it saying” give your heart to somebody right away.” The best part of the song is the ukulele that plays throughout the song giving it a twenties, thirties sound that is haunting and memorable. According to the website The Beatles Bible, Paul loved the ukulele and this was the first time he recorded himself playing one.
Ram On is a cute little thing on a ukulele, 'cause I used to carry one around with me in the back of New York taxis just to always have music with me. They thought I was freak, those taxi drivers.
“Dear Boy” is song number four on the Ram album. John thought that this song was about him too, but it was written about Linda McCartney’s ex-husband Joseph Melville See. He left Linda and their daughter to go to Africa as part of his job and Linda decided she didn’t want to live that way and divorced him. Paul wrote the song feeling lucky to have Linda and then he thought of Linda’s ex-husband and wrote the line “I guess you never knew what you had missed.” Paul thought she is so amazing and you never saw that about her. The song is pure perfection the great piano that plays throughout the song, the lyrics, and the great harmonies make this song a pleasure to listen to and it after hearing it, it stays in your mind a little while.
Song five is “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” is a song that is actually a few fragments of songs that joined together which is why it is so strange and wonderful at the same time. Paul said Uncle Albert is about his favorite Uncle and it is a nostalgic song for him it is an apology from his generation to the older generation, and Admiral Halsey as an authoritarian figure who ought to be ignored. Admiral Halsey is about American Admiral William Halsey. The song brings back visions of Yellow Submarine with the sound effects of rain and thunder, telephones, sea birds and wind. It is a fun song.
“Heart of the Country” is song seven.It is a catchy song with so much imagery you will feel the peace and serenity Paul and Linda must have felt being out in the country. It has that Roger Miller vibe with the happiness of the song and the guitar picking. It is a song that will make you long to join them out there in paradise.
Monkberry Moon Delight is a strange song eight on the album. It has Paul sounding really harsh but he is using his rock and roll voice that he used in Long Tall Sally and Oh! Darling. According to the Beatle’s Bible a web site the song is really all about phonetics and not lyrics. His kids would make up words for things and monk was what they would call milk. Paul said, “When my kids were young they used to call milk ‘monk’ for whatever reason that kids do – I think it’s magical the way that kids can develop better names for things than the real ones. In fact, as a joke, Linda and I still occasionally refer to an object by that child-language name. So, monk was always milk, and monkberry moon delight was a fantasy drink, rather like Love Potion No. 9, hence the line in the song, ‘sipping monkberry moon delight’. It was a fantasy milk shake.” Paul McCartney. Having heard the explanation, I now like the song better now.
“Eat at Home” is song nine and it has that old time rock and roll sound to it. One of vocal parts has a bit of Elvis sound to it. It is a song that Paul wrote about him and Linda and their domestic life together. Food was the euphemism for sex. They were newly married when the album was created, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise on what Paul may have had on his mind.
"Long Haired Lady" song ten, is a song that is formed from two fragment songs that Paul had written. "Long Haired Lady" according to Paul was a very 70’s song thinking perhaps of a California girl. "Love is Long" lyric is tagged on to the end like a Hey Jude number, but without the feeling that the song Jude brought. It gets a bit repetitious at the end.
Song eleven is a shorter version of the song called “Ram On”it is a little clip of a song like the song “Her Majesty” it has the ukulele and a great beat and one wishes the song would go on a little bit longer. It is wonderful song, but too short.
The last song on the album is “Backseat of my Car” track twelve. This song is a traveling song like his songs “Two of Us” and “Helen Wheels”. Paul was inspired by all the road trips he and Linda were taking nearing the end of the Beatles. He said: "Back Seat of My Car" is the ultimate teenage song, and even though it was a long time since I was a teenager and had to go to a girl's dad and explain myself, it's that kind of meet-the-parents’ song. It's a good old driving song. [Sings] "We can make it to Mexico City." I've never driven to Mexico City, but it's imagination. And obviously "back seat" is snogging, making love.
— Paul McCartney, Billboard
The song with its piano and orchestra brings to mind Abbey Road and Pet Sounds that combination
Paul McCartney’s “Ram” is an album that has stood the test of time. I am glad I discovered it. Paul came out of his depression over the ending of the Beatles and created an album that showed he could make it on his own. This album is a joy to listen to and any Beatles fan should have it. Paul was born to create music and this album proves it.