Paul McCartney’s Nineteen Eighty-Five Story


The cultural impact of George Orwell’s impenetrable darkness 1984 has spread to almost all forms of media. Wherever you look, you can find movies, TV shows, podcasts and music that reflect autocratic regimes and the burnt ruins of the world detailed in the pages of Orwell’s masterpiece. There’s even a term for it now: Orwellian. It shows how far Orwell’s work has entered the public consciousness.

Of all the artists who were to be inspired by the infernal landscape of 1984, perhaps the least likely would be a James Paul McCartney. Although he tasted like death and destruction at times, most of his work was on the sunnier side. How could the man who wrote “Good Day Sunshine”, “Mother Nature’s Son” and “Mull of Kintyre” take a radical left turn in the scorched ruins of humanity?

Well, on the one hand, McCartney was a voracious reader. Second, the old Beatle always wanted to draw inspiration from relatively new resources. Whether it was a speech by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a newspaper headline, or the last words of a legendary painter, McCartney could find a hook in just about any work, whether ‘it is either fanciful or fatalistic.

Much like “Live and Let Die,” “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five” finds McCartney taking what would apparently be a negative subject and finding light in it. In this case, “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five” uses the setting of a destroyed dystopia to create the kind of melody that McCartney excels at: a silly love song.

“The idea behind the song is that this is a relationship that has always been meant to be,” says McCartney in The lyrics: from 1956 to the present day. “No one in the distant future will ever get my attention, because I have you.” But when it was written, 1985 was only twelve years away; it wasn’t a very distant future, only the future in song. So, it’s basically a love song about the future.

McCartney goes on to explain why he’s always brought back to writing love songs. “’Love’ is an extremely important word and an extremely important feeling because it is happening everywhere, in all of existence, right now,” he says. “The point I want to say is obvious: this ‘love thing’ is global, truly universal. “

In this way, the song is also an ode to the undying love that McCartney had for his wife, Linda. Written while Wings was doing the Group on the run album, McCartney was well in the world of marital bliss when the song was created. Sadly, he couldn’t go on like this, with Linda’s death in 1998 triggering a wave of grief that McCartney was ill-equipped to handle on his own.

Yet, as he proclaims in the song lyrics, the love he will continue to have for Linda transcends time and even life. “I didn’t think / I never dreamed / That I would be there to see it / It all comes true.”

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