John Sieger
Sieger on Songs

“Step Inside Love”

The late Cilla Black’s version of Paul McCartney’s song may tell us more about his genius.

By - Aug 5th, 2015 04:54 pm
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McCartney Black - Step Inside Love

McCartney Black – Step Inside Love

I wish I was a genius. It must be so much fun. If it isn’t, then this video, revealing (through audio only) the completely casual artistry of Sir Paul McCartney, as he and Cilla Black work on a demo of Step Inside Love, does a pretty good of faking it.

Someone had posted this song on Facebook (that’s how it works these days), and I loved it for its simple and direct beauty. I decided I wanted to write about this forgotten gem. I didn’t know the post was a tribute to Black who died earlier this week, but it struck me in listening what a sturdy, smoky and friendly instrument her voice was. While there’s no doubt McCartney could have sung it just fine, she did it proud. It was great to hear her again and be reminded of a time when pop singers were flashing less flesh and more talent. Still it was McCartney’s effortless creation that interested me the most.

All through the 60’s McCartney, with an occasional side trip to Sillyville, made remarkable music. In the 70’s, the silliness got a little out of hand, but there was no doubt, with his reputation made, he could still do it when he wanted to. The fact that even today, I can hear a song from early in his career that knocks me backwards a couple steps, seems amazing.

Like this one. You don’t hear his voice, but I’ll settle for Cilla. (By the way, young moms, if you can’t think of a name, Priscilla or Cilla, is as lovely an old fashioned named as I’ve heard lately.) She had talent aplenty and made every note of this tune sound easy.

Last week I wrote about Chris Montez and the birth of the genre from hell, Soft Rock. Of course this song would, on first listening, slot into that quite nicely. But like Call Me, it’s closer in spirit to Bossa Nova. The chords Sir Paul tosses in there so effortlessly, require a lot effort to learn and even more to use in such an appropriate way. The fact that he does it with such confidence belies the fact that he is completely self-taught. So were Irving Berlin and Erroll Garner.

McCartney’s lack of edge leads some to dismiss him as lightweight when comparing his talent to John Lennon’s. That’s simplistic. For one thing, they were often so intertwined in their early careers that you can’t untangle them. They relied on each other to form one massive super-talent with more checks and balances than the U.S. Constitution. Egging each other on, pulling each other back from the edge or even jumping feet first into the unknown, their MO was complete collaboration. It didn’t go away when they wrote alone, but simply became part of what I suspect was a lifelong interior dialogue they were having. Speculation, I know.

When things shook out and their individual traits became more obvious, you could view McCartney as somehow more conventional, more obedient, or as I like to think, more aware of the rules and the beauty that standard forms provide. Lennon, ever the wall smasher, gets credit for the demolition derby his work was. To me, their best work will always be from this earlier period. And McCartney, though bound to go to greater heights, was already at some kind of incredible peak when he wrote these words:

Step inside love
Let me find you a place
Where the curse of the day
Will be carried away
By the smile on your face
We are together now and forever
Come my way

Chorus:

Step inside love and stay
Step inside love
Step inside love
Step inside love
I want you to stay

You look tired, love
Let me turn down the light
Come in out of the cold
Rest your head on my shoulder
And love me tonight
I’ll always be here if you should need me
Night and day

Chorus

When you leave me
Say you’ll see me again
For I know in my heart
We will not be apart
And I’ll miss you till then
We’ll be together now and forever
Come my way

Chorus

© Paul McCartney

Yeah I know — light as a feather. But the song is a sweet invitation to drop the “curse of the day.”

The McCartney touch on guitar is rarely commented on and never more obvious than it is on this track. Baffling to the ear of a guy who spends a lot of time figuring songs out for guitar students. I would be stuck on this one for a little bit if a student asked me to teach it. But McCartney whips through it with almost unbridled joy, treating it like a beginner’s exercise. (Keep in mind his day job was playing bass.) You sense his pride at having written another great one lying just beneath the surface and when he finishes with a flutter somewhere up the neck, I think to myself, “It must be fun to be a genius!”

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