Thursday, May 31, 2007

Basement Songs-"Put It There" by Paul McCartney



With the Great Strides walk this weekend, the idea of writing about one of my basement songs almost became overwhelming. For some unknown reason I place a burden on myself each week trying to come up with something meaningful to say about the music in my life and why it has great meaning to me. I’m uncertain how many people actually read these posts, but I take pride in trying to give those of you I know about something to dwell on for the weekend.. Inspiration was difficult to conjure up with all of the distractions in our life this week. Then I had an epiphany. This week, I wanted to write about fatherhood. I also wanted to find a song that reflected the spirit of Great Strides, a song that talked about people coming together and supporting each other. When I finally put one and one together, I realized that the song I should write about is possibly the most elegant and briefest of the basement songs: “Put It There” by Paul McCartney.

McCartney’s “Flowers in the Dirt” album was released in 1989 and immediately hailed as a comeback of sorts. After a decade of LP’s full of more misses (and ill advised duets with bizarre pop stars) than hits, McCartney came up with a record full of pop gems that rivaled some of his earliest solo material. With the help of Elvis Costello and a stellar backing band, “Flowers in the Dirt” had more bite than we’d become accustomed to from the ex-Beatle. Still, it is the shortest song on the album (2:08) that is the most touching and has grown in meaning for me as the years have passed.

Give Me Your Hand I'd Like To Shake It
I Want To Show You I'm Your Friend.
You'll Understand If I Can Make It Clear
Its All That Matters In The End.

Put It There If It Weighs A Ton,
That's What The Father Said To His Younger Son.
I Don't Care If It Weighs A Ton,
As Long As You And I Are Here, Put It There.
Long As You And I Are Here, Put It There.

If There's A Fight I'd Like To Fix It,
I Hate To See Things Go So Wrong.
The Darkest Night And All It's Mixed Emotions,
Is Getting Lighter Sing A Song.

Put It There If It Weighs A Ton,
That's What The Father Said To His Younger Son.
I Don't Care If It Weighs A Ton,
As Long As You And I Are Here, Put It There.
Long As You And I Are Here, Put It There.



When I first heard the song, the song resonated with me because of the sense of loyalty the father had for his child. Although it would be 10 years before I fully understood the context of the song, I still felt that he song‘s theme of loyalty and love was something any brother or friend could relate to and express to their loved ones. A that point in my life, most of the friendships I had made throughout childhood were slowly dwindling apart. The casual friends I had from grade school and high school were going their separate ways. Plus, the two men that meant the most to me, Matt and Steve, would soon be on opposite sides of the country. But the bond I had with them was and is a lifelong bond. No matter when or where they needed me to be, I would help. That is what I took from the song at age 21.

After Julie and I married, I carried this song in my heart as we traveled across the country to begin a new life in California. As a husband who would do anything for this woman, the love of my life, the sense of loyalty and commitment I took from the chorus had new meaning. We were two people becoming a family. If anything were ever to happen to her, I would be lost. Whatever and whenever she needs, I will be there for her. “As long as you and I are here, put it there.”

Sophie was born in 1999 and the song had new perspective. Now, I was responsible for this tiny human being. She would love me unconditionally, as long as I loved her back. When she nearly died on the day she was born, I held her tiny fingers in my hand and wept for joy that she was still with us. In my mind, this song played over and over again. “Put it there, if it weighs a ton… As long as you ad I are here, put it there.” Sophie has grown into the most wonderful little girl. You couldn’t ask for a more loving and caring daughter. Additionally, she watches out for and protect her little brother.

This brings us to Jacob. “Put It There” became something altogether different the day Jake was diagnosed with CF. Now, the song that played in my heart wasn’t just about lifting up my child when they stumbled through life’s seemingly normal challenges. Now, the song had a deeper, much more serious meaning. For every breather and medicine that he takes, each time he cries because the medicines taste awful or he questions why he has to take so many pills, I want to scoop him up and sing this song to him. Time and time again I have said I wish I could fix this; I wish I wasn’t just an ordinary man. All I have to give him is my love and a hand to hold. That may be why this song has such deep meaning to me. It is just an ordinary song to a child from a loving father, nothing grand, and nothing earth shattering. But that is the genius of Paul McCartney and it is why he is one of the greatest songwriters of all time.

Making the simplest songs have multiple meanings is a gift. There are very few blessed with this talent, which is why someone like McCartney is held to such a high standard. When he hits his mark, a song becomes a work of art, whether it’s ten minutes or just two. As I said, Great Strides is this weekend. Parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, Aunts, uncles, friends and complete strangers brought together by a ruthless disease. Yes, there are great strides being made. Yes, it should be a day of celebration, but it never feels that way to me. I walk around trying not to catch the eyes of the other parents, hoping to mask the fear I have in my heart, while the sun shines and the world outside our little circle carries on like any other Saturday. A day like that is as good as any to sing the words of Paul McCartney. On a day like that, we are ALL pillars supporting each other under the weight of worry and sadness.

I realize that this hasn’t been my focused entry. Too many things going on at once. Next week I hope to step away from the seriousness of my life and write about something light. I always say that and it never seems to happen. In the meantime, I hope you all get a chance to search out this song and give it a good listen. I challenge any of you to not tap your foot along with the chorus. And for you parents out there, good luck trying not to cry.

1 comment:

Phil said...

You said everything I've felt for the past nine years of being a parent. It's one of those perfect songs that just fits.