Paul McCartney’s September Surprise

Great artists surprise you.

At this point in his life, Sir Paul McCartney has everything: fame, fortune, and enduring love from devoted fans at a global scale. He has created history. And yet, on “I Don’t Know,” the lead single of his new album, Egypt Station, he sings:

I got crows at my window, dogs at my door
I don’t think I can take any more
What am I doing wrong? I don’t know

Later in the song,  he continues:

Well, I see trouble at every turn
I’ve got so many lessons to learn
What am I doing wrong? I don’t know
Now what’s the matter with me?
Am I right? Am I wrong?

And this somber self-examination is first song on the album — Macca’s handshake to his listeners. With “I Don’t Know,” he reminds us of the Beatle who wrote the reflective “Yesterday.” On “Yesterday,” he sounded like a wounded youth. On “I Don’t Know,” he sounds like an older man, with his voice warbling and rasping a bit to suit the lyrics.

Paul McCartney’s ability to show emotional vulnerability has always been one of his strengths, whether confessing his fears and uncertainties in “Maybe I’m Amazed” or reflecting on a long dark night of the soul in “How Kind of You.” On his 18thalbum, Sir Paul is not celebrating his distinguished legacy with a victory lap. He’s still looking for ways to connect emotionally with a sea of strangers who may never know him.