“Soily” (Wings)

At the height of Wings’ fame as a live act in the mid-70s, Paul McCartney would end stadium shows with this unreleased “Live and Let Die”-style, brassed-up rocker from 1972. It’s a call to the audience to look at everyone around them, left and right, and figure out what sort of a makeshift group they might constitute. McCartney calls out some ostensible social identities: doctor, lawyer, artist, farmer, priest. There are different national and geographic identities, too: Italian, Indian, and “jungle chief.” And then a parade of oddballs: “Hitler’s son,” a “commie with a Tommy Gun,” and a “plumber with a fattened hog,” for example. Their commonality, according to the singer, is that they’re all “soily” and “oily.” Soily: dirty, no-account, or crusty. Oily: parasitic, drunk, smoking, and sweaty. Yup, that about covers it. We’re in the muck up to our necks. All of us “born deceased.” Weak, violent, untrustworthy, and utterly soiled. It’s a mortal storm out there in the cheap seats, and not nearly as posh as one might expect for a concert involving rock royalty. As for the “cat in satin trousers” who chimes in, it’s no doubt a nod to glam and the satin togs of Bowie, Bolan, Roxy, the Sweet, and Slade. But it’s also McCartney himself, who’s wearing black satin pants in the video clip and clearly wants to position himself nearby this community of mud without ground.


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