Me, Paul McCartney and Dal News

mccartney-300It’s not often that my blogging life and my professional career crossover. More often than not, I consider McNutt Against the Music an outlet for writing in styles and on subjects that I don’t get to play around with in my day-to-day communications work with Dalhousie University.

However, this Saturday’s Paul McCartney concert provided a unique opportunity to mashup my two worlds with one another. Often when a big cultural event comes to town, we’ll put together a story for Dal News – our online newspaper – that interviews our resident experts on the topic. But our local Beatlemaniacs are very familiar faces to our readers, as we’ve done extensive coverage on both of them (especially Jason Brown, who got a ton of attention this past fall for solving the opening chord of “A Hard Day’s Night” using mathematical theory).

So my editor gave me the freedom to try something a bit different this time – sharing my own McCartney experience from Coachella earlier this year and my thoughts on the Beatle’s legacy, as well as comments and observations from our rock and roll researchers. The result is a weird amalgam of a blog post and a news article, and it’s the sort of thing I’d like to find more opportunities to do in the future.

A quick disclaimer before I share the link. In the second part of the story, I write the following:

Being a younger music fan in the 21st century sometimes feels like an endless search for a party that’s already come and gone. We’re constantly told about a mythical “golden age” of rock and roll that we missed out on, canonized in best-of lists and classic rock radio stations. Making matters worse is that so few of those iconic figureheads are still with us for my generation to experience first-hand.

What I cut out of the story in the editing process is the part where I explain the problems with this approach: namely, that it unfairly reduces the music made after the “golden age” to second-tier status. It’s an idea that I’ve explored briefly here at the blog – “…in which McNutt thinks the kids wanna rock, but struggles to figure out why” – but it’s a topic I’d like to return to at some point, and is probably good addendum to make to the story as a whole.

But now, to the story:

It took a pilgrimage to the desert to find the elusive Beatle.

I was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with 160,000 concertgoers on a massive polo field in the town of Indio, California, about 200 kilometres east of Los Angeles. It had been an exhausting first day of the Coachella music festival as I frantically rushed from stage to stage, hoping to catch as many hipster-approved artists as possible, artists such as Franz Ferdinand, Conor Oberst and the Hold Steady. But as Morrisey left the main stage and the crowd condensed, all the collected exhaustion seemed to dissipate into the cooling California night. The buzz began to grow for what would become, for almost everyone, the defining performance of the weekend.

That’s when Sir Paul McCartney walked onto stage and blasted into Jet.

Read the rest of “McCartney and me” at


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