James McCartney toughs it out in Macca's shadow

Greek mythology is teeming with dudes who want to murder their fathers so they can bang their mothers. Nevertheless, as compelling as it is, I don't really buy Freud's Oedipus theory; personally, I've never felt any particular urge (that I'm aware of) to take my mother to the bone zone. But whether I disagree with Freud or not, the fact remains that all men incubate within ourselves a dark and preternatural desire to surpass and destroy our fathers. It's like every time we zest a lemon, we're doing it just to be like, "Fuck you, old man! You'll never zest like I zest." 

Or at least I'm pretty sure that's why James McCartney's interview with the BBC last week was so depressing.

Deep in our weird, neurotic hearts, I think all men feel an instinctual sympathy for dudes with great or famous fathers: When your dad is someone like Paul McCartney, possibly the most beloved member of the most beloved rock-and-roll band of all time, for example, how can you hope to even compete? You can't. And it definitely doesn't help if, like James McCartney, you look pretty much exactly like a young version of your father — if your father had been way uglier, that is. Seriously, it's pretty weird.

Really, the best you can hope for when you're the uglier son of a great man is just to quietly accept defeat and become an accountant or something. Whatever you do, don't try to compete, because you will fail, and it will be sad, and everyone will pity you. As far as that goes, James McCartney is making every conceivable mistake. Just the event on which that interview was based was unbelievably bleak: James McCartney is kicking off his upcoming tour with a gig at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, where the Beatles, of course, got their start. Which is pathetically coattail-riding enough, but it gets worse.

Here's the thing about dudes who "embrace the legacy" (actual quote) of their great fathers and try to follow in their footsteps: They invariably shrug off that whole surpass-and-destroy-your-father thing, as if they're totally past it, but they can never quite hide the fact that, on some level, it emasculates them. "I dreamt of being better than the Beatles," McCartney admits with an excruciating lack of self-awareness. "I'm not sure if I can do that. If anything, I would love to be equal to the Beatles — but even that's quite tough."

Dude! For God's sake, snap out of it!

But James McCartney is not unique in his doomed quest; the sons of the Beatles have always been pathetic in that way — like Sean Lennon, whose public ambivalence toward his father is pretty much his sole claim to fame. The only way it could get more degrading is if the collective sons of the Beatles were to swallow their testicles entirely and just start a band, like a Next-Generation Beatles. Oh, wait — turns out that's a possibility. In fact, they've talked about it. "Sean seemed to be into it," McCartney offered. Ringo's son Zak, thank God, is apparently not. That's some nice dignity, Zak.

Then again, there's still hope for the Oedipus complex: Maybe Yoko will ruin this band, too.

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I have to disagree with you VintageP.  I would suggest giving James McCartney's "Me" album a listen.  It is very good.  I do agree that he lacks the charisma of his father but who cares?  Is this about interviews or good music?  It is impossible to replicate what The Beatles did but I really think these kids would represent themselves quite well.  My only hope is that, if they do this, come up with a fresh name and stay away from anything referencing "Beatles".  Stick to originals with the exception of a few covers at live shows.  Hey, at the very least, people will be talking about Rock & Roll again as opposed to Miley Cyrus and Justin Beiber.


I'm commenting on this rather late after its publication, but I see nothing wrong with this editorial. Last night I watched the awkward interview with James McCartney that aired on the BBC, and then proceeded to watch clips of him performing his own music. It was awful. One song sounded like it was the same long chord for the first and second verse. It's so hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that this is Paul McCartney's child...unfortunately, the apple fell far from the tree...very far. 

This guy is an odd duck who has the personality of a styrofoam plate.
I have a friend who works in the music industry, and saw him perform not long ago accompanied by a "meet and greet" after the show. She said he was so ornery and looked like he was truly bothered by having to sign his wares after the performance and he did so with the enthusiasm one would have attending a gravel museum. And if the dude actually said that he hoped "to be bigger than The Beatles" then he is truly more delusional than originally thought! Does he have NO idea who his father is? Truth be told, all of the Beatles' kids annoy me and are lacking in musical talent except for Julian Lennon and Dhani Harrison.

Raejean Imler French
Raejean Imler French

You don't even have the correct Lennon son on the question of ambivalence, no mention was made of Dhani Harrison who is definitely forging his own musical identity, the "they've talked about it" comment is inaccurate (in the same way Beatles reunion rumors were reacted to but never seriously planned by any of the principals), and I think your opinion about the "way uglier son" is just bone-headed and insensitive in a ridiculously juvenile way. I don't know whose testicles you swallowed, but dude, they're way too big for you.

Jennifer Ashton-Smith
Jennifer Ashton-Smith

you obviously have no idea about anything regarding James and his career. James has been making music and recording since he was 20. he is beyond talented and you sir are one who looks the fool for quoting someone out of context,


I really don't know what to think about that interview James granted to the BBC. Really, WHAT was he thinking in comparing himself and his meager career at 34 (or whatever) to the Beatles? Was he trying to be darkly funny and failing? Was he sincere? Does he have Asperger's or something? I'm really at a loss as to why he even suggest to a reporter that the Beatles' sons would get together to play, when anyone with an ounce of sense knows that would create an internet storm and when pretty much all of them have said that's never going to happen. James couldn't have picked a worse thing to say to make himself look foolish.

And on a purely superficial level, why would you start your solo career looking as dire and overweight as he looks? I'm not saying he should be as gorgeous as his Dad was (in his prime). That's not a fair comparison. But why wouldn't you want to look your best? Instead he just looks bloated, sad, and completely out of his element. It's very puzzling why he's even bothering to pursue a music career.


Very stupid article about James. You'd better stop to write Jef and try to find another job if you can... !


@ElizaBro - Probably because he's figures it's "easy" and because he is a McCartney he has an easy way in. Trying to get a real job that requires real work would be too hard for him, especially with that personality. I hate to sound negative and poop on the guy but he needs to work harder with this or forge his own path outside of music.

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