Paul McCartney is probably going to sing "Hey Jude" at the London Olympics' opening ceremonies tonight. Just call it a hunch, or else just Google all the reports from trusted anonymous sources that he's been practicing the song at what I believe is officially called Not-The-Bird's-Nest-But-That's-Okay-Really Stadium. That's fine; "Hey Jude" is incredible, and it will work especially well as a big singalong to rouse the audience from its spectacle-induced stupor.
But I'm more interested in the journey than the destination -- at one point the man had 200 Beatles songs, along with the entirety of Back to the Egg, to rule out for this internationally televised performance. Here, then, are five songs Paul McCartney probably eliminated first -- five he absolutely should not perform at the 2012 Olympics' opening ceremonies. I've left out "North Koreans Are Basically Just South Koreans, Anyway," off his new record, for obvious reasons.
5. Revolution. Olympic Types have always been a little odd to me--they're ostensibly progressive and idealistic, they uphold amateurism and hard work and dedication and all of that, but their dream, their absolute dream scenario, is that a bunch of countries that look about like they do now get together and play sports in some other country.
Which may have been revolutionary in 1904, when St. Louis hosted the Olympics, but is somewhat less likely to sell the anger in this John Lennon standard. The Chairman Mao reference would be a great way to get the first post-Bird's-Nest Opening Ceremonies banned in China, though.
4. Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand
Maybe not this year. But I do like the idea of Paul McCartney appearing at every Olympic Games from now on as a kind of trolling ambassador, only to end up singing "I Want To Hold Your Hand" in German every time. Maybe in Paris, down the road, he could play the first few bars of "Michelle" and then launch into the "Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand" riff anyway. 3. Maxwell's Silver Hammer. No. No, no. It's just not worth the risk of allowing Danny Boyle and the Olympics to dramatize this--which is no less than the risk of an actual silver hammer, made of 30,000 volunteers, killing a giant papier-mâché doll with "INTOLERANCE" written across the front in marker.
2. Norwegian Wood
FROM THE DESK OF THE NORWEGIAN EMBASSY Mr. John Norway
Dear Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister McCartney,
We noticed with some regret your performance of "Norwegian Wood" in the opening ceremonies of the XXX Olympiad. Some 50 years on from Rubber Soul we had hoped our country's undue reputation for cheap plywood furnishings, promiscuity, and arson had been stamped out by time, but this assessment, sadly, looks to have been optimistic.
In future we hope you'll sing this song with the lyrics our tourism department provided you last year--please do let us know whether you preferred "Norwegian Industry" or "Norwegian Extremely Tolerant Society, Really."
In response to your country's hostile action our king--I think it's a king we have--has been left with no choice but to install punitive tariffs on the import of bluesy rock-revival bands with matching outfits and sitcoms that are described by your annoying friend as "really dry, and super smart, not like what we're watching," effective immediately.
Sincerely, John Norway
PS You should have played "Revolution" instead, man, only with Bo Xilai's name in the Mao part. They'd be so pissed! Dude.
PPS Also did not appreciate Mr. McCartney calling us "Miserable Ice People, the lot of them," before walking off stage.
1. The Fool on the Hill. Look, I just really hate "Fool on the Hill."