Having listened to Chaos and Creation in the Backyard more than a few times I had the urge to listen again to McCartney’s previous solo album, Driving Rain. Now the thing with this album is that (I believe) it is generally considered to be a throwaway McCartney album. The one positive thing that people said about it at the time was that the bass playing was really good. Many reviewers – at least in my memory – wondered why there wasn’t more sadness in the album. After all, this was the first studio album of original material since Paul’s wife Linda died and, despite the fact that quite a bit of time had passed and that Paul was engaged to Heather, people were expecting to see Paul spend some time mourning in public. This album, it seemed was more upbeat than they expected. Consequently, when Chaos and Creation came out, reviewers said “who would have guessed Paul could sound this pensive?”
Listening to Driving Rain today, though, I was struck by how much sadness is in the album. Clearly, by opening the album with a song entitled “Lonely Road” McCartney is trying to say something about his life. He is not generally known for being a great lyricist and often plays with words just for the fun of hearing the sounds but I’m beginning to think that even songs as lightweight as “She’s Given Up Talking” tell what’s going on in Paul’s heart. McCartney has often said things not quite as carefully as he could have – for example, saying “it’s a drag” when John Lennon was shot. Maybe he’s given up talking about Linda. Even an upbeat song like “Driving Rain” starts out with “something’s open. It’s my heart.” There are many many examples in the album of lines that show that Paul’s heart is on the line if not on his sleeve. In Tiny Bubbles, a song that begs not to be taken seriously, we hear him say “You can't imagine just what I've been going through.”
I think that McCartney was baring his soul a lot more than I gave him credit for on this album and, even on the songs that seem to reflect his new-found love with Heather, there is a wistfulness that shows that he’s a man who has lost the love of his life. In some ways, we should have seen Chaos and Creation coming.