He just wants to "fuh you"
“Oh yeah I tell you something/I think you’ll understand/When I say that something/I want to hold your hand.”
So opened the lyrics to The Beatles’ ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’, their fifth single, from October 1963. So sweet! So innocent! So not-entirely-indicative of the real lives of the four scallywags who performed it, given Lennon already had a wife and a child and they’d been playing endless gigs for sex workers and sailors in Hamburg for years.
Flash forward 55 years and the age of innocence is over. Paul McCartney’s new single, ‘Fuh You’, is not about holding hands. It’s about jumping bones.
When Paul McCartney introduced the song at his two secret shows last month, it was with a twinkle in the eyes and a knowing bit of patter about it meaning “for you”, but it was quite clear: he was talking about a bit of how’s-your-father. Or, perhaps, how’s-your-grandfather. McCartney himself has described the track, co-written with Ryan Tedder, as a “raunchy love song.”
“Come on baby now, help me work it out/I won’t let you down so you don’t need to shout/I could stay up half the night, playing with your head/I could stay up half the night, but I’d rather go to bed,” it goes, along with a typically playful Macca mega-melody.
This follows another recent single, ‘Come On To Me’, which is equally randy: “Well, I saw you flash a smile, that seemed to me to say/You wanted so much more than casual conversation.” Thumb up and a wink!
Now, your reaction to this might be one of revulsion. Paul McCartney is 76, and most of us like to assume that all parents cease copulation immediately after the conception of their last child (in Paul’s case, Beatrice, born 2003). But at a time when taboos are being broken down, when the charts find room for glorious songs about gay love, when transgender popstars are finally allowed to talk about things other than their life experience, which is progress, and great, obviously, McCartney has picked the scab of one of those taboos that few people like to champion: senior sex.
No, no, come back. We have an ageing population. The entertainment industry has been reflecting this more and more, with films and TV shows – inspired by the success of the likes of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Last Tango In Halifax – that present old people as actual sentient beings with sexual and romantic desires. They’re chasing the grey pound, but they’re changing perceptions too. Life does not end at the sight of the first silver hair. Desire doesn’t see wrinkles.
Our rock icons are ageing too, but most are still singing the anthems of their youth; songs about lust seen through the filter of a young person’s eyes. So McCartney has written songs about the same subject, but for who he is right now – and for who those baby boomers who grew up listening to his music are now.
Madonna, who turned 60 this week, has been vocal on the subject of representing sex in later life. “It’s an outdated, patriarchal idea that a woman has to stop being fun, curious, adventurous, beautiful, or sexy past the age of 40,” she told The Cut. “It’s ridiculous. Why should only men be allowed to be adventurous, sexual, curious, and get to have all the fun until the day they leave this earth?”
When he was 16, McCartney wrote ‘When I’m 64’, later recorded by The Beatles for the ‘Sergeant Pepper’ album, in which he imagined his own retirement. “I could be handy, mending a fuse/When your lights have gone/You can knit a sweater by the fireside/Sunday mornings go for a ride/Doing the garden, digging the weeds/Who could ask for more.” Now, 12 years older than that, he’s finding that life doesn’t end in knitted sweaters and cottages in the Isle Of Wight. People don’t fundamentally feel different the older they get, even if the shell changes. And McCartney, well, he wants to fuh you.