Anna Minard claims to "know nothing about music." For this column, we force her to listen to random records by artists considered to be important by music nerds.
I've heard of Paul McCartney, okay? Let's just get that out of the way. But I'd never listened to any of his post-Beatles stuff, and music editor Emily Nokes's eyes get so gigantic when she talks about this album that I had to accept the assignment.
Ram feels young and alive, but not sprawling and adventurous; it feels more like the end of the first adventures and the excitement before the next round—the joy of settling down and feeling like you're in the right place. Content, but also thrilled and scared about the future. Like you figured out how to be you now, and it's so much fun! Like the next adventures will be so much bigger and more difficult, but the payoff will be even better than you're imagining.
Critics hated Ram when it came out. They thought it was dumb and goofy and an embarrassment to Paul. But that seems like just misguided expectations. Ram is new and fresh, and sounds like someone who knows what they're doing just playing around. It's what you listen to when you're having hangover brunch and putting whiskey in your coffee and laughing at everything, feeling young but not too young. It's silly—it was made with his wife, Linda, and sometimes it sounds like the kind of special joke- language that you have with someone you love; maybe that bugged critics, too. But man, were they ever frowny jerks! Apparently, now everyone can agree that this was misunderstood and is actually fantastic. (I'm not even gonna get started on the Beatles fight.)
My favorite Ram song is "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" (I know, I always just like the fucking single), which is one more example of how brass instruments and my heart are best friends. The trumpet bmmp-bmmps are spectacular! Goddamn!
This is an album full of songs you should put on mixtapes for your friends. Seriously. For example, the third track, "Ram On," is a little ukulele number, and you're welcome for this: Go put it on a mixtape for someone for Valentine's Day! Go do it right now! They will kiss you right on the face SO MUCH! "Give your heart to somebody/Soon/Right away/Right away." It doesn't even have to be someone you want to kiss. Make a V-Day mix for your single friend, and—bam!—Paul McCartney is their imaginary boyfriend, charmingly ukulele-ing in their ear.
Make a mix around "Heart of the Country" when your friend moves away. It's all about going out on the road and finding a home. You could really take a mix somewhere awesome if this is your starting point.
Also, this cannot be ignored: Paul McCartney is hanging out with a ram on the album cover. Truly excellent. Farm animal album covers = the best.
I give this a "sometimes it doesn't matter if other people get it" out of 10.