When Paul McCartney dies, as some day sadly he must, some asshat on Twitter is going to bring up The Frog Chorus. That is, the single 'We All Stand Together', credited to Paul McCartney and the Frog Chorus, a song written for a cartoon film of Rupert the Bear, and released as a single in 1984, getting to number 3 in the UK charts, universally referred to as The Frog Chorus.
This asshat is going to point to The Frog Chorus as the centrepiece of their irrelevant and ignorant opinion that Paul McCartney is overrated or even just plain rubbish. This will take one of two forms (there will be asshats queuing up to give both of these opinions): one view is that Paul McCartney was good in The Beatles, but after The Beatles he was rubbish and Exhibit A will be The Frog Chorus. The Frog Chorus, these asshats will declare, is everything that's wrong with Paul McCartney: it's sickly sweet and it's sentimental and it's childish and it doesn't ROCK. The second view, even more fucking moronic, is that Paul McCartney wasn't even all that good in The Beatles and that John Lennon was the real genius and if you want proof of how shit Paul McCartney was when he wasn't able to ride on John Lennon's coat-tails, Exhibit A is The Frog Chorus. These asshats will survey Paul McCartney's contributions to The Beatles and these tin-eared halfwits will bring forward 'Ob-la-di Ob-la-da' and 'When I'm Sixty-Four' and 'All Together Now' and 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer' and claim that (a) these are all dreadful songs (which they're not) and (b) they are what all Paul McCartney was ever capable of. When Paul McCartney dies, as sadly one day he must, these asshats should be rounded up placed in a prison ship and forced to listen to 'Eleanor Rigby' and 'Maybe I'm Amazed' until they admit that they are asshats.
Let me tell you something: The Frog Chorus is a fucking magnificent song. First of all, it's a children's song. How is it necessary to say this? It's a children's song. Of course it's childish: it's written for kids. And what's more it's a gorgeous children's song. If you hate The Frog Chorus you must basically hate (a) kids, (b) yourself (because you were once, all too briefly, a kid), and (c) music. Because where the asshats are right is that The Frog Chorus epitomises Paul McCartney - except it shows us everything amazing about Paul McCartney as a composer and nothing bad.
First there's the melody: it does that thing that McCartney has so often managed, writing a song that is so catchy, feels so natural, flows so easily, that you can't quite believe no one ever thought of that tune before (other great examples: 'Yesterday', 'Penny Lane', 'Hey Jude' and, yes, 'Mull of Kintyre'). And listen to the twisting vertical quality of the melody. In the first lines listen to the way we soar from an E up a 4th on 'lose' and 'swim'; then we reach even further to the C for 'one THING...' before we waltz so gracefully down the other side of the melody on '...is certain we'll never give in'. And then we're dipping down on 'side' and 'hand' before the title line lands us the lower C of 'all' bounces and then finally back there on the last syllable of 'together', the whole tune therefore climbing and descending a full octave.
The arrangement is a delight too. Despite its reputation, it's not schmaltzy; it's very spare. George Martin - of course it is - has delivered a characteristically restrained orchestration; listen to the elegant little flute flourish that takes us from the first to the second verse, repeated on the violins between the two iterations of the middle eight. The opening of belching bullfrogs ('Bom... Bom Bom') is witty and rhythmically robust (Paul McCartney being one of the most inventive and melodic bass players in pop creates a typically memorable bass line) and then in the second verse the bass voices are answered by a nicely crunchy alto harmony ('ah-ee-ah') which brings a welcome sourness to the arrangement. The middle eight soars romantically, and, second time round, the grouchy bass frogs bubble up to counterpoint the tune and cut through any sweetness (reminiscent of McCartney's fluent bass playing high on the fretboard for songs like 'Come Together' or 'With a Little Help From My Friends'; so inexhaustible was his thirst for melody in the late 1960s he kept finding new tunes in the bass lines).
And the lyrics. Well, McCartney's not Dylan and never tries to be. Paul McCartney typically feels his way through a melody improvising dummy lyrics and sometimes those lyrics get worked and reworked into something truly elegant and powerful ('Eleanor Rigby', 'For No One') and sometimes they remain the dummy lyrics and they work just fine ('Get Back' or 'the movement you need is on your shoulder' in 'Hey Jude'). And where McCartney's open-hearted improvisations always take him are to love and joy and togetherness. Here they work just fine: 'Win or lose / Sink or swim / One thing is certain: we'll never give in. / Side by side / Hand in hand / We all stand together'. What's not to like about that? You can see it as a vacuous declaration of undying devotion or you might see it as a rather stirring expression of political solidarity. The feeling of the lyrics are underpinned by the sumptuous and loving music, the generosity of the melody and the layered abundance of the arrangement. It's a performance that loves life and loves the world and loves music and loves us.
Of course, none of these asshats will pay attention to this because these asshats never pay attention to anything much. Responding to art with openness and delicacy is hard and makes you vulnerable; much easier to recycle received ideas and scorn lovely things. Paul McCartney has a good claim to be the greatest songwriter Britain has ever produced and The Frog Chorus is a beautiful example of his genius with melody. Bom bom bom bom.