70s, Celebrities, Comics, Movies, Music — November 25, 2014 12:57 pm

Paul McCartney’s X-Men Song

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It’s not a news flash, just simply a reminder that in 1975 Paul McCartney’s band Wings released the album Venus and Mars that included an X-Men referential song.  “Magneto and Titanium Man” is an unlikely fit amongst the rest of the collection, which seems to cover the kind of subject matter you would expect to find on a 1970s rock record.

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The Belgian single sleeve. Source: Tumblr

The song itself is relatively obscure in the Wings catalog, buried in the center of the album and as the b-side of the “Venus and Mars/Rock Show” single.  Interestingly enough, the track feels less out of place and more at home on the CD reissues.  Bonus material on the updated release include the theme to The Zoo Gang and another selection titled “Lunch Box / Odd Sox”.  Paul McCartney could pretty much shape any subject matter into a hit, couldn’t he?

A fan video combines the song with clips of the villains in action.

The narrative of “Magneto and Titanium Man” seems to cover an upcoming bank heist, which the narrator simply cannot believe is due to happen at 2:45.  Only with assurance from Crimson Dynamo, is the narrator accepting of the situation.  Magneto and Titanium Man are both upset about the situation, leaving Magneto to exclaim, “Now, the time has come to gather our forces and run!”  Crimson Dynamo just seemed happy to tag along.  There is a twist ending to the scene, which I won’t ruin with explanation.

Wings rocked this song live in their Wings Over the World tour (1975/1976).

When performed live, a giant projection of the characters was presented on screen behind the band.  Supposedly, McCartney got in touch with Marvel to put comic book artist Jack Kirby in charge of the design.  While his art wasn’t the work ultimately used, Kirby met the McCartneys before a Wings concert.  Kirby presented them with a pretty cool drawing of Paul and Linda McCartney escaping the literal clutch of Magneto.  In exchange, they hooked Kirby up with with free tickets to the show (where Kirby ended up sitting near Michael Douglas).  Before the performance of “Magneto and Titanium Man”, Paul announced Kirby’s presence and dedicated the song to him.

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Kirby’s drawing, restored from an unknown source image.

So, what was the inspiration for the song?  Why did one of the most famous pop rock writers in history land on the subject of an X-Men villain?  Is it a far stretch from “Yesterday” to Magneto?  As it turns out, the McCartneys were looking for ways to entertain their kids during the out of town recording sessions when they got hooked on comic books.  From there, inspiration struck and Paul worked out the song.  Decades later, comic legend Stan Lee would lend his stamp of approval to the song, citing it as “terrific”.

This isn’t exactly where the McCartney/Marvel connection ends.  In 1980, pre-production was in progress for a Silver Surfer movie.  Paul was contacted inquiring what his interest would be in contributing music to the film.  His managing director wrote back to “say that Paul is interested but only insofar as the idea appeals to him and he finds the concept interesting.”  He then goes on to ask for more specific information regarding Paul’s requested involvement.  Unfortunately, the film never materialized and the world is left wondering how monumental a Silver Surfer film scored by Paul McCartney would have been.  The words totally and radical come to mind.

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“Magneto and Titanium Man” is, unfortunately, one of those obscure songs on Paul McCartney’s extensive catalog that rarely gets pulled out for a live performance.  Luckily, he has a reputation for resurrecting songs that would never be expected to appear in concert.  Somewhere, the song is metaphorically collecting dust, waiting for the perfect moment to be added to the set list on a tour.

Are you a fan of the tune?  Tell us about it below!
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