Paul McCartney, left, jams with drummer Dave Grohl and guitarist Pat Smear… (Dave Allocca / Associated…)
The reunion of the three surviving members of Nirvana with guest singer Paul McCartney for the “121212: The Concert for Sandy Relief” brought the first live performance of a new song they’d created together while jamming recently, the ex-Beatle said on introducing “Cut Me Some Slack” during their time together at Madison Square Garden.
“Recently, some guys asked me to go jam with them,” McCartney told the crowd. “So I showed up, like you do, ready to jam. And in the middle of it, these guys kept going, ‘We haven’t played together for years.’ So the penny finally dropped, I finally understood I was in the middle of a Nirvana reunion.”
The new song, not surprisingly, is a driving rock workout with a heavy backbeat full of distortion-drenched electric guitar work by Pat Smear in tandem with stinging slide guitar leads by McCartney, a sonic assault not far removed from one of the Beatles’ signature hard rockers, “Helter Skelter.”
A bit more surprisingly, McCartney’s instrumental contribution came on a humble cigar-box guitar he played with a slide. The guitar, as it happens, was made here in the Southland by cigar-box guitar aficionado Matty Baratto, whose Cigfiddle creations were featured in a story I wrote last year about a modern-day revival of interest in the homespun cigar-box guitar tradition.
Baratto’s instruments have made their way into other famous hands, including those of Keith Richards and Johnny Depp, and present-day cigar-box players also include ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and rocker Steve Miller.
After devoting himself on his recent “Kisses on the Bottom” album to songs largely drawn from the pre-rock era of classic pop, perhaps McCartney’s next project will be “The Cigar Box Collection.”
With his own band, McCartney dipped into the Beatles' catalog for "Helter Skelter," "Blackbird" and "I've Got a Feeling" and turned to his solo repertoire for "Live and Let Die," "Let Me Roll It" and "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five." He also included "My Valentine," an original from the "Kisses" album that featured Diana Krall.
Here's the video from the live performance of "Cut Me Some Slack":