There’s a special bond that develops with radio hosts – and now podcast hosts – and their long-time listeners. Usually we don’t meet, we often have no idea what the person looks like. But we carry their voice in our head. We listen to them for hours and hours and we form a picture in our mind around what they might be like. They might infuriate us at times. They maybe so things so clearly and so well that we wish we were friends; it’s split-second fantasy stuff of course but this happens in your mind. You start to think about the person down the other end of the line – and yet you never know the person, you only know their voice. Through their voice you get to know a version of the person. It’s only a version. It’s never the actual person. But so much of the personality is drip-fed to you. It’s a strange and special relationship.
Take It Away is a deep-dive podcast about the solo career of Paul McCartney. I found it a couple of years ago and went in heavy. Here was a show where the two hosts nerded-out over all things Paul McCartney. They knew Macca was a bit of a cheese-bucket. They loved that about him. And I in turn loved that about them.
I once wrote a piece about how great and important McCartney II was (and is). Believe me, that was nothing when compared with how deep the Take It Away podcast went. These guys discussed the unreleased material, they compared live versions across the tours, they’d heard the alternate mixes, the songs he’d written for other people, the cover versions, everything, Everything!
And the two-hour chats they had unpacking the best and worst of Paul The Solo Beatle started to accompany me on my walks everywhere. On long car-drives.
Their podcast was like the best kind of music biography. Album by album I went back through the solo career of Paul, using their discussion as the cue, taking on board some of their very thoughtful analysis, dismissing some of their opinions instantly too of course.
I loved getting mad with some of their ideas – and I loved finding out things I had forgotten or never known. I even listened to a few of the episodes more than once, so much to unpack.
So I never knew Ryan Brady at all. But I knew the version of him that offered up about a hundred hours of Paul McCartney discussion. That might indeed be many people’s idea of a hell. But it was sometimes spellbinding for me and it was always worthwhile. These are the friends you meet through their voice and you never get to know them. There’s a type of grieving that can happen when shows like this stop or are cancelled. Take It Away was basically on long-term hiatus. They work was done and they were reacting to the material as it appeared now. No doubt they were already starting to think about what they might be going to say around the upcoming release of McCartney III. (I was already thinking about the fact that they would be thinking about it. I’m already thinking about the album and the Take It Away podcast would have been the first place I would have gone to after hearing the record).
Ryan Brady was just 34. He died in a car crash. I never knew him of course, nor anything about him beyond his fandom for Paul McCartney; his passion and knowledge.
It’s a strange kind of mourning. But I am deeply saddened by this news.
R.I.P. Ryan Brady