EASTERN RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (AP) – It’s hard to think of a better way for Paul McCartney to celebrate his 80th birthday than singing “Glory Days” on stage with Bruce Springsteen or performing a serenade of about 60 000 benefactors.
That’s right, “Sweet Beatle” turns 80 on Saturday. This is one of those cultural stages that brings abrupt air intake – has it been that long? – together with an assessment of what he can still offer.
Since it’s been more than half a century since the Beatles disbanded, an awareness that strikes you as that ’70s joke about young people saying, “Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings?”
Like several other members of the “I hope to die before I grow old” generation, including Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and former Beatles colleague Ringo Starr, McCartney continues to work, continuing to share his music from the stage. Another 1960s icon, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, is due to perform at the Starlight Theater in Kansas City on his 80th birthday on Monday.
“He has a youthful abundance that is ageless,” said Bob Spitz, a Beatles biographer. “There are still some of this 21-year-old boy who shines in all his performances.”
It would be a cliché – and wrong – to assume that time has not affected. The fragility of his voice was evident as he sang Blackbird on Thursday night at MetLife Stadium, the last night of a short tour of the United States. He was fighting for the high notes in Here Today, his love letter to John Lennon, who had been robbed of his long life by a killer bullet.
The skill of a sympathetic group, along with the imagination and voices of the audience, patch up the inequalities.
“Yes, yes, that’s right, it’s my birthday,” McCartney said, scanning signs in the audience that reminded him. “I’m not trying to ignore him, but …”
The crowd offered a spontaneous Happy Birthday serenade, even before Jersey boy John Bon Jovi pulled out a handful of balloons during the encore to put them in another couplet.
The other Jersey boy, Springsteen, joined McCartney for the duet in Glory Days and a version of I Wanna Be Your Man. He later showed up to join the Abbey Road guitar duel.
For most artists, the appearance of such local royalty would be a difficult moment to note. Most artists can’t immediately pull out “Let it Be” and “Hey Jude” to follow.
To celebrate the birthday, Stereogum magazine asked 80 artists to choose their favorite McCartney song, and the election was remarkable in its breadth, from the Beatles’ 1958 clip “In Spite of All the Danger” (which McCartney performed in MetLife) to his 2016 collaboration with Rihanna and Kanye West “FourFiveSeconds” (which he didn’t).
David Crosby and Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys chose Elinor Rigby. Leading showman Wayne Coyne of “Burning Lips” chose “Magic Mysterious Tour.” Steve Earl chose “Every Night”, while Joe Elliott from Def Leppard opposed the guy with the gentle “Little Lamb Dragonfly”. Mac DeMarco chose the epic “Aries”, “The back seat of my car”.
Many noted the injustice of having to choose only one.
The Stereogum feature illustrates the various entry points that musicians of different generations have in a living, breathable catalog. For example, he revealed that a much-neglected album like “McCartney II” from 1980 had a much greater impact on developing artists than its adoption at the time would have predicted.
On Friday, McCartney’s team announced that it had packed McCartney II with its other DIY albums, 1970’s McCartney and 2020’s McCartney III, in a package that will go on sale in August.
How extensive is the songbook? McCartney performed 38 songs on MetLife, 20 of which were Beatles songs, and even missed a decade. Do you remember the 90’s?
With the help of Peter Jackson, who reconsidered the Get Back sessions for last year’s TV project, McCartney was able to perform a virtual “duet” with Lennon, who sang his part of “I’ve Got a Feeling” from Apple’s rooftop concert. McCartney also paid tribute to George Harrison, who died in 2001, with a version of “Something” that began with Paul the Ukulele, which George gave him and built to the full version of the band.
Spitz recalled a Beatles-era video in which Lennon told an interviewer that he would be overwhelmed if it lasted more than 10 years. McCartney stood beside him, laughing.
Lennon was right about the Beatles as a unit, but not about music. He could not imagine that in 2022, an adult standing in line to join MetLife would be heard asking a companion, “Where are Mom and Dad?”
Hell, the advanced birthday, the uncontrollably cheerful McCartney left with a promise when the last fireworks exploded and he left the stage.
“Until next time.”
This story corrects the year from the third to the last paragraph of 2022.