June 18, 1942– James Paul McCartney:
“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
My first album, not from my parental unit’s collection of Broadway Original Cast LPs, purchased for myself with my own money I had earned from mowing lawns, was Meet The Beatles (1964). My first live concert was The Beatles in Seattle, summer 1966, making my parents drive 300 miles so that I could hear them do 11 songs, but not being able to hear the lyrics over the screaming. Beginning at 10 years old and lasting into my 60s, I have had a major case of Beatlemania. 52 years ago, The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and 73 million American television viewers tuned in, including me. The band and their brand had a significant impact on me, and on our American culture and our public life. The Beatles served as the ideal transition between the structured, staid 1950s and the free floating counterculture of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The Beatles brought a message of love with their tuneful songs about the excitement and disillusionment of relationships. They sported hairstyles that drove our parents nutty. The Beatles brought a much needed cultural jolt to our lives. Their songs, style and sensibility liberalized American culture. They celebrated free expression and artistic creativity. As President William Jefferson Clinton perfectly stated:
“If you think the 60s were a bad time, you’re probably a Republican; if you think the 60s were a good time, you’re probably a Democrat.”
The Beatles helped Americans deal with the struggles, sadness and sorrow surrounding the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, taken just three months before the band appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. Young people had one icon lost and then we found new icons that they we could easily identify with in The Beatles. Their presence and their music left people my age feeling free-spirited, rebellious, and emotionally charged.
McCartney, who turns an astonishing 74 years old today, was the “Cute Beatle”. John Lennon was the smart one, George Harrison the shy one, and Ringo Starr was the clown. Only in their early 20s, The Beatles had decided on a contract that gave all songs the credit: Music and Lyrics by Lennon/McCartney, although most songs were written by individuals in the band. McCartney penned Yesterday, a song referenced by Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton when she did a kick-off of her campaign a year ago in Brooklyn. McCartney performed that tune alone at a recording studio on June 14, 1965 and it was released later that year on a record, a kind of technology from the last century where music was recorded in analog on flat vinyl disks, I know it sounds zany. Yesterday is the most recorded song in history with more than 2222 cover versions.
His composition, Hey Jude, was number one on the US charts for nine weeks, longer than any other Beatles single. It is also the longest single, at seven minutes and eleven seconds, to reach number one. Hey Jude is the bestselling Beatles single, with sales of over six million.
When The Beatles imploded, McCartney went solo and he eventually formed another band, Wings (in a sad, strange footnote, Henry McCullough, the Wings’ guitarist left this world yesterday). He clashed with Yoko Ono, and married a talented photographer, Linda Eastman, who he lost to that damn cancer in 1998. He became a vegetarian. He fathered five talented, good-looking children, including musician James, artists Mary and Heather, and innovative fashion designer Stella McCartney, perhaps you have heard of her.
Despite a series of rumors that today would have been Tweeted, memed and posted on The Facebook in an instant, McCartney did not die in 1966. Despite all the clues, Paul Is Not Dead. But he did endure that dreadful divorce from Heather Mills, which may have made him wish he were dead. But, instead, he released a live album Paul Is Live (1993) & released more than 30 more solo albums, that is not even counting the ones released by Wings or his first band.
McCartney is a two time inductee to the Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame, a winner of 21 Grammy Awards, The Gershwin Prize, a Kennedy Center Honor and an Academy Award. He has written 32 number one hit songs and he has collaborated with Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, Sir Elton John, and Kanye West.
McCartney is rightfully considered the most successful songwriter in history. And wealthiest. McCartney’s vast fortune is said to be more than $1.5 billion.
He is one the Rock era’s greatest vocalists, known for his belting power, versatility, and with range spanning over four octaves.
As much as I loved him 50 years ago, I am not certain I would have predicted that the “Cute Beatle” would go on to be one of the world’s most famous and successful figures, or that he would tirelessly take on the issues: animal rights, seal hunting, land mines, vegetarianism, poverty, and music education, and that he would still be out on tour in summer 2016. Maybe I’m Amazed!
McCartney current One On One tour is traveling across Europe and North America with a new set, dozens of classics from the most beloved catalog in popular music, spanning his entire career as a solo artist, member of Wings and of course as a member of that other band.
Last week, McCartney released Pure McCartney with songs from throughout his solo career and his work with Wings. The 4-CD version has 67 tracks, all top 40 hits.
The day after the horrifying event in Orlando, at a concert in Germany, McCartney draped himself in a rainbow flag and wrote “We stand together with Orlando” on his Twitter page.