EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (AP) – It’s hard to think of a better way for Paul McCartney to celebrate his 80th birthday with Bruce Springsteen than to sing “Glory Days” on stage or give a serenade of about 60,000 people.
However, the “Nice Beatles” turned 80 on Saturday. Breathtaking is one of those cultural milestones that brings a sharp edge – has it been that way? – along with an appreciation of what he still has to offer.
In fact, more than half a century has passed since the Beatles broke up, realizing that young people in the 1970s used to say that joke, “Paul McCartney was in a band before the Wings?”
Like many other members of the “Hope I die before I get old” generation, including Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and Ringo Starr, a former Beatles member, McCartney continues to work, sharing his music from the stage. Another icon from the 1960s, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, is scheduled to perform at the Kansas City Starlight Theater on Monday in his 80th birthday.
“He has an underage youth,” said Bob Spitz, a Beatles biographer. “There’s still this 21-year-old boy who shines in all his performances.”
It would be a cliché – and wrong – to suggest that time has not taken its toll. The fragility of his voice was noticeable as he sang “Blackbird” at MetLife Stadium on Thursday night, the last night of a short U.S. tour. In “Here Today,” in a love letter to John Lennon, the bullet of a murderer who had been robbed of his long life, he struggled to get high marks.
The skill of a sympathetic group, along with the imagination and voice of the audience, patches the rough spots.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s my birthday coming up,” McCartney said, scanning the signs among the audience who were reminded. “I’m not trying to ignore it, but …”
Crowds offered a spontaneous “Happy Birthday” serenade, even as Jon Bon Jovi the Jersey boys drove in a verse before taking out a bunch of balloons.
That other guy from Jersey, Springsteen, teamed up with McCartney for a version of “Glory Days” and “I Wanna Be Your Man.” He later appeared on the “Abbey Road” guitar duel.
For most artists, the emergence of local monarchs would be difficult. Most artists can’t immediately release “Let it Be” and “Hey Jude.”
To celebrate their birthday, Stereogum magazine asked 80 artists to choose McCartney’s favorite song, and the choices were wide-ranging – from the Beatles’ 1958 1958 “In Spite of All the Danger” (performed by Mccartney on MetLife). 2016 collaboration with Rihanna and Kanye West “FourFiveSeconds” (did not).
Black Keys’ David Crosby and Dan Auerbach chose “Eleanor Rigby.” Showman Master Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips chose the “Magical Mystery Tour.” Steve Earle chose “Every Night” and Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott did the opposite with the gentle “Little Lamb Dragonfly.” Mac DeMarco chose the epic “Ram,” “The Back Seat of My Car.”
Many pointed out the injustice of having to choose only one.
Stereogum’s features illustrated the entry points that musicians of different generations have in a living and breathing catalog. For example, he revealed that an album like “McCartney II” in the 1980s had a much greater impact on developing artists than would have heralded his reception at the time.
On Friday, McCartney’s band announced that “McCartney II” with their other DIY albums, “McCartney” from 1970 and “McCartney III” from 2020, would be packaged in a box that will go on sale in August.
How big is the songbook? McCartney performed 38 songs on MetLife, 20 of them Beatles songs, and even managed to lose an entire decade. Do you remember the 1990s?
With the help of Peter Jackson, who re-enacted “Get Back” for last year’s TV show, McCartney was able to perform a virtual “duo” with Lennon while singing “I’ve Got a Feeling” from Apple’s rooftop concert. McCartney also paid homage to George Harrison, who died in 2001, with a version of “Something” that George started with Paul in a ukulele and gave it to the full band.
Spitz recalled a Lennon Beatles-era film telling an interviewer that he would be surprised if it lasted more than 10 years. McCartney was laughing next to him.
Lennon was right as a Beatles unit, but not as a musician. He couldn’t have imagined that in 2022 an adult in the queue to join MetLife was listening to a friend ask, “Where are mom and dad?”
Cursed be the early birthday, McCartney exploded with the last of the joyless fireworks that exploded and he left the stage with a promise.
This story spans the year from the third to the last paragraph until 2022.