Can you believe that Paul McCartney is 80 years old?
The man who penned “Yesterday” has seen more yesterdays than any other person his age who is actively running around on a stage for three hours in front of thousands of people on a nightly basis. Mick Jagger is only 78 years old. Keith Richards says he is 78 years old, but nobody has seen his birth certificate in over a hundred years. Willie Nelson is 89 years old, but he is not doing much running on stage these days.
This is a media column, so you might ask, why I am writing a piece about Paul McCartney? I think it’s safe to celebrate how much media Sir Paul has personally created or influenced over his 80-year time. You can “Say, Say, Say” what you want (“I Will”), but “I’ve Got A Feeling” that his words are “Here, There and Everywhere” in popular culture. “Maybe I’m Amazed” just how supremely impactful he has been.
His lyrics have become the foundation for modern songwriting and have been the cornerstone on which thousands of artists have built their careers. Not many other people can “Carry That Weight” in any modern profession, much less through a library of such music and artistry.
Music is a form of media, and it adds feeling and emotion to everything we do. Music taps into the emotion of the listener, and the accompanying words are what create resonance for any “Two of Us” who hear them.
In the case of Paul, his work with the Beatles, Wings, and his solo work have allowed him to engage with and collaborate with some of the greatest artists of all time. He wrote a song for the Stones, and he worked with Michael Jackson. Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen look up to him as an elder statesman of great influence on their lives. When they have challenges, they ask Paul for his advice, and he responds “We Can Work It Out,” because we share a common language and set of experiences. Even Kanye West has worked with Paul McCartney, and Billie Eilish was beet-red when she had the chance to meet him.
The man who can tell a story in “Eleanor Rigby” or “Penny Lane” is an influence on copywriters in advertising around the world. He has done more for the art of the written word than almost any “Paperback Writer,” and it’s a connection worth making. When I have writer’s block, I “Get Back” to a Beatles album for inspiration. That access to his artistry usually unlocks my mind and allows me to “Jet” right back into things, and the words begin to flow more freely again (and not in some “Helter Skelter” way, either). They allow me to write for “Another Day.”
In all seriousness, Paul McCartney is more than a musician or a songwriter. He is an influencer who appears to truly love his work. He enjoys being Paul McCartney. I once met Arnold Palmer, and he was the nicest man. He knew that his job was to be Arnold Palmer every day, and he excelled at it. He made people feel good. Paul McCartney is like that. His job is to remind people of the good in the world, and we all could use a little bit of that feeling these days. Things get a little crazy as we stroll down “The Long and Winding Road,” and we could all use a little “Help” from time to time.
In “The End,” I think it is just enough to celebrate the man who one day sat down at a piano, noodling around with some chords and created “Let It Be” out of thin air and followed it up a few days later with “Hey Jude.” Happy belated birthday (June 18) to you!