sir paul at 70

paul mccartney

The Musical Box isn’t big on birthdays, you know. When you get to be our age and continue to write about pop, punk and jazz like you’re still in your teens, you are deluded, misguided or just plain nuts. We prefer the latter assumption. Why sugarcoat the obvious?

But how can we not pay respect to Sir Paul McCartney today as he turns 70? To multiple generations, he wasn’t just a Beatle (of course, “just a Beatle” is like saying “just an Olympanian”). McCartney has also, for decades, been the face of pop music’s eternally youthful spirit. It doesn’t matter if you became obsessed with The Beatles during their creative lifetime or were part of the many successive generations to subsequently latch onto their music. The connection remains equally strong.

While a few light years have passed since McCartney has issued a consistently remarkable solo album, he remains a most respectable ambassador for one of pop and rock music’s greatest song catalogs. Just watching him last summer at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park shell out with astonishingly stamina and vigor one classic after another – from Hello Goodbye to The End – enforced that fact. We, of course, still buy into that charm.  Nostalgia, at any age, is a powerful commodity. But McCartney and The Beatles represent so much more than that. They remain the standard, the vanguard enterprise that pop music contenders will forever be judged by. That Sir Paul is still around to uphold such joy and magic is a pure blessing.

So what to listen to celebrate the day? Any Beatles album will do. My choices: a spin of  The Beatles’s Rubber Soul for the sophistication its songwriting represented so early in the band’s career, another listen to the recently reissued 1971 solo album Ram for its homemade and surprisingly ageless drive and a just-before-bed viewing of the newly restored Yellow Submarine DVD for its imaginative psychedelic vision. No doubt, dreams of blue meanies and apple bonkers will follow.

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