erik lundegaard

Saturday June 18, 2022

Paul McCartney Turns 80

Bob (left) and Paul (right)

I took this photo of a framed photo of my father with Paul McCartney when I flew to Minneapolis last January for Dad’s 90th birthday. The photo hangs in his basement study next to his computer. It’s of him and another journalist standing in line to get Paul’s autograph during an event for Paul’s film “Give Me Regards to Broad Street” in 1984. These were guys who never did that kind of thing. They never asked for autographs from people they were covering, and they certainly didn’t stand in line to do it. Just wasn’t professional. But they did it for Paul.

Well, Dad did it for me. In my teen years in the late ’70s and early ’80s I was still Beatles-mad, and Paul was my favorite, so he asked Paul to sign his reporter’s notebook to me. I still have it. That's here, too. 

Paul McCartney turns 80 today. Eighty. Seems like yesterday I wrote about Paul’s 70th. Yesterday and a million years ago.

My friend Adam recently tweeted about this article, with musicians from all over the world breaking down favorite Paul tunes. I asked Adam which one he’d take a shot at and he said he wouldn’t ignore the greats: “Hey Jude,” “Let It Be.” I liked that. My first thought for me was “Listen to What the Man Said.” It was the McCartney song that was charting when I first began to listen to the radio, and I used to listen to various stations for hours just to hear it. I still like it. A lot. It would be fun trying to figure out why.

This isn’t true of other solo McCartney efforts. I recently heard “With a Little Luck” for the first time in, I don’t know, decades, and I was still sick of it. And I’d forgotten all about “Take It Away” and “No More Lonely Nights” until I looked up his discography. And “Arrow Through Me”? From the album “Back to the Egg”? Back to the Egg? What the hell was Paul thinking?

I kept going back and forth on his albums. Yes to “Venus and Mars,” no to “At the Speed of Sound.” Yes to “London Town,” god no to “Egg.” I bought “McCartney II” but … nah. It was “Coming Up” and not much else. “Tug of War” was his first post-John album, and it was supposed to be a return to form, a more mature work, and it kinda was, but it was just too uneven, and I look at it now and think the laudatory critics were engaged in some serious wish fulfillment there. Which I get. I was the same. I kept listening and wishing and willing it to be better. Same with “Pipes of Peace.” C’mon, Paul, you can do it!

And then he tried the movie, “Broad Street,” which I began with hope and ended with an eyeroll, and he was onto symphonies and things, and I was onto other music, and now it’s now and Paul is 80. But today, in honor, I listened to the whole of “Venus and Mars” for the first time since probably 1980-81, and maybe it's the '70s baby in me listening to one of the first contemporary albums I ever bought, but it's pretty good: from “You Gave Me the Answer,” his throwback to throwback songs like “When I’m 64,” with a lovely little line: “I love you/And you, you seem to like me”; and the “Oh, Darling!”-esque “Call Me Back Again,” and “Treat Her Gently/Lonely Old People,” another Paul song about the aged (he was the only rocker doing that, wasn't he?), as well as “Crossroads,” the instrumental snippet at the end with the “Abbey Road” vibe. Plus of course “Listen to What the Man Said,” which still sounds good to me, and which I’d forgotten I'd bought back then, as a single, until my older brother, who keeps everything, gave it back to me a few years ago. He'd kept it all these years and he gave it back to me, and it’s been sitting on my shelf ever since, sparking joy.

Happy birthday, Paul.

Posted at 02:02 PM on Saturday June 18, 2022 in category Music  
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Twitter: @ErikLundegaard