Paul McCartney, 74, Keeps On Going

Photo: Mary-A-Lupo-Shutterstock

Photo: Mary-A-Lupo-Shutterstock

By Amanda Eisman

When Paul McCartney turned thirteen, his father (Jim) handed him a trumpet. According to Philip Norman, author of the recently published biography, Paul McCartney: The Life (Little, Brown and Company), Jim advised Paul: “If you can play something, son, you’ll always get invited to parties,” he advised, unsuspecting that the simple three-valve instrument would mark the beginning of Paul’s legendary career.

It All Began with A Trumpet

Although partially deaf, Jim learned piano and trumpet by ear and was a member of a semi-professional dance band which performed at local dances and silent movie shows. Jim’s love of music and ability to play by ear clearly rubbed off on Paul, but a drastically changing music scene in Paul’s early teens lead Paul to abruptly ditch the trumpet for an acoustic guitar.

The Elvis Influence

Elvis was the main source of blame for McCartney’s quick decision to trade in the trumpet. “Paul was an instant convert to Elvis,” writes Philip Norman, author of the recently published biography, Paul McCartney: The Life. McCartney tells Norman that he envied Elvis as soon as Elvis popularized among British youth. “I first saw his picture in a magazine—I think it was an ad for ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and I thought, ‘Wow! He’s so good looking … he’s perfect,” said Paul.

While teenage girls around North America and Europe were drooling over Elvis, teenage boys were starting to dress, act, or play music like him in hopes of attracting even a sliver of similar attention. McCartney recalls the days when he and George Harrison bonded over conversations of Elvis on the school bus as they marveled at Elvis’s jaunty vocals, guitar skills, and ability to dazzle crowds of girls.

Paul McCartney Performing Like His Song … Band On the Run

If it wasn’t for an ever popularizing rock ‘n’ roll scene, McCartney may have never picked up the guitar and sought Elvis-inspired fame. Now, at 74, McCartney still jams with the same passion as his Elvis envying days. He has sung, strummed the guitar, and scaled the keys in front of vast audiences that have sang, swayed, and cheered along: he has actualized the dream of attracting crazy fans and screaming girls like Elvis had.

Catch McCartney at Desert Trip Festival

McCartney will continue to flaunt his zeal for rock ‘n’ roll this October for the Desert Trip Festival in Indio, California. The three day festival takes place October 7-9 and again October 14-16 (two weekends) in the Empire Polo Field venue and brings together the greatest rock ‘n’ rollers of all time. McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young (+Promise of the Real), Bob Dylan, Roger Waters, and The Who will take turns onstage for an unforgettable show that you won’t want to miss.

Although tickets for the Desert Trip Festival are sold-out on the festival’s website, you can find tickets available on Vivid Seats, a large, national, independently owned and operated online secondary ticket resale marketplace. One day passes are available on Vivid Seats for $199 and three-day passes range from $399-$1,599.

McCartney’s Desert Trip Festival Song Lineup Possibilities

You can expect McCartney’s Desert Trip Festival lineup to include a jumble of Beatles throwbacks and crowd favorites. Nothing like hearing one of his greatest Beatles hits like “Yesterday,” “Hey Jude,” “Band on the Run,” “Another Day,” “Silly Love Songs” or “Hello Goodbye.”

One of his toughest decisions is choosing a lineup among the hundreds of songs he’s created or helped compose, but he remains mindful of what will give his audience the most bang for their buck. McCartney tells NPR that he heavily considers what the audience wants to hear at his concerts and does not intend on throwing in a ton of new or unpopular songs in the mix.

“I remember when I went to concerts, particularly when I was a kid, it was a lot of money you had to save up,” McCartney tells NPR, “So I imagine myself going to my show: Would I like to hear him play all new songs? No. I wouldn’t want to do that.” Instead, McCartney says he will advertise his tour as “Deep Cuts,” if he plans on performing songs that are only known by his most faithful fans.

McCartney is not only mindful about the order and list of songs he chooses to play, but the jokes and phrases he uses on stage. He tells NPR that he generally sticks to the same jokes and phrases that strike a chord (or a booming laugh) among the audience, but every now and then, he switches things up for the devoted fans who have already attended a number of his concerts.

It is quite obvious to McCartney that the majority of his fans crave Beatles oldies. “Whenever I do a Beatles number, all the phones come out,” McCartney tells Norman in an interview for Paul McCartney: The Life. “But as soon as I start something more experimental, it goes dark,” he remarks.

Faced with desire to impress his audience and indecision over which songs to include, McCartney’s recent concerts for his “One on One” tour boasted a 38 song set list, meaning that he was onstage for nearly 3 hours at each concert of the tour. Fans of McCartney who will see him at the Desert Trip Festival may hope that he will experience indecisiveness again and will reason by rocking a lengthy performance.

Hey Jude Still Keeps Crowds Singing Along

Many interviewers and fans of McCartney wonder if he ever gets sick of playing the same songs. While McCartney replies that it is nice to switch things up, he enjoys rallying his audience with his most famous songs and sometimes attempts to trick sing-alongers by adding twists to his greatest hits, such as “Hey Jude”.

“Hey Jude” is one the most requested songs among McCartney’s audiences. McCartney tells Philip Norman that he often hears an echo of around 15,000 audience members singing along with perfect pitch and wording as he performs the song. He also admits to Norman that he tries to trip-up the audience to no avail, singing “Oh-kay…All right…Wow-wow wowowow…woo-oop…uh-uh-uh” at different volumes and unexpected pitches. To McCartney’s dismay, the clever audience seems to catch on and match him every time.

McCartney Still Living the Dream

After 59 years of performing, it’s hard to believe that McCartney is still energetically hitting the stage for electrifying concerts; but McCartney still feels he’s “living the dream,” making a living from his favorite pastime.

“When I get a day off and I’ve suddenly got loads of time on my hands, I might do the kind of thing where I’m at home—I live on a farm—so I might get out for a horse ride or something.

“But when I’ve done those things that I want to do and there is still a couple of hours in the afternoon, I’ll often just gravitate to a piano or a guitar and feel myself just kind of writing a song,” McCartney tells NPR in a 2016 interview.

“It’s like a hobby, and it’s a hobby that turned into a living,” he says.

To read more about Paul McCartney, check out the new book release, Paul McCartney: The Life by Philip Norman, ©2016 published by Little, Brown and Company, hardcover, and the upcoming article on him in Healthy Aging Magazine. Subscribe to Healthy Aging Magazine, the lifestyle magazine that is all about following your passion and what you can do rather than what you can’t.


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