They say it’s his birthday. Paul McCartney turned 80 on Saturday, and his musical career has been legendary.
He captured our musical hearts with The Beatles, then carried on with Wings and a solo career that continues today, 52 years after the Beatles broke up. On Thursday, he completed the North American leg of his “Got Back” tour, a musical set that includes nearly three hours of music and more than 30 songs. His final set include appearances by Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi.
Not bad for an 80-year-old.
James Paul McCartney was born in Liverpool, England, on June 18, 1942. His songwriting career with John Lennon, who he met in 1957, produced some of music’s finest compositions. What is staggering is the diversity of McCartney’s musical career. How does one pick 10 songs to define his career?
There will always be some debate, but here are 10 to open the discussion. The songs cover nearly six decades of music. His Beatles songs were collaborations with Lennon.
The sad, sweet ballad written in 1965 remains one of the most covered songs in musical history. The working title for the song was “Scrambled Eggs,” and McCartney sang the song solo, accompanied by a string quartet. His most memorable performance came when The Beatles appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1965.
The anthem-like song clocked in at 7 minutes, 11 seconds, and critics predicted the song would sink like a stone because of its length.
They were wrong.
The song, written by McCartney as a nod to Lennon’s son, Julian, was performed by The Beatles live on “The David Frost Show” in 1968.
And the chorus of “Na, na, na, na-na-na, na-na-na, Hey, Jude,” went on for four minutes as the audience gathered around the band members to join in. Classic television.
Band on the Run
Recorded by Paul McCartney and Wings, “Band on the Run” is the title track to the group’s 1973 album. It was recorded in Lagos, Nigeria.
Shortly before departing for Lagos, however, drummer Denny Seiwell and guitarist Henry McCullough left the band. That left McCartney, his wife Linda and Denny Laine to record the album.
No band? No worries. McCartney played his traditional bass and also handled the drums, percussion and most of the lead guitar parts.
As he sang on another song on the “Band on the Run” album -- “Mrs. Vandebilt” -- " What’s the use of worrying? What’s the use of hurrying? (No use!)”
Maybe I’m Amazed
This song by McCartney is featured on his first solo album, the self-titled “McCartney.” “Maybe I’m Amazed” was written in 1969, and McCartney played all of the instruments on the track: guitars, bass, piano, organ and drums.
The song has a Beatlesque feel to it, and the jangling piano during the chorus contrasts sharply with the slow lead-in verses.
Silly Love Songs
Written by Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney and performed by Wings, “Silly Love Songs” appeared on the 1976 album “Wings at the Speed of Sound.” McCartney seems to be poking fun at critics during the 1970s who sneered that the former Beatle was writing syrupy ballads and love songs.
“And what’s wrong with that?” McCartney sings.
The Beatles’ surprise rooftop concert on Jan. 30, 1969, in downtown London was the final public performance of the group. The band, along with keyboardist Billy Preston, performed from the roof of Apple headquarters at 3 Savile Row. McCartney sang lead on “Get Back,” and the band performed for 42 minutes before the London police asked them to turn down the volume. The song was prominent in the original Beatles movie, “Let It Be,” and came to the fore again recently in Peter Jackson’s documentary, “Get Back.”
Ebony and Ivory
McCartney enjoys collaborative efforts, and “Ebony and Ivory” was released in 1982. This is one of two duets with Stevie Wonder from the album “Tug of War.” The other song is “What’s That You’re Doing?” On the same album, McCartney does a fun duet with Carl Perkins, “Get It.”
Say Say Say
McCartney sang “Say, Say, Say,” the lead single to his “Pipes of Peace” album in October 1983, with Michael Jackson.
The World Tonight
McCartney starts off slow, but builds up to a crescendo in this song from the 1997 album, “Flaming Pie.” His lyrics are sharp and memorable, particularly the line, “I go back so far/I’m in front of me.”
The song shares the title of a documentary McCartney released in 1997, a film that explored his recording process.
I Saw Her Standing There
The opening track from The Beatles’ first album in the United Kingdom, “Please Please Me,” in 1963, “I Saw Her Standing There” is a rollicking song with an infectious bass line. The riff was borrowed from Chuck Berry’s song, “Talkin’ About You,” and the “One, two, three, four!” count-in remains a classic opening in rock ‘n’ roll history.
There are other songs worthy of mention: “Back in the U.S.S.R.” “Lady Madonna,” “Let It Be,” “My Love,” “Mull of Kintyre,” “Coming Up,” “My Love” and “Junior’s Farm,” to name a few.
Oh, and of course, “Birthday.”
Happy birthday, Paul.
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