McCartney celebrates his 80th birthday with Springsteen, 60,000 friends

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – Hard to think of a better way for Paul McCartney to celebrate his 80th birthday than singing “Glory Days” on stage with Bruce Springsteen or receiving a serenade for about 60,000 supporters.

That’s right, the “beautiful Beatle” turns 80 on Saturday. It’s one of those cultural milestones that brings a breath of fresh air: has so much time passed? – along with an appreciation of what you still have to offer.

It’s been more than half a century since the Beatles broke up, a finding that strikes you as that ’70s joke about young people saying, “Was Paul McCartney in a band before Wings?”

Like other members of the generation “I hope he dies before he grows old,” such as Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, and former Beatles partner Ringo Starr, McCartney continues to work, still sharing his music from the stage. Another 1960s icon, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, is scheduled to play at the Kansas City Starlight Theater on Monday, his 80th birthday.


“He has a youthful exuberance that has no age,” said Bob Spitz, a Beatles biographer. “There’s still something about that 21-year-old boy who shines in all his performances.”

It would be a cliché – and incorrect – to suggest that time has not passed bill. The fragility of his voice was evident as he sang “Blackbird” on Thursday night at MetLife Stadium, the last night of a brief tour of the United States. He fought for the high marks in “Here Today,” his love letter to John Lennon, who was robbed of a long life by the bullet of an assassin.

The skill of a friendly band, along with the imagination and voices of the audience, patches on the difficult points.

“Yeah, yeah, sure, I have an upcoming birthday,” McCartney said, scanning signs among the audience who remembered him. “I’m not trying to ignore it, but …”

The crowd offered a spontaneous “Happy Birthday” serenade, even before Jersey guy Jon Bon Jovi pulled out a handful of balloons during the encore to direct them in another verse.


That other Jersey guy, Springsteen, joined McCartney for the “Glory Days” duo and a version of “I Wanna Be Your Man.” He later appeared to join the “Abbey Road” guitar duel.

For most artists, the emergence of such a local royalty would be a difficult time to overcome. Most artists can’t immediately release “Let it Be” and “Hey Jude” to follow.

To commemorate the anniversary, Stereogum magazine asked 80 artists to choose their favorite McCartney song, and the choices were remarkable for their breadth: from the 1958 Beatles cut “In Spite of All the Danger” (which McCartney performed in MetLife) until its cut. 2016 collaboration with Rihanna and Kanye West “FourFiveSeconds” (which he didn’t).

David Crosby and Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys chose “Eleanor Rigby.” Flaming Lips master Wayne Coyne chose the “Magical Mystery Tour.” Steve Earle selected “Every Night,” while Joe Elliott of Def Leppard went against the guy with the soft “Little Lamb Dragonfly.” Mac DeMarco chose the epic “Ram,” “The Back Seat of My Car.”


Many have commented on the unfairness of having to choose just one.

The Stereogum function illustrated the varied entry points that musicians of different generations have in a living, breathable catalog. For example, he revealed that a much-ignored album like “McCartney II” from 1980 had a much greater impact on developing artists than its reception at the time would have predicted.

On Friday, McCartney’s team announced that they were packing “McCartney II” with their other DIY albums, “McCartney” from 1970 and “McCartney III” from 2020, in a box that will go on sale in August.

How wide is the songbook? McCartney performed 38 songs on MetLife, 20 of them Beatles songs, and even lost a decade. Remember the 90’s?

With the help of Peter Jackson, who reimagined the “Get Back” sessions for last year’s television project, McCartney was able to perform a virtual “duet” with Lennon singing his part of “I’ve Got a Feeling” from Apple’s concert at roof. McCartney also paid tribute to George Harrison, who died in 2001, with a version of “Something” that began with Paul in a ukulele that George gave him and built a full version for band.


Spitz recalled a Lennon Beatles-era movie clip telling an interviewer that he would be stunned if it lasted more than 10 years. McCartney stood beside him laughing.

Lennon was right about the Beatles as a unit, but not about music. I couldn’t imagine that in 2020, an adult queuing up to enter MetLife is heard asking a partner, “Where are Mom and Dad?”

Damn advanced birthday, the irrepressibly cheerful McCartney left with a promise when the last fireworks exploded and he left the stage.

“See you.”

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McCartney celebrates his 80th birthday with Springsteen, 60,000 friends

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