Sunday, June 18, 2006 act we've known all these years...
Paul McCartney is now 64!

It's a milestone, isn't it? Long ago, "64" was just a number on the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper" album. Allegedly, Paul had written that song before the Beatles even began, and he'd kept it in his memory banks and unleashed it as a bit of comedy relief on "Pepper". Even then, the lyrics had an ironic twist...the song signs off with the verse, "yours sincerely, wasting away", which adds a wry element to an otherwise lighthearted song. So even at a young and tender age, Paul sensed the inevitability of getting old, hoping all the while he wouldn't waste away. And over the weekend, Paul is now what he wrote about, all those years ago; for now, he's 64. It almost seems like musical prophecy, doesn't it?

In the aftermath of John Lennon's assassination and George Harrison's painful death, I am really glad that Paul made it to this milestone in his life. Recently, a program called "Chaos and Creation at Abbey Road", starring Paul, aired on PBS. During the course of that program, he made a multi-track recording in front of an AUDIENCE. Wow. He is so offhandedly talented, he makes everything look so easy. In under an hours' time, he'd assembled a multi-part studio recording with drums, rhythm guitar, bass, lead guitar and harmony vocals. Paul is a musician through and through. All the more amazing, when you consider Paul was 63 when he was doing this. Being over 60 used to mean one was "old". Not any more, I guess!

I collect Beatles' records. I've read everything on The Beatles that I could get my hands on. And to me, their music still sounds so vital, so fresh. But with the advent of the Beatles' "1" album, a collection of number one hits in England and America released in 2000, I was beginning to think, that yeah, the Beatles are sorta slipping into 'ancient history', aren't they? In a hundred years, what will be the legacy of this group, who has meant so much to me and so many others? Will they be totally forgotten? Will their songs be played in 200 years, the same way Beethoven and Strauss' music is played today? But I suppose I can't really afford to look at the Beatles in that fatalistic manner. I do know that their music, and the collecting of their music, gives me the same pleasure now, that it did 20, 30 and 40 years ago. So I'll just hang onto that.

But I am so glad Paul made it to 64. That means that a lot of us who've been aging, right along with him, will also be around for a good long while. And maybe, there's still time for me to learn how to play "Blackbird" on guitar. I've wanted to learn how to play it for ages, but I don't even know where to begin. I honestly feel I won't be any kind of guitarist until I learn how to play it. I've seen old footage where Paul is playing "Blackbird" in the studio. He barely moves his fingering hand...up here, down there, and he just breezes through it the way I breeze thru a 2 or 3-chord song. So that's a goal of mine. Learn "Blackbird". After The Beatles broke up, Paul was still endlessly creative with "Wings", as well as on his solo projects. Song after song he's written leaves me asking, "how DOES he come up with all those melodies?"

I was saddened by the deaths of John Lennon and George Harrison. So it's a comfort to know that Paul is still creative, still going strong, "the act we've known for all these years". Because I find myself still searching, exploring and analyzing music, reading about it and listening intently, and I find myself continually influenced by both old and new music, and that will never stop; I'll always be that way. Obviously, Paul is waaay more skilled than I am (and a lot richer too!), but I know what it's like to just constantly be attracted to music; it's so important; without music I would've lost my mind a long time ago. I don't know how to relate to a lot of things; I don't do much of anything very well, but put a guitar in my hands, or put some music on the loudspeaker, and I immediately feel better.

So, Paul, if ya wanna change the words to "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 84, go right ahead. And God willing, I'll be around for 20 more years, still listening, still playing, still imagining, still dreaming. And hopefully, by then, I'll have learned "Blackbird". I'll just "take these broken wings and learn to fly."

Here's a fairly recent picture of Paul, with that immortal piece of history, his Hofner violin bass. He liked it because it didn't weigh a TON, like a lot of bass guitars do. Later on in the '70s, he used a Rickenbacker bass on a lot of the "Wings" records, but on his last few tours, he struts his stuff with the Hofner bass in hand. If I ever learned how to play bass, I think I'd want one of those.

One of my latest Ebay acquisitions is an "EP" (a 7-inch small-hole "extended play" record with 4 songs on it), made in RUSSIA, of all places. Last night, I viewed more than 3,000 items on Ebay; I saw Beatles records from all over the world. I even saw a couple of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" 78's made in India. Being slightly (well, quite a ways) behind the times, India made 78's until the late 60's! It's amazing, the worldwide influence of the Beatles. And just when I thot I knew everything about Beatles' record collecting, I find out SOMETHING ELSE! To me, absolutely fascinating.


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