Sir Paul McCartney is 74 today.
That is sufficient reason for this:
A well-received 900-page biography of Paul McCartney by Philip Norman was published in America in May. Norman has specialized in writing and publishing biographies of the Fab Four. McCartney gave Norman “tacit approval” but not the blessing that would make the book an “authorized” biography.
The above song features in Elvis Costello’s memoirs, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, published last year. Anyone who has seen Elvis Costello perform knows that he has (and is willing to share) an anecdote about each song he might perform that night. Thus it is not a surprise that his book is 600-plus pages, reads like it is 250 pages, and left this reader wishing it was longer than 1000 pages and had a thorough index.
In the late 1980s. McCartney invited Costello to collaborate on some songs, which resulted in several hits for each performer: “Veronica” for Costello, “My Brave Face” for McCartney. Costello recounts:
We were now working on two or three songs a day. Whenever Paul and I completed a number, we’d go downstairs to the recording studio on the ground floor with just two guitars or the piano. They remain the most vivid and uncluttered versions of our songs. The studio was up to date with new gadgetry, but it also contained the Baldwin electric spinet from “Sun King” that Paul had bought from Abbey Road.
Given our vocal registers, it was inevitable that I would end up harmonizing below Paul, which made a couple of tunes sound like they were trying to be Lennon-McCartney songs.
If someone had turned up to write songs with me [as he had with McCartney] and tried to get me to rework “Alison,” I’d probably have chased them out the door, but as half the world’s songwriters had gleefully plundered The Beatles’ musical vocabulary, I couldn’t see why Paul should have to go out of his way to avoid it. Or as he said later in an interview about our songs, “If anyone’s allowed to do it, it’s probably me.”
A couple of days later, we were listening to the playback of “You Want Her Too,” a dialogue between romantic rivals, one somewhat starry-eyed, the other far more cynical. We got as far as:
Paul: “I’ve loved her for oh so long.”
Me: “So why don’t you come right out and say it stupid.”
Paul lowered the volume for a moment. ‘Hang on a second, you’re getting all the good lines here.”
He was only half-joking.
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Roger Ebert was born 74 years ago.
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Gail Godwin is 79 today. Linda Thorson is 69. Chris Van Allsburg is 67. Carol Kane is 64. Isabella Rossellini is 64. Brian Benben is 60. Alison Moyet is 55. Blake Shelton is 40.
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