Seven times Paul McCartney was the coolest man on Earth
For 50 years or so, the world has watched him being Paul McCartney first as part of the musical phenomenon that was The Beatles, then as a solo performer, songwriter, activist and global citizen.
From all outward appearances, he always seems to be enjoying the act of being Paul McCartney he smiles frequently in public, and in performance seems to exude a sense of pure joy in defiance of age and the weight of fame which could be why he's so good at it.
With Sir Paul coming to Utah this week bringing his "Out There" tour Thursday night to EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City it's a good time to consider how he has kept the world, and himself, entertained all these years.
When it comes down to it, the answer is simple: Paul McCartney is a really cool human being.
To illustrate this, consider this list, in chronological order, of seven times when Paul McCartney was the coolest man on Earth:
July 6, 1964 • This is the day the movie "A Hard Day's Night" was released in the United Kingdom. This brilliant film, a mix of The Beatles' music and Marx Brothers-level antic comedy, cemented the band's reputation and the iconography of Beatlemania. The film also established Paul's persona as the happy-go-lucky member of the band, an optimistic figure who stood apart from John Lennon's sarcastic streak, George Harrison's moodiness and Ringo Starr's self-conscious brooding.
June 14, 1965 • On a single day in the Abbey Road studio, McCartney brought in three songs to record: the blues-rock shout of "I'm Down," the jaunty love song "I've Just Seen a Face" and the mournful ballad "Yesterday." It's hard to think of three songs in The Beatles' repertoire as different as these and McCartney cranked them out in the same recording session.
Jan. 30, 1969 • The Beatles gave their final live performance, an impromptu set on the roof of Apple Corps. headquarters in Savile Row that stopped London traffic and brought the cops calling. The world remembers (and the movie "Let It Be" preserved) John Lennon's final comment, "I'd like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we've passed the audition." But it was McCartney, according to rock writer Dave Lifton, who ad-libbed a spoken-word section on "Get Back": "You've been out too long, Loretta. You've been playing on the roofs again, and that's no good. 'Cause you know your mommy doesn't like that. She gets angry. She's gonna have you arrested!"
October 1972 • Roger Moore's first appearance as superspy James Bond called for some changes and one of them was the theme song. The producers went to McCartney to write it, and McCartney insisted he and his band Wings should record it. The result, the song "Live and Let Die," was a marked departure from the old-school vocals of brassy Shirley Bassey (who recorded the themes for "Goldfinger" and "Diamonds Are Forever"). It was both lyrical and, in the propulsive instrumental section, perfect for a new era of 007.
Jan. 16-25, 1980 • On a tour of Japan with Wings, McCartney was found with 8 ounces of marijuana in his luggage. He spent nine days in jail before the Japanese government deported him. The incident brought into the open McCartney's advocacy of legal marijuana putting him decades ahead of the states of Colorado and Washington.
Oct. 15, 1995 • "The Simpsons" airs the episode "Lisa the Vegetarian," in which Homer's daughter faces ostracism from her family because she vows to never eat meat. She finds two kindred spirits on the roof of Apu's Kwik-E-Mart: Paul and Linda McCartney, vegetarians and animal-rights activists. Paul even reveals that if you listen to "Maybe I'm Amazed" backward, you will hear "a recipe for a really rippin' lentil soup." (The recipe appears in text with the closing credits.) The McCartneys' appearance gave Lisa, and vegetarians around the world, a hero.
June 4 and July 27, 2012 • Two weeks before his 70th birthday, McCartney was the headliner at Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee Concert. A month after his birthday, he performed a set in the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The double shot, with both performances broadcast worldwide, was a reminder that McCartney has become a dynamic symbol of Great Britain and as vital a musician as ever.
Catherine Reese Newton contributed to this story.
Listen to what the man says
P Paul McCartney brings his "Out There" tour to Utah.
Where • EnergySolutions Arena, 301 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City
When • Thursday, 8 p.m.
Tickets • $26.50 to $249; Smith's Tix