After three weeks of news fatigue in the aftermath of Michael Jackson’s death, it was a welcome relief to find that Paul McCartney was the only guest on the Late Show with David Letterman last night. At last some respite from the wall-to-wall coverage of the Jackson investigation and all the yammering of pundits, large and small.
McCartney was at first chided by Dave for not appearing on the Late Show despite years of requests. Paul looked at Letterman and said, ” I don’t like the show.” He appeared slim and youthful in a pink shirt with a white collar, not so different from the twenty two- year- old who nervously sang “Yesterday,” by himself on stage without the band for the first time, with 73 million people watching. That was unbelievably, forty five years ago on February 9, 1964, the first time the Beatles came to America, performed on the same stage of the Ed Sullivan Theater where the Late Show is done and started what was to become known as the “British Invasion.’
McCartney reminisced about his former band mates, John, George and Ringo and the fun they had traveling around America. He remembered the Life Magazine cover shoot of the band in a swimming pool in Miami. Ringo had to wear swim trunks which were much higher than the Speedos that the rest of the boys were wearing. Ringo had suffered from peritonitis at age three and was trying to hide the scars that he had on his stomach.
Of course, like all things these days, the conversation turned to Paul’s relationship with Michael Jackson.
Jackson had called Paul and asked if he “would like to make some hits” and Paul being of the “hit making variety,” as he described himself, said, “Sure!” It was an enjoyable partnership complicated by Jackson buying the Beatles catalog and that ultimately putting a strain on their friendship .” “It was just business,” he said. And ever the gentleman he described Michael Jackson as, “a lovely man, massively talented and we miss him.”
Even David Letterman seemed a little starstruck by having Sir Paul in the seat next to him. As a child of the sixties, Letterman grew up with the Beatles’ music and all things related. Letterman said that in high school, he would check out Time Magazine from the library to read about the Beatles. The anticipation of the Beatles coming to America made Letterman and his friends,”crazed.”
McCartney and his band, “The Firemen,” performed two songs on the marquee of the Ed Sullivan Theater, an inspired setting for a performance of “Get Back” and a song from his newest album, “Electric Arguments.”
Paul played a vintage violin bass from the 1960’s in front of the brick facade of the building with a huge appreciative crowd below and people hanging out of windows above.
It was a great sight to see Paul McCartney, still standing, still playing, still evolving but still able to “get back to where” he” once belonged.” It was sad to think of those he survived. John, George and now Michael are gone but
Paul is going strong. Longevity is a gift, especially in show business, and fortunately we still have the prodigious gifts of Paul McCartney to make us smile and lift us up, in the days after the loss of Michael Jackson.