November 30 marks the end of Paul McCartney's 2005 tour, something he's done enough of in recent years that it seems familiar. But it wasn't always like that. Back in 1976, McCartney took his band, Wings, on tour and it was his first tour since the Beatles had played their last "live" song together in the late summer of 1966 at San Francisco's Candlestick Park.
Time noted that, with this tour, McCartney was "bucking Elton John as Pop's top gun." His 21 city tour sold out everywhere and in Los Angeles and New York the tickets were snapped up within four hours in a time before Ticketmaster and ticket brokers.
His bounteous melodic gifts seemed to be reflected in the brightness of his step, the openness of his smile. His impishness, and his considerable charm, always had an ironic undercurrent of worldliness and assurance. Even now, in performance or in conversation, he has the surprised sophistication of a gremline who has just been caught under the drawbridge compromising the fairy princess. It is not for any of this that Paul is popular, however. It is for the music he is making, the flowing Pop that typifies, even defines, the snug place much contemporary rock has found... McCartney is tempering the revolution he helped to create.
The article spends considerble space on the McCartney/Beatles story, praising him and slamming him at the same time. Noting that he is "bucking hard for Pop's Top Gun", it includes this unattributed quote under a concert photo: "If you're a young, vital person who goes to discos, maybe the music's just fine." Ouch. There's the requisite description of Paul and his wife, Linda, as a family that keeps close together by traveling together and, of course, the necessary dissection of the end of the Beatles.
McCartney's roughtest critic over the years was also his best friend. "He sounds like Englebert Humperdink," said John Lennon of McCartney's first solo efforts. Later, in Lennon's remarkable album Imagine, he put it directly to Paul in "How Do You Sleep?", a fierce song full of anger and injury...The song was less spiteful than revealing, fueled by the kind of fury that can only come out of friendship, injured perhaps irreparably, that refuses to disintegrate completely or to mend. Wounds went deep, and they stayed open for a while. McCartney says now: "It's a decision you make, that's all. Otherwise I would have ended up thinking John was the most evil person on this earth...saying all that."
The article closed with the persistant rumors of a potential Beatle's re-union, including the $50-million for one concert offer that was currently on the table. But it quoted a 17-year-old fan who answered that question maybe even better than John or Paul: "...I don't want them to get back together. It would be a super-letdown. They could never produce the music they once did. It's a different era, and they've changed in different ways."
Actually, Paul said it even better. In his spare style, he got it down to three words. Let It Be.