Paul McCartney surprised a New York crowd yesterday with a free concert. The singer may be aging but he won’t stop singing. Yesterday he promoted his latest album, New, with a performance of four songs played in Times Square for New Yorkers on their lunch break. Arriving by taxi, backed up by his band of four, McCartney may be aging but his popularity is still high.
Time Square was quickly filled with fans as songs were strummed on a makeshift stage fitted to the back of a tractor trailer. Beneath advertisements for American Eagle, Paul McCartney’s voice soared for his fans but none of the songs on this album are Beatles or Wings songs; it is an album of innovative material.
The source of Paul McCartney’s renewed energy is his beautiful wife, the wealthy Nancy Shevell. Now married to McCartney since the winter of 2011, she is supportive of her husband’s live performances and original music. The Sunday Times Rich List notes an astronomical net worth for McCartney and his third wife of more than a billion dollars. The divorce from his previous six year marriage to Heather Mills is estimated to have cost Mr. McCartney nearly $40million but album sales and tours last year generated about the same amount. This CD is expected to sell heavily on Amazon at $14.88 for the deluxe version that offers two additional tracks. Paul McCartney is justifiably full of life. At the end of yesterday’s free concert, he joked, “Let’s do this same time tomorrow? Just kidding!”
As the world witnessed at the London Olympics Opening Ceremony, the voice is aging but a scratchy voice is to be expected at 71 years of age and the latest album accepts Paul McCartney’s voice limitations with grace. So do his fans. Paul McCartney surprised New Yorkers but their response was good. The fresh album didn’t emerge as the desperate act of a crazy musician. This former Beatle won’t stop singing although he doesn’t need to increase his net worth.
The PR for New has been all about spontaneity and mass appeal. On Wednesday night the students and friends of Frank Sinatra High School for the Arts in Astoria, Queens, were given a free concert. The school was chosen because of its musical connection; Tony Bennett started the school in 2001. The concert was sponsored by a local radio station and was a success for the 400 or so people who were kept in the dark about the identity of the performer until 2pm on the day of the concert. 16-year-old Sinatra senior Lily Kaufman was jubilant, “He’s an inspiration. People look up to him. A lot of people who go to my school want to be in his position someday.”
New is the 16th album for Paul McCartney and was produced by four young producers including, most nostalgically, Giles Martin and Ethan Johns who are the sons of Beatles musicians. Their fathers were part of the Beatles legacy and George Martin and Glyn Johns seem to have genetically imbued their musical sons with sounds that Paul McCartney welcomed in his his effort to create for his existing fans and a fresh younger audience.
Mixing hip hop sounds with bossa nova swing, the album is upbeat and fun with song titles including, Alligator, Save Us and Queenie Eye. Perhaps McCartney cannot produce a stand alone song that will add to his legacy of music. It doesn’t matter. The surprised New Yorkers that heard the performance yesterday were not disappointed. McCartney’s legacy will be his body of work, his dedication to musical innovation and of course, The Beatles. Paul McCartney won’t stop singing.
By Vicky Judah