It’s been 16 years since Paul McCartney turned 64.
McCartney gave that milestone added significance when his song “When I’m 64” was released on The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967. Released the month McCartney turned 25, the song is a whimsical imagining of what the Beatles bassist must have then considered old age.
McCartney’s own senior citizenship has veered sharply from the gardening, sweater knitting and cottage-renting scenarios of “When I’m 64.”
Since June 18, 2006, when he did indeed turn 64, McCartney has released five solo albums and one album with The Fireman, his duo with producer Youth. He’s also released two albums of his classical works.
He’s also toured – a lot. When his current Got Back tour wraps two days before his birthday, he will have played 417 dates since turning 64. By contrast, he played 471 shows, including 1970s tours with Wings, between 1972 and 2005.
Oh, and that birthday he’ll be celebrating after his final Got Back show? His 80th. His dotage, apparently, will have to wait.
Does that date seem portentous? Will turning 80 signal to Paul that it’s time to pack it in? Rent that cottage on the Isle of Wight, finally?
He’s worth $1.2 billion. Beatles, Wings and solo albums continue to sell. He doesn’t have to tour – or do much of anything, really – if he doesn’t want to.
So why doesn’t Paul put his feet up and watch the wheels go round and round, as his former musical partner John Lennon once sang?
As Paul says Willie Nelson – who is almost a decade older than McCartney and has been touring since the Cretaceous Era – told him: “Retire from what?”
Paul has said he’ll stop when it’s not fun anymore. He’s also said that even if he retired from touring and recording, he’d still spend his days making music. That’s what he does. That’s really all he’s ever done.
When young men his age were beginning their careers or going to university, McCartney was on stage in Hamburg’s red-light district, playing to hookers and sailors. For his mid-life crisis, he broke up Wings.
And while some of his fellow senior citizens are eating supper at 4:30 p.m. and yelling at the television, McCartney is selling out arenas. His May 28 appearance at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium drew a sell-out crowd of about 40,000 for a 36-song, three-hour set featuring solo, Wings and Beatles favorites, plus audience-pleasing anecdotes about the Fab Four’s glory days.
Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life, goes an old saying. McCartney found that job long ago and it seems to have made him happy. It’s definitely kept him busy.