OK. Let me get this point out of the way right now. When it comes to the Beatles, my favorite rock and roll band of all time by far, I am always, definitely going to regard myself happily a "John" person.
You bet that I admired John Lennon's facility to turn a phrase, sing a rock and roll song and a ballad like "Julia" or "If I Fell." He could do it all with his singing voice. Plus, he was the wittiest person around in interviews. Lennon had an aura. His efforts toward promoting world peace also separated him from the pack. He went beyond music in his quest to make a difference.
Then there was his writing partner in the band, Paul McCartney. Because Lennon died in 1980, he was lionized as something of a Saint John, not merely an iconic rock and roll star. McCartney, meanwhile, kept chugging away in his workmanlike fashion in his solo career, as he had done as a Beatle as well.
The man who had written "Yesterday," Eleanor Rigby," "Blackbird," and "Hey Jude" still took second fiddle throughout history to Lennon's best work — "I Am the Walrus," "Strawberry Fields Forever," "A Day in the Life" and "All You Need Is Love."
It's about time for us to give Beatle Paul his due. He turns 70 years old on June 18. He has thrived, survived, and flourished in rock and roll over the years as a soloist. I saw him in concert at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium in recent years — and he was magnificent. Move over, Bruce Springsteen. Paul can hold his own on a stage against anyone. He clearly loved to play!
He has steadfastly maintained his dignity, too, when so many pundits chose to celebrate Lennon by knocking McCartney. It's a little bit silly to presume that we can't appreciate John's contributions without tearing down Macca.
It's a scary condition of life to put yourself into the public arena. Even the toughest-minded celebrity knows he or she is taking a chance and is at the mercy of the oft-savage media, which wants nothing more than to tear down a legend for the sport of it. I'm not always proud of my brethren — or myself. Yes, I admit it: I've done it as well. Hopefully not too often, at least.
It's funny in a way. When Bob Dylan was turning 70 a year ago, the media went cuckoo to honor the occasion with all kinds of retrospectives. But for Paul, we've seen almost no buildup in the press. I am not sure why — 70 is 70, and Paul deserves all of our appreciation and accolades for what he has meant to our lives over the past half-century. He is a special figure.
Happy Birthday, Paul! Enjoy June 18. Blow out all the candles. And thank you for everything.
Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for MarketWatch.com. He is also the author of "Forget About Today: Bob Dylan's Genius for (Re)invention, Shunning the Naysayers and Creating a Personal Revolution," which Penguin will publish in August. Read more reports from Jon Friedman — Click Here Now.
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