When the Beatles landed in America 47 years ago, it was widely assumed that they were a kiddie rage and would soon be discarded in favor of the next flavor of the month. Ringo Starr once said he would be happy if the band lasted two or three years. But by 1980, John Lennon said that although he didn’t know what the future would hold, he thought that his work would continue throughout his entire life.
I wonder when Paul McCartney first realized that he could be a working musician for the rest of his life—and whether he imagined that his working life would continue long past the point when other people aspire to retire. McCartney’s 70th year on the planet, which begins with his 69th birthday tomorrow, looks to be busier than even he, the most ambitious of musicians, might ever have expected. His plans for 2011 include an American concert tour.
As a younger man, McCartney was an infrequent visitor to the States, last touring with the Beatles in 1966 and not again for a decade until 1976, and the fabled Wings Over America tour. Thirteen years would pass before Paul played America again. The 1989-90 Paul McCartney World Tour was a killer: a month-and-a-half in Europe in the fall of ’89 before three weeks in the States just before Christmas; January in Birmingham and London including 11 shows at Wembley Arena; then back to the States for a string of two-night stands mostly in the Midwest and South during February, followed by six shows in 10 days in Tokyo. In April 1990, McCartney came back to the States, playing mostly in the West and South, before flying down to Rio for a couple of shows. After a two-month break and three quick shows in the UK, McCartney returned to the States to play four weeks of East Coast and Midwest football stadiums to wrap it up.
Paul would be back in the States in 1993, and has returned frequently in the new millennium for full-blown tours in 2002, 2005, 2009, and 2010, as well as some scattered one-shot shows, such as his 2009 appearance at the Coachella festival. As of right now, the 2011 Paul McCartney tour of the States is to be relatively brief, although it’s been expanding. It will visit several baseball stadiums, including Yankee Stadium in New York on July 15 and 16 and Wrigley Field in Chicago on July 31.
McCartney is also re-releasing his vintage solo albums in deluxe configurations. In the wake of last year’s Band on the Run reissue, his 1970 solo album has gotten the deluxe CD/DVD treatment this month, as has the 1980 album McCartney II.
It was during the final leg of the 1990 tour, on July 18, 1990, that The Mrs. and I saw Paul perform at Cyclone Stadium in Ames, Iowa. We’ll never forget McCartney’s performance of “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End,” which closed the main part of the show. Here’s a clip from the 1991 film Get Back, directed by Richard Lester. I’m not sure precisely where this performance was recorded, but it’s the way it was on a hot night in central Iowa.