you say it’s your birthday?

“One of my biggest thrills for me still is sitting down with a guitar or a piano and just out of nowhere trying to make a song happen.” ~ Paul McCartney

Ribbet collage paulSir James Paul McCartney (my other secret husband) is 71 years old today!

He’s still one of the most well preserved classic rockers out there. Can’t get enough of his boyish good looks and irresistible charm. Plus, he makes good mashed potatoes. 🙂

Despite having been a member of the greatest rock band ever, and now described by the Guinness Book of World Records as “the most successful composer and recording artist of all time,” (wow) he seems remarkably down to earth. Paul just keeps on doing what he loves and we love him all the more for it.

Macca is the wealthiest musician in the UK (and probably the world); as of this year, his net worth is estimated in excess of £680 million. Not bad for a lad from Liverpool with a modest working class background. In this interesting BBC Radio 4 interview with Sheila Dillon, he talks about being raised on traditional meat and potatoes meals. His mother served Yorkshire Pudding as a dessert (with Golden Syrup), and the Sunday roast was the highlight of the week.

He enjoyed the usual chops and liver but drew the line at tongue, a cheap alternative to meat in those days of rationing. Can’t blame him in the least. As he says, “It’s a tongue!” Ewwww.

Ribbet collage lpaul 2

While touring with the Beatles, food was basically fuel. He remembers huge steaks drooping over the edge of the plate and thinking how Americans always like to do things “big.”

Though he was introduced to vegetarianism in the 60’s while studying meditation in India, it wasn’t until he met Linda that he adopted it as a lifestyle, initially because of his compassion for animals. Over the years, his commitment to a meat-free diet intensified as he learned more about its health benefits and the detrimental effects of livestock production on the environment. These days he passionately campaigns for animal rights, using his fame to help spread the word about how greenhouse gas emissions impact climate change.

paul's kitchen
The McCartney kitchen at 20 Forthlin Road, Liverpool, is now maintained by the National Trust.

I like looking at the humble kitchen at 20 Forthlin Road, imagining 15-year-old Paul eating beans on toast or sausages for tea and writing songs with the Quarrymen, never dreaming where his life’s journey would take him.

Other things I love about Paul:

  • Sometimes, just for fun, he uses the pseudonym “Apollo C. Vermouth”
  • He wrote “Yesterday,” the most covered song in history (3000+ recorded versions)
  • He had a rare and genuine-for-real, 29-year enduring marriage to Linda, the love of his life
  • He’s a firm believer in family life and never spoiled his children, wanting them above all to be people with good hearts
  • He’s also a painter and a poet
  • He can’t read music and is largely self-taught, a natural-born instinctual artist
  • He’s considered one of the most generous musicians in the world, having contributed millions of pounds to various charities
  • He wrote beautifully lyrical love songs inspired by his real-life muses: “And I Love Her,” “You Won’t See Me,” “I’m Looking Through You, “Here, There and Everywhere,” “For No One” (Jane Asher), “Two of Us,” “I Will,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “My Love” (Linda McCartney)

Lookin’ good in Melbourne, Australia, 1975:

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To celebrate his birthday, I made the Easy Chocolate Fudge Cake recipe included in The Meat Free Monday Cookbook (Kyle Books, 2012), which Paul launched with his daughters Stella and Mary. It was nice to get a quick chocolate fix made with ingredients I already had on hand. It turned out to be more like a cakey brownie with a moist fudgy layer on the bottom. Yum!


(adapted from The Meat Free Monday Cookbook)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
7 tablespoons melted butter
2 organic eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons organic milk
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup hot water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 1-quart baking dish.

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the baking powder, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, and 1/2 cup sugar. Make a well in the center, pour in the melted butter, eggs, vanilla extract, and organic milk, and beat until well combined.

Stir in the chopped pecans, and pour into the prepared pan. In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, and hot water. Stir well and pour over the cake batter.

Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. During baking, the cake will rise to the top and underneath there will be a delicious chocolate sauce. Serve hot with cream.

Serves 4.

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Here’s Paul to sing us out with “Birthday,” performed live in Quebec. The song was written mostly by Paul in the Apple Studios 6 days before Linda’s 26th birthday.


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Paul with daughters Mary and Stella



Copyright ©2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

27 thoughts on “you say it’s your birthday?

  1. How nice to wake up to this lovely tribute to the great Paul McCartney! Thank you Jama. I learned things I didn’t know about him and have newfound respect. I savored every bit of this post- and I will certainly savor the fudge cake. Did you save me a piece? 🙂


    1. Saved you a big piece with extra whipped cream, Iza!

      Paul is endlessly fascinating to me — just his staying power alone, over 40 years in the business. In interview after interview, he comes across as pretty “normal.” In a recent conversation with David Frost, he said he still considers himself “working class.”

      Ironic and sad that he lost both his mother and beloved Linda to breast cancer.


  2. that was so great! looooved the interview. i sure hope i look that good when i’m 64, er, i mean 71. (paul’s also my mom’s fave so i’ll have to pass this along to her!)


  3. Incredible energy for a 71-year-old. Still busy touring and making new albums. I think loving his work and keeping up with his kids/grandkids keep him young.


  4. Thanks for a fun post, Jama. George Harrison is my favorite Beatle. I loved the biography, “Here Comes the Sun.” I hear you about secret husband. I call George my dead mentor-crush-boyfriend. I know that sounds macabre, but there are surely some ladies out there who know exactly what I mean.


    1. Oh, a George fan! It was lucky when Paul and George just happened to meet on a bus. All four of the Beatles had enormous charisma; John and George died way too young. I was also thinking that Ringo looks well preserved too. 🙂

      “Dead mentor crush boyfriend”? Now I’m getting to know the real you . . .


  5. You sure are a fan! I love When I’m 64 and Blackbird. Linda truly must have been the love of his life, it was so sad when she died. I saw him with Wings in Munich Germany waaaay back in 1976. It was a great show.

    And your cake looks wonderful 🙂 I could kill for a piece right now!


    1. Paul wrote “When I’m 64” for his Dad. Apparently he had the melody down when he was just 16, but didn’t get all the lyrics down and everything till his Dad actually turned 64. I think Paul’s children sang it to him when he turned 64 too. 🙂

      The cake is very easy to whip up. Next time I’m going to slightly underbake it to get more gooey stuff on the bottom.


  6. Lovely tribute to Macca, Jama! I love that he grew up on Yorkshire puddings and roast beef though we used to have gravy on ours. He is definitely an institution.


    1. This was the first I’ve heard of someone serving Yorkshire Pudding as dessert rather than a side with the meat. I’ve only had it with gravy. 🙂


  7. I love your Paul fandom, Jama. Also I love the looks of that cake, and I just happen to have all the ingredients here at home. I should perhaps finish the strawberry shortcake I made yesterday, though, before baking another cake.


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