“Nothing pleases me more than to go into a room and come out with a piece of music.” ~ Paul McCartney
Why, hello. Thought we’d serve up some lemon drizzle cake in honor of Paul McCartney’s 74th birthday tomorrow. Please help yourself to a piece or two or three and a nice warm cuppa.
While you’re sip sip sipping and ever-so-politely wiping crumbs from the corners of your mouth, enjoy Paul’s “English Tea,” which I strongly suspect he wrote just for me. See if you agree:
Am I not a “nanny bakes fairy cakes” kind of person who tends to veer into twee at a moment’s notice? I think “English Tea” should become Alphabet Soup’s official song.
Miles and miles of English garden stretching past the willow tree . . . lines of holly, hocks and roses listen most attentively.
It’s hard to believe Paul is going to be 74; he hasn’t slowed down one bit. Right now he’s in the midst of his One on One Tour, and just a week ago he released “Pure McCartney,”a comprehensive retrospective collection of his solo, Wings and Fireman work available in 3 formats: 2CD, 4CD and 4LP. The 4CD version features an amazing 67 tracks, all handpicked by the man himself.
To help promote “Pure McCartney,” he’s done a series of six virtual reality mini-documentariesfilmed in his home studio in England, where he discusses backstories and recording/production tidbits about some of his songs. These can be seen in 360-degree videos or in virtual reality on a mobile app for Android or iOS.
I love how he continues to be on the forefront of studio technology. Never one to rest on his laurels, he’s always been pro-innovation (Sgt Pepper, anyone?) — the mark of a true creative, a musician through and through. When it comes to staying power and audience appeal in a rapidly changing and highly competitive industry, Paul takes the biscuit!
Ah, summer! Time to step away from the stove and laptop, relax, and stay cool.
Mr. Cornelius, 50-something Paddingtons, and I are looking forward to ice cream sundaes, fresh peach pie, reading trashy novels mind-enriching classics, growing basil, hanging out with relatives, tickling the ivories, and shopping for cool things.
Before we sign off for a bit, wanted to share this interesting video of former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins interviewing Sir Paul McCartney at Rollins College last October. They discuss early academic influences (Chaucer, Shakespeare, Keats), songwriting, poetry, celebrity, and much more. Paul shares a few naughty bits from Chaucer’s “Miller’s Tale” and sings “Blackbird” at the end.
I especially enjoyed hearing how the Beatles honed their craft, how John’s snarkiness complemented Paul’s optimism when it came to writing songs. Paul hasn’t lost any of his boyish charm or good looks, remains humble and grounded, and it was nice to know that had he not become a musician, he might have tried his hand at teaching English.
Can you imagine walking into class on the first day of school and seeing Paul as your teacher??!!! SCREAM.
The video is about an hour long, so you might want to bookmark this post and come back later when you have enough time to get nice and comfy, sip a tall glass of iced tea, and enjoy the meeting of two brilliant minds. The students in the video remain amazingly calm throughout. If I ever found myself in the same room with both Billy and Paul, I’d probably faint dead away. Just sayin’.
“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
Sir 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.
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.
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!
EASY CHOCOLATE FUDGE CAKE (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.
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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.
Back in the Dark Ages, when I was a dreamy 12-year-old listening to the radio in my bedroom with the pink curtains and wall-to-wall Beatles pictures, it was inconceivable that any of the Fab Four would ever age.
Well, it seems Sir Paul has decided to turn 70 today and I can’t think of any other classic rocker who’s managed to age quite so well. Still has his boyish good looks and charm, still writes, records, performs and tours, still the idol of millions all over the world. Whenever I see him, I still feel like that innocent middle schooler watching the Ed Sullivan Show, so lucky to have witnessed that watershed moment in history when popular music changed forever.
You probably know Paul is a longtime vegetarian, who, with his daughters Stella and Mary, launched the Meatfree Monday campaign in London back in 2009. Last fall they published The Meat Free Monday Cookbook (Kyle Books, 2011). I just purchased the American edition (released March 2012), and decided to make one of the recipes to celebrate Paul’s birthday.