When he’s 72

It was of course the team of John Lennon and Paul McCartney — as singers, songwriters, and instinctive harmonists — that constituted the organic entity at the heart of the Beatles. McCartney was the yang to Lennon’s yin. Today McCartney turns 72.

One of McCartney’s earliest songwriting motifs was the projection of himself into the future looking back. It was a device he used to great effect in songs such as “Things We Said Today,” “I’ll Follow the Sun,” and “When I’m 64.”

All of 16 at the time he wrote “When I’m 64,” McCartney envisioned himself asking his future wife: “Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m 64?” The woman who seems to have been the love of his life herself died sixteen years ago at age 56, long before McCartney turned 64.

Bring to mind any one of his tough, beautiful, moving songs — “We Can Work It Out,” “What You’re Doing,” “Tell Me What You See,” “I’m Looking Through You,” “Here, There and Everwhere,” “Penny Lane,” “Blackbird,” your own personal favorite. Recall the closing words of his throwaway rocker off The Beatles — “I’m glad it’s your birthday/Happy birthday to you.”

Is there an underappreciated gem or two in the McCartney songbook? Let’s go with “Here, There and Everywhere.” It may be only a little underappreciated; it’s mostly perfect.

“Here, There and Everywhere” radiates Paul’s feelings for Jane Asher. Thanks to Jane’s brother Peter, the world is not without “World Without Love.” Paul had written the melody and a verse or two when Peter and his partner Gordon Waller were signed to a recording contract. John Lennon had declared the Beatles would not record the song. Peter asked McCartney if he would write a bridge so that Peter and Gordon could record the song for their first album.

Paul obliged, returning with the completed song after what Peter describes as an annoyingly short period of time. The video below begins with Paul’s demo of the first verse of the song, recorded for Peter on Peter’s home tape recorder. It continues with Peter and Gordon’s hit version of the song with the McCartney demo vocal inserted into the mix over the Peter and Gordon track. Just for fun…

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