If you're not watching what I'm watching right now, I feel sorry for you.
Sir Paul McCartney is giving a live concert at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles and it is streaming through Itunes. He is surrounded by a gaggle of fluid jazz musicians led by Diana Krall. A supple standup bass thumps next to him as he sits on a stool and sings in measured tones through a shopworn vintage microphone. He is running through standards from the Great American Songbook that grace his newly released standards album, Kisses on the Bottom.
“I took some flack for that title and people told me I couldn’t do that,” McCartney said on his press tour. “They’re kisses on the bottom----of a love letter.” What a love letter it is!
"Capitol Studios. Studio A. This am da place!" he exclaims during the hour-long broadcast. "Actually, this is one of da places. Abbey Road is pretty neat, too." He then launches into the chestnut "Accentuate the Positive." Diana Krall adds both voice and silky piano to the playful chorus and it is pure audio heaven.
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Yes, the cynics amongst you (yes, you) are thinking that this is a well-traveled road that many fading stars take as they head to pasture. To be sure, the likes of Michael Bolton and Rod Stewart cashed in their credibility for a string of these crooner albums when they ran out of ideas on where to go next.
But this is different. McCartney is on a personal and professional high at the moment. He sold out stadiums over the summer, rocking the rafters for three hours at a clip on his Up and Coming Tour. He orchestrated another opera piece that debuted last September. Somewhere in between, he found time to get hitched to his new wife Nancy. Did we mention that the man is in his late sixties? His vitality is on full display during this concert. The man that yelped out the primal scream of "Helter Skelter" in Yankee Stadium over the summer demonstrates his versatility with this understated voical delivery.
McCartney tips his hat to fat Fats Waller’s humor by playing his song "My Very Good Friend the Milkman." He begins the tune by synching his whistle with the guitar chords but has to start a few times until he gets the pitch right. "Hey, it's live," he says, shrugging his shoulders during a time that would see most performers fold like a cheap chair under pressure.
He dedicates his new song, "My Valentine" to his new wife, instantly making a million women jealous that they don’t have a song like this written for them once he opens his mouth. "What if it rains/and she was right/the love of mine/my valentine/as days and nights would pass me by/I'd tell myself I'm waiting for a sign/then she appeared/a love so fine!/and I will love her/for life/and I will never let a day go by/without remembering the reasons why/she makes me certain that I can fly." Eagle Joe Walsh swoops in and drops a stunning flamenco-tinged solo onto a perfect musical cloud. McCartney, a man known for "silly love songs," just wrote himself one of the best in his career. It's an instant classic.
"I thought I knew every old song out there from my dad's days, but this is one I didn't know," McCartney says on the broadcast. This one I didn't know. Frank Sinatra recorded it and its called 'We Tree.' I mean 'We Three.'"
He can barely wipe the smile from his face even as he sings a lonesome ditty. "We three/we're all alone/my echo, my shadow, and me," he croons as he pours on the charm. The concert ends but the camera rolls on. “Are we still on the telly?” he says with a laugh. “There goes that suave element.” He is the cute Beatle, remember?
The goosebumps rocketed up my arm throughout this online show. Actually, they began earlier this week, when I first downloaded Kisses on the Bottom. You might have missed the show (though it should be on Itunes) and might be reading this on either side of Valentine’s Day. If you’re about to get some, planning to get some, or hoping to get some, get the lush, romantic Kisses on the Bottom and triple your odds.