From the New York Times. See LINK
By BERNARD WEINRAUB
SAN JOSE, Calif. Every nine years Paul McCartney yearns to go out on the road. "I don't know why," he said. "It's a cyclical thing. Maybe I just need the feedback, maybe I just need audiences to tell me that they know the songs and like them. These songs are my babies, and they still like my babies."
Seated backstage before a sold-out concert at the Compaq Center here, Sir Paul, who is 60, is completing an extensive North American tour, a two-part trek covering 50 arenas that began last spring, was interrupted when he married Heather Mills, and resumed in September. The nostalgic tour has broken several house records and is expected to gross about $100 million, with Sir Paul and the Rolling Stones vying for the No. 1 spot for top-grossing North American tour this year. (The top North American tour of all time was the Rolling Stones' in 1994, when the band grossed $121.2 million.)
Even Sir Paul is surprised at the unexpectedly big success of the tour, which has been encapsulated in a two-hour film, "Back in the U.S.," to be shown on ABC on Nov. 27. The film offers excerpts from many of the concerts, including performances of classics like "Hey Jude," "Yesterday" and "Let It Be," as well as a backstage look at the tour. A three-hour DVD and a two-CD-set of the tour is being released Nov. 28.
"I should be jaded at my age, I should be blasι, I should hate the whole thing and retired years ago," he said. "But it's the opposite. I do two and a half hours onstage. With the Beatles, we did 30 minutes, 25 minutes if we were angry. And this is so satisfying. It's kind of amazing. You get people and their children. You get tears. I saw on our DVD an older gentleman, probably my age, deeply moved by `All My Loving.' It has to do with: `I was a kid when I heard that. I was on a college campus. I was wooing a woman who's now my wife.' That's what's happening."
Certainly one of the reasons for the success of the tour was a sense of melancholy about the Beatles, about the 60's and about once being young. Sir Paul is honored as a survivor, a symbol of rock's heyday. Gary Bongiovanni, co-editor in chief of Pollstar, a trade publication covering the concert world, said, "The McCartney tour was probably the hottest ticket out there, and this was a year the Stones and Bruce Springsteen also toured."
"Paul McCartney is not overexposed," Mr. Bongiovanni said. "He's done few dates in the last couple of decades, and there's a pent-up demand out there. And to some extent the passing of George Harrison may have had some impact. People don't know if they'll see Paul again.
"And besides it's a great show, he's not going through the motions, and the reviews have been excellent."
Over the years critics have often been hard on him, many of them saying that his post-Beatles work has been strikingly uneven and sentimental. His poetry and classical-music efforts have also been treated unkindly by some critics.
"I'm not very good at dealing with criticism," Sir Paul said. "Maybe I am in a sentimental mood sometimes. But the way I think about it is I feel I can do anything I want to do. I'm a grown up. I'm not a student at Cambridge where I'm sitting in a big hall taking an exam and waiting to be judged. The New York Times didn't like `Sgt. Pepper.' People get it wrong. Some are so savage that it goes pretty deep. So I try not to read most critics. Even good. I just say, `O.K., guys, tell me if it's good or bad.' "
Still trim and looking younger than his years, his black hair trimmed short, his eyes a bit puffy, Sir Paul seemed completely at ease and unpretentious in a backstage V.I.P. room here and in a later telephone interview from his home outside London. Was this his last tour? "Who knows," he said. "People asked me that when I was 50. I'll never say it's my last. Certain artists, famously Frank Sinatra and Elton John, had farewell tours, and it's a great way to sell tickets. Really. And the next year they say: `That wasn't my farewell tour. This one is.' When people ask me if it is, I say, `I doubt it, but it may be.' "
Asked if he doesn't get tired of talking about the Beatles after all, they broke up in 1970 after 10 years he said the subject of the group never bothers him. "I should get tired, but it's the opposite," he said. "It's like a psychiatrist's couch. You get to talk about this stuff, and suddenly I'm back in Liverpool or Hamburg or a room writing with John."
The subject of John Lennon, who was murdered in 1980 outside the Dakota apartment building in Manhattan stirs him. The two collaborated on many of the most enduring Beatles songs, but their personal and professional tensions led to the group's breakup.
Lennon was considered the darker, the more daring and hard-edged of the two. But Sir Paul's songs are extraordinary, too. "Yesterday," written for the Beatles in 1965, has been played more than six million times on radio stations in the United States, making it the most popular song in history. The song, for which he wrote the music and lyrics, is credited to him and Lennon, as they agreed in the early days of their writing partnership that any song they composed separately or together would be credited to both. The record with the second most popular plays is Sir Paul's song "Michelle," written for the Beatles in 1966.
He said "Yesterday" emerged out of a dream while he was living on Wimpole Street in London. "I woke up with this tune in my head da-da-da, da-da-da and I had a piano beside me and blocked it out. I went to John first, then George Martin, our producer. And I said, `What is this?' And they said, `It's good.' It came in a dream. I couldn't believe I had written it."
The credit for "Yesterday" has been a source of tension with Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono. Sir Paul has asked her to reverse the credit line on the song, which reads: words and music by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Sir Paul has said that he was the only Beatle to play on the record, and that both the tune and lyrics were his. But Ms. Ono has refused to alter the credit line, he said.
His relationship with Ms. Ono has been tense and fractious. "We're civil with each other," he said. "It's sort of a business relationship. I don't dislike her, we're not enemies." But, he said, tensions linger. "We never seem to get beyond it," he added. "All this stuff the Lennon camp, the McCartney camp. Why do we have to go there. I'm just so fed up with this stuff." On the other hand, Sir Paul said he spoke often by phone to Ringo Starr, most recently about a planned tribute to Harrison in London.
"Ringo is fun, a great guy, someone who always used to have these little malapropisms, say the most magical things," Sir Paul said. "Once he said after a concert, `God, it's been a hard day's night.' John and I looked at each other and said, `Did he say what we think he said?' "
Sir Paul said the breakup of the Beatles was probably unavoidable. At the time they split up, he told The Evening Standard in London, "John's in love with Yoko, and he's no longer in love with the three of us." (Sir Paul's biographer, Barry Miles, speculated in his book "Many Years From Now" that Ms. Ono may have actually saved the life of Mr. Lennon, who was, at the time, on a downward spiral of drugs and depression.)
"We kind of reached the end of a cycle in life, and we all kind of knew it," said Sir Paul, who was knighted in 1997. "We could feel it coming with the White Album. It was all sort of winding down. It was kind of painful but the right thing. John had met Yoko, and I think he had to kind of clear the decks for her, and I think in a way it was right. It was really then, after that, that you couldn't really see a way that we could be the Beatles. Yoko would be in the studio, and she's sitting on the amp, and we'd be, like, bristling. Besides, we had come full circle. It was a magical thing. We went from A to Z. We knew it was time."
It was after the breakup that Sir Paul formed Wings, whose hit songs, including "Jet" and "Live and Let Die," were part of the current tour. He asked his first wife, Linda McCartney, who died in 1998, to work on the keyboards and serve as a backup vocalist. She protested, but he said he needed her to join him. For a decade the band served as his creative outlet and spawned a run of successful singles. But the band hardly matched the Beatles, and critics called its output uneven. "We got a lot of criticism," Sir Paul said. "But we had a lot of fun "
He said he endured a prolonged period of grief following Linda's death from cancer. He said he was thinking of starting another tour when the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 animated him. He said he and Ms. Mills were on an airplane runway at Kennedy International Airport, waiting to take off for London, when the World Trade Center was attacked. They immediately returned to New York, and he said he decided to stay on and organize a benefit concert for the firefighters and rescue workers with other top stars. (His father was a fireman.) He then performed at the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards, and composed an anthem, "Freedom." He said: "It was all very emotional. I liked the audiences. And they liked me."
Last June he married Ms. Mills in an extravagant wedding in Ireland. Ms. Mills, a model, runs the Heather Mills Health Trust, which recycles artificial limbs for land-mine victims. Ms. Mills herself lost the lower half of her left leg when she was struck by a police motorcycle in August 1993.
Sir Paul said that his status delighted him: "Is it conceited to say we were better than all the other groups? Maybe it is. But listen to songs like `Eleanor Rigby' and `Penny Lane.' We were better."
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