Now He's 64

Even among rock and roll royalty there's a pecking order.

You ever notice at all those concerts for a cause there's one guy who always closes the show?

There is famous, very famous, and then there's Paul McCartney, CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod observes.

It might be painful to realize, but it's been 40 years since the Beatles first conquered America.

Now as he celebrates his 64th birthday, McCartney is still center stage -- recently completing a world tour promoting his latest album, "Chaos And Creation In The Back Yard," his 20th since the Beatles broke up.

Asked if the mostly positive reviews the album's received matter much to him, McCartney says, "I care. I care, yeah, I just don't dare read 'em in case there's some terrible little line in them."

The album is being praised for its depth and emotional complexity: a different tune from some critics who at times have derided his solo work as once-over-lightly ear candy.

"I said to myself, 'I'm gonna make a good album.' I gave myself a task," McCartney explains.

"Whereas normally you come in, something you do, it's your job, you just come in to work say, 'Oh, I wonder what's gonna happen today. Here's a guitar, oh, okay, let's do some.' But on this album, I thought, 'No, don't start. Don't, don't stop there. Actually just come in the studio with some stuff you're really proud of and then work this record, don't let anything escape.'"

Maybe McCartney brought something to the studio he just didn't have before: the sunny optimism of the "cute one" tempered by life.

"You know, I think when someone gets successful and famous as I did with the Beatles, I think the sort of assumption is he's fireproof, nothing can get to this guy," McCartney intimates.

"Well, I haven't found that. You know, I'm just some guy. You know, I, I'm pretty famous. I know people look at me like, 'Oh, you're just some guy.' Believe me, inside I feel like just some guy.

"There's this other guy who's amazingly famous and who's written all these songs and has got all this stuff. It doesn't alter who I am," McCartney says.

"You know, I'm not one of these people that just because I've done all that I now become Superman. You can't touch me. You know, you can touch me. I'm very, unfortunately, very reachable," McCartney admits.

And life has reached him. Losing a wife of 31 years to cancer as well as two of the lads with whom he made history.

Axelrod asked McCartney how he left things with John and George. McCartney offered a sentimental recollection of Lennon.

"John and I had had a lot of arguments through the Beatles break-up, but I was very lucky because we had reestablished our friendship," McCartney says.

"You remember little things about people. I remember sort of seeing him and he comes in and gives me a hug and says 'Touching is good.' I'll never forget that. Touching is good. So I do a lot of hugging now," McCartney says.

  • Sean Alfano

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