Sunday, October 19, 2014

Macca & Me

An odd thought occurred to me yesterday: is Paul McCartney happier than I am? So I was thinking about this, starting with a few comparisons.

Some obvious differences include age (he's around 11 years older), plus he is British, famous, very wealthy (net worth ~$1.2 billion), and a fabulously successful musician, composer, and entertainer. I am none of these things. For all his success, Paul has suffered some tragedies in his life, starting with the death of his mother (Mary) when he was just 14. He lost his wife and soulmate Linda to cancer and his musical brother John Lennon to murder. I have experienced divorce (Paul has as well), but luckily no untimely deaths so far of anyone close to me other than my father (sadly he was only 62, but I was around 35 and was not severely affected).

What do we have in common? Musical sensibility perhaps, with strong value placed on creativity. Although Paul is clearly more talented, prolific, and successful in every aspect of music, we are both singer-songwriters with eclectic tastes. For me music is only a hobby, and I have experienced little recognition beyond family and friends (which is not to be sneezed at!). But it seems we have each experienced the joy of creating something from nothing, writing songs and turning them into complex recordings, and performing live for dozens (me) or millions (Paul) of people.

Unlike Paul, I continue to work a "real job" and to pay somewhat careful attention to money. I'm confident I will be ok when it's time for retirement, but I do have to prepare for and manage that, while I'm guessing Paul has few concerns in this area, should he ever choose to retire. I suppose he still has money worries of some sort. The rich reportedly always do. Multiple homes, employees, tax problems, frivolous lawsuits, not owning all the rights to some of your biggest songs, etc.

But what about happiness? How can I know if Paul is happy? Hell, I'm not even sure if I'm happy! But I think I'm mostly happy. Satisfied anyway. I'm reasonably healthy, have a good marriage, great kids (and a lovely granddaughter), some friends, a reasonably satisfying job, a decent home, and time and money enough to pursue music and other hobbies and occasional non-business travel. Though far from rich, we're financially OK. So happy enough I guess. Most days.

What about Paul? He certainly seems happy, but of course he's been a professional celebrity for over 50 years, so who knows? Seeming happy is part of what celebrities do, whether they are genuinely happy or not. From what I have read, he shared a great life with Linda and suffered when he lost her. But he bounced back musically (Run Devil Run was released in late 1999, a year and a half after Linda died) and was in a relationship not long after. Unfortunately Heather Mills turned out not to be his new soulmate, and there was a divorce that cost him some probably unnoticeable millions of pounds and likely some pain and suffering. Now he seems to be happy with his lovely current wife Nancy Shevell. And at 71, he continues to create new music and to actively participate in the world music scene. I'm sure that must give him some satisfaction.

So I don't know. I'm guessing that Sir Paul (another small difference, knighthood) and I are both reasonably happy people. He's probably happy with his fame and fortune and I'm happy if I can see my granddaughter and write and record a new song every once in a while. Even if only 12 people ever hear it.

In the picture above, the one of me is from 1973 (left, age 20). Paul seems to have his Sgt. Pepper mustache, so I am guessing 1967 (age 25).