I recently saw the legendary Paul McCartney in concert at Fenway Park in Boston. At age 71, he managed to draw a crowd of 37,000+ fans to fill the venue to capacity. And boy, did he rock the joint! He does not appear to have lost a beat, dropped a note, or misplaced an iota of his charm since his heyday with the Beatles in the 1960s and in subsequent decades with Wings or solo. He sang, played bass, guitar, piano, alternating between Beatles classics and his solo hits for more than three hours, from "Day Tripper" to "Live and Let Die," from "I Saw Her Standing There," to "Maybe I'm Amazed." I fell in love with Paul and his music all over again as if I were a kid.
While I did not have the best seats in the house, I did not have the worst. If I got up on my toes and looked on stage, I could see Paul tip his head back just as he bellowed out a high note. I could see his mouth move as he sang, "The Long and Winding Road." Still, I was grateful for the gigantic screen ahead of my seat where I could see a huge version of Paul as he performed.
Having had somewhat of a difficult year on a personal level, such a performance was inspiring and uplifting. Look at what you can do at age 71! And I'm 20 years younger than Paul.
Later in the week, I needed to get my haircut so I visited the young woman who is my hair dresser. She is 25 years old. When I sat in the chair, she took out her clippers and asked me what I'd been up to during my vacation week. I blurted out, "I saw Paul McCartney in concert!"
She was silent for a moment, her eyes scrunched in a slightly puzzled expression, and she asked, "What song does he do?"
At that moment, when I couldn't choose which of Paul's hundreds of songs to reel off to my hairdresser to make her understand who he is, I realized that all of the rock stars I love are now over 50, over 60, even over 70 years old!
"Um, he was one of the Beatles," I said, not sure she knew who they were.
She answered, "I thought so but I wasn't sure."
Thank goodness Paul has been able to attract hundreds of thousands of concert-goers around the country and around the world in for his 2013 Out There Tour, despite my hairdresser's lack of knowledge.
These artists in middle age and in their senior years are still some of the best. In the past few years, in addition to Paul, these are the rock/pop/soul stars I've gone to see at concerts:
Stevie Wonder: I sat in third row center mesmerized by his genius and his still-beautiful voice. When he got up from his keyboards to do some early hits that he could dance to, such as "Uptight," I could barely breathe under his spell.
Prince: He was so full of energy, good looks, muscle definition, and talent, that he, like Paul and Stevie, riveted me. Well, his eyes have always had that effect, but now his entire being and talent kept me riveted and awed.
Bonnie Raitt: This redheaded angel may be one of the most underrated singers of all-time. Go to a Bonnie Raitt concert and you will not be disappointed. You will, in fact, be moved both to joy and tears and treated to a strong, passionate, and talented singer-song writer.
The Eagles: Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Glenn Frey and company. These guys can still sing and harmonize like nobody's business.
Chicago: Although I believe only the horn section includes the original band members, all well over 50, the music still sounds and feels as it did in the 1970s. And by the way, the horn section steals the show.
Cyndi Lauper: She was on the bill with several performers at a festival concert. I forget who else was there, because Cyndi, with her crazy, spiked-streaky hair and and unique vocal style, held us spellbound with her songs that now seem classic where they once seemed just "pop."
James Taylor: He doesn't have much hair left, but the man can still sing with a clear, silky voice, and as an entertainer, he's holds his audience rapt with his music and engaging personality.
In December of this year, I will be attending a Rod Stewart concert, with guest Stevie Winwood, two more rock stars over age 50 who can still rock it.
It's not that I don't like some of the younger singers -- Adele and Justin Timberlake are fabulous, in my opinion, as well as some others, but I wonder who in the younger generation can compare to those I've mentioned. I would love to hear from those of my generation about who your favorite rock and pop artists are. I would love to hear from younger people who would like to educate me on who can compete with Paul McCartney or Stevie Wonder these days. Seriously, who?