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He's no oldies act

At (gasp!) almost 64, Paul McCartney is proving that his popularity and musical relevance have not waned.

Published September 15, 2005

Paul McCartney turns 64 next year. Not 63, not 65. 64.

Unnerving, isn't it?

In 1967, a 25-year-old McCartney recorded the song When I'm Sixty-Four, a bittersweet ditty on landmark Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The classic pop hit paints a poignant picture in 2 minutes and 37 seconds, with McCartney asking a paramour (presumably first wife Linda, who died in 1998) if, "many years from now," she'd still be needing him and feeding him. Paul has said that he wrote the melody when he was 15 years old, and didn't put words to it until much later. (John Lennon reportedly despised the song.)

The fact that "many years from now" is suddenly upon us can be a depressing thought. So let's dwell on the positives, okay? In many respects, McCartney has never been hotter. In a fall concert season stuffed with spry old guys (the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, even U2 is getting up there), McCartney might sell more tickets than anybody. Plus don't forget that he's filthy rich, he's in love and he just released one of the best albums of a spotty solo career.

So let's cue up When I'm Sixty-Four (track No. 9 on Sgt. Pepper's, please) on our CD players and illuminate how McCartney is a lousy prophet but a very lucky man:

When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now,

Will you still be sending me a valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine?

McCartney may not have that fashionable mop top any more, but the Beatle known as "the Cute One" still has a darn good 'do. Sure, his hair has been dyed a rather unfortunate UPS brown, but who can blame him for wanting to look youthful? His second wife, 37-year-old Heather Mills, is a former model and one healthy-looking valentine.

Will you still need me, will you still feed me,

When I'm sixty-four?

Heck yeah, we need him. No doubt about it. In fact, concert venues around the globe would be in trouble without him. In 2002, McCartney was the highest-grossing live act in the world ($126-million). With concert sales down this year, Sir Paul's fall tour (which comes to a sold-out St. Pete Times Forum on Saturday) should boost 2005 numbers back to respectability.

You can knit a sweater by the fireside,

Sunday mornings, go for a ride.

Mills, also an antilandmine activist, may not have the time to create a cardigan for her man, but Paul sure knows someone who can. Daughter Stella McCartney, now 34, has become the It Girl in the fashion world, designing live-show costumes for Madonna and Annie Lennox, and opening her own boutiques in Los Angeles, New York and London. Paul has attended many of Stella's runway shows, where he beams like a proud papa in the front row.

Every summer we can rent a cottage in the Isle of Wight, if it's not too dear.

Who needs some hovel on a damp old island when you can relax on your majestic 160-acre farm in the English countryside (take a left at Peasmarsh, near Rye, in East Sussex). Nearby, in the quaint town of Hogs Hill, is a state-of-the-art recording studio in a historic converted windmill.

We shall scrimp and save.

Yeah, right. According to several reports, McCartney is worth more than $2-billion . . . and counting.

Grandchildren on your knee,

Vera, Chuck & Dave.

Paul and Linda McCartney raised four children, who produced several grandchildren that Paul dotes on. (Not sure if there's a Chuck in the bunch.) But way back in '67, the prolific Beatle probably never thought he'd also be dandling a baby daughter on his knee as he neared 64. In 2003, McCartney and Mills welcomed Beatrice Milly into the world. She turns 2 in November. Paul turns 64 on June 18. Chasing around a toddler at his age? Now that might make him lose his hair.

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