Paul McCartney, now 72 and spry as ever, still looked wiped out when he arrived at Alice Tully Hall on Thursday night. He’d flown overnight from Brazil, where he’s been on a stadium tour, so he could be at the Lincoln Center tribute to his successful and lovely daughter Stella McCartney.
Paul and wife Nancy were supposed to do the red carpet with Stella. But as they were literally coming from South America, the couple took their seats just as the lights went down and the program began. Whoever cut together the clips of Stella’s life and career used Paul’s song “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five” as the background music. When Paul himself took the stage to help Jerry Seinfeld give Stella her award, the producers used “Band on the Run.” As Paul spoke, he actually started to break up. Very emotional. Wow.
Seinfeld had given Stella such a hard time on stage with nutty questions that McCartney quipped: “We used to like the Seinfeld family!”
The evening was a rare one. For one thing, it’s quite amazing how Yoko Ono has become an almost beloved sort of grandmother in the extended Beatles group. After decades of fighting, she and Paul seem quite at ease now. What was especially poignant was a moment I witnessed among the women– Nancy Shevell McCartney and Olivia Harrison were just lovely with Yoko, hugging her and having intimate chats. Nancy put her hand on Yoko’s back in a very affectionate way while they were talking.
There is a rich closeness now as the Beatles family has aged. Stella had her mother’s family present, the Eastmans– uncle John and aunt Louise, her mother Linda’s brother and sister. Dhani Harrison– I still can’t get over how he called Stella his “big sister” and played her favorite Everly Brothers song as well as her dad’s “Live and Let Die.” Dhani, by the way, has married a beautiful and smart, funny girl named Sola Karadottir, now Sola Harrison, who’s launched a line of popular evening wear called GalvanLondon. It looks like a very happy match.
Dhani, by the way, has his own group– The New No.2–and he’s got a great career scoring movies. His father would be very proud, and of course his mother is– Olivia Harrison is one the gentlest souls, and she’s done a miraculous job keep George’s legacy alive. She’s just released a box set of George’s most famous albums, all remastered.
Meantime, as far as Stella McCartney goes– she’s always in the newspaper, and her best pals are Liv Tyler and Gwyneth Paltrow. But she’s also the mother of 4 kids under the age of 9. She has a terrific husband named Alistair whom Seinfeld envies for being impeccably dressed at all times. Stella is as down to Earth as her late and wonderful mother Linda. You can see why she’s engendered so many loyal friends. Even the legendary Doris Day, who rarely speaks in public, sent an audio message to be played to the audience. Doris Day! (She and Paul are old friends.) That’s saying something.
PS Paul McCartney, you know, her father– has just reissued two of his gigantic albums from the 70s– Wings at the Speed of Sound, and Venus and Mars– in collector’s editions on Concord. They join McCartney, Ram, and Band on the Run in McCartney’s Archives collection. They’re beautifully done. I hope we get Red Rose Speedway, Wings Wild Life, and Flowers in the Dirt soon. There’s also a big McCartney tribute package for Christmas, with dozens of artists performing Paul’s songs. McCartney told me at the event: “To listen to Bob Dylan do one of my songs…” McCartney said, literally wide eyed. I’m telling you, he’s impressed.
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