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The Birthday Boy Got A Little Help From His Friends

June 27, 2022

Caricature of former Beatle Paul McCartney in honor of his 80th birthday, June 18, 2022

Is it really possible that Paul McCartney (b. June 18, 1942) just turned 80 years old??blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

In that case I only have one question: Where did the last 60 years ago?? Seems like only… 🎶 Yesterday... he and The Beatles were singing on The Ed Sullivan Show.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Seems like a good time to trot out this caricature I did of Paul. It’s from a Beatles group caricature which you can see here.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

I have a book called A Hard Day’s Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles’ Song by music journalist Steve Turner. One of my favorite stories concerns the song ‘Michelle,’ which was (mostly) written by Paul. Here’s the story:blank vertical space, 32 pixels high

‘Michelle’ dates back to Liverpool days when Paul went with John to a party thrown by art students at a time when the intellectual life of the Parisian Left Bank was fashionable and bohemianism was signaled by berets, beards, and Gitanes (a French brand of cigarettes).blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

At this party, a student was a goatee beard and a striped t-shirt was hunched over his guitar singing what sounded like a French song. Soon after, Paul began to work a comical imitation to amuse his friends.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

It remained a party piece with nothing more than Charles Aznavour-style Gallic groanings as accompaniment until, in 1965, John suggested Paul should write proper words for it and include it on their next album (Rubber Soul).blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Radio presenter Muriel Young, then working for Radio Luxembourg, can remember Paul visiting her at her holiday home in Portugal while he was working on the song.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

“He sat on our sofa with Jane Asher and he was trying to find the words. It wasn’t ‘Michelle, ma belle’ then. He was singing ‘Goodnight sweetheart’ and then ‘Hello my dear,’ just looking for something that would fit the rhythm.”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Eventually, Paul decided to go with the French feel and to incorporate a French name and some French words. He spoke to Jan Vaughan, the wife of his old school friend Ivan Vaughan (the person responsible for introducing Paul to John), who was a French language teacher.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Jan: “He asked me if I could think of a French girl’s first name, with two syllables, and then a description of the girl that would rhyme. He played me the rhythm on his guitar, and that’s when I came up with ‘Michelle, ma belle,’ which wasn’t actually that hard to think of!blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

“I think it was some days later that he phoned me up and asked if I could translate the phrase ‘these are words that go together well’ and I told him that it should be ‘sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble.'”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

When Paul played the song to John, he suggested the ‘I love you’ in the middle section, specifying that the emphasis should fall on the word ‘love’ each time.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

He was inspired by Nina Simone‘s recording of ‘I Put A Spell On You,’ a hit in Britain in August 1965, where she had used the same phrase but placed the emphasis on the ‘you.'”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

“My contribution to Paul’s songs was always to add a little bluesy edge to them,” John said. “Otherwise, ‘Michelle’ is a straight ballad.”blank vertical space, 32 pixels high

Here’s a condensed version of the story which demonstrates that an infographic can be very simple.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Caricature of former Beatle Paul McCartney in honor of his 80th birthday along with the story of how he came to write the song "Michelle"

blank vertical space, 16 pixels highAnd if all this makes you want to hear the song, here it is.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high

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About Mark: I’m an illustrator specializing in humor, branding, social media, and content marketing. My images are different, like your brand needs to be.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

You can view my portfolio, and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Questions? Send me an email.blank vertical space, 40 pixels highRecommendation testimonial for Mark Armstrong Illustration from Heather Onorati, Content Director, Dermatology & Aesthetics
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5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2022 11:09 PM

    I quit counting birthdays a few years back so I’m going to just keep pretending the Beatles are the ages they were when I was a teenager!


    • June 28, 2022 12:10 PM

      Ha!!– an excellent strategy, Margy!– and I basically do the same! The idea of Paul McCartney actually being 80 years old is clearly preposterous and impossible– there’s no way I’m signing on for that kind of lunacy!!

      Hope all’s well with you and The Car Guy– keep wearing those Beatle wigs and drinking Merseybeat cocktails!! 💂‍♀️💂‍♂️🥂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. June 30, 2022 8:37 PM

    Eighty years old! Yikes! Very cool story about ‘Michelle’. I like to hear backstories of songs. ‘Maggie May’ by Rod Stewart is a fun story albeit a bit tawdry.

    How are things with you, dear? Did you ever pop over to see my post “Two Reveals?” I put my author headshot up there. You can finally put a face to the madcap Maddie! I do believe I exposed my age as well, but I’m not 80! 🙂


    • July 6, 2022 1:38 PM

      Hi, Maddie! A thousand apologies for this very tardy reply. WordPress notifications no longer work for me– haven’t gotten one for years, so I never know when someone publishes a post. I remain in blissful ignorance, which, of course, is a good match for me!! 😅

      Just returned from Breezytown– glad to see you’re back up and running, with a new book out, and… a headshot!! Very pretty photo, and you’ve got a great smile. You’re 67? Why you’re a kid– I just turned 73!! Good to know we’re still youthful and that our best years lie ahead… 👍💪😊

      And you bought a bike– excellent. I’ve had one for many years, and they’re great exercise and a lot of fun. I’m lucky enough to have access to a lot of back roads. Are there parks or rail trails you can ride on? Biking’s a lot more fun (and a heckuva lot safer!!) when there’s little or no traffic. All well here– now I must go vacuum my Merseybeat wig!! 💂‍♂️


      • July 7, 2022 10:02 PM

        Wow, Mark, when you visit Breezytown, you do it up right! Thank you for taking a run through my new posts. Yes, we are still youthful, and I feel like I’m on fire! My best years are definitely ahead of me. 🙂 Glad yours are, too.

        I love my bike! The most I’ve done so far in one day is 14 miles. I haven’t been on a bike in over 30 years. I have a 1.1-mile park trail I ride. It’s easy to rack up the miles there.

        My goal is to get four books published this year. Wish me luck!

        Hope all is well with you and your wig has poofed right up after the vacuuming. Love and hugs to you!


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