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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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