The Long and Winding Road

Will you still need me
Will you still feed me
When I’m 64?

Paul McCartney first sang those lyrics as a Beatle back in 1966, when he was 24. This week, just days before his 65th birthday, he has released his latest CD, “Memory Almost Full,” appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America” to promote it.

McCartney’s new offering, which looks back and reminisces about his storied past, provides the ideal backdrop for also reviewing how the music industry has changed over the past 41 years. Do the legion of today’s downloaders, Ipods firmly in hand, have even a passing knowledge of what a 45 record was and how they were once the music delivery mode of choice—for the DJs that played those first Beatle hits and the frenzied fans that flocked to record stores as a result?

Interesting, isn’t it? We used to purchase our popular music just like millions do today—one song at a time. Still, the record companies, who lament falling CD sales year after year, continue to charge exorbitant prices for often inferior product offered in an antiquated mode.

Artists—no, masters—like Paul McCartney, however, know their audience well. His fan base, now middle-aged, is still the largest consumer of CDs and the least likely to download tunes. Not only has he released a strong, full-body of work that harkens back to the critically acclaimed Wings sound of the 70s, he recorded it on the new Hear Music label. Hear, by the way, is a subsidiary of Starbucks. Guess where the CD debuted. Brilliant.

Not so the radio programmers and music directors that have largely ignored his records over much of the past 25 years and will, most likely, do the same this time around. The solution? Go have a latte with a living legend. He won’t be here, there and everywhere forever.