The music legend promotes his 'New' album with a private concert for students and his wife.
NEW YORK — So your partner might get you flowers to mark your wedding date.
Being married to Paul McCartney ups the ante just a little.
"Happy anniversary, baby!" he said to his third wife, Nancy Shevell, as he performed Wednesday afternoon for a small crowd of mostly students at an album release party in Queens sponsored by iHeartRadio. The kids had been dispatched to an assembly without being told who their special guest would be. Color them surprised.
McCartney's latest album, New, is out Oct. 15. The event, which was not publicized ahead of time, took place at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts. There, McCartney held what was billed as a "master class," followed by a Q&A with the high school students and a performance. Those unable to attend (which includes most of us) can listen in when the show airs across Clear Channel Media and streams on Yahoo! (Monday, 9 p.m. ET/6 PT).
He opened the show with The Beatles' classic Eight Days a Week, written by John Lennon and McCartney. The rollicking single New was a tribute to Shevell, his wife of two years. "My wife is in the audience," he said. "This is for you."
Other tunes performed: Blackbird, We Can Work It Out, Lady Madonna and Queenie Eye (from the new album).
It's been a busy few weeks for the music legend. He and Shevell attended his daughter Stella's fashion show in Paris last month, sitting front row.
And unlike so many other more aggressive stars (see: Gaga, Lady), McCartney deftly fuses self-promotion with sweetness and authenticity.
"I'm very lucky. I just love what I do," he told the appreciative audience.
The students' questions were benign and dealt with broad issues. Fame, said McCartney, for example, gave him "freedom" to do what he wanted musically.
The greatest lesson he's learned?
"When I first started out, I was terrified of doing anything wrong on stage," McCartney said. "People don't mind. In fact, people kind of like it. It doesn't matter as much as you think it does. You can relax a bit more."
Where does he get his inspiration?
"You get it from a lot of things. I often use the past, things that have happened to me in the past," said McCartney. "If it's a love song, that would be my loved ones."
And he has no plans to retire. "Thank you very much, but no," said McCartney. "The truth is, because I love it so much. I could be home watching the TV right now. I'd rather be here."
Indeed, he shows no signs whatsoever of being tired. Last week, he held his firstTwitter interview. As with everything on the micro-blogging site, brevity was the name of the game. The hardest part of writing a song? "Finishing it.