Denny Laine, Nancy Wilson, Christopher Cross / Photo by Bobby Bank for Getty Images via The Press House

‘The Music of Paul McCartney’ at Carnegie Hall / March 15, 2023

The Music of Paul McCartney at Carnegie Hall on March 15 featured performances by a diverse array of performers, including Rock & Roll Hall of Famers and Grammy-award winners. The performers reinterpreted 25 songs from McCartney’s Beatles, Wings, and solo albums at the concert hall where the Beatles first performed in New York City, on February 12, 1964. McCartney was not present this time, but he sent his blessing.

Nancy Wilson of Heart, Lyle Lovett, Bettye LaVette, Hamilton Leithauser, Jonathan Russell of the Head and the Heart, Glen Hansard, Ingrid Michaelson, Graham Nash, Bruce Hornsby, Lake Street Dive, Music Will Kids Group, Resistance Revival Chorus, the Cactus Blossoms, Jennifer Nettles, Allison Russell, Denny Laine, Christopher Cross, Shovels and Rope, Sammy Rae, Patti Smith, Peter Asher, Alexis Morrast, Will Lee, and other musicians celebrated McCartney’s legacy by performing from his vast songwriting catalog. Steve Jordan, who now plays drums in the Rolling Stones, was the music director of the program.

In his welcoming remarks, concert promoter Michael Dorf read a brief letter of gratitude that he received from McCartney. McCartney asked to be excused for not attending, but expressed honor that he was selected for this year’s tribute, and thanked the fans and performers. Conversely, the program was a thank you love letter by numerous contemporary artists influenced by McCartney’s work.

Among the evening’s surprises, Peter Asher sang a duet with Lyle Lovett on “A World Without Love,” a song McCartney wrote but never recorded. Asher introduced the song by explaining that McCartney wrote the song when he briefly lived in Asher’s family home in the early 1960s. McCartney rejected the song for the Beatles, so Asher asked if he could record it. The song became an international hit for Peter’s vocal duo, Peter & Gordon.

Denny Laine was another artist on the bill with a direct connection to McCartney. Laine was a founder and guitarist in McCartney’s post-Beatles group, Wings. Early in the program, Laine sang Wings’ “Mull of Kintyre” with Christopher Cross and Nancy Wilson of Heart. He later accompanied Wilson on Wings’ “Band on the Run.”

Patti Smith / Photo by Bobby Bank for Getty Images via The Press House

Patti Smith’s appearance had not been advertised, although her name was listed in the published Playbill, so her engagement must have been booked in advance. Smith sang a slow and sparse cover of “She’s Leaving Home,” which the Beatles recorded in 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was her first time performing the song and she added spoken word to the song’s end from the perspective of the young girl that runs away from home, leaving her parents emotionally shattered. “Dear mother and father,” Smith sang. “I’m sorry if I hurt you/But I had to leave to find what you already have/Companionship, love/To find laughter/To find freedom/And to find, most of all, myself.”

Other highlights included Graham Nash’s interpretation of “For No One” and Lyle Lovett’s cover of “Yesterday.” The Resistance Revival Chorus roused the audience with a gospel-like version of “Let It Be.” Allison Russell extended “Blackbird” with a clarinet interlude and encouraged the backing musicians to jam. The evening ended with many of the performers returning on stage for a finale of “Hey Jude.”

Many of the performers participated in a public rehearsal at City Winery NYC on the night before the main event (see photographs here). Immediately after the Carnegie Hall concert concluded, Jonathan Russell and other performers sang late into the night with a house band, Armo, at the after-party at City Winery NYC.

Established in 2003 by Michael Dorf, founder of the Knitting Factory and City Winery, the annual “Music of …” tributes have spotlighted the work of Carly Simon, Prince, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison, REM, and David Byrne, among others. This year’s event was a resumption of the series, curtailed in 2021 and 2022 due to the Covid pandemic. With this year’s tribute, the event cumulatively has raised over $1.6 million dollars for music education programs for underserved youth. Every year, Michael Dorf Presents contributes 100% of the net proceeds – approximately $100,000 – from the evening to non-profit organizations, including Music Will (formally Little Kids Rock), Young Audiences NY, FIXS, Church Street School of Music, the Center for Arts Education, the D’Addario Foundation, Sonic Arts for All, Save the Music, Midori & Friends, Grammy in the Schools, the Orchestra Now, and the Newport Jazz Kids.

Jennifer Nettles / Photo by Bobby Bank for Getty Images via The Press House


1. “Ooh You” performed by Will Lee

2. “My Love” performed by Alexis Morrast

3. “A World Without Love” performed by Peter Asher and Lyle Lovett

4. “Things We Said Today” performed by Patti Smith

5. “Heart of the Country” performed by Sammy Rae

6. “Helter Skelter” performed by Shovels & Rope

7. “Mother Nature’s Son” performed by Christopher Cross

8. “Mull of Kintyre” performed by Denny Laine and Christopher Cross

9. “Blackbird” performed by Allison Russell

10. “And I Love Her” performed by the Cactus Blossoms

11. “Silly Love Song” performed by Jennifer Nettles

12. “Let it Be” performed by Resistance Revival Chorus

13. “Get Back” performed by Music Will Kids Group

14. “Let Me Roll It” performed by Lake Street Drive

15. “I’ve Just Seen a Face” performed by Bruce Hornsby

16. “For No One” performed by Graham Nash

17. “I Will” performed by Ingrid Michaelson

18. “Calico Skies” performed by Ingrid Michaelson

19. “We Can Work It Out” performed by Glen Hansard

20. “Let Em In” performed by Jonathan Russell

21. “With a Little Help from My Friends” performed by Hamilton Leithauser

22. “Maybe I’m Amazed” performed by Betty LaVette

23. “Yesterday” performed by Lyle Lovett

24. “Band on the Run” performed by Nancy Wilson

25. “Hey Jude” performed by the ensemble