I read the news today, oh boy, about a lucky man who made the grade…

- from “A Day In The Life”

While the Summer Olympics in China and the Russian invasion of Georgia (the country, not the southern state) have been dominating international attention this week, news of another sort has been coming out of the central and western United States. Sir Paul McCartney, the former Beatle, and girlfriend Nancy Shevell have been traveling cross-country, making several impromptu appearances along old U.S. Route 66.

Route 66 may be the most famous highway in America, even though it was decommissioned and removed from the United States Highway System in June 1985. Much of the original highway has now been obscured by the Interstate system and travelers need the assistance of custom maps and other reference materials to track it. The 2,400-mile-plus highway had linked Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California since 1926.

You’ve no doubt heard the song, and you may have seen the 1960s television series that celebrated the route.

The long and winding road…

- from “The Long and Winding Road”

According to various reports posted on the Web, McCartney and his companion have been spotted repeatedly traveling along Route 66 in a green 1989 Ford Bronco with New York plates. They’ve left in their wake a trail of amazed fans and fellow travelers as they stop for meals and overnight lodging.

Several Web sites have photos featuring a handful of teenagers hamming it up for a once-in-a-lifetime occasion - unkempt youth in T-shirts and cutoffs you might find hanging out at a local basketball court if this older guy wasn’t posing in the middle of the group with a goofy grin and his thumbs up just like everybody else.

Baby you can drive my car and maybe I love you…

- from”Drive My Car”

“The Oklahoman” of Oklahoma City reported that McCartney and Shevell stopped in Nonna’s Euro-American Ristorante and Bar. The catering and banquet manager said they dined on salad, tomato soup and a special request of spinach quiche, which isn’t on the menu. The restaurant had more than a dozen functions on its calendar that day, and its management initially balked at filling a special order. Then they learned who their customer was. As McCartney left, he said he enjoyed his meal so much he planned to stop again on his return trip.

I wanna go but I hate to leave you… I’ll be back again…

- from “I’ll Be Back”

I’m not certain how this plays in the Texas Panhandle, but Sir Paul is a staunch vegetarian, and he’s so dedicated to the lifestyle that he once had the dealer rip out the leather seats in a new Lexus, according to reports, and replace them with cloth. He made a reservation for the $400-a-night Presidential Suite in the luxurious Ambassador Hotel in Amarillo, according to Britain’s Daily Mirror, but was taken aback by all the leather his accommodations featured. But adopting the “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” philosophy, McCartney didn’t raise a fuss, and instead decided not to demand a different room. While he hasn’t shied away from his fans when they recognize him, the musical legend is trying to avoid as much attention as he can.

Later in their journey, they watched the dances at the 87th Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial in Gallup, N.M., but the announcer was asked not to mention their presence.

Still, no announcement is needed for people to recognize him. Those who did marveled at how approachable the couple is, and how willing they are to pose for photos - all with no security detail. One onlooker was quoted as saying the couple seemed like any other “two lovers wrapped up in each other’s company.”

All you need is love…

- from “All You Need Is Love”

It dawned on me that McCartney’s road trip may be something of a birthday journey for him, sort of a “Drive 66 at 66” type of thing. He turned 66 on June 18, and maybe there’s something poetic about such a journey across America’s heartland. But it’s too bad Sir Paul was too busy making hit songs in the early 1960s to watch U.S. television. This tale would have been complete if he had been driving a Corvette, just like Todd and Buzz.

It’s your birthday, we’re gonna have a good time…

- from”Birthday”

Gene Deason is editor of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Friday. He may be reached by e-mail at gene.deason@brownwoodbulletin.com.