LAS VEGAS — Donny Osmond was surprised when he answered a knock on his hotel room door one day in France.
Standing there was Paul McCartney. According to Osmond, the former Beatle asked, "Can I get your autograph, please? For Mary?"
Osmond obliged, but years later wanted to make certain the real McCartney had paid him the visit. So when Osmond found himself in a studio adjacent to McCartney in 2002, he popped over to verify things.
"Was that you? Or did I dream that?" Osmond asked McCartney.
"Not only is it true but it's the only autograph I've ever asked for," Osmond recounts McCartney saying.
Behind every song there's a story, and Osmond is sharing them through a free app to promote the upcoming release of his 60th album, "The Soundtrack of My Life." Stories of his musical career are being included alongside the songs that will be on Osmond's new album, which is scheduled for release later this year. The McCartney story goes with "The Long and Winding Road" cut.
The app debuted in June. The 15 songs from the upcoming album will be released for streaming on the app (iOS and Android) periodically, with an average of three to four weeks between songs. So far, the following songs have been released: Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour" with Wonder playing the harmonica, Michael Jackson's "Ben" and Diana Ross' "Baby Love."
The story that will accompany "Your Song" recounts how Elton John performed in concert at the Salt Palace years ago. Osmond was attending with his brother Jay and their dates. He found himself looking at Jay's date, Debbie, and thinking, "I'm going to marry that girl."
"Jay's date" has now been Osmond's wife for 36 years.
"These are songs that affected me," Osmond told the Deseret News in a phone interview. "This album is very self-indulgent. It's autobiographical. I'm not looking to make a lot of money on this."
There will also be three original songs on the finished album.
Osmond is currently celebrating more than 50 years in show business. (He started singing on stage with his brothers when he was 5 in 1962.)
Over the years he's kept pace with the changing technology. He recorded "One Bad Apple" on an 8-track recorder, "Puppy Love" on a 16-track player and today is using a mix of Dropbox, Skype, his Samsung phone and his MacBook Air to put his songs for the album together. (He has a recording booth next to his dressing room in Las Vegas and one in his Provo home.)
"What's really cool is that with all the social media opportunities, I've got fans as young as 13," Osmond said. "Recently at a meet-and-greet (after the Donny & Marie Las Vegas show at the Flamingo) I met with a great-grandmother who knew me from the Andy Williams show, a grandmother who watched me on the 'Donny & Marie Show,' a mother who knows me as Joseph (from 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat') and a young girl who knows me as Captain Shang from Mulan."
He's not sure what's next, except he's going to keep performing and taking advantage of every new opportunity that comes his direction.
He's enjoyed everything he's done — performing on the Broadway stage, the concert circuit, talk shows, hosting a game show and winning the trophy on "Dancing With the Stars."
"I was just talking with my stage manager who's been with me since the early days," he said. "He's telling me to jump on new opportunities, and I'm doing that.
"What's next? We'll see what happens with the album. I'm interested in seeing who buys it."
He doesn't feel like he's slowing down or aging.
"I actually feel like I'm in my 20s," he said.
For more information, visit donny.com/app.
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.