I’ve been wanting to do a piece on The Beatles for awhile now. Although this is about The Beatles This isn’t it. JS
Most people who know me know that I’m a huge Beatles fan, and an even bigger Lennon fan, have been forever. I grew up with the Beatles. I was twelve years old when they made their debut on the Ed Sullivan show in February of 1964 and have been a fan ever since. That’s over 50 years! Hard to believe I’ve been a Beatles fan 80% of my life! Yeah, yeah, yeah!
The Fab Four John, George, Ringo and Paul! Yeah I know you usually see them listed as John, Paul, George and Ringo, but I’ve long listed them in a descending order from best, to good, to okay, to Paul. I can hear the groans already, how the hell can I have Sir Paul McCartney in last position? The cries of all the lonely people ring out! He’s the best of the four mop tops, the cutest, the one who wrote Yesterday for God’s sake! How dare you rank him last!
Sorry, but I did dare! I haven’t liked Paul since around 1969 when he announced he was leaving the group. To me, he was worse than Yoko. His cocky, “I’m good and I know it” attitude bothered me. The cute, left-handed lad from Liverpool’s head had grown much too big for his own good. Filled with delusions of grandeur, he had become a legend in his own mind.
For over thirty five years I had an incredible dislike for Sir Paul often fueled by his flippant remarks or actions, like when he sued the remaining Beatles to legally dissolve the band or when he tried to change the writing credits on ‘Yesterday’ from Lennon/McCartney to McCartney/Lennon even though back in the early day he and Lennon had agreed on the Lennon/McCartney writing tag. After failing at that, he did change the credits of 19 Beatles songs listed on the playlist of his 2003 Back In The U.S. Tour to McCartney/Lennon, what an arrogant bastard! And what about his off the cuff response to reporters after John Lennon was murdered. Caught on camera the gum chomping McCartney simply looked into the lens and said rather coldly, “It’s a dr-a-a-g.” And that funky Wings 70’s haircut? What was up with that? Yeah, I really couldn’t stand the guy.
Then in November of 2005 we were invited to see Paul at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Believe me I had mixed feelings about attending. On the one hand, after all my anti-Paul sentiments I thought it would be hypocritical to attend, but then how could I possibly pass up an opportunity to see one of the two remaining Beatles! It would be sinful not to go. Besides what I’d always said was that I would never “pay” to see McCartney, I never said I wouldn’t go see him if I got free tickets! I went so far as to purchase a special tee-shirt to wear to the concert if I decided to attend. It featured a huge, color, likeness of John Lennon, a sort of in your face to McCartney fans. It just felt like the right thing to do.
Well we went to the concert and I wore my tee shirt proudly! McCartney put on one hell of a show! As much as I wanted to dislike it, I couldn’t, I thoroughly enjoyed it! His tribute to his two fallen brothers John and George, was both touching and heartfelt. I came away with a new found respect for Sir Paul. It didn’t make me forget my past feelings about him, but helped me understand them a little better. Being there made me realize that for a stellar moment in time McCartney was a part of the greatest rock band in the world. He was a Beatle and a damn good one. He was then, and is now an excellent musician and entertainer. I never imagined I would ever be saying those words about Paul but you can’t deny the truth. The man I believed to be the fool on the hill for all those years had become the king of the hill.
Since that time I’ve come to enjoy listening to McCartney’s other works and though I find much of his music to be too commercial and pop oriented for my taste, there are some real gems in the mix that allow his song writing abilities to shine, still I held on to the belief that he was capable of more.
Then I sat down and watched the Showtime Special “The Love We Make ” about McCartney’s experiences in New York after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The film chronicle Paul’s journey from Sept. 11, 2001, when his plane was grounded on a New York tarmac, through his planning for and performance at the “Concert for New York City” at Madison Square Garden in October. All done in an effort to help New York City and the rest of the nation begin the healing process after the 9/11 attack. The film is a tribute to those who lost their lives that fateful day and to all those who have suffered since.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching McCartney interacting with the people of New York and saw a side of him I never chanced to see before. I applaud Paul for the time and energy he put in to making the Concert for New York City a reality. It did in fact aid in the healing process. Music has tremendous healing power!
The concert itself was incredible! it was a virtual who’s who of classic rock, with friends of Paul like David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, Roger Daltry and Billy Joel, giving up their time to support the cause. Even former president Bill Clinton made a guest appearance backstage. That Paul was able to get them to come together for an event of this magnitude speaks volumes about the man.
The magic of the music was incredible and could be seen on the faces of all those in attendance, all of the police, fireman, and other public service employees who were at ground zero, working desperately to save lives, all the families of those who lost a loved one on 9/11 and of course all of those who survived the attack who will have to carry that weight a long time. They were truly touched by the concert and by Paul McCartney, there was something in the way he moved them.
And in the end, when Paul came on stage for the last time, acoustic guitar in hand and begin singing his stirring song “Freedom” their wasn’t a dry eye in the garden as everyone joined in. Truly awesome!
In a statement following the concert McCartney had this to say: “It was an honor to be able to help New York and America at that time in its history. There was a feeling of shock and fear in the air that I thought we could help alleviate with music. And the fact that so many people stepped up to join us made for a very uplifting evening for us all.”
McCartney you done good! I’m sure John and George would have been quite proud of their former band mate. I know I am. I definitely see Sir Paul McCartney in a whole new light. Kudos McCartney! Well done!
FREEDOM – Paul McCartney
This is my right, a right given by God
To live a free life, to live in Freedom
talkin’ about Freedom
I’m Talkin’ bout Freedom
I will fight, for the right
To live in Freedom
Anyone, who tries to take it away
Will have to answer, Cause this is my right
I’m talkin’ about Freedom
I’m Talkin’ bout Freedom
I will fight, for the right
To live in Freedom, yeah oh
Everybody talkin’ bout Freedom
We’re Talkin’ bout Freedom
We will fight, for the right
To live in freedom…