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The Walrus Was Wrong; Paul is Alive and Well
August 25, 2014 - Diane Laney Fitzpatrick
I got to see The Cute Beatle in person and I feel like I had an out-of-body experience. I was lucky enough to be one of the people who managed to get into Candlestick Park for Paul McCartney's concert without an assault charge for threatening a parking attendant. And by "in person" I mean I saw what looked like a collectible on a stage far, far away, but I got to see him on a big screen.
If you had told me in 1964, when I first saw The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, that I'd be able to go to a concert and hear Paul McCartney sing the words "Close your eyes and I'll kiss you..." I would have said, Get outta town.
And as the years went on, and as The Beatles became more ingrained in my life, it seemed more and more unlikely that I would ever actually experience a fraction or faction of The Beatles.
In February 1964, I was 5 1/2 years old when I saw them on Ed Sullivan. The thing I remember most is how clean our living room was that Sunday night. I sat on the floor in front of our black-and-white Sylvania - the thing was as big as a smart car with an antenna on top - and I followed my older sisters' lead in being totally caught up in these four guys in matching suits that seemed two sizes too small. They could have been wearing feather boas and been missing limbs and I would have been OK with it.
The next day I wandered around the playground at recess replaying "She Loves You" and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" in my head. I can't exactly say why, at that age, I would have romanticized a TV appearance by a British rock band. All I can say is, a year later I developed a crush on a boy who we called Black Jacket. Falling for a first-grader who wore a black leather jacket on the playground can lead to a lifelong fascination with bad boys, and I blame The Beatles.
And thus began The Fab Four's bringing their baggage into my head. They moved right in and maintained residency through my elementary years, first dates, school dances, wedding band requests, jukebox selections, college and into adulthood. Long after the band had broken up, even after two of them died, they were still making themselves at home between my ears.
My older sisters and brother started buying Beatles albums right after we got our first stereo. This was before Apple Records. Two of our albums are Capital Records, and one is a German 45 that my sister Reenie's pen-pal sent to her with a note suggesting that she listen to this "new rock and roll band."
"Why Don't We Do It in the Road" was the song that my brother played, loudly, in the next room during my Girl Scout troop meeting, bringing my mother downstairs so fast - I think she took the first flight of stairs two at a time and may have slid down the bannister to the bottom - telling him to Turn. That. Off. The Girl Scouts were delighted. Mrs. Dubyak, my troop leader, not so much.
When Paul was reportedly dead - or as the album spun backwards said Pooolllllll iz deedddddd - it was "Glass Onion" that I listened to frontwards and backwards - literally. My friend Carol and I looked for clues in album covers, scrambled letters to song titles, and gleefully witnessed one of the first mass media conspiracy theories. And the only one involving bare feet, walruses, and unlit cigarettes.
It was "Let It Be" that I sang in high school choir, which ingrained in me forever the importance of over-e-nun-see-ay-ting when singing in a group, and learning the words. When the entire alto section mumbles, a great song is ruined forever for everyone in the audience.
I can, however, still recite all of the words to "Rocky Raccoon" due to a collicky baby that required that I perform entire vocal sets before he would fall asleep, in my arms in the rocking chair. I tried to work in themes as much as possible, for my own entertainment. Beatles' Nights were a favorite. You'd be surprised at what comes back to you when you're singing your heart out in a rocker with a baby that can only be comforted by the sound of his mama's voice.
While in London in 2006, I got to see some of the clubs where the Beatles played, Paul's office, daughter Stella's store, and the rooftop of Apple Records, where they played together last. Staring up at that rooftop, I could almost hear "Get Back." Or at least my older siblings' renditions.
At Sir Paul's recent concert, the old favorites really set off the old nostalg-o-meter. Some of the Wings songs surprised me by bringing back a lot of college memories and one ride home from a Cleveland Indians game in particular. I didn't even think I liked Wings. But when enough songs get attached to enough memorable moments, they can easily become favorites.
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Diane Laney Fitzpatrick is the author of Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves. Her Just Humor Me column runs here on her website at www.DianeLaneyFitzpatrick.com.
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