Nashville’s Lightning 100 dubbed July 26 “McCartney Monday,” and the mid-day DJ filled the lunch hour with all Paul McCartney, all live versions, all by request. I stopped my car and texted the request email when I heard this, then sat in my car in front of the restaurant where I was meeting a friend, hoping to hear my request. When “Helter Skelter” came up third (after “Venus and Mars Rock Show” and “The Long and Winding Road”), I danced in my seat and celebrated my song being played. I felt like a teenager who finally got to tape her new favorite song from the airwaves.
And that’s how I felt throughout the Paul McCartney concert that night. That’s the power of The Beatles’ music: It brings out that pure, simple love of a good song. There’s plenty to digest, lyrics to think through, guitar solos to pick apart. But it’s also just good music in a way that even a child with a penchant for Top 40 can recognize.
Paul seemed to enjoy the music as much as the thousands of fans gathered for his first-ever Nashville show. He and his band calmly, quietly walked on stage, but they immediately kicked up the rock with “Venus and Mars Rock Show.” Several songs in, Paul said he wanted a minute to take it all in. He slung his Hofner over his shoulder, stepped away from the mic and gazed out into the crowd as we went wild. Paul McCartney was taking us in.
The mood remained exuberant as Paul and the band switched from Beatles tunes to Wings songs to his solo material. The set was carefullly paced, with an interlude of quieter, piano-based songs (“The Long and Winding Road,” for one) followed shortly by tributes to John Lennon and George Harrison. As Paul played “Something” on the ukelele, the band returned to stage and kicked in, a moment so overwhelming it brought tears to my eyes.
There were several moments that brought me near to crying: “Blackbird” and his brief discussion of the American Civil Rights movement. The crowd sing-along during “Hey Jude.” (How cool to say that, for one night, my voice joined Paul McCartney’s!) When he spotted a fan whose sign asked him to sign the tattoo of his Hofner on her back, then brought the crying, shaking woman on stage to do just that, I wanted to cry and hug her.
There was also a lot of laughter. The screen behind the song showed Beatles Rock Band footage during “Got to Get You Into My Life.” Paul is still a showman, posing for the thousands of cameras every several minutes. When he flashed a thumbs up or winked, you could see the same boy doing that 40 years ago. He brought a young Mexican fan on stage for “Get Back.” The boy didn’t speak much English, but he sang it–and had no problem shaking his tush to the beat. I couldn’t help but laugh during the pyrotechnics of “Live and Let Die,” (I could feel the heat from the nosebleeds!) and my cheeks hurt from smiling (while I shook my own little tush) during “Helter Skelter.”
But the best, most overwhelming moment of all was the show’s conclusion. The band segued from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)” into “The End,” with Paul changing several of the “love you”s to “we really love you.” It was a celebratory cap on a special night. And as they shredded those guitars and the awesome graphics from the conclusion of Beatles Rock Band played, I literally went weak in the knees. There was one of my favorite musicians–the one who I wanted to see more than anyone alive, and who could only be topped by the band that made him famous–playing one of my favorite songs, a song that makes me stop and take it in even when listening to a mere recording, from one of my favorite albums of all time. There, in the room with me. I’ve only known and loved these songs, from the band that revolutionized music, for three years. How lucky am I to have a lifetime ahead with them?
- Venus and Mars Rock Show
- All My Loving
- Letting Go
- Got to Get You Into My Life
- Let Me Roll It
- Long and Winding Road
- Let ‘Em In
- My Love
- I’m Looking Through You/Tequila
- Two of Us
- Here Today
- Dance Tonight
- Mrs. Vanderbilt
- Eleanor Rigby
- Ram On
- Sing the Changes
- Band on the Run
- Obladi, Oblada
- Back in the USSR
- I Got A Feeling
- Paperback Writer
- A Day in the Life/Give Peace a Chance
- Let It Be
- Live and Let Die
- Hey Jude
- Day Tripper
- Lady Madonna
- Get Back
- Helter Skelter
- Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)
- The End
My life with The Beatles:
“It’s so hard to reason with you,” a tribute to “Please Please Me” and enduring Beatlemania
“All we are saying is give peace a chance,” or how the Beatles saved my friendship with Adam
“It’s a thousand pages, give or take a few,” and several hundred of them are about the Beatles
“I’m writing you to catch you up on places I’ve been,” in which the Beatles make the drive to New Orleans oh-so-much more bearable
“How do I feel by the end of the day?”–better with the Beatles.
“The more I think about it, the more I know it’s true” that the Beatles make me happy.