(I wrote the following eleven years ago this weekend. Eileen had just finished radiation therapy and spending Friday and Saturday night with Sir Paul was her coming out party as she liked saying.)
Late one night, a night that would soon change to early one morning, in the middle of November, 1963, I heard a song on my Dick Tracy transistor radio (a story for another time) that would change my life for ever. I heard it once around midnight and I couldn’t go to sleep until I heard it again. The song was I Want To Hold Your Hand by a group from England of all places.
Well, I wasn’t the only one who heard that song as the Beatles came roaring into our lives. You might say they saved our lives. I always thought that their first hit, my all time favorite song that I heard back on that November night in 1963 was exactly what the country needed just a few weeks after I first heard it.
In the Dark Days that followed when we were sucker punched by Lee Harvey Oswald we needed someone to hold our collective hands and the Beatles showed up just in the nick of time. The trouble was not everyone got the Beatles. Some ridiculed their look; others denied their harmony and musical talent. This was when I was introduced to the world that would become the 60’s and while it took a few years for it all to sink in, my worldview was altered forever.
All these emotions presented themselves to me last night as I sat in the upper deck of Yankee Stadium with my family. It was Eileen’s coming out party, as she liked to describe it. There I was, in the Bronx, where 48 years ago I heard I Want To Hold Your Hand back in my bed at 1261 Leland Avenue, waiting for Paul McCartney to take the stage. When he finally did I was overwhelmed. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Fortunately I did neither but I must have had a quizzical look on my face because Eileen kept asking me if I was alright.
So Paul or as I like to refer to him Sir Paul, just started singing around 8:30 and didn’t leave till around 11:20. Hello Goodbye; Eleanor Rigby; Jet; and perhaps the shocker of them all, A Day In A Life. I tried to take snippets of all the songs but every time he went to the piano I just knew he was going to sing Hey Jude. But, as luck would have it, that did not come till the end of the show and as I started my video that sick little twirling spiral indicating that my iPhone was shutting down appeared on my screen. Oh well, I’ll get it tonight at my second night with a Knight.
An Anglophile’s Delight
This has been some weekend. It began, as the best weekends often do, on Thursday night. Bryan and I went to see Deathly Hallows Part 2 and it was spectacular. It may not have included all of the back-stories we would have liked but it was terrific all the same. We certainly will be going back for another viewing.
I guess this desire for redundant experiences in English culture was again exhibited the following two nights as we set off to Yankee Stadium, not to see Derek Jeter add to his 3000 hits, but to hear the hits of another icon of Brit lit, Sir Paul, He’s still a Beatle, McCartney. Now some of you may not recognize the producer of self proclaimed silly love songs as nothing more than a rock icon. But Billy Shakespeare himself would have chucked his sonnets for the opportunity to hear Sir Paul sing A Day In A Life and Give Peace A Chance. Nor would you ever hear a Yankee Stadium crowd serenade the Bard as we did Sir Paul, recognizing him in the traditional Yankee Stadium Bleacher Creature Roll Call.
The show Friday evening was so spectacular and was matched by an equally spectacular show on Saturday that it will take several weeks for me to stop thinking about being 13 and listening to the Beatles on our Hi Fi back on Leland Avenue. Of course facing myself in the mirror while shaving should put an end to those time travels but only for a moment.