By Joe Hobby
There’s no denying that music packs a powerful emotional punch. If you listen to the theme from Rocky or Rudy and don’t get inspired to do something, check your heart to see if you have one. I can’t hear “Taps” played without feeling a sense of loss. And if you’ve ever listened to Hank Williams belt out “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” after a break-up, you just thought you felt bad.
That’s why I shouldn’t have been surprised. There, in front of 22,000 people, the first song of the concert brought tears to my eyes.
Of course, this was not some b-list entertainer. It would take more than that to turn my waterworks on. It was Paul McCartney – that’s SIR Paul McCartney, former Beatle and cultural icon. I was at a personal bucket list event. Sir Paul’s music has accompanied me all through my life. And when he walked on stage and began his 2 1/2 hour journey by belting out “Can’t Buy Me, Love,” I cried. I’m not ashamed to say it. They were tears of joy and remembrance.
I associate so many memories with Paul McCartney’s songs. I grew up with the Beatles. I had my first kiss while songs like “I Want To Hold Your Hand” were on the radio. I remember talking about their Ed Sullivan Show appearance on our elementary school playground and how they shook their hair every time they sang, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, Woo!” It was nothing like we had ever seen. Soon, kids with understanding parents were getting their hair cut in the mop-top style.
It’s hard for people under 40 to understand that the only way for us to see the Beatles back then was their limited appearances on network television. So to get info on Paul and his mates, we had to buy magazines like Teen or Tiger Beat or the Disc jockey on the AM radio. No, not FM; it wasn’t a thing yet.
And the albums. I would buy them and play them over and over on the tiny stereo we had at home. Sometimes when I didn’t have the money, I bought 45s, also known as singles. Beatles 45’s were always a good buy because you knew the songs on both sides were great. (millennials, go ask one of your elders what a 45 is).
While I was in high school, their music changed – it didn’t matter; we loved it too. I recall our home room page for my junior yearbook was a parody of Sergeant Pepper’s album cover. I’m still proud to say I drew it. So when Paul sang “Getting Better” and For “The Benefit of Mr. Kite,” it brought back adolescent memories that clearly cut thru the mists of time.
His songs help us raise our kids. I sang “Blackbird” to all three of my boys while rocking them to sleep. And “Birthday” on their birthdays. How can I not get tears in my eyes listening to Paul to sing them?
Paul’s music brings everybody together. The two couples seated behind us may not have been 40 years old, but they were singing every word to every song. I sang right along with them. His tunes are timeless.
I was a bit surprised by the prices at the venue, although I shouldn’t have been when you considered what I paid for the tickets. I’m not going to say how much I shelled out, but I did inform my pastor that I would not be making my tithe for the next three months. My wife said I was robbing Jesus to pay Paul (just a joke, folks). And to me, $50 for a T-shirt still seems a bit high, even today. But a word of advice: go ahead and spend the money to get the good T-shirts. I remember going to a Rolling Stones concert several years ago. At that time, T-shirts were selling for the outrageous price of $25. Each of my three boys wanted one, so that was $75! There was no way I was paying that. So I found a vendor outside the stadium selling comparable T-shirts for seven bucks each. That was a much better deal, I thought. The prices were so good because whoever printed them put the Stone’s logo on crooked. So, when my children wore these to school, they had to hold one shoulder higher than the other. They looked like three little Quasimodos. Lesson learned – go ahead and buy the good shirts.
Paul could’ve made this a money grab. Sing a few Beatles songs, throw in a couple from Wings, and cash a big check. That’s not what happened. Paul has to perform. His heart was in it. Early in the concert, he stopped, looked around, and said, I just want a moment to “just drink it all in.” I understood exactly what he meant. Me too, Paul. Me too.
It wasn’t just a Day In Life for me. Despite the cost and crowds, I’d do it again tomorrow. This wasn’t about money; it’s about memories – the ones I recall from long ago and the ones I’m making now.
Will this be his last go-round? I don’t know. After all, he did just turn 80. Maybe I’m amazed, but Paul McCartney’s music always seems to be getting better. I hope to see him again. And honestly, I don’t think this concert will be The End – I’ve Got a Feeling he’ll Get Back. He was Something.
Find more of Joe’s stories on his blog: https://mylifeasahobby.blogspot.com/?m=1. Also, follow him on Facebook at Joe Hobby Comedian- Writer.