Last night’s Paul McCartney concert at Wrigley Field was more than entertaining and nostalgic. It was transforming.
With a crowd exceeding 30,000, the stands and field at the ivy-covered ballpark were rimmed with Wrigleyville rooftop parties and the twinkling lights of summer stars and Chicago’s stunning skyline.
About 8:30, it got even better when Sir Paul took the stage. But here I hesitate, wondering how to describe “That Boy” in a way that hasn’t been done hundreds of times. So I’ll just relay what seeing Paul in concert for the second time in my life means to me.
Before the music began, I turned to my husband and said, “Isn’t it amazing how many people love music. His music.”
He nodded. “I remember thinking that when I saw the video of the Beatles playing on the rooftop in New York. For a few minutes they were just four guys standing on a roof. Then they started playing music and the whole place was transformed.”
And so it happened again last night when Paul appeared on stage in a red suit jacket, Beatle-skinny black pants, and a white long-sleeved shirt with suspenders. It wasn’t long before he shed the jacket, rolled-up the cuffs of his white shirt, and sent all the females in the audience into 1960s reminiscent giddiness. Guys in white shirts have always done it for me but Paul McCartney in one was heart-stopping. Honestly, at age 69, he is still absolutely, breathtakingly handsome. Same adorable smile, puppy-dog eyes, and shaggy hair, although it’s obviously dyed and a bit thinner.
We were seated in the grandstands, just beneath the overhang of the upper deck. To say it was hot last night is an understatement. Sweat ran down my back all night but it was utterly worth it.
During one lull in the music I turned to my husband and said, “My dad wouldn’t know what to say if he saw this. He absolutely hated the Beatles. He blamed them for all the turmoil of the 60s. Told me their music would never last.”
Hard to imagine, looking at the sea of raised cell phone cameras glowing in the summer night that anyone would doubt the lasting quality of this music. But then I don’t think my father understood the transforming quality of The Beatles. For him, music was for dancing, not for stadium-busting performance. Songs, for my father, weren’t meant to be screamed in unison. They didn’t have silly, repetitive lyrics like, "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da." I am convinced if my father had been watching the concert last night, hearing more than 30,000 people singing their hearts out, he would have thought the world had gone mad.
Which is another thing that seeing Paul McCartney did for me last night. It made me revel in the memories of my youth. It made me proud to have been part of a generation who watched the phenomenon of The Beatles first hand. Grateful, that we were the generation that made a break with the previous generation through music that was uniquely ours. But last night I was joyfully aware it wasn’t just ours anymore.
“I wonder if today’s kids actually like this music,” my husband said at one point.
I pointed to a young woman in front of us. Clearly in her late 30s or early 40s, she was dancing and singing at the top of her lungs. Next to her were three boys, doing the same. One boy was about 12, the other two around 8.
“That answer your question?” I replied, smiling.
As I predicted, Paul came back for his first encore to sing one of my favorite songs of all time, “Yesterday.” Hearing him sing it, at age 69, made me painfully aware of the passing of time. I couldn’t help but think of John, George, and Linda, the people who were no longer in his life. And of the people who were no longer in mine.
Paul wasn't alone last night, though. We all sang “Yesterday” with him. It was a moving example of the transforming nature of the music he helped create. Hearing his clear, beautiful voice brought back a bittersweet rush of memories that reminded me how old I had become.
And how young I still am.