Tuesday, August 2, 2011

And I Love Him

         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. 


Laura Vasilion said...

Via e-mail from R.Hoover --

This gave me chills -- still giving me chills as I write this, Laura! You captured it beautifully. I'm going to forward this on to my friend who went with me.

Laura Vasilion said...

Via e-mail from F.Pepitone

I always loved Paul too and loved the blog you wrote…brings back so many memorie

Claire said...

You are a beautiful writer, Laura! This made me cry and gave me goosebumps at the same time. Bill and I were also there sweating and wondering who else we would know in that sea of people!!! If we had only known! Thanks for your perfect summary of an intoxicating evening!

Laura Vasilion said...

Thanks for your kind and generous comments, Claire. I wish I'd known you both were there too! An evening I'll never forget.

Laura Vasilion said...

From S. Jelm via e-mail

Hi Laura,

Loved your essay about being at the concert! I could feel the energy!

Laura Vasilion said...

From Kathleen McCutcheon Wedin via Facebook.

Kathleen wrote: "Beautiful, Laura!! I remember a Sunday night long ago. Our family was out for dinner and we had to rush home so the "kids" could watch the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show. I clearly recall my dad saying "damn long hair---they all need a haircut." I think he felt the same way your dad did!"

Laura Vasilion said...

From Karen Pawluck, via Facebook.

Karen said --

He is totally the best. I so enjoyed your blog. Loved it!

Laura Vasilion said...

From Chris Moore via Facbook

Chris said --

Chris Moore
Laura, Tried to leave you a note in the blog but don't think I succeeded. Another beautiful story. Sounds like a great concert even though it was about the "cute" Beatle. No doubt Paul is a great performer. I met John Lennon at a NYC bar back in 1980. I happen to have been carrying a book of Shakespeare's sonnets and John read one aloud. I was at the same bar on 79th Street the night John was shot outside of his apartment house on 72nd Street. When the Beatles arrived in the U.S. back in 1964? my 7th grade music teacher said, "This is a fad. The Beatles will never last." Many thanks for your report.

Anonymous said...

Awesome writing Laura! Made me feel like I was there again. I've bookmarked this site, thanks again!

Laura Vasilion said...

To Stud Muffin -- Thanks for the read!

Laura Vasilion said...

From C. Marsh via Blogspot.com

Awesome sis. Brought tears to my eyes as I was reminded of how you and Paul helped mold my love for The Beatles. Although, did I really have a choice sharing a bedroom with my big sister?

John said...

Nicely done, Laura. Based on your photo of the stage, I know that I was roughly 20 rows behind you. I'm 54 and have seen a lot of shows but none better than this - besides the thrill of seeing Paul live, it was just a fantastic show. He started at 8:30 and ended at 11:20, with no breaks! A couple of thoughts for you - 1) I think he turned 69 a couple of weeks ago, and 2) my friend and I estimated about 45,000 people, maybe more. Wrigley seats 41,600 and while there were a few small areas blocked off, they had a lot of people on the field. I don't know - I would love to know the attendance. There were a bunch of 20-somethings around us and at the end, one kid with a big beard, bandana and tie-dyed shirt threw up his arms and gave me a big bear hug. Total strangers sharing a big hug. I think Paul would have loved that...

Laura Vasilion said...

Thanks for your comments, John!

Laura Vasilion said...

From a. Burnham via e-mail

Your last two blog entries about your man, Paul, have been very touching. I was teary eyed reading the last one about the actual experience at the concert, and I truly felt like I was there with you. Thank you for capturing an important moment in your life with all of us. You really are a talented writer!

Laura Vasilion said...

From Kim Ruppenthal - via e-mail
11:00am Aug 7
Laura that was a great blog definitely touching when you talked about Yesterday I miss alot of people also. Very well written