It was positively MINDBLOWING!
If you weren’t at least ten or eleven back in ’64 you’ve got no idea, you’ve got no concept of BEATLEMANIA!
And that’s what was in evidence this evening at possibly the world’s most famous record store. I mean I’m standing with Felice and Peter Paterno and you can hear WHISPERS! In the row behind us, it’s RINGO!
Yup, Ringofuckingstarr. With his cropped hair and sunglasses. Barbara Bach at his side. Smiling like he’s in the sequel of "A Hard Day’s Night".
And next to Ringo it’s Olivia Harrison. And next to her Barbara Orbison. And then Jeff Lynne. And, right behind them, leaning against the bin, was Joe Walsh. You see they remembered. When we all had short hair and loved to play baseball and suddenly "I Want To Hold Your Hand" came over the radio and our lives changed…FOREVER!
Why am I living in California?
Well, that’s because of Brian Wilson.
But why am I writing this shit, why are you reading it, because of the BEATLES!
In ONE DAY our lives changed…IRREVOCABLY! We all bought guitars, grew our hair and formed bands. We wanted IN! Math, the National Honor Society, WHO CARED! The most important thing was those black pieces of wax, containing a whole LIFE! And taking the stage was the cute one, the one all the girls fell for, who could sing sweet or yell like Little Richard. THAT guy was in Amoeba tonight, fewer than TWENTY FEET AWAY!
And, I’ll tell you, I’ll never be the same.
Oh, it wasn’t quite like seeing the Stones, we didn’t have to wait an hour and a half. But forty minutes after the anointed time, at ten after eight, Paul bounces on stage, looks right to Rusty and left to Brian and then as that lick embedded in our DNA starts to come out of the speakers, steps up to the mic and sings:
Ask the girl what she wanted to be
She said baby, can’t you see
I want to be famous, a star of the screen
But you can do something in between
He was playing DRIVE MY CAR!
He’s supposed to start off with one of the new numbers, or a classic blue chip, not the coolest track that wasn’t even ON the American version of RUBBER SOUL!
Every time I went to Marc Goloff’s house I played his English version of the album, just to hear that opening cut. It’s not exactly a secret, but it wasn’t one of the Capitol priorities, and now FORTY YEARS LATER PAUL McCARTNEY IS PLAYING IT RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!
It was like that SNL skit. You know, the parody of Oprah giving away Pontiacs, where people’s HEADS WERE EXPLODING! The girls were screaming, my jaw was dropped, it was the sixties all over again, it was BEATLEMANIA!
Oh, he played "I’ll Follow The Sun"! God, I can tell you exactly where I was, talking about "Beatles ’65" on Christmas Day 1964 in the lobby of Skylight Ski Lodge in Manchester, Vermont. Yup, our entire LIVES are Beatle memories. He picks a song, and a movie starts playing in your head.
And he’s playing them so naturally. He’s not missing a fucking NOTE in "Blackbird". He’s got that acoustic strung left. He’s moving his fingers on the fretboard. It was enough to make you cry, overcome with emotion, that what you’d dedicated your life to was worthwhile.
Yes, it was a religious experience.
And the banter! He told us not to shoplift the CDs, he interacted with the hecklers. He told stories. And he played like he MEANT IT, he was giving it his ALL!
All those gigs in Hamburg…you could see evidence, in Paul’s confidence, the way he manipulated the audience, the way he went off script and jammed if it felt good to HIM!
Yes, it was like being in the garage with the world’s best band. All of a sudden, just when you can’t pick out the song anymore, you realize they’re starting to JAM! Paul’s picking out notes on his Les Paul, he’s looking at the other players, it didn’t even matter that we were THERE!
But oh, we were.
My body tingles to think of the assembled multitude singing "Hey Jude". Oh, you might think you’ve heard it enough in YOUR lifetime, but the guy who wrote it, who sang it, when he’s banging it out on the keyboard, when you come to that endless coda, you can’t help but sing along, like you did in your car again and again and again, all summer long back in ’66. Oh, he’s even adding the fillips from the record…JUUDYJUUDYJUUDYJUUDY!
I’d forgotten to turn off my BlackBerry, it was buzzing in my pocket, but I didn’t want to even reach in to turn it off, I didn’t want to distract myself for ONE SECOND, I wanted to soak it all in, because at some point, this was going to END, and I’d be aching, just wanting more.
Not that Paul punched the clock on us. He played for an hour twenty five. INSANE! These private shows, hyping the new release, they’re twenty minutes at best, the players are going through the motions. But Paul was giving it his ALL!
Paul… That’s really him. With that baby face. That guy who made it all the way from Liverpool to worldwide fame. It must be tough to be Paul, everybody looking at you everywhere you go, but how can you do otherwise, it’s HIM!
He played "Lady Madonna". That was on a compilation album I remember seeing in a record shop on my first trip to Aspen in February 1970.
And he played "Let It Be". With Rusty nailing the guitar solo. With me thinking of Paul’s mother, and… We know the guy’s complete story, but do we know HIM?
He’s not edge-less. He got pissed at some girl for interrupting one of his stories. Oh, he didn’t lose his cool, it’s just that he wasn’t worried about the camera, his image, he’d earned the right to be HIMSELF!
What can I tell you, he played I’VE GOT A FEELING!!! And MATCHBOX, even talked about how Carl Perkins wrote it, laying down a little history for those who didn’t know the author of "Blue Suede Shoes" wasn’t a one hit wonder.
And, in the multiple song encore, he didn’t play "Yesterday", he surprised us with something better, something for us…
Jojo was a man who thought he was a loner
But he knew it couldn’t last
Jojo left his home in Tucson, Arizona
Bought some CALIFORNIA GRASS
The Friday night before "Let It Be" was released I was driving in my mother’s Country Squire to see Traffic’s reunion show at the Fillmore East and WNEW was playing the album from start to finish. The FM radio in my mother’s new car only played the left channel for some reason, so I leaned down to listen through the static, even though a girl I had a serious crush on was riding shotgun. Because, ultimately, people come and go, but we can count on the music, the music doesn’t disappoint us, we can depend on the Beatles.
Oh, by this time I already had my escape plan in motion, in my mind anyway. I was gonna leave the uptight, dreary east coast for CALIFORNIA! Where the girls wore bikinis, it never rained and it was about possibilities rather than limits.
And when Paul hits that line, the whole room ERUPTS! Because we know EVERY LINE! In everything from "I Saw Her Standing There" in the encore, to "C Moon" close to the beginning.
And it wasn’t like there was a wall between us. The connection, it was PALPABLE! He was our leader, he had us in the palm of his hand. He was taking us on a journey to the center of our minds, our best selves, when music was ENOUGH!
And I’m sure that every other person in Amoeba felt the exact same way. This wasn’t de rigueur, this wasn’t something you shrugged off, this touched your SOUL!
It was too good to be true.
I’m still pinching myself.