Jewish World Review April 29, 2002 / 17 Iyar, 5762
The crowd was almost as interesting as the former Beatle himself. The demographic ranged from McCartney's age down to about 40. A few younger people were scattered about, but this was primarily a crowd seeking a heavy dose of nostalgia.
Paul looks about 15 years younger than he is. He's had some face work, dyes his hair and is reed thin from a vegan diet. He also seems to enjoy his work, although he is straining to stay relevant. His new album is OK, but just that. The songs he played from it were met with polite applause but were the low points of the performance.
The high points were the Beatle songs like "Eleanor Rigby," "I Saw Her Standing There" and "All My Loving." The crowd went nuts. These are excellent tunes, but the folks were really savoring more than just music. They were celebrating their spent youth. That's what it was all about. Memories of the Beatles are indelible for many baby boomers, and the memories are fond and uplifting.
Following the lives of people who have had a dramatic effect on us is a very important part of life. Despite his vast wealth, Paul McCartney was powerless to save his wife Linda, who died of cancer. He has also lost his friends John Lennon and George Harrison. No matter how rich and famous one becomes, the tragedies of life still intrude.
I have always thought that after Lennon was murdered, the remaining Beatles made a mistake not putting together a concert tour in his memory. The happiness those performances would have brought to millions of people would have been staggering. McCartney, I think, knows this. He brought a zest to his concert and invested emotion in the old Beatle songs he played. Some of his lyrics are, well, pedestrian ("my love does it good"), but seeing him wail the classic "Can't Buy Me Love" was worth the hundreds I had to pay.
Some of the younger people in the audience were a bit stunned when 50-year-old guys started yelling, "Paul, Paul." Heads whipped around and embarrassed grins creased faces. But the yelling increased as McCartney trotted out his scores of hits. For a few moments, many in the audience had their own personal time machines escorting them back almost 40 years. Inhibitions were left in the car -- the remembrance of young love and adventure was in the air.
I often wonder if people like Paul McCartney, the late Elvis Presley and other musical icons have any idea what their music means to the people who follow them. Do these guys understand the joy that their personas provide? Do they understand that it's not just about their music but the histories of their audience as well? Do they know that music is the most personal form of entertainment because it is often consumed alone and can provide soothing relief to intense suffering?
Elvis probably never got that, but McCartney looked to me to at least grasp that the audience was there for more than just songs. He played for almost three hours and smiled throughout. The audience loved him because he seemed accessible and respectful of the old songs. No arrogant Rolling Stone-type sneering. No heavy eyelids or slurred words. McCartney was the way he was 40 years ago: Clean-cut and nice. No images were shattered.
Paul McCartney closed the concert with his classic song "Yesterday." That was no accident. He knows what his past means to millions of people of a certain age. The show was expertly filled with his melodies -- but what really made it special was the chord McCartney has struck in the lives of people who spent part of their youth singing his tunes. He and his mates made a difference in our lives. And we
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