Jewish World Review April 29, 2002 / 17 Iyar, 5762

Bill O'Reilly

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'Paul, Paul, Paul!' | The musical genius Paul McCartney played Las Vegas the other night, and your humble correspondent was in attendance. Many greenbacks left my possession to make this happen, but it was worth it. McCartney will be 60 years old soon, and his touring days are definitely numbered. So catch him while you can.

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 remember.

JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of the new book, "The No-Spin Zone: Confrontations with the Powerful and Famous in America" Comments by clicking here.


04/22/02: Barbarians in the Church
04/15/02: Pray for peace, polish the weapons
03/11/02: Do no harm? Time to spank "Dr. Phil"
03/04/02: Promoting the general welfare
02/25/02: Who's responsible?
02/19/02: Lay it on them
02/11/02: Buy dope, fund terror
02/04/02: Back room deals
01/28/02: From boom to bust
01/21/02: The Fairness Doctrine
01/14/02: Hey, Paula, take it to the bank and hush up
01/07/02: And justice for none
12/31/01: All that's left
12/24/01: Santa is appalled
12/17/01: Fight the power
12/10/01: The black challenge
12/03/01: How things have changed
11/26/01: Waiting in the Bushes
11/19/01: The sign of the Cross
11/09/01: Hollyweird strikes back
11/06/01: The fear factor
10/26/01: Show me the money
10/22/01: See no evil
10/15/01: Peace, but no quiet
10/08/01: The air war
10/01/01: I don't understand
09/24/01: We are all soldiers, and we have a job to do
09/14/01: Evil on display
09/11/01: Family matters!
09/04/01: End of summer blues
08/27/01: Summertime -- and the livin' ain't easy
08/20/01: The rap on rap
08/13/01: The truth hurts
08/06/01: Amnesty for illegals: Bush's political investment
07/30/01: The big picture on Condit-Levy
07/24/01: Silence of the Shams
07/16/01: Condit, Kennedy and cable news
07/09/01: Heather needs a childhood: The unnecessary loss of innocence
07/02/01: What would have happened if Steven Spielberg had recut "Schindler's List" for German audiences so they wouldn't be confronted with "emotional issues"?
06/25/01: Freak dancing
06/18/01: Work or die
06/11/01: Soundbite nation
06/04/01: Paying through the nose
05/29/01: Graduation Day 2001
05/21/01: Accepting the unacceptable
05/14/01: The Clinton legacy
05/07/01: Kerrey's ordeal
04/27/01: Is the party over?
04/20/01: Racism in public education
04/16/01: The fleecing of America
04/10/01: People who need perspective
04/03/01: Dubya's bottom line --- and ours
03/27/01: Don't tell, don't ask
03/20/01: Greenspan with envy
03/13/01: Clinton and Jackson
03/07/01: All that's left in America
02/27/01: The Letterman experience
02/20/01: Bread and circuses
02/06/01: How the Clintons do it
01/30/01: The Bush dilemma
01/24/01: I have been investigating Jackson's finances for the past two years
01/17/01: Sifting Ashcroft's record

© 2001 Creators Syndicate