Paul McCartney – you know, the Beatle – brought his “On The Road” tour to Texas, and I was there to witness it from section 330, row 4, seat 13 with my dad – the man who introduced me to the Fab Four.
Donning a blue jacket and pants with a stripe that matched it, Sir Paul kicked off the show with the psychedelic “Magic Mystery Tour” and by the third song, “All My Loving,” I was already struggling to contain the tears.
Why, you ask, was someone born 20 years after the Beatles disbanded so excited for a 70-year-old man to sing? 1) Because he’s Paul McCartney. 2). Because every road trip I ever took with my family included hours of Beatles sing-a-longs followed by pop quizzes about song titles. 3) Because he’s Paul Friggin McCartney. He’s a living, breathing, walking, singing historical landmark. He might as well be Elvis. And he was BFFs with John Lennon. Enough said.
Once I accepted that this was, in fact, real life and composed myself, I got to shoulder shimmying, head bopping and air drumming to “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Band On The Run,” “The Long And Winding Road” (with my added air piano-ing), “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Jet,” “Dance Tonight” and many more.
Then there was story time with Paul. He told one about watching Jimi Hendrix do a Beatles tribute days after the release of Sgt. Pepper, half of which I missed because my brain was still processing the fact that Paul McCartney was telling a story about Jimi Hendrix, but there was something about Hendrix learning the title track in a couple days and asking Eric (Clapton?) in the crowd to tune his guitar after untuning it with his frequent use of the whammy bar.
He described watching the civil rights movement unfold and feeling inspired to write a song about hope in “Blackbird.” And then, in separate instances, mentioned two people who need no last name – John and George. He dedicated “Here Today” to his “dear friend” John Lennon and then brought out a ukelele to perform George Harrison’s “Something,” laughing as he recalled the time Frank Sinatra called it his favorite Lennon-McCartney song.
He even got Texans to find their inner hippies and sing Lennon’s “Give Peace A Chance” after treating me (okay, us) to “A Day In The Life.”
Before I knew it, McCartney was at the piano serenading us with “Let It Be,” lulling us into a false sense of security before blowing up the stage (not literally, though it kinda looked like it) with fireworks during “Live And Let Die.”
I would have loved to have seen/heard “All You Need Is Love” and “I Saw Her Standing There,” but any slight complaint I may have had was eliminated as soon as I got the chance to “na na na na” along with Paul and the crowd during “Hey Jude.” It didn’t matter that I had to pay $40 for parking or that everybody in my row seemed to have to go to the bathroom or get concessions every other song or that David Petraeus had an affair. All I know is that I got my “na na na nas” in and it was glorious.
But it didn’t end there. Oh no. This is Paul McCartney. He doesn’t come out for just one encore, he does two. You really wanted to hear “Yesterday,” Lady Madonna,” “Get Back,” “Day Tripper,” “Golden Slumbers” and “Helter Skelter”? Bam. They’re in the encores.
Knowing there was no way we were leaving unless he made it it very clear it was over, he segued into “The End,” sending us all home with the ultimate McCartney message: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
That is how Paul McCartney took my arena concert V-card on Nov. 14, 2012 around 8:50 p.m. CST. He didn’t stop until nearly midnight. And there were no maybes about how amazed I was.