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last night i saw paul mccartney in concert…for the first time ever.   best concert i’ve EVER seen by far.

as i have said before, seeing paul mccarntey in concert has been a life long dream for me…a dream that i really didn’t think would ever happen.  like many things in my life that  i wanted so badly, it always seemed out of my reach.  that kind of happiness seemed meant for others for most of my life.   but i don’t believe that anymore and haven’t for a while…and that has made all the difference.

i have been thinking for a while how i could possibly put into words what his music and seeing him in concert means to me.  how do i put into words how he makes us feel?  what he has meant to so many of us our whole lives?  how, as many have said before, his music and the beatles music has been the soundtrack of our lives?

well, last night when he was singing, it came to me.  over and over again i just kept hearing the same phrase in my head…”he is the best of us”.  i don’t mean i think he is better then us…i surely don’t.  but he is the best of us.  he shows us what we are capable of.  for whatever reason, he was a conduit for the magic and truth that were the beatles.  i don’t mean to take away from his indescribable personal talents.  those are his…but the magic…that is ours…that is for all of us.  they just were willing to be a conduit for it and share it with us.

i have heard him talk about that magic.  i have heard him talk about what the music means to “us”…and i have never heard him down play it.  i think this has led some people to think he is full of himself over the years.  he certainly doesn’t seem full of himself to me.  he seems to know and honor what happened…what came through him, who he is to us…and for that, i’m very grateful.  how dismissive it would feel to hear him not honor the music of our lives or say “oh, it’s not that big of a deal” because whether you’re a beatle fan or not, it is certainly a big deal.

as i watched him last night, i felt like he was my elder…and well, he is technically…but i’m talking about more like family.  he has been there with us through so much.  sometimes leading the way with his words…giving us the words we couldn’t give ourselves…to name what is in all of us…what we strive for…hope, love, peace.

the whole concert last night felt like my life flashing before my eyes…and seeing it all in perspective.  and paul, well he was the guide…and i was thankful to have had him along the way.  not telling me which way to go necessarily, but putting words to it all.  he seems happy, light, peaceful.  he seemed joyful being able to still be a conduit for it all for us.  i felt like we had all gone through a long, sometimes painful ride together and had come out ok.  i felt like he was there saying “well that was really tough at times huh?  but we all made it here…now let’s celebrate what is still important together.”

he played so many unbelievable songs (almost 3 hours worth) and so many of them were so very important to me (pretty much all of them)…symbolizing different parts of my life, different experiences i’ve had.

when he played “the long and winding road” i sobbed, thinking about loss…remembering hearing that song on the radio years ago.  i had woken up at 2:00 am for some reason, turned on the radio and it was playing.  i listened to it and when it was over they said, as they had been all night, that john lennon died.  it was the first time i heard the news.  it was only a few months after my best friend ingrid died.  i remembered, at that age, feeling like the world was such a horrible place…so hopeless.  when he played “all my loving” i remembered being a young child listening to my beatles albums over and over again crying, yearning for something i needed but didn’t have in my life.  when he sang “maybe i’m amazed” someone near us proposed to their girlfriend and she accepted…the crowd around us cheered for them…it reminded me of when my husband proposed to me and new love…how wonderful it is…and how wonderful old love is too.   when he played “eleanor rigby” i remembered listening to that song in college and sharing my love of the beatles and music with other people who felt the same…how music can connect us so strongly.   when he sang “give peace a chance” i remembered what it feels like to believe in something even though some others might say it will never happen…and how i still believe.    when he sang “let it be” i remembered all the times in my life i’ve needed that message and how grateful i was to have gotten it.   when he sang “yesterday” i remembered singing it with my friend ingrid, days before she died, on her front lawn…two silly 12 year old girls singing at the top of our lungs laying in the grass and how after she died the words to that song would forever have a whole new meaning to me.    when he sang “hey jude” i thought about the impact that one person’s words can make when you really need them…i remembered the times in my life that a few words from someone who cared had made all the difference.   when he sang “live and let die” i remembered thinking…and probably yelling…”fuck yeah!”..how fun life can be…all the times i danced no matter who else was, laughed my very loud laugh no matter how many people always turn to look and experienced all the joy and fun there was to be had…no matter what.  when he sang “golden slumbers” i remembered being more alone then i can imagine a person feeling when i was a teen..walking in the street alone in the middle of the night having no where to go and no one to go to…completely alone in the world, not knowing how to care for myself, but having no other options.  i remembered singing that song to myself at that time in my life…i remembered the pain.   and when he sang “the end” i saw it all…all of it…the whole of my life up until this point.  i remembered thinking when i was younger that it had to be true, those words…that the love you take is equal to the love you make.  that things had to get better…that if i just kept trying and kept going…everything would be ok.  and as he sang that last night…i felt overwhelming joy and peace knowing that it really really is true.  and so grateful to him for reminding us…for being here all these years to tell us that…for his words which will live on forever…never letting any of us forget.

he is the best of us…

if you ever get the chance to see him…do it.

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i have wanted to see paul mccartney in concert since i was 4 or 5 years old. i am going to see him for the first time this sunday night at wrigley field with my friend diana…then on monday i’m going to go again with my husband and our two kids.  their first concert ever, paul mccartney…not bad.   i’m so happy we are able to take them.  i am over the moon excited about seeing him.   i am sure i will try to write a post about it afterwards, what it means to me…i’m not sure if i’ll be able to put it into words…but for now, i wanted to share some of paul mccartney’s words with you.

this is from the book “the right words at the right time”.   marlo thomas asked various people to “reach back into your life and search for that moment when words made all the difference”…then she put the responses in a book.   here is what paul mccartney wrote in answer to her request.

“I was going through a really difficult time around the autumn of 1968.  It was late in the Beatles’ career and we had begun making a new album, a follow-up to the white album.  As a group we were starting to have problems.   I think I was sensing that the Beatles were breaking up, so I was staying up too late at night, drinking, doing drugs, clubbing, the way a lot of people were at the time.   I was really living hard and playing hard.

The other guys were all living out in the country with their partners, but I was still a bachelor in london with my own house in St. John’s Wood.   And that was kind of at the back of my mind also, that maybe it was about time I found someone, because it was before I got together with Linda.

So, I was exhausted!   Some nights I’d go to bed and my head would just flop on the pillow; and when I’d wake up I’d have difficulty pulling it off, thinking, “good job I woke up just then or I might have suffocated.”

Then one night, somewhere between deep sleep and insomnia, I had the most comforting dream about my mother, who had died when I was only fourteen.   She had been a nurse, my mum, and very hardworking, because she wanted the best for us.   We weren’t a well-off family-we didn’t have a car, we just about had a television-so both of my parents went out to work, and Mum contributed a good half to the family income.   At night when she came home, she would cook, so we didn’t have a lot of time with each other.   But she was just a very comforting presence in my life.   And when she died, one of the difficulties I had, as the years went by, was that I couldn’t recall her face so easily.   That’s how it is for everyone, I think.   As each day goes by, you just can’t bring their faces into your mind; you have to use photographs and reminders like that.

So in this dream twelve years later, my mother appeared, and there was her face, completely clear, particularly her eyes; and she said to me very gently, very reassuringly, “Let it be.”

It was lovely.   I woke up with a great feeling.   It was really like she had visited me at this very difficult point in my life and gave me this message: be gentle, don’t fight things, just try and go with the flow and it will all work out.

So, being a musician, I went right over to the piano and started writing a song: “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me”….Mary was my mother’s name…”Speaking words of wisdom, let it be. There will be an answer, let it be.”   It didn’t take long.  I wrote the main body of it in one go, then the subsequent verses developed from there: “When all the broken-hearted people living in the world agree, there will be an answer, let it be.”

I thought it was special, so I played it to the guys and ’round a lot of people, and later it also became the title of the album, because it had so much value to me, and because it just seemed definitive, those three little syllables.   Plus, when something happens like that, as if by magic, I think it has a resonance that other people notice too.

Not very long after the dream, I got together with Linda, which was the saving of me.   And it was if my mum had sent her, you could almost say.   The song is also one of the first things Linda and I ever did together musically.   We went over to Abbey Road Studios one day, where the recording sessions were in place.   I lived nearby and often used to just drop in when I knew an engineer would be there and do little bits on my own.   And I just thought, “Oh, it would be good to try harmony on this.”   But I had a high harmony in mind, too high for me, and although Linda wasn’t a professional singer, I’d heard her sing around the house and knew she could hold a note and sing that high.   So she tried it, and it worked and it stayed on the record.   You can hear it to this day.

These days, the song has became almost like a hymn.    We sang it at Linda’s memorial service. and after September 11, the radio played it a lot, which made it the obvious choice for me to sing when I did the benefit concert in New York City.   Even before September 11, people used to lean out of cars and trucks and say, “Yo, Paul, let it be.”

So those words are really very special to me, because not only did my mum come to me in a dream and reassure me with them at a very difficult time in my life-and sure enough, things did get better after that-but also, in putting them into a song and recording it with the Beatles, it became a reassuring, healing statement for other people too.”

-Paul McCartney

“And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light, that shines on me, shine until tomorrow, let it be.”

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