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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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love wins…

my friend forwarded me an email this morning titled “The Happiest Gay Marriage Photo You will Ever See”.   here is the picture they are referring to:

and i would have to agree…that is the happiest gay marriage photo i have ever seen.  looking at these beautiful women expressing their joy made me tear up.  and i thought, that is the happiest marriage photo i have ever seen…period.  gay or not gay, i’ve never seen such joy in a marriage picture.

i could go on and on about how marriage is a right we all should have, how being gay is not immoral…in fact it’s a natural occurring human characteristic.  some of us are born blond, some of us are born brunette…some of us are born gay, some of us are born straight.  about how people should stop using jesus’ name…or anyone else’s…to spread such hatred and small minded ridiculousness.  about how none of us are better than the other of us.  about how we should all aspire to feel such love…the love we see in this picture above.  this is what some people are trying to stop…this joy…this love.  about how love will always eventually win….but instead, i’m just going to post this slideshow below and hope each and every one of you one day experiences what they are feeling.

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i never watch the news anymore, for a whole variety of reasons, the most prominent being that i don’t want to be exposed to the barrage of negativity.  but the night before last i fell asleep on the couch while i was watching something on tv, and woke up to the news of what happened in norway.

don’t get me wrong, i know when something “big” happens in the world.  someone will tell me and then i choose whether to read about it or not.  i usually choose not to.   i made a different choice yesterday and read all about the shooting…looked at pictures and obviously, it was horrifying.

as i took in all this information, i found myself feeling like i had been sheltering myself from a truth…the truth that people are really monsters.  this idea disturbed me.  i am not one to hide my head in the sand.  i have a positive outlook on life because it is what i truly believe, not because i am a pollyanna.  i feel i have come to the conclusions i have based on facts and my experiences, which at times have not been pretty.  still, the truth has remained the same for me…that people are inherently good.

but yesterday as i digested all this horror, i considered the fact that i just might be wrong about that.  that, in fact, people are horrible and will do atrocious things to one another.

then i came across this picture.

this is a picture of a passerby comforting a victim of the bombing in oslo.  one person comforting another.  a stranger who stopped to help.

from what i read, it seems that the authorities think the bombing and the shootings were carried out by one person…just one.  and i began to think about the contrast of one person, what one person can do…what one person is capable of.  one person.

it might be true that one person is responsible for these horrific acts.  if so, we can see that one person can kill many, many people in a short period of time.  one person can hurt so many…just one person…they can cause so much pain and hurt.

but conversely, what affect does just one person have “for good”?  we see one small example in the picture above of one person and what they choose to do with their power in the world…and often we don’t ever see the good that people do or the powerful effects that these acts have.

is the person who hurts more powerful then the person who helps?  i would argue no.  certainly violence, confusion and hatred are much louder forces, but they are temporary.  compassion, understanding and love are much stronger for that is who we truly are.

the horrific acts of violence go so much against our true nature, which is inherently good, that they have a huge impact on us.  they shock us into a distorted way of thinking.  i have been guilty of this distortion also.  i have been guilty of only looking at the horror that one person can do, vs. the healing another can do.

can one person do things that are so inhumane, that they are beyond comprehension to the rest of us?  yes.  but i will ask you…how many people don’t do such things?  if it’s true that one person is responsible for the attacks in norway, how many people didn’t kill people in norway the other day?  how many people ran to help those who were hurt after the attacks?  the ratio is really staggering if you think about it.

this can be said in pretty much any act of violence.  most of us are peaceful.  many more people run to help others vs. trying to hurt them.  it is our true nature to be peaceful..to reach out and support each other…to love…to connect.   sometimes in nature, including humans, things go wrong…we don’t get what we need, or we are born with a mental illness.  this leaves us confused and disconnected from our true nature.  but these few people who are lost and sick, they don’t represent the masses.  to extrapolate that on to the human race is quite illogical actually, but that doesn’t stop us from jumping to the incorrect conclusion that people are monsters when we see the horrors that someone is capable of.

when you think of what we all are capable of doing to each other, how much we can hurt each other, but almost none of us do…can’t you see how “good” we really are?  yes, i’m talking to you.

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i have had some significant losses in my life, as many of us do.  one of the most significant losses i experienced was when my best friend ingrid died.  we were both 12 years old.  she was hit by a car riding her bike to my house.  there is nothing that feels like that…when someone you love is here…with you, then gone…just gone.  completely disappears.  just writing about it here makes me feel like i was just punched in the gut…you can’t get enough air.  the shock, the panic, the searching.  some part of my brain kept looking for her…unable to get my mind around the fact that she was just gone.  period.  gone.

i read a short story a while ago written by an older man.  this man had been married to his wife for many years.  he loved her deeply.  they were, in so many ways, one.  then she died.  he writes of the grief…the indescribable pain.  he writes how one day, after her death, he found himself crawling around the living room floor, searching for strands of her hair that she might have left behind in the carpet…as if he found one of her hairs, he could have her back.  i’ll never forget that image.  this elderly man, desperately searching…crawling on the floor, trying to hold on to something that was gone…her physical presence.

i tell my kids that when someone dies, they are with us forever.  that what we shared with them, the love we shared, is real and always with us.  we are always connected to that and to them.  that they are in our hearts forever.  i think i started to tell my kids this because i wanted them to feel safe.  i can’t explain to them the bigger picture things i believe, so i simplified it to give them a sense of security.  but i think i have come to realize lately that this is really actually true.

i realized these last couple of years that i never really grieved over ingrid.  i feel i have done that..and in doing so have made room for the good memories.  i have been talking to people i went to high school about her…asking what they remember.  i have been emailing her mother and her brother.  it has been very healing for me, and i hope for them too.  there was always a space in my heart for her…it was just full of pain and hurt, so i didn’t look at it.  this past year i have looked at it and felt the pain,  and in doing so was able to let it go…and now that space is full of her…us…our connection.  memories of the times we shared…memories of what an amazing person she was, how she helped me so much.  she is with me always and i feel it now.  and that feels very good.

when we love someone, when we share something with someone that is real and meaningful, that creates something of it’s own…the energy of what you shared.  that energy will always be with us.  this is true in all cases of loss, whether the person died or they are alive but no longer part of your life.  feel the pain and it will create space to honor the “good” memories…the real and true things you shared.

i am not trying to negate the physical loss.  the person not being in your life anymore is real.  that is a real loss…the things you’ll never do with them again…the things you’ll never share with them again…the things you’ll never be able to tell them.  that is so very real, and so painful…but what is also real is what you shared…and that will be with you forever.

warren zevon wrote this song when he found out he was dying of lung cancer.  it’s the last song he ever recorded.  he was very ill at the time.  sing it for us warren you beautiful soul…

edit:here is a different video of warren zevon singing the same song.  this is from the documentary that was made while he recorded his last album, the wind.  he started writing and recording it after he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.  in the video you can see a number of the musicians who came to play on his album and say goodbye to him (jackson browne and bruce springsteen are two of them).  his daughter ariel and his son jordan are also in it.  he completed the album before he died.  after he died, his last album got him five grammy nominations.  he won two…the only grammies he ever won.   i have the dvd if anyone wants to watch it.  i think it’s brilliant. 

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