Tag Archives: Paul McCartney

Happy Trails, Part 91

This segment of the “Happy Trails” series perhaps offers you a clue as to what it’s all about. I’ll tell you anyway. I get asked occasionally about retirement and if we have any “bucket list” destinations we want to see before we, um, kick it.

I’ll speak only for myself on this one, because of the two of us — that would be wife and me — I am the one who is most interested in doing a Beatles tour of England.

I know a couple in Amarillo who have done this kind of tour. Mike and Kathy Haynes took a tour of England years ago to visit the places where four young men came of age, got their musical start and eventually changed popular culture … forever and ever!

You know their names: John, Paul, Ringo and George (from left to right in the picture).

When I get asked the bucket list question, I usually say something like going to Australia, which has fascinated me since I was a little boy and my Dad pondered whether to pursue a career opportunity Down Under.

I keep forgetting to mention a tour of The Beatles’ home country! What is the matter with me?

A New York Times article, which one of my sons posted on Twitter — noting that “my dad would love this” — tells how Liz and Ricky Robbins did what my friends Mike and Kathy did.

Read the NY Times piece here.

Hey, I still mourn the deaths of John Lennon and George Harrison. I am proud that the Queen knighted Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Richard (Ringo Starr) Starkey.

I still know most of the words to most of the songs The Beatles recorded. Yes, even some of the more obscure tunes. I do quite well answering Beatles questions on “Jeopardy!”

I actually got caught up in that nonsense about Paul being “dead” in 1969. However, I my wife and I were able to see a very much alive Sir Paul perform in The Astrodome in 1993 and we saw Ringo’s “All-Starr Band” show at the Cal Farley Coliseum in Amarillo some years after that.

One more thing: The very first rock ‘n roll concert I ever attended was in August 1965, in my hometown of Portland, Ore., happened to be The Beatles. Mom scored two front-row-center seats for my sister and me.

There you have it. This is my ultimate “bucket list” destination in retirement. I have no worries that I’ll outlive worldwide interest in The Beatles.

I just need to get there. Sooner, rather than later. As I’ve noted many times over the years: Those four lads helped raise me.

Ladies and gentlemen, Sir Ringo, er … Richard

This is some problem to encounter from this day forward.

How does one refer to Ringo Starr, who’s now a knight? You see, The Beatles’ drummer used his real name, Richard Starkey, to receive his knighthood from the British crown.

But to those of us who came of age when Ringo and his bandmates — John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney — were blazing new popular culture trails, he was just Ringo. The goofy Beatle. The shortest one of the four of them. The guy who was cute in a homely sort of way; I mean, the girls seemed to scream more loudly for Ringo than for the other lads. Do I remember that correctly?

Sir Paul McCartney was knighted in 1997. The honor didn’t come to John and George, who died in 1980 and 2001, respectively. To my knowledge, the Brits don’t bestow knighthoods posthumously — which I consider to be a shame.

Still, Sir Ringo, I mean, Sir Richard, has joined Sir Paul among the United Kingdom’s most exalted citizens.

OK, I am not one of Her Majesty the Queen’s subjects. Still, to me Sir Richard will always be just plain Ringo.

What? Ringo turns Double-7?

Ringo Starr has become a metaphor for my old age.

Oh, where has the time gone? You know who this guy is, right? He came into the world with the name Richard Starkey. He grew up in Liverpool, England. He played the drums a bit. Then he joined this band that had just fired its original drummer. They needed someone new to play the sticks for them.

John, Paul and George hired Ringo and, well, as they say: the rest is history.

He was the oldest of his new bandmates by just a few months; he was born July 7, 1940, just ahead of John Lennon, who was born Oct. 9 of that year.

Ringo’s musical imprint — along with that of John, George Harrison and Paul McCartney — became the signature not just for my generation, but for others that have come along since then.

But … not for everyone.

A couple of years ago, when Ringo was turning 75 — which is one of those landmark birthdays — I approached a colleague of mine at the business where I worked part time. I mentioned to her — suffice to say she is a good bit younger than yours truly, let alone Ringo — that it was Ringo’s 75th birthday. Isn’t that cool?

She gave me a blank stare and, as the Good Lord is my solemn witness, she said: Who’s Ringo Starr?

I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the ground. I also am pretty certain that my eyes damn near flew out of my head. How in the name of all that is holy and sacred does this young woman not know anything about Ringo Starr, one-fourth of the band that shaped her parents’ generation?

“Why, I never,” I answered my friend. “Don’t you know that this guy helped raise me?” And he did, too — right along with those three other guys.

If only Ringo would see this blog and know that in that one fleeting instant I had his back. The old drummer is about to turn 77. I hope my former colleague has learned just a little something about this living legend.

She just has to ask her parents.

Sir George: the real ‘Fifth Beatle’

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I recall late during The Beatles’ run as the greatest pop/rock band in history that the late Billy Preston was called at times the “Fifth Beatle.”

He played keyboards on some Beatles’ hits, such as “Get Back.” You can see him in that famous rooftop concert.

Sir George Martin dies at 90

The actual Fifth Beatle, though, was a man who was much older than the Liverpool Lads. Sir George Martin produced and arranged countless Beatles’ hits. He guided the band to the top of the music world.

Martin taught musicality to The Beatles. He was their creative genius.

Sir George died this week at the age of 90.

You can say all you dare to say about The Beatles as personalities and their individual contributions to the music world. Yes, they all contributed greatly. They recorded songs that still stand today — five decades later.

Check out some of the videos of Sir Paul McCartney singing Beatles’ classics to contemporary audiences today. You’ll see teenagers whose parents might not have been born yet when The Beatles were at the height of their careers singing along … word for bloody word!

Who made that possible?

The Fifth Beatle. Sir George Martin.

R.I.P., Sir George. Thanks for helping me come of age.

 

Sir Paul … who?

Some things simply defy description. They tax one’s ability to reason things out.

Take the case of an “unknown artist” who made a record with Kanye West, the hip-hop star, husband of Kim Kardashian and the guy who burst onto the national scene a few years ago when he sought to upstage Taylor Swift the moment she won a Grammy award.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/bemused-kanye-west-fans-ask-4919529

Kanye West released a song with a guy named Paul McCartney, who’s been a pretty good singer/musician/songwriter over, oh, about the past 50 years.

West’s fans took to Twitter to proclaim that they’d never heard of McCartney, who at one time was one-fourth of the world’s greatest rock and roll band, The Beatles. He teamed with another pretty good musician, the late John Lennon, to write music that defined a generation … maybe two or three generations.

Maybe it’s a cultural thing. West’s fans are, well, pretty young. They might not expose themselves to music beyond the kind of music that West produces. Perhaps they haven’t heard about The Beatles from, let’s see, their parents or grandparents.

Or perhaps this is all a big joke, a put-on, kind of like those “Paul is dead” rumors that enveloped the planet back in 1969.

Well, whatever. I’m certain Sir Paul isn’t terribly worried about his standing in the world of music entertainment. Indeed, those unknowing Kanye West fans are aware now of Sir Paul’s influence.

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For those who still might not know who Paul McCartney is, consider this: Paul put on a concert about five years ago in Red Square, in Moscow. His encore song was “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” which he recorded in 1968 with The Beatles. As Paul lit into the rocking number, teenagers in the Red Square crowd were singing the song with Paul — in English, knowing every word of a tune recorded decades before any of them were born.

Kanye West no doubt hopes his songs will have that kind of lasting power.

 

John Lennon helped raise a generation

Allow me this admission: I was one of relatively few Americans who did not hear the tragic news on this day 34 years ago from Howard Cosell during a “Monday Night Football” telecast.

Nope, I heard it on NBC News, which cut into one of its programs to tell me that John Lennon had been shot to death outside his New York apartment.

How does one describe the feeling of hearing such news? I cannot recall precisely how I felt. It might be that shock set in and with it a form of amnesia.

Time magazine’s cover the next week had the headline “When the Music Died.” And for me, it truly did die that night in front of the Dakota Building, where John lived with his wife, Yoko, and their young son, Sean.

I’ve said it many times over many years to many people: John Lennon and the fellows with whom he played some damn good music, The Beatles, helped raise me. Indeed, music was one of the defining characteristics of the period when millions of us came of age. It was in the 1960s. OK, maybe it was music and war — two curiously juxtaposed features of a time of profound change in this country.

John’s music will stand forever, as will the music he made with Paul, George and Ringo. It was difficult back then to explain this phenomenon to our parents. My own mother and father didn’t quite get it, although Mom later would appreciate The Beatles’ music performed by, say, a symphonic orchestra. Dad? He was a “big band” guy all the way.

The really cool and enduring part of that era’s music — exemplified by The Beatles — is that it’s easier now to explain to the generations that have come along in the years since that time. My own sons get it. It just knocks me out to see teenagers traipsing around Amarillo wearing shirts with “The Beatles” emblazoned on them, or with pictures of The Boys.

All of that — not to mention his active commitment to world peace — must be John Lennon’s enduring legacy to this very day.

I still miss him.

 

 

 

Their music lives forever

A young friend and colleague has just provided me with one more Grade A example of how I know that The Beatles’ music will live forever.

His name is Travis. He’s 23 years of age and works as a service writer at the Toyota dealership where we work. This morning he walked up to me and started a conversation this way:

“Don’t hit me when I tell you this,” he said, “but I have just listened to The Beatles for the very first time. Man … they are great! I think it changed my life.”

I shook Travis’s hand and told him how proud I am of him.

He then told me his dad has a collection of vinyl records, including some Beatles classics. Travis said he listened recently to “The Beatles,” aka “The White Album.” He fell in love with the music.

“I’m now mourning the death of John Lennon,” he said, “and that happened almost 34 years ago.” Yes, I reminded him that the anniversary of John’s murder is coming up. “Oh, I know,” he said.

He ticked off a few of his favorite hits. “Come Together,” “Revolution,” “Let it Be.” He saved special praise for “Hey Jude,” which he said he couldn’t stop singing to himself this morning. He pointed to Judy, one of our cashiers, and said, “I see Judy over there and think of ‘Hey Jude.'”

I then reminded him that “Hey Jude,” in my view, is the greatest song ever performed in the history of recorded music. You know what? I think Travis agrees with me.

What does all this mean in the grander scheme of life? Only that the music produced by history’s greatest rock ‘n roll band stands the test of time. I reminded Travis that he was born 21 years after The Beatles broke up.

I shall now thank Travis’s father for introducing his young son to the music of four young men who — I reminded Travis — helped raise me. I’m sure many others my age and perhaps those even younger can make the same claim.

 

Sir Paul coming to West Texas

My pal Chip Chandler explores an issue with an obvious answer.

Writing in the Amarillo Globe-News, Chip takes note of an appearance set for June 14 of one of the greatest popular music icons of the past century. Sir Paul McCartney will appear at Lubbock’s United Spirit Arena.

“Why don’t we get big concerts like that?” Chandler asks, knowing the answer fully.

http://amarillo.com/entertainment/get-out/2014-04-16/paul-mccartney-plays-lubbock-june

Amarillo doesn’t have a venue nearly suitable for the likes of Sir Paul. You remember the band in which he was a member, yes? The Beatles? The little band that included John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

Well, The Beatles gave it up as a group 40-plus years ago and McCartney has forged a pretty nice career on his own. His albums have been so-so of late, but he still puts on one hell of a concert.

A point of personal privilege: My wife and I saw Sir Paul at the Houston Astrodome one summer night in 1993 where we sang “Hey Jude” among other classics with Paul — along with 55,000 other fans crammed into the one-time Eighth Wonder of the World.

I rather envy Lubbock for having the United Spirit Arena. It was built in the late 1990s and opened with another pretty good act: Elton John, who sold out the place in a matter of minutes. I suspect Paul McCartney will do the same the moment the tickets go on sale.

The Cal Farley Coliseum ain’t nearly big enough, or stylish enough to play host to someone of McCartney’s stature, as Chandler notes.

Sigh. We’ll have to make do with reunion concerts, the occasional country star and over-the-hill pop bands that show up from time to time — although we did catch a pretty rockin’ Doobie Brothers concert at the Coliseum in 1997.

Sir Paul McCartney will get a wild welcome to West Texas when his band starts kickin’ it.

I, too, wish he’d come here.

Beatles tribute causes mind-blowing flashback

Music is ringing in my ears as I write these words.

CBS Television has produced a tribute to The Beatles that for people my age — heck, for anyone old enough at this moment to appreciate music — is to experience a bit of popular culture that cannot be duplicated.

Fifty years ago these four then-young men came across the ocean and changed the world.

No, they didn’t cure deadly diseases. They didn’t bring world peace. They didn’t invent some marvelous technological device. They simply made music.

I’ve been fond of saying for many years that John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr had a hand in raising me.

A half-century ago they appeared on our TV screen about the time I was coming of age. I was 14. Their music resonated from the opening chords of “All My Loving,” the first song they sang on The Ed Sullivan Show.

I’ve been in love with the music ever since.

Think about this for a moment. If you watched the tribute show this evening, did you notice all the young people singing along with lyrics that were written and recorded decades before they were born? Our generation and seemingly every generation that has come along since know the words.

Is there another contemporary artist who has had that kind of influence on us?

My heart is still broken at John Lennon’s sudden, tragic and shocking death more than 33 years ago. I mourned George Harrison’s death from cancer more than a dozen years ago. They’re gone, but then again they’re still here.

As Ringo said tonight, whenever he and Paul play together, “John and George are with us.”

That’s as it should be. Their music is timeless.

I’m now going to wait for my life to stop flashing before my eyes.