Sunday, June 19, 2011
Saturday Song Selection - Maybe I'm Amazed
“Baby I'm a man, maybe I'm a lonely man
Who's in the middle of something
That he doesn't really understand”
Happy 69th birthday, Sir Paul, millions of us owe more thanks to you than we could ever properly express.
I’m quite confident that there is no need to tell anyone out there who Paul McCartney is or what he’s accomplished. Consequently, this “Saturday Song Selection” will be more of a personal take on McCartney than a biographical treatise.
Memories of Paul -
“There are only four people who knew what the Beatles were about anyway.”
How important were the Beatles to a certain generation? Well, I remember my first Beatle’s 45, “Love Me Do,“ on Tollie records. I remember the other early singles I owned as well, “She Loves You.“ “I Should Have Known Better,“ “Please, Please Me,“ and on and on, released on a variety of sometimes unusual and rarely heard of labels - Vee Jay, Swan, the aforementioned Tollie and, of course, Capitol - all for legal reasons far beyond the scope of understanding of a 5 year old lad. Of course, reminiscing about these initial platters is quite easy as, 45 years or so later, they are still very much in my possession, un-played for decades, but well protected in the green and white, 45rpm case with the illustration of the dancing teens on the front, some in their original sleeves.
I clearly and distinctly remember the Beatles initial appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, and all the excitement and exhilaration leading up to it. I can recall the build up on WABC and WMCA radios and the anticipation generated by New York’s legendary disc jockeys like Murray “the K” Kaufman and Cousin Bruce Morrow. Then, there was the experience itself - plopped down, far too close, in front of that monstrous piece of furniture that housed a 25 inch television tube, while the boys themselves performed in all the grandeur and glory that black and white can muster. I still maintain that this is the very first, vivid memory of my childhood. Hopefully, there are no Roseanne-esque, toddler terrors quietly and mysteriously lurking somewhere in the deep, dark, recesses of my questionable psyche, waiting to emerge just when my collapsing career most needs the publicity.
I will pass on sharing the saga of the sad and unsuccessful quest to acquire a Beatles wig as, just a few years later, I was able to grow my own - an ability that unfortunately eludes me now.
“At the end of the Beatles, I really was done in for the first time in my life. Until then, I really was a kind of cocky sod.”
In 5th grade, we had a regular part of every school day that was set aside to first read, and then discuss, articles from that day’s New York Times - or as the Right would call it now, “Communist Indoctrination Time.” It was part of social studies, a way to comprehend current events, and perhaps something the Wasilla public school system could gain from instituting. The intent was to learn more about important topics of the day - the Vietnam War, the Nixon administration, the space program, I Dream of Jeannie (okay, maybe I imagined that, as Barbara Eden was my celebrity crush at the time. By the way, when these personal revelations become overwhelmingly pathetic, please feel free to alert me) - and that was how I first became aware of John, Paul, George and Ringo going their separate ways. For most of us this was an event whose possibility never even crossed our tiny, child minds. Like George W. Bush ascending to the presidency, like muffin-tops being a fashion choice, like “Pink Lady and Jeff” (I can hear the crickets chirping on that reference) actually being cancelled, it seemed implausible, impossible, and incomprehensible. To put it in context, while rock was not quite in its infancy, perhaps one could say it was still just in its ‘tween years, and we had yet to discover what happens when rock and rollers mature. In some sense, rockers weren’t even supposed to age, as expressed in the lyrics of the Who‘s “My Generation,” “I hope I die before I get old.” So really, fans had not yet experienced the break up of any significant rock band. I’m quite certain that my initial reaction was simply a refusal to accept the news. The Beatles disbanding would be as hurtful and unlikely to a trusting child as the idea of the Mets ever trading Tom Seaver (that one still stings.)
Paul confirms my belief that I’m fortunate to reside in the coolest place in the world
“I never look forward, because I have no idea about how any of it happened to getting here. I've no idea how the next five years are going to be.”
Much like Little Jackie Paper left Puff (say, wait a minute, that does sound like it’s about marijuana! For shame Peter Yarrow! Well, at least we know “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” couldn’t be about any illegal substances) we all eventually grow up and leave the trauma of such childhood trivialities behind. In the meanwhile, Paul continues to record and perform - and while nothing could ever surpass the historic, iconic phenomenon that was the Beatles - he’s produced decades of great and memorable music and, perhaps, my favorite and most unexpected McCartney memory of all. Imagine it’s a typical work day, you leave your place of employment; step outside into the evening’s bustling, rush hour city streets, only to find yourself somewhat shockingly and surprisingly, serenaded by the sounds of “Get Back” wafting through the New York air. And, most fortuitously, thanks to the advantageous and serendipitous location of the Ed Sullivan Theatre in relation to both work place and home, you get to enjoy McCartney’s live performance, as clearly as if you held ticket in hand, as you leisurely stride to your apartment. And in a sense, in that evening, it all came full circle - what began at the Ed Sullivan Theatre for a 5 year old, continued at the Ed Sullivan Theater for a 50 year old.
From, “McCartney,” Paul’s first solo album, released on April 17, 1970 - “Maybe I’m Amazed.”