Remembering songs I didn’t know I knew

50-somethings lock arms at a Paul McCartney concertPaul McCartney, I can attest, is alive and quite well. At least, he was Friday night at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

The Resident Nurse is still singing.

She woke me one night to tell me Sir Paul would be appearing in Washington. Should she get tickets? she asked. From somewhere the other side of total awareness, I must have at least not discouraged the idea.

She woke me a short time later. She had tickets and a hotel reservation. That was two weeks before the show. I think she has not yet had a full night sleep, and now the show was two nights ago.

It was on her bucket list, she said.

“Now I can die,” she said as the lights came up, certifying that two encores was all we would get.

“I’d rather you didn’t,” I replied, but I don’t think she heard me.

“Paperback Writer” – The crowd goes wild, people old enough they can’t remember more than the beat, making the same moves to they did a half century ago, like the couple in their 50s in front of us, Sandra and Joe, married 20 years, their 10th Paul McCartney concert together (Joe’s 17th), their arms inter-crossed behind each others’ backs as though it was their first.

Some are young enough the beat is all they really get. A grandmother gave up her ticket so Dad  could take his 10-year-old son to his first concert.

“Long and winding road.”

I hadn’t paid a lot of attention to the Beatles, though age-wise, I was an eligible teen when they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964. Mom and dad lived by the credo that if it wasn’t Big Band or Classical, it wasn’t music. My rock’n’roll was mostly at night, listening to a Sony transistor radio under my pillow, Cousin Brucie on 77-WABC, New York, talking about the submarine races. I didn’t understand what they were, but I strongly suspected I was missing something important.

I remember, though, when the Beatles began, with a hair style too long for my folks but the envy of many a teen of my cohort. Then they let their hair grow really long. By then I was in the Navy, my hair really short, hard rock was in but I was not into it; rather I had become close friends with a guy who had a wall locker full of LPs, all country, no duplicates.

He took me to meet his girlfriend in Spartanburg, S.C. They later had three daughters. I think they’re still married. I moved across the country, but never away from country music.

Friday night, I was singing along to songs I didn’t know I knew.

It rained some, and threatened to lightning the show into another week, another venue. But the storm stopped just before the show started. Only an overcast remained for the performance, like an opaque dome out of the latest Steven King mini-series, except you couldn’t see through it, touching the top of the nosebleed seats and arching high over the infield, where we sat.

He sang love songs he’d written to previous wives, and social protest, and numbers from the “Wings” era, ending with “Live and Let Die,” to the accompaniment of a fireworks show I was certain would cover his disappearance from the stage. He finished the number, though, and then left – to return two more times.

Tell me, please, of another music star, 71 years young, three straight hours, two encores.

I have only an idea how much it cost to be part of that show, and come home with a tee-shirt and a “now I can die” smile that’s still on her face. It was worth at least twice that.

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