Beginnings and first impressions are without question important, however it is only endings that reverberate with clarity. Just recently Paul McCartney officially announced that he will perform the closing ceremonies for a historic venue that made national fame after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake during the World Series in San Francisco, Candlestick Park.
Having spent many years living happily in this beautiful part of California and enjoying events at this outdoor arena prone to nightly Bay Area fogs, I was excited to hear that one of the two remaining Beatles, Sir Paul, will be doing the send-off. I am a huge Beatles fan—one of my long time birthday traditions is to start the day listening to the album that was released a few days after my actual birth day, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Yes, I agree that Paul McCartney is not the complete Beatles package. He was certainly at his creative best as a pair of orbiting stars with John Lennon. Absolutely, some of his solo work is a bit dodgy—he had to have been completely off his tits on some party drug like MDMA when he wrote “Silly Love Songs.” But he still often plays from the Beatles portfolio and does a great performance. And this is the closest we can still get to experiencing the live Beatles phenomenon.
I have already had the good fortune of experiencing McCarthy in the Bay Area when he came to Berkeley, CA in 1990 on tour. As a poor, starving graduate student, I could not afford a ticket, but the Berkeley hills above the venue have wonderful acoustics and provided an amazing night panorama of the San Francisco bay to boot. The most memorable part of the concert was his performance of the 16-minute medley of songs from the end of Abbey Road as an encore.
Sometimes I take the time to indulge in a little reminiscence of this evening. If you’d like to share in the experience, grab some headphones, find a beautiful view, listen to the music, and take a magical mystery tour with the Beatles, no controlled substances required.
The medley starts off with Paul on the piano singing gently in his imperfect, but intimate voice for “You Never Give Me Your Money.” The song quickly transitions into almost a ragtime swing, builds into aggressive blues/rock guitar segment from George Harrison, and then fades to a nursery rhyme chant for a soft transition to “Sun King.” In “Sun King,” we have Paul and John playfully wooing the ladies with a love song partly sung in mock Spanish/Italian.
Next up are two offerings from John; the hard, driving rhythms of “Mean Mr. Mustard” and the boogie-down beat of “Polythene Pam.” Heart rate sufficiently up (“Oh look out!” from John), Paul comes in with the grandiose, sweeping “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window,” and the echo effect on the guitar in this song just makes you shake your head slowly in amazement.
A pause for a beat, Paul briefly sings us a lullaby in “Golden Slumbers,” and then the full band is back for the rueful, penultimate “Carry That Weight,” which reprises elements of the beginning and middle of the medley. Finally, with the question “Are you gonna be in my dreams, tonight?”, we move to the climactic “The End,” with a rare drum solo from Ringo Starr and rotating two-bar guitar solos from John, Paul, and George. A wind-up, an eloquent couplet from Paul, “And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make”, a final orchestra crescendo, and, fin.
But then, as you’re coming back to earth, just because he doesn’t want to put down the guitar down yet, Paul is back with a sweet, little acoustic smile:“Her majesty’s a pretty nice girl, but she doesn’t have a lot to say. Her majesty’s a pretty nice girl, but she changes from day to day. I want to tell her that I love her a lot, but I got to get a bellyful of wine. Her majesty’s a pretty nice girl; someday I’m going to make her mine, Oh yeah, someday I going to make her mine.”
So yes, I am seriously considering heading out west to see Sir Paul and will be packing my Bic to flick for an old school tribute during the encore.