WHERE WERE YOU WHEN YOU HEARD PAUL MCCARTNEY DIED? By Thomas Putnam
I can remember when the news broke about Paul McCartney's death. I had this huge wave of despair and emptiness and heavy sadness. I can remember where I was, lying on the couch in our living room. Somehow, however, I seem to remember it in the living room of my childhood and not the one of my high school years; somehow the dates don't match up. I know I couldn't have imagined such news, but how do the dates not match up? The rumor began, I think in '66 and really gained speed in '69.
Radio and records were not really a big thing for me when I was growing up. The Beatles were certainly part of the landscape, and I clearly remember watching the Ed Sullivan Show in '64 and wondering why everyone was screaming, but thinking “Oh, that would be kinda cool to have everyone screaming for me.” Yeah...well...at that point I couldn't play guitar or drums or write songs; though I wasn't particularly thrilled with “Yeah, yeah, yeah” as anything of much worth.
A whole host of forgotten memories have been flooding back the past few months as the HG Choirs prepare for an “All Beatles” concert on March 18 and 19. I'm not sure how the idea came about, but one morning as I was slowly waking up (slowly seems to be the operative word these days for my mornings) the thought kept wafting through my brain that there are so many incredibly good songs written by the Beatles that our HG kids ought to sing some of them.
A REALITY CHECK hit me when I realized that some of these songs are nearly 60 years old. These kids weren't born yet. Heck, some of their parents and grandparents hadn't been born yet. I'm seeing this as an educational experience for these kids who love to sing. As I began to introduce the songs to them, a few kids admitted they had never even heard of the Beatles, let alone such haunting tunes and lyrics found in “Eleanor Rigby” or “Yesterday.” I asked them a few weeks ago what was the appeal of the song “Blackbird” and one of them said “It's comforting.” One said they could identify with Eleanor Rigby, “...wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door.” And “Ob La Di Ob La Da” sure is a lot of fun to sing. And what is the back story to these characters: Jude and Eleanor and Lucy and Desmond?
Yeah, I remember when I heard that McCartney had died, but I'm so glad he didn't and I'm so glad that I can explore these songs with cool harmonies and haunting melodies and challenging lyrics with the HG singers. (Well, maybe not “yeah, yeah, yeah.”) Hope you can join us and Penny Eckman and Houston Baker and his band on March 18 and 19 at the Coolidge.