Thursday, April 09, 2009

She was just seven (teen)

For writers of a very particular age group - let's say anyone currently between 45 and 60 - their first professional meeting with a Beatle is a unique moment. All the writers I know who've had that privilege - and given current circs it's generally with that most reliable trouper, Paul - can remember every last second of it. By the time it makes it to the page they've done their best to conceal their palpitations behind a thin screen of professionalism. What they deliver is affectionate but slightly distanced. What they tell their husband or wife on first returning from the encounter is something else altogether. In the current issue of the New Yorker Nancy Franklin reports on her visit to a Paul McCartney rehearsal. Reading between the lines, she didn't get to meet him. What she writes indicates that it doesn't really matter. The excitement isn't, in the end, anything to do with this 67-year-old chap from London. The excitement is still inside the youngster and that youngster is still inside the adult. What it must be like to be the thin wire upon which that pulse still travels only people like Paul McCartney can know. And there aren't many people like Paul McCartney.


  1. He even rehearses the line "Let's hear it for John"? Ah well. That's showbusiness.

  2. I once interviewed Paul McCartney for Smash Hits. It was not longer after George Harrison had enjoyed a big hit with “Got My Mind Set On You” and I told “Paul” - I think we were on those terms by now - about a letter we’d had been sent by a 9 year old reader telling me how much she loved this record and wondering if George had made any records before or whether this was his debut outing. (George probably hadn’t had a hit for about ten years, but I suppose DJs announcing it on the radio would have presumed that everybody knew all about him and his past. Though there’s no reason to suppose a 9 year old girl in 1989 would.)
    “Paul” loved this story and told me how a significant proportion of his fanbase were devotees of Wings rather than the Beatles.
    A few months later I read an interview with him in which he told this story. My story. He said (and I can quote it word for word) “The Liverpool lad from Smash Hits was telling me .... ”
    I am still pathetically proud of this. Not only did I meet “Paul” but he actually thought something I’d told him was worth retelling a few months later.
    I’d rather forget though the joke I attempted. Paul was showing me a new 5 string bass he’d just taken delivery of. There had recently been a dance hit called “Bass How Low Can You Go?”. Making the schoolboy error of thining that Paul McCartney might keep abreast of fly-by-night house hits in the British singles chart I said, with a stupid smirk on my face “bass, how low can you go?”.
    “G” he replied.

  3. "...67-year-old chap from London..."??? I know you've been banging on about being a Londoner recently Mr H, but any of the Beatles coming from there as well may be a touch too far...

  4. I saw him walking down Denmark Street once, I saw a lot of celebs when I worked in the West End but with him it was slightly surreal to be seeing a Beatle just on his own walking down the street like that.

  5. any more thoughts on what New Yorker reporter Nancy Franklin meant, or was it all dreamy nonsense of the kind "women of a certain age" still indulge in when Sir Paul appears, here, there and everywhere.

  6. I don't think I'll ever meet Macca or Ringo. When I was a teenager I thought it would be just awful if that never happened.

    I think I can deal with it now in my 40s.

    I think.

  7. For me, the only person capable of making sense of anything to do with The Beatles is Paul Du Noyer.

    Have a look at his site. He makes sense of a good deal more.