To Sir Paul,
This is a Thank You note from a long-time fan and a grateful parent. About three weeks ago, our entire family traveled from Vermont to Boston to see you perform at Fenway Park. We were a little nervous – it was our first visit to Boston in over a year, and we had high hopes. Thanks to you, they were met in ways we hadn’t begun to imagine.
We got to our seats in Fenway just about quarter to seven and not before shelling out a sinful amount of money for T-shirts. I rationalized this was the only time we may get to see you perform. And, even though a friend who had been to your sound check earlier in the afternoon had warned us that you were late, we decided it was more fun to wait inside a ballpark that had so many memories for the Big Guy and I than to stand around Yawkey Way.
About forty minutes after we sat down, an introductory slideshow began scrolling up the two massive screens on either side of the stage. I’ve been listening to your songs since I was in the womb, and my husband has been a fan since seeing you perform on Ed Sullivan, and loved seeing the photos of you and the Beatles and your more recent years. We’ve done our best to move the tradition forward to our kids, and even they loved seeing the photos of you growing up and growing your own family.
Our six-year-old, lovingly known as Thing2 around our house, waited as patiently as I have ever seen him wait for anything. When the first song began, about an hour and a half after the scheduled time, he was just starting to want to go back to the hotel, but when the first notes began to echo through the ball park, you brought him back. You also brought me and the Big Guy to our feet. The three of us were singing and dancing and clapping as you belted out, “‘Eight Days a We-e-ek.. ‘Eight Days a We-e–eek””.
My older son, twelve-year-old Thing1 who is about to be thirteen and, while not your oldest fan could possibly be your most devoted one, was sitting in his sit trying to cover his face with his hands so that he wouldn’t be recognizable if pictures of his parents dancing like idiots made it onto a concert tour DVD. But we kept dancing, and despite himself, Thing1 began to silently mouth the words to the song.
Everytime I peeked at him, he rewarded our dancing a look of mortification. But somewhere between ‘Eight Days a Week’ and ‘We Can Work it Out’ and your soul-lifting introduction to and rendition of Blackbird (I can scarcely remember a more uplifting moment than sitting in the dark with 30,000 people singing along with your guitar), Thing1 had an epiphany that could only have happened here.
As the Big Guy, Thing2 and I were dancing and clapping, Thing1 and I glanced across the aisle and noticed another set of parents with a pair of young sons around 10 and 12. The mother of the family was also dancing, but the dad – about the same age as the Big Guy – was lost in the music and the moment. Clapping his hands, waving his arms, and stomping his feet as he sang along, word for word. He looked younger than his two horrified boys sitting beside him.
For me it was confirmation that we had all found the fountain of youth for a night. For Thing1, it was something different. Watching the other two boys trying to obscure their own faces as they tugged at their dad’s sleeve, begging him to dance less effusively, it dawned on my twelve-year-old that all kids have the same problem. They have parents. And they can’t get rid of us until they get out of the house.
Any other night that knowledge might have been depressing. He might have thought about his future independence, but that night, Sir Paul, that knowledge became freedom. And for the first time ever, I saw my son begin to sing along – out loud – in public. For the first time in a long time, I saw him shed the inhibitions he had begun to take on with his adolescence, and, as he did, he began to find his way back to himself.
So, not only for the unrestrained joy I got to see on the face of my six-year-old, but the serenity Thing1 got from accepting the parents he can’t change, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.