Last night I watched Paul McCartney on the Colbert Report and found myself sitting up, wide-eyed, despite the late hour (Colbert extended the show an extra thirty minutes so Sir Paul could perform a total of six songs). The smile on my face broadened with each song. If I was feeling this way from my living room couch, then I can only imagine how those audience members were feeling.
For me, the feeling was a happy, familiar one. As you'll soon read in my soon-to-be-published memoir Friends Of Mine, the Beatles were my introduction to music, to a world of Rickenbacker guitars and Hofner basses, to foot-tapping pop songs and ground-breaking studio-production techniques. In fact, I don't think I would've had such a lasting love for Duran Duran's music had it not been for my first love of the Beatles' music.
The Beatles were the official group of my family too, namely my brothers who learned, rehearsed, and performed an array of Beatle songs in front of live audiences since they were pre-teens. Last night when I watched McCartney -- who turns 70 next week -- I didn't see an aged man; rather, I felt young again. More than young--I felt validated, recognized. As a left-handed guitar player, just seeing McCartney's beautiful lefty acoustic made me feel less inept with my own. We hold it the same way. Maybe that means I can play it like he does too. And when I saw the classic Hofner bass, I immediately transported myself to the photos I've been sorting through these past few weeks -- in particular, photos of my brothers, one of whom owned a Hofner as well, and his playing it professionally at the age of 9 years old. In that case the familiar feeling was more of pride, of knowing the lasting impact that music has had on myself and my family, how I only remember good things when I see that bass guitar.
And when McCartney broke into "Lady Madonna," I thought of my brother Mike, standing at the top of the stairs inside the famous Abbey Road studio, standing no more than a foot away from the piano that belted those opening chords forty-five years ago, his dream actualized in more ways than one. And for a moment I pictured him on stage with Sir Paul, harmonizing, accompanying, being one of the band. I could practically hear him.
Since writing the memoir, I've been re-living a lot of these memories, re-experiencing them from a new perspective. Memoirists serve as both witnesses and participants of their experiences, and their job is to get readers to be the same. Moreover, the act of writing about the experience somehow transforms it. It becomes more than just a memory. We re-contextualize it: What does the memory mean to me now, in this day and age and culture? What does it mean to my adult brain, to my educated and awakened (or sometimes closed off) mind? What will it mean thirty years from now? I've answered some of those questions, directly and indirectly, in my book. But to watch something like McCartney on Colbert, I know that what I've written, and what I experienced while watching the performance, means something I've not yet been able to find the words to articulate.
Maybe if I close my eyes and listen to the music, they'll appear.
I'm an author of commercial women's fiction and a writing instructor. My claim to fame: I can say the alphabet backwards.