Paul McCartney Fans

Blog Post The First

April 7th, 2013

12:30 p.m.

There’s nothing quite like writing a blog post whilst sitting in the American version of an Irish pub, the Vermont American version of an Irish pub, no less.  I’m drinking a “snake bite” to get the creative juices flowing, and flowing they are!

For today’s post, I’m going to talk a bit about fans of Paul McCartney, as that’s one of the topics of my book.

It’s amazing, but when I think of people who I now consider my closest friends, a lot of them come from online and in-concert meetings, people who I didn’t grow up with, have never worked with, and whom I’ve only gotten to know because of a British singer/songwriter.  I don’t know that anyone who hasn’t been afflicted with Macca Mania will ever really understand how it’s possible to spend years on a fan forum, for example, talking about works of Paul’s that are over twenty or thirty years old, but that still seem to generate fresh debate.  Or how about the fact that many of us on the forum or Facebook who are part of various pro-Paul groups were born after the Beatles and Wings were in their respective heydays?  I was born in 1975, for example, and am the age of John Lennon’s youngest son, Sean, which means that I was five when John left us, and wasn’t really aware of my surroundings until Wings was kaput.

For some reason, this left-handed bass player has inspired fans from all over the world, of every age bracket, socio-economic and political standing, and with each new album or activity seems to draw even more.  How does that happen?  What other group or musical entity has had that kind of success?  I can name them all on no fingers.

What I’ve been lucky to experience is attending 20 McCartney concerts, not to mention a few events such as the premiere of Ocean’s Kingdom, his foray into ballet, and have continued going to these happenings not because I love the setlist, which for the past several years has been as stagnant as a frozen lake filled with sludge, but because of the people I meet at the concerts.  For the most part I always attend alone, and I wind up leaving with at least five numbers, FB profile names, or e-mail addresses.  I don’t share my information lightly, as I’m a rather private person in a lot of respects, but at Paul shows, I know the quality of person I’ll be meeting, and even if the person I’m talking to doesn’t have a lot in common with me, we both have a love of great music that is based on the themes of love, understanding, and light.  I wouldn’t recommend trying this at a Metallica concert, for instance.  As much as I like other artists’ music, McCartney fans are the best fans in the world, and the friends I’ve met through my travels, both physical and into financial ruin for these shows, attest to that fact.

At a certain point, you stop going to the shows just for Paul, and start going because you’ll be seeing friends there, and meeting new friends.  It’s like the world’s most expensive, one-day summer camp that you go back to every summer. You are curious if so-and-so will show up, if they’ve had their child yet (something I hope no summer campers have to wonder about), if they’re liking their new job, if they’re still dating the person they met at the last show, if you’ll wind up at the bar down the road that you all got drunk at last year and then started singing along with the live band, much to the chagrin of the other patrons.

I’ve met some wonderful people, some slightly kooky folks who were still fun to chat with, and some lifelong friends at these shows and because of this musician.  Even though many of us may never have the chance to actually meet Paul, I feel like we’ve gotten a chance to do the next best thing: meet the people he’s inspired.  I don’t know what more we could ask for, really, as through meeting the people someone has emotionally touched, we’ve gotten an insight into Paul himself, into the joy he creates with every new song, every concert he plays, and I don’t know what else there is to want.

Maya Angelou, the American writer and poet, talks about the idea of creating rainbows, in that our actions, no matter how small, can impact one person, who then passes it on to another, to another, and so on, to the point where the original person has, unknowingly, impacted hundreds, maybe more, even though they’ll never know it.   Much like a rainbow appearing in the sky is seen by hundreds, even though we’ll never know those other people, where they were when they saw it, and the impact its appearance will have on them, our actions live on through others.  Paul has been spreading rainbows for over five decades now, and those rainbows live on and are spread on by us, his fans.

While I’m not fond of images like cotton candy, unicorns, and rainbows, this analogy works, especially given that I’ve seen it firsthand.  I can’t recount how many stories I’ve heard about Paul changing someone’s life, especially when that person most needed a word of encouragement or a change from a destructive path.  It’s not that Paul personally met this person and gave them a pro bono counseling session, but that his music, his words, touched them and inspired them to do what needed to be done, whether that was to keep a stiff upper lip or to dump their deadbeat husband or cheating wife.

These are the people that I meet at shows, the fans.  The people who cherish Paul the way you would rally ’round a beloved relative.  People who talk about how Paul was a father-figure for them, people who talk about how they turn to Paul’s music when times are tough, people who talk about converting to vegetarianism to honor Paul and his influence on their lives.  These aren’t people with delusions that they know Paul personally, but people who hope to some day meet him, not to get something from him, but to give something back to him, a handshake, a hug, some heartfelt words about how he’s impacted them.  This is what I primarily witness at Paul shows.  These are genuine people.  These are my people. I am one of them, and one with them.

As I gear up for a few more concerts this summer, I intend to meet up with friends I haven’t seen since the last shows, and intend to bring a notebook to write down contact information for the new friends I’ll encounter there, whether it be someone bringing their children to their first concert, or someone bringing their parents to finally see a Beatle, live.

I’ll see you all OUT THERE this summer, and if you encounter a woman with an eyebrow ring furiously writing in her Beatle album cover notebook, stop by and say “hi”, and feel free to bring me a beer while you’re at it. 😉

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~ by Jennifer Dodge on April 7, 2013.

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