What It's Like To Hear Paul McCartney In Liverpool

Jun 1, 2019
Originally published on June 2, 2019 10:57 am
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Paul McCartney's in the middle of a world tour, unaccompanied by BJ Leiderman, who writes our theme music. The original Beatle is in Lexington, Ky., tonight and was just in South America. And it's there, in Buenos Aires, where Lucia Benavides first became a fan of McCartney's and the rest of the Fab Four - a fandom she shares with her mother, Ida.

LUCIA BENAVIDES, BYLINE: To this day, my mother can recall the moment the Beatles' music reached her home country of Argentina.

IDA BENAVIDES: I remember the night - and that was the beginning of all this - when my dad arrived home from work with an album.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT WON'T BE LONG")

BEATLES: (Singing) It won't be long. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

I BENAVIDES: I still remember, after 55 years, my dad, he closed the door, and he said, oh, you know what? I brought this album because everybody's talking about these boys.

L BENAVIDES: And my mom became obsessed.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEATLES SONG, "A HARD DAY'S NIGHT")

L BENAVIDES: It was Beatles day and night.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A HARD DAY'S NIGHT")

BEATLES: (Singing) It's been a hard day's night, and I've been working like a dog.

L BENAVIDES: She listened while getting ready for school, as soon as she got home. She sang along to lyrics she didn't understand. And she passed that love along to me, her first child. Today, I'm a walking Beatles encyclopedia. So when I found out Paul McCartney was performing in Liverpool, just a short plane ride away from where I live in Barcelona, I had to go.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BACK IN THE U.S.S.R.")

BEATLES: (Singing) Flew in from Miami Beach BOAC, didn't get to bed last night.

L BENAVIDES: I'd been to Liverpool before with my mom. We stayed at the Hard Day's Night Hotel, visited the famous Cavern Club and took a tour of Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields. I remember wanting to cry when I saw those words written on the stone wall, and I was not alone.

I BENAVIDES: I felt like I was going to church. I had the same feeling. I was so moved by reading Strawberry Fields and seeing the place and imagining John playing there. It was overwhelming for me.

L BENAVIDES: But on this trip, I spent more time in each place, walking the streets without rushing. I realized how much the magic wore off the second time around. Suddenly, Strawberry Fields was just a park in a suburban neighborhood.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER")

BEATLES: (Singing) Strawberry fields forever.

L BENAVIDES: It was while taking refuge in a public library that I met 75-year-old Ray Heampson, a native Liverpudlian who remembers the Beatles from back in the day.

RAY HEAMPSON: Oh, yes, I remember them very well. In fact, I can remember them when they were called the Silver Beatles.

L BENAVIDES: He says he saw them play many times before Ringo joined but never thought the band particularly special, unlike most diehard fans.

HEAMPSON: They think they're the messiah, you know what I mean? And we have met them, you know, and it's not like that at all (laughter). You know, they're just like anyone else.

L BENAVIDES: That got me thinking. Why do these four men evoke such emotional responses? The day of the concert I met people who had come from all over the world. I passed a family from Argentina, met a woman from Japan and Ralph Kluseman from Arnolds Park, Iowa.

RALPH KLUSEMAN: For us to be here, it's just a dream. There's so many people that have been inspired by the music of the Beatles and by what Paul McCartney's done since he's left the Beatles.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PAUL MCCARTNEY: Good evening, Liverpool.

(CHEERING)

L BENAVIDES: The concert was three hours' worth of Beatles' songs, Wings' songs and newer, lesser-known ones. I'd seen Paul live before - four times - so I knew roughly how the set would go.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOLDEN SLUMBERS")

MCCARTNEY: (Singing) Once there was the way to get back home.

L BENAVIDES: As Paul played the last song of the evening, I found myself paying more attention to the crowd rather than the man himself - thousands of people of all ages singing at the top of their lungs, hugging each other, dancing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOLDEN SLUMBERS")

MCCARTNEY: (Singing) Oh, golden slumbers fill your eyes.

L BENAVIDES: But I couldn't shake off the feeling that something or someone was missing.

I BENAVIDES: I grew up with them in some way emotionally and intellectually. I always say that my parents and the Beatles form me.

L BENAVIDES: Like my mom, I grew up with the Beatles alongside her.

I BENAVIDES: The wonderful thing - that I could share all that with you and expressing myself, and I knew that you could understand how I was feeling.

L BENAVIDES: And I still do. Even though the Beatles may just be four lads from Liverpool, they captured an inexplicable feeling in their songs that reminds us of what's important.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE END")

BEATLES: (Singing) And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

L BENAVIDES: For NPR News, I'm Lucia Benavides in Liverpool.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEATLES SONG, "THE END") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.