I received my first technological device – a double cassette tape, when I was about 10 years old. As it offered a stimulating new world, it immediately became my favorite toy. The possibilities were endless: listening to two songs playing simultaneously (It was clear, even as a 10 year old, that mashup wouldn’t be anything more than a fleeting hobby), duplicating tapes, and of course producing my own mixtapes. However, similarly to the atom bomb, with technology comes responsibility.
One day my mother asked for my help: to assist her to prepare for a lecture and record an entire tape with only one Beatles’ song ‘when I’m 64’ back to back. After listening to McCartney’s bootlicking/Puffer chorus I ceased to be a Beatles fan in the making, and became a person for which the band evokes a visceral reaction. It took me years to recover.
This memory came back to me last night, when I was standing in Yarkon Park, two and half hours before McCartney’s gig. Surprisingly, when it comes to having patience at concerts, Israelis are quite diligent. Among the thousands of fans a father and his 12-year-old daughter stood behind me armed with binoculars. They were following the large screens on the stage, which projected a computerized photo presentation picturing Paul’s life. In any other fully commercialized concert, the huge screens would have probably brainwashed us with commercials, but Paul promotes only one product, himself and the Beatles (and no mobile phone provider would stand in his way). For the father and his daughter this was an opportunity to impart a lesson in rock history.
Daughter: I recognize Paul and Ringo. And there is John Lennon and the other guy.
Father: George Harrison
Daughter: I always forget him. They have such similar names.
From there, they discuss the photo on the cover of Abbey Road, which was taken outside the band’s legendary London studio.
Daughter: That is the cover of that album, when they are walking in the street.
Father: Yes, it is a street in Liverpool. I visited there when I went to England.
And so the conversations went throughout the park. Husbands and Wives. Fathers and Daughters. Mothers and Sons. These were parents who besides the Passover Haggada, the most consistent story they pass on to the next generation is which Beatles’ record coincided with which momentous life juncture and where they were when Lennon was assassinated. This is the musical DNA of millions of people all over the world, imprinted so deep in each and every one of us, proving that musical cloning began a long time before the sheep Doli. We were never more ready for a rock concert: we had listened to the songs, saw the movies and endlessly mourned a Beatles show in Tel Aviv that was planned in the mid 60s but never materialized. Finally, after 40 years, the wait was over.
“Hello Tel Aviv, Shana Tova” he opens in Hebrew, grabs a Bass guitar and releases a short song we’d heard a hundred times – ‘Hello, Goodbye’ and then ‘Jet’. From this point onward the formula was evident – a Beatles song, followed by a song from Paul’s solo career. Without any discordance, McCartney and the band zigzag ‘Only Mother Knows’ and ‘Let Me Roll It’ to ‘Drive My Car’ and ‘All My Loving’. McCartney’s own songs stir less enthusiasm from the crowd than the Beatles songs, but it helps to regulate the intensity and also remind us all that no matter how much we want it to be the real thing – these are not the fab four up there on stage.
McCartney delivers the goods. A couple of years after 64 he is still in full swing: switching guitars in a fashion resembling the pace Kylie Minogue changes outfits. For the most part, he sounds great and he is backed by a phenomenal band that steps-in every time he fails to reach the accuracy of his younger days.
The emotional peaks are reached when Paul sings for all those who took part in his musical legacy but had already passed on: his late wife Linda is remembered with a wonderful performance of ‘My Love’ on the piano. George receives ‘Something’ performed on the immortal Ukulele and John is honored with “Day in a Life”. This could have been the best song of the evening if it hadn’t been violently morphed mid-song into “Give Peace a chance”. This is tasteless and unnecessary, but I guess it should be considered as one of those unfortunate side effects of living in the Middle East.
The second half of the concert is pure Beatlemania. As part of the encore McCartney performs ‘Get Back’ and ‘Yesterday’ and closes with ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ which transitions into ‘The End’. The show is over, but the clapping continues. McCartney waves his hands into every possible direction but the crowd does not move. Each person insists on taking a last glance, a final memory to freeze and regurgitate to the generations to come.
I wake up around 4:00 AM. The experience does not let go. I go over it again in my head and find myself thinking about a line from “The End’: ‘oh yeah, all right, are you gonna be in my dreams tonight?’. I think of Paul and of my mother, then I close my eyes and fall asleep.