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She Loves You, the essay

I’ve learned that the podcast of my essay is only available in Canada. Only in Canada, you say? Pity!
So, for Carole and my other friends overseas, here it is:

  On Tuesday January 14 1964, I turned on the
big brown radio in our Halifax kitchen and twiddled the knob from CBC to CHNS,
where the cool D.J. Frank Cameron was spinning the latest hits. At thirteen and
a half, I still played with paper dolls and read Nancy Drew. I’d not taken much
interest, yet, in the Hit Parade.
And
there it was, the sound I had been waiting for: the new group from England called
the Beatles, singing “She Loves you.” The music exploded from the radio, and my
heart burst right out of my body. By the time the song ended, I was a teenager.
And
not just a teenager, but a Beatlemaniac. I borrowed my neighbour Ricky’s old
transistor, and spent evenings with the tiny machine, as small as a deck of
cards, pressed to my ear. Waiting for Them: John. Paul. George. And even,
reluctantly, Ringo.
Everything
changed again a few weeks later when I bought my first L.P., Beatlemania. Each song was perfect. But
there was one in particular… That soft, clear husky voice singing “Till there
was you.” Whose was it?
It
belonged to the cute Beatle – Paul. Paul McCartney. That was the voice, that
was the boy for me.
I’d
just made the most important decision every kid my age had to make – which
Beatle? I was, and I would always be, a Paul Girl. When the Beatles appeared on
“The Ed Sullivan Show,” on Sunday February 9 – fifty years ago today  – I and all North America saw them for the
first time, in person and in tight black pants. And when Paul sang “Till there
was you,” I thought I would pass out.
What
followed, though, was a lonely and difficult time. That summer, my father took
us to spend a year in Paris. I turned fourteen in a city where I didn’t speak
the language and had not a single friend. But I did have a dreamboat. I had Paul.
Romantic
fantasies consumed my every waking hour. I wrote endless stories – my buddy Paul
helping me with my math homework; my boyfriend Paul and I travelling around Europe,
in his snazzy Aston-Martin; my husband Paul catching pneumonia and nearly dying
– until I reached under the oxygen tent to hold his hand. The doctor couldn’t
believe his patient’s sudden recovery. “It’s a miracle, Mrs. McCartney!” he
cried.
I
was attending an all-girls’ French lycée,
and had no way to meet real boys. Paul was everything. He saved my life. They
all did, the Fab Four. Their music pulled me through.
At
the end of our stay in France, incredible news – the Beatles were coming to
Paris, to play two shows in one day! For the matinee, I paid an expensive $6
for the best seat they had, in the eighth row centre. For the evening show, my
$2 seat was on the side but still close.
The
concerts were rapture. And agony. There was my love, a living doll, more adorable
than I’d ever imagined – and I couldn’t touch him, talk to him or take him
home. All I could do was scream. So I did.
On
our way back to Canada, my classical-music-loving father – who hated the
Beatles, and the fact that his daughter was obsessed by a hairy Neanderthal with
a guitar – my father arranged for us to sail home from my city of dreams –
Liverpool. I walked the streets my idols had walked, and best of all, I went to
the dank, dark Cavern Club, where they got their start. Yes, I went with my
mother. But I was there.
Back
in Halifax, I turned fifteen in a co-ed high school and immediately had a crush
on most of the boys in my class. I discovered a great American folksinger with a
terrible nasal voice and powerful poetry, and all kinds of fab rock groups. But
the music that flooded my soul, always, song after song, was Beatles.
The
summer of 1967, my friend Mark invited me to come sample some marijuana, along
with his new album. I was just seventeen, with long curtains of hair and a
purple mini-dress, smoking mary jane, and listening to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, for the very first time. Far
out. Groooovy. Wow.
And
then the best band in the universe broke up. I didn’t believe it – of course they’d
get back together. In the meantime, through the seventies, I was busy with boyfriends,
school, then work. And there were always new solo albums to listen to – my Paul
playing every instrument; John and Yoko, doing crazy stuff for peace. Until that
terrible day in 1980 when John was killed, and the dream of a Beatles’ reunion
died too. But I was pregnant with my first child then, heartbroken but immune.
As
my children grew up, they knew that if they wanted something from me, they had
only to put on Abbey Road or Revolver or Beatlemania, and I’d get mushy and say yes. Even my father came to appreciate
their music. One of my fondest memories, shortly before Dad’s death, is of him
and my mother whirling around the kitchen, singing along with their favourite Beatle
tune, “When I’m 64.”
In
the last decade, I’ve been to three Paul McCartney concerts. Though nowhere
near the eighth row centre, I sit enraptured, tears streaming down my face, as this
ever-youthful, generous, brilliant man plays the music of my life.  
And
this year, I’ll turn sixty-four myself. I’m grateful for a fierce new love – my
grandson, now almost two. From only a few months old, whenever he was fussing, I’d
put on Beatles’ music and bounce, and he’d stop crying. As soon as he could
stand, he bounced too. Now, when he’s tired but won’t sleep, I hold him tight
in my arms, and as we dance, I sing “Hey Jude.”
“Take
a sad song,” I sing, “and make it better.”

And
we do.

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2 Responses to “She Loves You, the essay”

  1. Unknown says:

    I absolutely love this, Beth. As my favourite fridge magnet says, "We may be old, but we saw all the cool bands."

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Beth for the 'fab' memories; we were both so lucky to experience those years. Do you ever look back and think that your year in Paris was meant to be as not only did you see The Beatles TWICE and pop in to the Cavern , but your creativity, confidence and independence was nurtured ?
    Your final paragraph brought a lump to my throat , it's good to know that Beatles' music will live on. Just missed your dulcet tones!
    PS " Til there was you " is one of my favourite Paul songs along with "Blackbird"
    Loved it! Carole

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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