Though I said I wouldn’t write more about it, people keep asking for details of the Paul McCartney show in Memphis, and since I’ve been a day tripper a couple of times lately, well, what the heck. I’ll write a bit about both trips.
And by now, you can find oodles and gobs of YouTube uploads of the concert, if you want to see more than what I’ve linked above. (Just put in Paul McCartney Memphis or Paul McCartney FedEx Forum.) They’re not bad, but they don’t do the eternal manboy justice. He was a 70-year-old doll and ball of fire.
Balls of fire were literally part of the show on “Live and Let Die.” Cathy and I were in the nosebleed section over the stage (actually good seats, just very high up), and we could feel the heat of the fire jets that shot up at the front and back of the stage several times. And who but Paul McCartney would be allowed to set off indoor fireworks, in addition to the flames?
But I get ahead of myself. Let me back up.
Cathy and I checked in our slightly nappy Econolodge with a view of the Forum from our window, after being greeted by the sweetest hotel crew ever, then hoofed it over to Beale Street, where we quickly said “no, thanks.” Memphis, and especially Beale Street are not particularly vegetarian-friendly.
We backtracked a couple of blocks when I spotted Automatic Slim’s, which thrilled me to pieces. (For you non-nerds out there, Automatic Slim is a character in Willie Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle,” a marvelous blues song, though I prefer Howlin’ Wolf’s version.)
We sat at the bar and had a quick libation (vodka martini, me; Pinot Grigio, Cathy) and arugula, pear, blue cheese and walnut salads, with a big old platter of hot, fresh-made potato chips covered in blue-cheese fondue – and enjoyed our feisty bartender’s showmanship. She should have a reality show. Didn’t get her name, but you’ll know her by her long black hair and talent.
Then we hit the Forum.
The show kicked off at about 8:34 with “Eight Days a Week,” and we were instantly little girls again. (I know the time because I called Liz and held my phone up in hopes she could hear.) I called Ben at 9:23 when “We Can Work It Out” started, and “Hey, Jude” started just before 10:35, which I know because I recorded part of it for Jude. I don’t have the time of the pyrotechnics, but I filmed some of it before “HJ,” so it was around 10.
Oh, let’s see, what do I tell? “Maybe I’m Amazed,” which Paul mentioned writing for Linda, was the only old solo song Cathy and I remember. Earlier in the evening he did his solo “My Valentine,” which he wrote for his wife, Nancy. He rocked. He rolled. He played the hell out of the piano, either ebony grand or psychedelic-painted spinet, several guitars (including Les Pauls in assorted colors), and his familiar violin-style bass.
The man is immensely talented. If you ever wrote him off as “the cute Beatle” who rode on John Lennon’s coattails (yeah, I’ve heard you my whole life), you are ever, ever so wrong. Each one of The Beatles was an immense talent and together they were perfection.
Old Paul still is, even though his voice has aged and he sings in a lower key. He’s a testament to vegetarianism, I suppose, because he looks and moves years younger than he is (yes, he dyes his hair and eyebrows, but you can’t dye a body or that stamina).
He wore Beatle boots and made me feel old, young, nostalgic, happy, sad, tearful. Cathy and I laughed with glee and reminisced. And evidently sang along a lot, since I had laryngitis for two days after the show.
(I saw George Harrison almost 30 years ago in Memphis, and though he was quite divine himself and I was terribly moved by him, too, this show blew that show away.)
You can find set lists online – this one seems the most accurate to me, since some of the others don’t mention the instrumental “Foxy Lady” tribute to Jimi Hendrix. Paul played a cherry red Les Paul decorated with children with arms up-reached and told a charming tale about when Jimi Hendrix played “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” while the Fab Four and Eric Clapton were in attendance.
He discussed how influential Memphis was to The Beatles, added that without Memphis music, The Beatles might not have happened. The man is quite chatty and can work a crowd. People of all ages were putty in his hands.
I didn’t scream. But I’m screaming in my head right now as I relive it. I SAW PAUL MCCARTNEY!
OK, on to the other day trip. You may know that Arkansas is home to the divine Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. If you don’t, it’s a museum of such quality that visitors come from all over the country. Anyone who knows me is bound to know I’m no fan of Walmart, but I am a huge fan of art and appreciate the donation of such a fine, fine museum – with free admission, no less. So thank you, thank you, Alice and family for that.
We’ve wanted to go for ages but since John’s sister, Kitty, was coming this spring, we decided to wait and take her to the crown jewel of Northwest Arkansas, which we did shortly before the scare with Silas. We took the new Cruze up the Pig Trail and stayed with my step-sister Lisa and brother-in-law Steve at their home overlooking Beaver Lake. Lisa, Mother, John, Kitty and I went to the museum the next day.
If you haven’t been, you must go, even if you think you don’t like American art. Even if you really don’t like the early, primitive stuff (which doesn’t hold a candle to the European masters), c’mon, they’ve got Andy Warhol’s Dolly Parton 1985. We saw Mark Rothko’s No. 210/No. 211 (Orange). (Forgot my camera, so forgive the fuzzy iPhone pics.)
And this Maxfield Parrish. He’s one of my favorite artists in the world, so it was a superthrill. This one is called Lanterns.
Of course, you can see better versions at the website. And you should, if you don’t go.
What really tickled me, since I recently read The Devil in the White City (which I highly recommend), about the Chicago World’s Fair (and a serial murderer to boot), of which almost no photos exist, was finding Theodore Robinson’s World’s Columbian Exposition (1894). I might have to buy a print of it someday.
Again, do yourself a favor and look it up.
Parts of the museum are interactive and the grounds are fabulous. We’ll go back – I hope to see the “Angels & Tomboys” exhibit, in fact, though we passed on the Norman Rockwell exhibit since we were short on time. We did see Rosie the Riveter, though.
Kitty’s trip was cut short a day by her getting stuck in Dallas the first night and coincided with Silas’s hospitalization, but we did have time to take her to some of our favorite restaurants around town. We had lunch at Trio’s and Loca Luna, dinner at Creegen’s and dinner on the deck at Brave New Restaurant, where her sweet brother proposed to moi in 2003. John and Kitty went to Bosco’s and Vino’s – and of course Community Bakery got a couple of visits for sweet necessities.
Even under normal circumstances, there’s just never enough time for visits from family.
And speaking of time, I’m out of it. John Lennon is singing on the iPod dock. Seems a good time to sign off.