Thursday, July 15, 2010

McCartney story

A guy named David Elkins went through the trouble of making a wikipedia page about me. It's very cool and he was very thorough in his research. He even put in something about me meeting Paul McCartney in high school. This bit of trivia was even displayed on the main wikipedia page yesterday.

On the wikipedia page this McCartney story is boiled down to about 2 lines. I figured this would be a good time to elaborate.

During my senior year of high school, 1998, my school music teacher, Lou Mannarino, got us tickets to see Paul McCartney perform on the Oprah Winfrey show. This was a huge thrill for us. We were all Beatles fans, and that spring we were putting on a Curtis High School symphony concert at Lincoln Center where the finale was to be "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End" from Abbey Road.

The Oprah show started and Sir Paul performed one of his latest songs live with help from himelf on accompanying video screens. On one screen he was playing bass, and on the other, drums while he played guitar and sang live. It was pretty freakin' cool. There was also the interview where he discussed the new album, and a bunch of other stuff. On the first commercial break, the screeners came through the audience to screen the questions audience members were going to ask Paul on the air. When they came to our row, we said that we wanted to ask Paul to play with us at Lincoln Center. The screener said something like, "absolutely not."

We were a little dissapointed, but that wasn't going to stop us. On the next commercial break me, and a girl whose name I can't remember right now, stood up and screamed in Unison, "Paul, will you play with us at our high school symphony concert at Lincoln Center?" He gave us this very playful shrug and replied with an enthusiastic, "Sure!" We went fucking nuts.

Now understand something, we just put the biggest rock star in the world on the spot, and he was cool as a cucumber. Although we got a verbal confirmation, some of us were still skeptical as to whether or not Paul actually intended to show up. He couldn't exactly say No in a room full of die hard fans. After the show, a reporter from the Daily News came up to us and said something like, "I saw the whole thing! I'm writing an article about this concert!" Now we were really going nuts. Not only did Paul McCartney agree to play with us, but there would be recorded proof in the Daily News confirming it.

The next few weeks were crazy. The news stations came down to our school. On my sister's wedding day, I had to do a tv interview before the ceremony! It was a frenzy. This was a very exciting time for all of us, but unfortunately there is a downside to this story.

Sadly, Paul's wife Linda passed away a few months later, and understandably, he was unable to perform at our concert. The show did go on, but without Paul. Instead, some of the students sang Paul's parts. I was lucky enough to be one of those students. I got to sing Golden Slumbers at Lincoln Center. It was really cool.

I remember we were really tight-lipped about what Beatles songs we were doing. It was a big secret. I convinced my uncle to come to the concert, and I remember begging my grandparents to come. It was a really difficult task to get Marion and Phil Castellano to close the music store and leave Brooklyn for evening, but after relentless begging on my part, they agreed to come. So when we went into Golden Slumbers, one of my fondest memories was looking out at my family and seeing their faces light up as they realized what songs we were about to play. My grandmother passed away a few years after that, and I'm so grateful to have that happy memory of her in that moment.

So there's my whole Paul McCartney story. I got to have a very short conversation with my hero, but I never got to play with him. Maybe one day......

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