When I take my seat in Row 22 tonight at Seattles Safeco Field, it will be my second time to see Paul McCartney in concert in the past 12 months my fifth overall.
My family has learned to tolerate my love for all things Paul, sometimes agreeing to share it with me, as they did at a concert in Vancouver, B.C., in November. But tonight, Im flying solo.
Unlike a lot of women of a certain age, I didnt start out as a raging Paul fan. No denying it. He was definitely the Cute One.
But my path toward Paul was a roundabout one.
My lifelong relationship with the Beatles began, as it did for a lot of people, on a Sunday evening: Feb. 9, 1964.
That night on The Ed Sullivan Show, our entire nation was entranced by those cheeky Brits. It was, at the time, the largest television audience in history. It was just months after the Kennedy assassination and we were still a nation in mourning. But that beautiful, joyous Beatle noise and those beautiful, joyous Beatle boys poured over us like a tonic.
They told us to shake it up, baby. So we did.
The grownups were shook up, for sure, over the moptops. It was a style the Beatles picked up from their Continental friends.
The hair, the boots, the suits. We all looked at them with envy.
Boys wanted to be them.
Girls wanted to date them. I was too young to date during Beatlemania. But you know who could date a Beatle? My Barbie doll!
Among my girlfriends, there was always a lot of fighting over whose Barbie would get to date Paul, assumed to be the universal desire of all females.
Well, I called him first, so my Barbies dating PAUL! someone would pout.
I was able to stay out of those arguments because I was in love with George. He was the quiet Beatle, the youngest Beatle and to me the most handsome.
As I grew into adolescence, I entered what I like to call my John phase.
John was the deep thinker. The poet. I identified with all his open hostility, his snark, his anti-authority attitude.
Heres what John told a London Evening Standard journalist in 1966:
Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I neednt argue about that; Im right and I will be proved right. Were more popular than Jesus now; I dont know which will go first rock n roll or Christianity.
Those remarks made barely a ripple in Britain. But they caused big problems when they hit the Bible Belt, and people started burning Beatle albums and making death threats.
In my high school and college years, I tried to stay loyal to the Beatles, even though the groups breakup meant there were now four times as many albums being made and purchased by my meager student earnings.
Like a lot of rock critics in the 1970s, I thought Paul had gone completely soft with material like Silly Love Songs. Until I met someone, fell in love, and got married. Then I finally understood Pauls need to praise domestic tranquility.
Just as I was coming to terms with Pauls sentimentality, we lost John Lennon to a madman. I gathered in a public square in Dayton, Ohio, held a candle in the darkness, and sang through my tears: All We Are Saying, Is Give Peace A Chance.
After years of silence, Paul has recently talked about his reconciliation with John that occurred not long before his death. He talked about how they batted around the idea of making music together again.
Imagine what might have been.
So with John murdered in 1980 and George a victim of cancer in 2001, Im moving into my gray-haired years with just two Beatles. But the good thing about growing old with the Beatles is that, When Im 64, Paul will be 78.
Hes now mature enough to name-check his own work. In 1969, he wrote The End. It was the last song recorded collectively by all four Beatles, and it is the final song on the final album they recorded together, Abbey Road.
In 2007, on an album called Memory Almost Full, Paul referenced his 1969 work when he wrote The End of the End.
In this, hes talking about his own demise. And hes got a pretty jolly attitude, considering:
On the day that I die Id like jokes to be told
And stories of old to be rolled out like carpets
That children have played on And laid on while listening to stories of old
At the end of the end Its the start of a journey To a much better place And this wasnt bad So a much better place Would have to be special No need to be sad
Once you get to a certain stage in life, its hard not to think of The End. Even if you are Paul McCartney.
Every time I see Paul in concert, Im certain it will be my last. I thought that in 1976, when I saw him with Wings. I was convinced of it when I flew to San Francisco a few summers back to see him perform there.
But now, Im not so sure. He has often said he wants to keep performing until he cant do it any more.
So Ill just keep singing along, until I cant do it anymore. And Ill try to remember the words Paul left us with in that final song he and his mates recorded all those years ago:
And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make.