Austin City Limits

A Living Legend: Sir Paul McCartney

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By Hannah Alvarado
Web Content Contributor

There were thousands of people, all jam-packed together in a group on that humid, gray and overcast afternoon in Austin, Texas. We all shuffled along slowly forward, but with growing anticipation, into the various lines that had formed. I obviously can’t speak for every single person there on that second weekend of ACL, but after having been in the crowd that evening, I say that most of them ended up somewhere in the massive crowd that formed in front of one stage in particular. A stage that hosted an individual with so much musical talent, that he and his band arguably carry the basis of all rock n’ roll bands. It was something I never thought I’d be able to do, which was to see a real live living legend known as The Beatles. That evening, we all had the esteemed honor of watching Sir Paul McCartney perform live.

Sir Paul McCartney is displayed on a large screen at ACL
“The Beatles, to paraphrase T. S. Eliot, made the modern world possible for rock and roll.” – The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature. Photo by Hannah Alvarado.

So for anyone who is somehow unaware, The Beatles are a historic rock group whose music has influenced not only hundreds of bands that formed thereafter, but who also changed the course of what we know as a rock-band to this day. Although much about the band’s early days are not recorded, we do know that it was first formed in 1957, by John (Winston) Lennon, in Liverpool. (Then a skiffle group called Quarry Men). Shortly after the band’s creation, Sir Paul McCartney (Born James Paul McCartney) joined the band shortly thereafter [John formed it] as a second guitarist and was followed by George Harrison, their bass player, Stuart Sutcliffe, as well as their then drummer Pete Best. Later on in their years, the band was reduced to four members; John, Paul, George and their permanent drummer Ringo Starr (born Richard Henry Parkin Starkey). “The Beatles’ first album, Please Please Me, was recorded in a single day, and released by EMI in March 1963. The album (titled the same as their single) climbed to the top of the British music charts, where it remained for thirty weeks, and a new popular-culture phenomenon was born: Beatlemania, all according The Oxford English Encyclopedia of British Literature. One of the band’s later albums titled Sgt. Pepper’s Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band is one of the most written about, as well as “most important and influential rock-and-roll album ever recorded.”

As you know, (James) Paul McCartney, (born on 18 June 1942, Liverpool, Lancashire, England) was the secondary member of the band that became known as The Beatles. (And is my personal favorite of all the immensely talented men who made up the group). Although, it should be mentioned that while he is most well known for his years songs, movies and memorabilia from the aforementioned band, he’s also done several other artistic works outside the band. According to The Oxford English Encyclopedia of British Literature, he “wrote ‘Woman’ for Peter And Gordon under the pseudonym Bernard Webb” and founded “the company Apple Records where McCartney guided the early careers of Mary Hopkin and Badfinger and enjoyed cameos on releases by Jackie Lomax and James Taylor.” He was even officially knighted by the queen of England! One main reason I was so excited to see Sir Paul McCartney that evening was not only because I knew of his musical prowess or what he’s done for the rock genre, or even that I have been a fan of his music since before I could remember his music, and all the music of the Beatles have been and remain a familial tie that goes remains strong at four generations. Each time a song of his, or of the Beatles comes on, I instantly feel connected to cousins, Grandparents living and now past, my siblings and now their children. Music, as we all know, is an invisible string that is capable of crossing the barrier of time, space, and at least in my case, even death.

a sign that says "ACL Fest"
Austin City Limits is an annual music festival where many people create a wide range of experiences. Photo by Hannah Alvarado.

We’d been in Zilker park a good few hours, and the sticky afternoon had turned into a chilled and pleasant evening. Night had finally fallen, and we were crowded near the front left of the stage. The crowd cheered as the lights dimmed, then erupted with the beginning of the concert. Finally, he walked out onto the stage, and sounded even better in person that I could have hoped for. As the concert went on, and the song Hey Jude played, everyone together as a crowd, young and old, sang loudly and proudly. Our melody echoed throughout all of Zilker, that was now packed to capacity. I looked around, in that moment, and examined every single face that sang, which was an extremely humbling and connecting experience. That whole evening was a truly incredible experience to live through and was something I never thought I’d have the pleasure of doing. I can’t speak to the rest of ACL, which never disappoints me, but if I had to point to an overall highlight, it’d absolutely be seeing living legend such a Sir Paul McCartney.

Featured photo by Hannah Alvarado.

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