McCartney

Highline Ballroom, NYC 2007

In honor of Paul’s 79th birthday today, I thought I would post a story that still means a lot to me. I made a bracelet out of the wristband for this show, and I have worn it to every McCartney concert I’ve gone to since then. Except one. It broke right before we left to go to the concert and meet Paul at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. I repaired it when I got home, though, and I have it on today. I wrote this story the day after I got home from the show back in 2007.

6/18/2021

Wednesday, June 13, 2007. I will remember this concert at the Highline Ballroom for the rest of my life.  Not because it was the epitome of awesome to see Paul in such an intimate setting, rather because this day proved to me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there are people in this world who are kind and who aren’t afraid to stand up for others and for what they believe in.  I witnessed this first hand, and it is something that I will always treasure. 

The moral of this story is that kindness shall always prevail.  Never be afraid to show kindness to anyone, even total strangers. 

I found out about the New York City “Secret Show” on Tuesday morning; so I was a bit behind on getting the info. The instant I read it, I started making a plan to go. Bad thing is that I was three days away from payday and close to broke. So, a friend of mine loaned me some money and I got a bus ticket.  I hate the bus; just plain hate it.

I left my house at about 9:15 on Tuesday night. My roommate gave me a ride to the bus station, and I got on a bus and was supposed to be in the city at 3 am. It didn’t happen that way. The trip down was abominable and we were late.  There were several accidents, traffic jams, construction—and then the driver had to pull over because there was an unruly passenger on our bus. The driver has the right to put people like that off the bus, but still it took forever to get that resolved.  The police were called. It was horrible–especially because the guy was sitting near me.

I didn’t get in a nap before I left the house (though I did try, too excited), nor could I really sleep on the bus. So, I’d been awake since about 5:15am Tuesday morning. I was exhausted, but determined.

We finally got to New York City a little after 4am on Wednesday. I’d forgotten to get cash for a cab when I was in Boston, so I had to find an ATM. Got a cab, called my Mom and I got in line outside the Highline somewhere around 4:15am. When I got in line, the guy in front of me handed me a list to sign. I was number 44. So, I thought ‘Hurrah! I’m sure to get a wristband!’ Yeah, right.

Then I found out what happened on Tuesday.

There were so many different stories told about what happened on Tuesday that I honestly stopped listening to them.  I’m still not quite sure which version is actually true.

Here’s what I was told: PaulMcCartney.com made the announcement about the show on Monday night. Now, whether or not that was a day earlier than planned (as had been suggested) I don’t know. The announcement said that wristbands would be given out on Wednesday at 12:30.  

Anyway, people started lining up as early as Monday night and the venue didn’t like that at all. So, Tuesday evening–somewhere around 4–they gave all of the people in line a ticket. This ticket guaranteed them a wristband, which they got on Wednesday at 12:30. There were 120 of these given away. And, only a total of 150 wristbands were supposed to be given out. People claimed that the total number wasn’t known at the time, but I don’t believe that.

Not to hard to do the math, huh? That meant that the almost 300 of us in line on Wednesday without one of these tickets were out of luck. The line eventually wrapped around the block (and there were a lot of “people” that cut in line), but it didn’t matter.

The line to get a wristband stopped about 7 or so people in front of me. I believe it was about 1:30 when they came out and said that there were no more wristbands to be had. And I just lost it. I started sobbing uncontrollably. I couldn’t stop.

I was overtired. I know I was heartbroken. But, I just lost it. My mother called me in the middle of all of this, and I couldn’t even talk to her (this is rare!). I know people came up and tried to comfort me, but I was absolutely inconsolable.

I’m actually quite embarrassed that I reacted this way. I’m usually Ms. Calm and Cool with the Occasional Temper Flare Up. I don’t know how long it took me to regain control of myself. But, during my breakdown, the people I’d stood in line with all morning plead my case to the venue people.

I’d been talking to people in line all day, you know. And, one of them recognized my screen name on Paul’s message board.

“You’re a moderator! Why are you in line? Don’t you know Paul?”

I laughed. Being a moderator on a message board does not equate being acquainted with Paul McCartney. I wish it did, that would’ve been a nice perk. Anyway, I guess my status made its way through the line of fans because people came up and asked me about it. I didn’t deny it at all. Why should I, you know?

Anyway, so I finally calmed myself and went to stand with the fans who were talking with the venue people. I’d been talking with various people all day, one of whom was a nice New Yorker named Brandon and his wife.  Brandon became my champion.

He led a crusade to get me into the show. The next thing I knew, some venue guy had me write my name down on a small piece of paper. I handed it back to him, and he kept saying “I’ll see what I can do.” But, I didn’t know what he was talking about, really. And, then some of the other fans explained to me that Brandon argued with the venue folks about “at least giving [me] a wristband.” I was never sure exactly why he chose to do this for me. Most people would have fought for themselves.

I was stunned. I was humbled. I was honored in a way that I’d never been before. I mean, these complete strangers—because Brandon had others who fought with him—were fighting for me. ME! Who am I, you know? I’m just another Macca fan. I can’t put into words how this makes me feel. It was the nicest, most wonderful, yet absolutely profound thing that has ever happened to me.

Then, the first venue guy came back and opened the gate and asked me to follow another guy. So, I did, but I was really confused. I was presented to someone who looked familiar, but that I honestly couldn’t place at first.

“So, I hear you have a lot of fans over there.” He said.

“Huh?” I was a little taken aback. “Yeah, I guess so.”

“And, I understand you traveled a long way to be here?”

“Well,” said I “I came down from Boston and it was a nightmare, and I’ve been in line since about 4:15 this morning.” I was once again on the verge of tears.

“Well, I reached in my pocket a minute ago, and—give me your left arm.” I obeyed, although I wondered why the hell he wanted to see my left arm.

“I reached in my pocket and found one of these. Here you go.” He fastened a wristband around my wrist. And, damned if I didn’t start bawling again!

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I said through my tears. And, then I just grabbed him and hugged him.

I never hug people I don’t know. So, this was a major experience.

“Off you go.” He said to me, and I walked back towards the crowd of people.

“Well?” Brandon asked me as I was almost to the gate. “What happened? Why are you crying?”

Someone else said “What happened?”

I raised my sleeves (I had 2 shirts and my fleece jacket on. I was cold!!) and showed them my wristband and everyone started clapping and cheering. I was completely overwhelmed. I hugged everyone who’d stood up for me, especially Brandon and his wife. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before. I’m usually the one championing for other people.

I was so overcome that I had to walk away. I called my mother and told her what happened. She started crying. I guess it was just a day for tears.

I went down the block and around the corner to Starbucks to try to compose myself. Got some iced orange tea while I was there, and then headed back. I was now determined to do whatever I could to get everyone else in.

I gave up when Brandon and his wife decided to leave. That really just broke my heart because, out of everyone else I’d met that day, they deserved to go in much more than I did. They were the most unselfish people I’ve ever had the privilege to meet.

Afterwards, I met up with some ladies from St. Louis and hung out with them in line. They were just awesome and I’m glad I had that time to chat with them. I think that one of my favorite things was getting to talk to people and recognizing people; putting a face to a screen name.

The radio station showed up and played Memory Almost Full. I didn’t really pay attention to them. The people who’d gotten the tickets to redeem for a wristband were also given a number. And, we had to line up according to number order. Of course, I didn’t have a number. The weird thing is that the numbers only went up to 100…and the guy in front of us had # 97.

Anyway, so, we finally got inside. And, I have to say, that to my knowledge, the people that were still waiting when the doors opened, did get to go in. I hope that it was everyone who waited.

I did find out that the man who’d given me my wristband was none other than Paul’s head of security. He must think I’m insane. He handed everyone a ticket as we walked in and he smiled at me. I think he’s my new favorite person in the world.

I don’t why they gave out tickets, perhaps as a souvenir? I was behind the St. Louis ladies. We were given our choice in sizes for the free Memory Almost Full commemorative t-shirt, and then we went in.

If there had been rows, I was about 5th row, center stage. I think my heart stopped for a minute when I realized this. The place itself wasn’t too large; I’ve been in bigger clubs for concerts.

 I didn’t bother to take too much of the place in once I realized how close I was going to be to Paul. People started going camera happy when the VIPs came in. The only one I recognized was Whoopi Goldberg. She’s one of my favorite actresses, and I have a newfound respect for her now that I’ve seen her jamming out to Get Back! My cell was low on battery, so I saved my picture taking for Paul.

I can’t describe this concert; there are no proper words. Amazing! Incredible! Spectacular! Fantastic! These don’t even do it justice. I need to invent a word. Slam every positive adjective you’ve ever heard together, and that might come close to describing it. He took the stage about 8:40.

I usually cry through the first few songs whenever I see him. Not this time, though. I think I was in shock. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even breathe! I’d never been this close to him before, never met him. He waived and pointed at me once; but he wasn’t quite this close when he did that.

I don’t have a clue what the set list was. I know he sang I’ll Follow the Sun; which once again reduced me to tears. It’s my favorite Beatles song.  He also sang my second favorite Beatles song, Hey Jude. It was also the first time I heard Calico Skies live.

I think my favorite part of the show was the fact that he would talk to us. People would shout out questions and comments and he would answer. That was bloody awesome! I couldn’t bring myself to shout out, but it’s all good. My second favorite part was Nod Your Head. The whole crowd all nodding in time to the music. That was so awesome that even the word ‘awesome’ doesn’t properly describe it!

I’m sure that the others have described the set list and given beautiful reviews song by song. I just can’t. The whole thing was so amazing that, when I woke up at home in Boston, I thought I’d dreamt the whole thing.

It was an incredible, magnificent experience that I will never, ever forget for the rest of my days. After the show, I met up with some of the people who waited to get in. I was thrilled that they were allowed in! I shared a cab with a lovely girl named Heather. She dropped me off at the Port on her way home. She’s a barrista at Starbucks, and found out on Tuesday night that her store was given 10 passes to get in. Her manager gave her one because she’s a big fan.

The bus ride home—well, if anything happened I wouldn’t have known. I closed my eyes and the next thing I knew I was back in Boston. So, I guess it is possible to sleep on a bus, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

I didn’t want to cut off my wristband. It’s not really so much because it has Paul’s signature on it, or that it’s a lovely memento of the show. It’s more of a reminder that for just one moment in time, someone believed in me enough to stand up for me. For that, and for the chance to see Paul up close and personal, I will forever be grateful. 

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