on taking a sad song and making it better.

Today is my mom’s birthday! For her birthday we took her to see Paul McCartney. He was in town, he was her favorite when she was a girl, and the Beatles are the greatest band of all time. You can’t say no to seeing a real live Beatle in your town.

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The show was awesome. I guess it would have been better if he played every single song that I know, but he did play 39 songs so I can’t complain. (Seriously, though, he played for three hours. Made me think maybe I should be a vegetarian.)

Here’s what I have been thinking about the past few days: I grew up with a lot of Beatles/Wings songs so of course I know them deep within my soul. Like most of the people in the audience, I sang along as much as I could, belting out “Hey Jude” and “Carry That Weight” completely unselfconsciously. That might sound like no big deal except that I am a terrible singer. I haven’t felt unselfconscious about singing in church (the place I regularly engage with public singing) since my youth group days, when a boy leaned over and said that if I couldn’t sing on key, I shouldn’t sing at all. But on Thursday, there was some kind of special McCartney magic that made it possible for me to join in without the usual hesitations.

I was swept up by the music in a way I don’t think has ever happened at church, where I have so often felt I had to perform in a certain way or have a certain kind of experience or reaction. It made me grateful for the gift of simply being able to sing along with songs I love.

Thanks, Sir Paul, for all the fun. (And for singing the Happy Birthday song. How did you know it was my mom’s birthday?)

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