One of the most remarkable things about Paul McCartney’s astonishing show on Saturday is that it told just half a story.
All of the songs that McCartney and/or John Lennon wrote for the Beatles are credited to both of them, but most are regarded as either Paul Songs or John Songs, and with a couple of exceptions (including “A Day in the Life,” which is a Paul Song and a John Song welded together), Saturday’s set consisted entirely of Paul Songs:
Venus and Mars/Rock Show; Jet; All My Loving; Letting Go; Drive My Car; Highway; Let Me Roll It/Foxy Lady; The Long and Winding Road; Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five; Let 'Em In; My Love; I've Just Seen A Face; And I Love Her; Blackbird; Here Today; Dance Tonight; Mrs. Vanderbilt; Eleanor Rigby; Something; Sing the Changes; Band on the Run; Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da; Back in the USSR; I’ve Got A Feeling; Paperback Writer; A Day In The Life/Give Peace A Chance; Let It Be; Live and Let Die; Hey Jude. First encore: Day Tripper; Lady Madonna; Get Back. Second encore: Yesterday, Helter Skelter, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)/The End.
In the early days of this blog, in a brief rumination about John Lennon, I wrote “Every once in a while, don’t you stop to wonder what he might have done these past twenty-six years? And doesn’t it break your heart a little every time?” Watching Paul play, I had those thoughts again, and I wondered what a comparable Lennon show in 2010 might be like.
Your first reaction might be that Lennon wouldn’t do a comparable show, that he had little interest in visiting his past. But there’s no telling how his thinking might have changed over the past three decades. He clearly was more at peace with himself and his past just before his death at age 40 than he had been ten years earlier. So, if you have disbelief, suspend it for a moment.
In my imagination, this is the set of John Songs that he would have played, and it is as titanic as the show Paul performed. How is it possible that these two men were in the same band?
Power to the People; Whatever Gets You Thru the Night; The Ballad of John and Yoko: Eight Days a Week; A Hard’s Day’s Night; If I Fell; Help!; And Your Bird Can Sing; Come Together; Jealous Guy; Working Class Hero; Norwegian Wood; Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds; Dear Prudence; #9 Dream; You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away; Mind Games; Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey; (Just Like) Starting Over; Nobody Told Me; I’m a Loser; Ticket to Ride; Happiness is a Warm Gun; Across the Universe; A Day in the Life; Watching the Wheels; Strawberry Fields Forever; Revolution; I am the Walrus; Instant Karma! First encore: Imagine; Nowhere Man; Tomorrow Never Knows. Second encore: In My Life; All You Need Is Love; Twist and Shout.
In this fantasy, John is alive, but George is not, so just as Paul played “Something” as a tribute to the Quiet Beatle, John might slip in “Here Comes the Sun.” And at some show, somewhere, John’s friend Paul emerges unannounced during the first encore for a duet on “Two of Us.”
If I’m going to dream, let me have big dreams.