Dear Mr. McCartney,
Or should it be Sir McCartney?
Never mind – let’s skip the fancy stuff and make it Paul. We go way back.
Not that you have the slightest idea who I am. We’ll get to that later.
I’m writing because a recent column in our local newspaper raised a glimmer of hope that you’d come to Boise on your next tour. Boise is the capital of Idaho, Paul. You’ve been in the neighborhood because you’ve visited Steve Miller at Sun Valley, a couple of hours away.
But you’ve never played in Idaho. Not once.
In what, 51 years?
That’s how long it’s been since the Beatles-on-Ed Sullivan changed America. Of course the Beatles never would have done a concert in a city the size of Boise. The Beatles were way too big, and Boise was way too small. Especially then.
You have done shows in the Northwest, though. Salt Lake City, Portland, Tacoma and Seattle come to mind. And last year you played in Missoula, Mont.
Missoula? Missoula is less than a third the size of Boise. The stadium where you played isn’t as big or as nice as the one here, either. Perhaps you’ve been channel surfing and caught a glimpse of a football game played in a stadium with a blue-turf field? That’s us. Our blue turf not only is unique; it’s moderately famous. And how often have do you get a chance to play on a blue football field?
The column suggesting the possibility of a McCartney concert there was written by this newspaper’s Michael Deeds. He reasoned that the first concert at Albertsons (blue turf) Stadium in decades recently could lead to bigger things and quoted a promoter who repeatedly had tried to get you here.
As he noted, some pesky details such as scheduling conflicts and alcohol sales, normally prohibited, would need to be addressed. And the biggest detail of all – persuading one of the most successful composers and musicians ever that it’s worth his time to come here.
Would fans from Boise and the surrounding area turn out for a McCartney concert?
Would starving dogs show up at a barbecue?
The Beatles were huge in Boise, Paul. Really huge.
You’re probably thinking that the Beatles were huge everywhere. Understandable, considering that you were at the epicenter of Beatlemania. Understandable, but not necessarily true.
One of my biggest revelations during six months spent in the American South as a guest of the U.S. Navy was how few people there listened to the Beatles – or any other British Invasion group. They listened to soul music and Bobbie Gentry singing “Ode to Billy Joe.” Incessantly. I happened to be in a club in Pensacola, Fla. the night the Beatles did the worldwide broadcast of “All You Need is Love,” and the crowd demanded that the bartender switch the channel. You could have knocked me over with a peace symbol.
This was the antithesis of what was happening in Boise at the time. A local record store printed a weekly list of its ten best-selling records, and for over a year they were overwhelmingly Beatles songs. Local bands were obsessed with learning Beatles songs. Everyone here loved the Beatles.
Well, maybe not everyone. My neighbor Howard Snyder didn’t love the Beatles. But he dressed like the Maytag repairman and listened to Lawrence Welk.
In time, even parents came around. My folks weren’t keen on the early Beatles music, but when you came out with “Rubber Soul” they admitted that the lads from Liverpool might have something after all. My mother, who was raised on Rodgers and Hammerstein, listened to that album repeatedly and was given to breathless remarks about how beautiful it was.
I was smitten even before the Ed Sullivan Show. I played in a band then (still do) and our deejay manager let us listen to Beatles’ songs before they were on the radio. We’d never heard anything like them. They were so different from what had gone before. We worked hard to learn those early classics and became lifelong fans.
You probably don’t remember and maybe never knew, but I came close to interviewing you once. You played in Tacoma, Wash., in 2002, and I worked with your then publicist Geoff Baker to set up an interview. It was looking good right up until the day of the show, when I called Baker from Tacoma and he said it was off.
The same thing happened with Ringo when he played here. So my lifelong dream of interviewing a Beatle remains a dream.
But that’s not why I’m writing. The main reason is that you have thousands of devoted fans here who have never had the opportunity to enjoy a McCartney concert. On the blue turf or anywhere else in Idaho. I hope you’ll consider doing it for them, Paul.
And if you can squeeze in an interview, or even a couple of quick questions … well, that would be a dream come true.
Tim Woodward’s column appears every other Sunday in The Idaho Statesman and is posted on http://www.woodwardblog.com the following Mondays. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org