A Private Ball With Sir Paul
A real live Beatle interaction? This blog isn’t about gossip per se or celebrity rumors or dirt. The people who happen to be famous in these blog posts have shared time with me in a way that is somehow relatable. But Paul McCartney? Even if it were just a sighting, and nothing more, it’s still going to be a mind-blower. And let’s face it, more rare as the years go by. But it's not necessarily cause for a blog post in my opinion. Yet this encounter will always stay with me because of how quiet and quaint our time was together.
It was a late Thursday night in the Polo Lounge, closing up soon and nobody around. We were winding down. Then a sudden handful of serious security people came in, taking up solo positions at tables around the room, signaling a change of plans for sure. One of the servers told me "Sir Paul's on his way here".
I had 15 minutes left to play but damned if I wasn’t going to stretch that now. The place was ripe for a special interlude: nobody at the tables, and only a couple of well-lubricated regulars at the bar, in their own orbit and no longer within range of lucidity nor comprehension for the rest of the night. Thank God the staff was expert at summoning Uber so intuitively.
And in the middle of one of my songs he flowed in like a familiar breeze. The real Paul, a Beatle in plain sight! Now Tony, try not to ogle, yes it’s him unmistakably. The face that’s been distinctly recognized worldwide for well over half a century. He still had 16-year-old eyes despite his what, nearly 80 year old soul? And there was a youthful spring to his step, with his head turning slightly left and right taking in the empty scene, as he was led to his table behind me, in a comfy cozy little alcove where he sat facing me. His companion for the evening was Rosanna Arquette.
Word was, he had just come off of a long international flight and was going to stay the night in the hotel, wanted a bit of supper, wanted to chill, and knew he would be taken care of to the hilt. Is the kitchen closed yet? Hell yes for the world, but never for Sir Paul. For him, the ovens were still hot, not having even gotten up to concert pitch yet, as the chefs’ fingers twitched on their knives in anticipation, and the whole place became a private Fantasyland for two for the next couple hours or so.
He was casually dressed in t shirt and a black blazer with black and white Converse tennis shoes, and was remarkably cheery. As he passed me on his way to his table he nodded to me and said “Oh fabulous, we get some music”. It was hilarious for me because all I could give him was a goofy “hi”, trying to be nonchalant. What possible greeting has he not seen in the last 60 years?? Ha! I tried to say it as though I see him every night.
Actually I think that had the kitchen really been closed, he wouldn’t have fussed nor complained. He probably would have just asked if any bloke had something handy to eat. Such were his reactions to life’s changes—a lesson to behold. Sir Paul controls the outcome of everything placed at his royal feet. But he’s so cool, he doesn’t even really think he’s Sir Paul!
As they sat, I played a catalogue of the “other” music that was going on during the Beatles’ career, tunes which I knew Paul knew. After about 45 minutes, Sherri the server came up to me discreetly, and said “ Every song you’re playing, he’s quietly SINGING to Rosanna!” I was delighted. What a way to know that he was listening. I knew he had to be listening, since the place was stone cold silent. But it was during one of the 70s ballads (by Jim Croce) that I finally heard his voice from the back of the room. That unmistakeable smooth voice. Unplugged, live, a couple dozen feet away, and I was the "band"! "Thrill" doesn't even begin to describe how all of this was feeling. And when the song ended he gave a kindly “Wonderful!' shoutout and I heard him tap loudly on the tablecloth. I stole a quick look behind me to see him give a thumbs up. There was nothing I played that he wasn’t on top of. He was casual and accommodating. Just a true knight I suppose.
It seemed like only an instant had gone by, when hotel security came up and told me to pack it up. It was almost 1:30 a.m. Reluctantly I put the baby grand to bed. I stood up and heard that billion-dollar-Brit voice suddenly ask “Done for the night, are we?” Now I faced him with a smile and said, “Well, the hand of security has intervened”, or something weird like that. For a moment he looked around the room, and it appeared like he might ask me to “disregard the bloody wankers”, and I would have loved that royal command. Yeah Paul! You and me buddy, and Abbey Road! Just as quickly, a look of understanding and sympathy came over his face, as he remarked “I understand." "It’s been a good little time we had with you, man. Thanks for entertaining us!” Rosanna’s eyes underlined his remarks as she smiled and nodded. I thanked him earnestly for being so kind and wonderful. On the way home, all I could think was: Sir Paul himself actually called me "man"! Yeahhhh babyyyyy!!!