My favorite song by The Beatles is Penny Lane.
With so many hits to choose from I imagine it is hard for most people to definitively state one favorite song produced by the Fab Four. And while many of their songs have helped create the musical backdrop of my life, Penny Lane was where it all began for me.
Let’s go back. It’s the late-1980s and I am a member of Girl Scout Troop 351. (Best. Troop. Ever.) Several of my fellow troop members and best friends live in the same neighborhood. One summer afternoon we are all playing together outside. For reasons that now escape me, we decide to choreograph a dance. In the back of my mind we are creating it to be performed during the talent show at the annual Jubilee held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Ha. As I write that I realize just how weird it sounds. But yes, a highlight of the year was an overnight camping trip at the Motor Speedway where we would spend hours walking around and around the track. You can’t make this stuff up. I digress…
I am certain Penny Lane was suggested by Emily. At the age of eleven she had a love for the Beatles and their music that surpassed anyone I’ve ever met. In fact, she was the first person I knew that really, really loved music. Her love for music would inform my musical interests for years to come. I remember listening to Penny Lane over and over that day. Learning the lyrics and figuring out how we would act out each scenario described in the song. I remember working together as a team, excited as we came up with each new idea; feeling so grown up and accomplished. It’s funny that I don’t actually recall ever performing what we created but I can’t hear the song without seeing this group of girls standing in the Decker’s driveway and having such a great afternoon.
I would later follow Emily’s lead and become a devoted Beatles fan. The only posters I ever had in my room as a preteen were theirs and to my great fortune the first concert I ever saw was Paul McCartney. Emily’s parents took us to see “The Paul McCartney World Tour” in the summer of 1990. The show was amazing. He hadn’t toured in ten years and Raleigh was one of the last stops. Emily and I were, not surprisingly, some of the youngest concert goers sitting around us but we were just as excited as those that were allowing his songs to take them back to a time when they were our age. I sure wish I still had the concert t-shirt.
It’s funny the things I remember about that night. I specifically remember Emily’s mother, Bonnie, making and bringing fried chicken. I can’t imagine being allowed to bring a bottle of water into a stadium now, much less a picnic dinner. In fact, recently I was busted at Madison Square Garden for having gummy candies in my purse. And not so long ago my sister was asked to throw out make-up that was in her bag. Something about drugs being smashed into powder compacts. WHAT? At the risk of sounding as old as my knees sometimes feel I can’t help but sigh and say, “Things were simpler when I was younger.”
I’m not sure if I’ve ever really said thank you to Emily (and her folks) for making “real” music a part of my musical education but I very am appreciative. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some pop music (the afore mentioned gummy candies were in my purse when I was going to see Madonna), but I feel super fortunate to have been listening to John, Paul, George, and Ringo on vinyl during my formative years.
And now for your listening enjoyment….