I drove to Bossier City, Louisiana, of all places, Saturday night to see Paul McCartney perform at CenturyLink Center. I made the 4-hour drive and paid twice what the ticket said, but I didn’t care. Beatle Paul is the biggest this, the greatest that, and you never know. Like the Rolling Stones song, this could be the last time. He’s 75 now.
How much longer can a performer do 39 songs over three hours, never leave the stage, never take a sip of water, leave the audience drained with love and excitement – and still leave out enough No. 1 songs to fill a double greatest hits album?
McCartney took the stage at 8:20 p.m. and 14,000 fans, a packed house, shook the walls with awe – he was here, in Bossier City, a small gambling tourist town in northwest Louisiana. Not Houston, New Orleans, or Dallas.
“We’ve never played here before,” Macca said. “How many people are from Bossier City?” It sounded like about 20 percent. “How many from someplace else?” The floor is still wobbling. “The tourism board thanks you,” he said.
McCartney turned to his band, counted down 1-2-3-4, and hit the opening chord – maybe the most famous note in rock history – to “A Hard Day’s Night,” the Beatles movie hit from 1964. The act you’ve known for all these doesn’t change much with each enduring tour, even the between-songs patter is the same.
But that’s THE guy, singing the world’s greatest hits, and it’s a bucket list experience to be a part of it. When he stands on the stage alone singing “Yesterday” … wow! You can’t say McCartney did all his hits, because we’d still be there till Thursday, but he included the biggest of the biggest “Hey, Jude,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “We Can Work It Out,” “Love Me Do,” “Lady Madonna,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Let It Be,” “Sgt. Pepper” and the “Abbey Road” medley.
McCartney wore dark jeans, a plain white dress shirt and looked trim and sharp. He bounced from front and center to his piano up and stage right. He’s finally letting a little gray slip into his hair. He looked like a legend who’s growing older gracefully, and 14,000 people howled when he wriggled his rear end during hard rockers. Although he can’t hit some notes here and there, not everywhere, he covered his tracks so nobody knew. Or cared. He looked good and made the audience feel good about themselves.
I sat next to a young, 20s-something couple from Mississippi. It was their first Paul McCartney show. The wife bought the tickets as a surprise anniversary gift. She is a classical musician, plays the flute. After the show, I asked what she thought. “It was different,” she said. Different good or bad? “Different amazing … I love him!” The Beatles broke up 20 years before she was born.
McCartney knows: “When we do an old song, the audience lights up like a galaxy, and when we do something new, it’s like a black hole.”
So here’s an idea, why not leave out “Queenie Eye” and “My Valentine,” and put in (take a deep breath): “Michelle,” “Penny Lane,” “Yellow Submarine,” “Here, There and Everywhere,” “Get Back,” “Helter Skelter,” “All My Loving,” “Eight Days a Week,” “Hello, Goodbye,” “She Loves You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Paperback Writer” or “The Long and Winding Road.” And those are just “Paul songs.” There’s 20 more “John songs” he could do.
Look at me, telling Paul McCartney, the most successful rock ‘n’ roller ever, a Beatle for heaven’s sake, how to do his business.
I should have known better
When I’m staying one night by myself, I’m not expecting, or paying for, a 5-star elegant hotel. I jump online, click “price low to high,” and settle on something close with free cable and Internet. And where there’s at least a 90 percent chance I won’t get murdered in the middle of the night.
Unfortunately, like online dating, the photos and descriptions often aren't exactly accurate. I’ve stayed in hotels and motels with bed bugs, blood stains on the carpet, air conditioners that won’t turn on and toilets that don’t quite get the job done. The last one, that’s when you call the manager.
Last week was something new, though.
The motel didn’t have keys to the rooms. And they charged my room to a credit card I don’t have.
I drove to Bossier City to see Paul McCartney at CenturyLink Center. Went online and reserved - and paid in advance - a room at Crossland Economy Suites. Got a good deal, $45 a night. Tripadvisor gave it a pretty decent review, 3.1 out of 5 stars, for a bargain basement joint.
When I got to the front desk, the clerk explained that they didn’t have keys to the rooms. When she was done checking in other guests, she’d meet me at my room and open the door. Huh?
I walked around the building, found my room and waited for the clerk. I thought, “This is weird.”
I settled in. A few minutes later, I went back to the office to ask for the Wi-Fi password. Again, back to my room, waited for the clerk to open the door. I thought, “This is definitely weird … and it’s getting old already.”
When you stay in a motel, you’re in and out of the room more than you think. You don’t want to leave the door open because somebody could walk by and … it’s just not a smart idea.
Fill the ice bucket, wait for the desk clerk to open the door. Run out for lunch, wait for the desk clerk. Left phone charger in the car, wait for the desk clerk. After the McCartney concert, I had to pick up a phone in the “breezeway” and wait for the desk clerk.
I checked out Sunday morning and checked the bill: $35.70, charged to my MasterCard. Where’d that price come from? Another thing, I don’t have a MasterCard. Can’t wait to see how that checks out.