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23rd April, 2020

#PaperbackWriter - Sarah Stacey

Part two of our #PaperbackWriter series features a blog from @sarahstacey92.

Sarah explains how she would have loved to witness Beatlemania first hand, revisits the time she watched Paul perform live (with a very special guest!) and explains how she made her friends of a similiar age become fans of The Beatles and share her passion!

Thanks Sarah, and enjoy!

In an ideal world, I would have been a teenager in 1963; just in time to experience Beatlemania first-hand. I’d have been able to see them play live, on their first and only visit to Dublin, collect their records in the order they were released, and follow their career as it happened.

In reality, I was born in 1992, making me one of the many Beatles fans around the world who arrived late to the party. The band had broken up over 20 years ago, John Lennon had sadly been gone for more than a decade, and other bands were busy making their mark on the charts. But I didn’t really understand any of this when I first discovered The Beatles. All I knew was that I loved them. My parents had the Red and Blue compilation albums on cassette, which were constantly played around the house and in the car. Those tapes were probably the first music I ever heard as a child, and they were directly responsible for kick-starting my love affair with The Beatles.

When I was a teenager, I started to feel the effects of being a younger Beatles fan. I heard stories about what Beatlemania was like and wished that I could have experienced it. None of my friends were interested in their music the way I was, so I had no one to share it with. I threw myself into as many Beatle experiences as possible in an effort to capture some of the magic; going to see tribute bands, visiting Liverpool, attending festivals, even pestering my parents to let me see the Dakota and the Strawberry Fields memorial while on a family holiday in New York.

But the best experience was in 2009, when I got to see Paul McCartney live for the first time. I was 17 years old when he came to Dublin as part of his European tour. I’d never been more excited for anything in my life, and it was just perfect. Here I was, in the front row, watching a living, breathing Beatle perform right in front of my eyes. Six months later he came back for another concert, and I was lucky enough to do it all over again.

A few years passed before I got the chance to see Paul for the third time. By then, a lot had changed in my life; I’d been to university and was now working in my chosen field. But my Beatles obsession had remained a constant, and I’d finally befriended some fans my own age after years of not knowing any.

In December 2018, I travelled to London with my friends to see Paul at the O2. We wanted to see him in Liverpool, as it’s his hometown, but we were unable to get tickets so chose London instead. We didn’t have great seats, but we didn’t really care; we were just so happy to be there. I’ve never been one of those people who believes that everything happens for a reason, but as it turned out, going to London instead of Liverpool was the best thing that could have happened to us.

The show was amazing, as expected. But the encore brought something completely unexpected… After bringing Ronnie Wood on stage, Paul then announced another surprise guest — Ringo Starr! At that moment, everyone in the arena started screaming and I thought it must be a dream! Ringo hugged Paul and got behind the drum kit, they started playing ‘Get Back’, and I quickly realised that I was not dreaming. I looked at my friends. They were crying and singing at the same time, as was I. For a brief moment, with tears streaming down my face, I imagined The Beatles performing this song on the Apple rooftop; all four of them together. Now, 50 years later, there were two — and they were right here in front of me.

Paul and Ringo only played one song together that night, but for those few minutes I felt joy like I’ve never felt before. When the news broke online afterwards, I started getting messages from people who knew I was at the concert and who understood just how significant this moment was to me.

If you had told me when I was a teenager that one day I would get to see the two surviving Beatles perform together, I’d never have believed it was possible. It just didn’t cross my mind that something so special could ever happen to me. But somehow it did happen, and I’m sure I’ll be pinching myself for the rest of my life.

I may not have been there for Beatlemania, but as far as I’m concerned, I got to experience the next best thing.

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