“The End” is the last song recorded collectively by all four Beatles. The closing line, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make” has always been one of my favorite philosophical lines. The last time I saw The Beatles, they used it to close out the regular portion of their show. An encore of “Hey Jude” was the actual finale just like at every Paul McCartney concert I have ever attended. An exception — once McCartney performed with Tony Bennett at Neil Young’s Annual Bridge Concert outside of San Francisco and sang the crowd goodnight with a memorable duo of “I Left my Heart in San Francisco.”
To be honest, I have never seen The Beatles perform live. Last Saturday evening I did hear “The End” by a band called Rain when they performed a tribute show to The Beatles at the majestic State Theater in downtown Minneapolis. Although they may not have been The Beatles, they certainly put on a show worthy of entertaining the sold-out crowd aged 9 to 90. There was also plenty of hand clapping and singing along as Rain guided the crowd from the early days “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” all the way through their later songs like “Yesterday,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and my personal favorite, “A Day in the Life.”
"Rain" is the name of a song The Beatles wrote in 1966 and is widely known as their first B-side record. On the opposite side of the vinyl was the hit tune “Paperback Writer.” The song was in response to The Beatles landing in Melbourne for an upcoming Australian tour only to be greeted by a torrential downpour. Lennon and McCartney went to their hotel room where they wrote the song “Rain.” Almost 50 years later, a band called Rain produced “Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles.”
The performance was much more than a two-hour replica of The Beatles' most widely remembered tunes. Some phenomenal backstage work put together a film montage of the 60s that flashed on a giant screen. It showed images of the Vietnam War, anti-war protests and race riots that marked my generation’s coming of age.
On a lighter note, the '50s era was marked by old values and corny television advertisements. The biggest crowd-pleaser featured Fred and Wilma Flintstone standing in their yard in the town of Bedrock with best friends Barney and Wilma Rubble. A load of laundry was sitting on the ground. When Wilma and Betty began to hang the clothes on the line, Fred and Barney snuck around the back of the house. Barney said, “We have better things to do.”
They certainly did. Fred whipped out a flip top box of Winston cigarettes and handed one to Barney. “We have better things to do,” Fred repeated as they sat down and had a smoke. The audience went wild with laughter, not only for promoting smoking, but also the idea that the men had better things to do such as sitting down and having a smoke rather than hanging up laundry.
While Rain did an adequate job of replicating The Beatles' sound, costume design was superb. When the teeny-bopper pleasing Beatles of 1963 came on stage, we all looked at each other and said, “They look so young.”
By the last set, all were long-haired and bearded, Lennon was in a white suit wearing his famous granny glasses, George Harrison was dressed in blue jeans and a denim shirt and McCartney and Ringo Starr appeared much as they did during The Beatles' public finale.
As my wife and I exited the State Theater, I turned to our friend Candy and said, “Wow! It’s been 50 years. Where did it all go?”
At least for a few precious hours last Saturday evening, it all came back alive.