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Sir Paul is 80 Today. No! No! No!

Beatles Scrapbook, 1964

THE FIRST TIME I heard “She Loves You,” I was sitting in the back seat of my parents’ Rambler American as they stopped for gas, listening to my tiny transistor radio tuned to WIBG, the Philly Top 40 station of the day.

To give you an idea how long ago this was, dad was filling up the tank for 30 cents a gallon and none of us was wearing a seatbelt because it would be another five years until the safety device was mandated.

The song’s driving lead-off downbeat quickly moved into a jaunty “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah," and 2 minutes and 18 seconds later I realizeed something extraordinary had just occurred on that otherwise ordinary fall evening of 1963.

The Paul Page

IN FIVE MONTHS, the incursion

would be complete with The Beatles landing on the stage of the Ed Sullivan Show, firing off a spirited volley from the Fab Four songbook:

“All My Loving,” “Till There Was You,” and the soon-to-be Number 1 hit,

“She Loves You."

With a viewing audience of 73 million --

a number surpassed only by Super Bowls and a couple of iconic TV milestones, such as the final episode of M*A*S*H -- Beatlemania had officially arrived in America. The group would be the first, and the greatest, of the vast wave of British-band imports that followed.

UNLESS YOU EXPERIENCED Beatlemania as a 12-year-old pubescent girl YOU…HAVE…NO…IDEA what true idol worship means.

To say all things Beatles consumed my every hour of every day for the next few years

would be an understatement. As you can see from the pages of my nearly 60-year-old

(yikes!) scrapbook, posted here, I scoured every newspaper and teen magazine for photos of my music heroes. Photos that I plastered on pretty much everything, including, to my mother’s endless distress, every inch of my bedroom walls.

Even More Paul

I became an instant Brit (make that Liverpudlian), drinking tea, talking in a scouse accent, and wearing American clothing that most closley mimicked Carnaby Street designs. Black fishnets,

short skirts, white lipstick, and a mod newsboy cap. Again, much to my mother's endless distress.

Like most fans, my favorite Beatle was Paul. Yes, I’m shallow and fell for his boyish good looks and killer smile. But I also admired John for his caustic humor and artistic talent. The yin and yang melding of their personalities -- edgy vs. engaging -- is what powered the Lennon and McCartney musical partnership to unparalleled success.

Still, the “angelic” Paul was at the center of my teenage universe. So, every year on June 18, my best friend Shelley and I would celebrate his birthday with a homemade cake and candles and a hearty rendition of “Happy Birthday,” as if our Beatle boyfriend was sitting at the other end of the table soaking up our affection. Pure adolescent fantasy.

IT'S HARD TO IMAGINE all these years later that the seemingly forever young and handsome man we celebrated during all those June birthdays is 80 years old today.

The jet-black hair is streaked with gray, the fine facial features morphed by time, the voice diminished as he now struggles to hit those exquisite high notes he once so nonchalantly belted out with an impish laugh and shake of his shaggy head.

But this is life, even for a famous Beatle.

It goes on, if you’re lucky, until it doesn’t.

The Beatles were a great unexpected gift of my youth. They brought refuge from the scary adult world, pure happiness through their ingenious art, and a feast of memories that will “still feed me” well beyond 64.

With a love like that, you know you should be glad.

So, let me fix the headline: Sir Paul is 80 Today. Yeah! Yeah! Yeeeaaah!

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