Reflecting on a life lived with the music of Paul McCartney, ahead of his Orlando stadium show

In my life

Return of the Macca
Return of the Macca photo by MJ Kim, courtesy MPL Communications Ltd.

How can I tell you about my loved one? The year is 2001 and there's a 10-year-old with an elaborate scheme. She hates conflict, including the occasional dispute between her siblings. Ever the peacemaker, she races to the living room and retrieves the family's portable CD player. She pops in 1, the Beatles' singles compilation album released just the year prior, marking 30 years since the band broke up.

With urgency, she skips to track 13, the 1965 single "We Can Work It Out." She boosts the volume for the bridge "Life is very short/and there's no time for fussing and fighting, my friend." The grandiose gesture didn't quite achieve the conflict resolution she had hoped. But her mom lovingly assured her that it's going to be all right.

The more I learn, the less I know. But I can say that the Beatles continue to provide a rare, constant comfort.

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That earnest child urging her siblings to come together was this writer. And for the record, I stand by my tactics. I didn't know then that two decades later I would still love the Beatles. Love doesn't come in a minute, and sometimes love doesn't come at all. But with Paul McCartney's "Got Back" tour coming to Orlando this weekend, we thought Orlando Weekly readers could use some silly love songs.

All my loving, I owe to my mom Nasrin. Born in Iran, Nasrin came of age as the Beatles were taking over the world. She and her sisters would race to the record store for the latest releases, their fashion following the trends: from mod moptops to long-haired hippie stylings. Decades later, Nasrin would find herself in Orlando, three children at her feet, wondering how she would manage to make ends meet. We didn't have much in means, but we always had music. Specifically, Persian music, and an assortment of Beatles and Beatles-adjacent mixtapes, recorded on cassettes from the radio.

My twin sister and I shared this journey. The two of us would spin in infinite circles to the orchestral chaos of the Beatles' "A Day in the Life," cry our eyes out to John Lennon's "Julia" and get lost and found in McCartney's Wings romp "Band on the Run." Alongside our big brother, we watched the Yellow Submarine animated film countless times — our brother had every line memorized. I even somehow subscribed to a monthly Beatles fan club catalog, sifting through merchandise I could never afford, but adored.

I saved my one-dollar weekly allowance for our family trips to FYE, where I would buy Beatles albums. I started in chronological order, committed to eventually owning each one. On special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries, my dad would buy my mom the same — one of her favorite Beatles or one of the Fab Four's solo albums. This included All the Best, a 1987 compilation of Paul McCartney's solo career that I treasure to this day. Some of the earliest liner notes I can remember flipping through were from that CD, analyzing lyrics.

In 2004, after a four-year battle with cancer, our mom Nasrin passed away. I couldn't comprehend how to carry that weight, how to listen to music connected to such an immense loss. I entered a music nowhere-land, aimlessly listening to whatever had a limited emotional attachment. There was a major turning point in my grief when I could listen to the Beatles again. It was Paul McCartney's 1984 ballad "No More Lonely Nights," on that same well-loved compilation CD I listened to so many times. It made me realize I was running away from what I needed most.

Entering high school, I was back to where I once belonged. I dove deep into the Beatles discography and burned countless mix CDs for friends. I learned to drive while listening to McCartney's first eponymous solo album in our 2001 Honda Accord. And it was his 2005 album, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, that soundtracked my first trips to meet my family in Iran.

I once did a school project claiming the Beatles were the most important occurrence in all of human history — I won second place, after the invention of shoes — and my high-school boyfriend won me over by learning the opening riff of "Paperback Writer" on guitar. (If you know the riff, you understand why.) In my junior year of high school, one of my best friends got me The White Album for my birthday and after graduation, my American Government teacher and I communicated via email ... exclusively in Beatles lyrics.

In my life, the more I learn, the less I know. But now in my 30s, I can say that the Beatles continue to provide a rare, constant comfort. That's why on May 28, you'll find me in the nosebleed seats, singing my tired heart out. You'd think that people would have had enough of silly love songs. But I look around me and I see it isn't so, oh no.

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