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2001-Mar-22: "He Was Rocking!"

Forty years to the day that the Beatles played their first evening gig at Liverpool's Cavern Club, Sir Paul walked on to another Liverpool stage and announced with a wink:

"This is my first ever poetry reading, and I'm not in the least bit nervous, of course."

Having been introduced as "the people's poet" by his friend and poetry book editor, poet Adrian Mitchell, Sir Paul filled the next 25 minutes with both laughter and tears as he recited 12 of his poems, including the lyrics to Maxwell's Silver Hammer.

The small audience of 400 people were especially moved by two poems one written in response to the loss of his lovely Linda and another composed in reaction to the brutal murder of his great friend, John Lennon.

Introducing his poem about Mark David Chapman, Jerk Of All Jerks, Sir Paul remembered that dreadful evening:

"I was sat at home watching all the pictures on TV and the first thing that came into my mind was that he was the jerk of all jerks.  This terrible guy who comes out of nowhere for no reason at all. I was filled with disgust and sadness at the whole thing."

The most poignant moment of the evening came at the end of his poem City Park in which he recalls the grief of his daily jog around Regent's Park and his wish that Linda would be cured of her cancer.  At that moment, his voice broke with emotion and he looked to his friends in the audience for reassurance.

The performance ended on a high note with a rollicking audience participation reading of "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?".  All reports say the he came off the stage "rocking".

The reading, billed as An Evening with Willy Russell and Very Good Friends, had been arranged by Sir Paul in secret as a tribute to the Mersybeat poet, Adrian Henri, who passed away on December 20 of last year.  Sir Paul was meant to appear as a surprise guest following the reading of three other poets - Tom Pickard, Willy Russell and Adrian Mitchell, editor of his poetry book Blackbird Singing.   Up until Monday, most of the 400 ticket holders had no idea Sir Paul would be making an appearance.  Even last evening,  one audience member confessed,   "I didn't know until tonight that Paul McCartney would be here.  I thought he was fantastic. His poems were not as complex as the others but his narrative was still very similar to his singing and was a really good balance to the three other poets."

"Paul wanted a group of people who wanted to see poetry - not him," said Everyman's Theater spokesman, Paul Bell.

And, as Geoff Baker added: "He said, 'If I'm going to do this, I want to do it in Liverpool first'." 

(kindly submitted by PLUGGED correspondent Joan M. Hopkins)


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