London Olympics: Hearing Paul McCartney is like winning gold
By Bill Plaschke
July 24, 2012
The song suddenly cut through the steamy humidity of London’s Olympic Park on Tuesday like a familiar breeze.
Somebody inside Olympic Stadium was singing "Hey, Jude."
Touring the park with the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Hersh on Tuesday, I stopped outside the gigantic venue and openly wondered.
Why would the Olympic folks be blaring the most iconic Beatles song in the middle of a weekday afternoon? Or was some cover band actually in the stadium singing it?
We walked up to an Olympic worker and asked, "Where is that song coming from?"
The guy shrugged and said, "Sir Paul is in there training."
Yes, he was talking about Paul McCartney. And, yes, as we discovered moments later when we entered the mostly empty stadium, Paul McCartney and his band were on an end-zone stage rehearsing "Hey, Jude."
The scene was surreal. My sweat became chills. We stood and swayed with a couple of hundred workers listening to McCartney booming one of the most memorable refrains in music history.
"Na na na, na-na na na…"
When McCartney finished, he pumped his fists and waved as if he were performing for 80,000 people. The cheers from our small group sounded like 80,000 people. By the time the music stopped, we had walked behind the stage for a closer look at a 70-year-old man who looks 20 years younger and was excitedly bouncing around like a teenager.
Clearly, the reports were true: McCartney will be singing this song at Friday’s opening ceremonies. Its slot has not been confirmed, but wouldn’t it be the perfect ending?
For me, it was a perfect Olympic beginning.
Paul McCartney at the Grammys in February. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times / July 24, 2012)