Thursday, September 18, 2003

Got a chance to watch Paul McCartney play in Moscow's Red Square tonite on the A&E channel (concert took place in May of this year). I've always thought Paul was a bit odd and his wife is a bit over the top with her constant land mine talk (lighten up once in a while!), but I do have to say that this concert was quite the emotional experience, especially when he played "Back in the U.S.S.R." It was fabulous to see how happy these people were to hear this kind of music, after having been denied it for so long. Even Putin came to the concert. Red Square was absolutely packed (about a 100,000 people) and was beautiful in the setting sun.

"Mr Putin, who was a KGB agent when the Fab Four topped the charts around the world, admitted to his guest that The Beatles had been "a breath of fresh air" during Soviet times.

He said Beatles music "was considered propaganda of an alien ideology".

Mr Putin said that while Beatles' music was not banned by the Communist regime, "the fact that you were not allowed to play in Red Square in the 1980s says a lot."

McCartney said he gave President Putin a private performance of The Beatles' song Let It Be. "

A number of sociologists in Russia credit the Beatles for the overthrow of Communism by way of instilling the values of freedom and democracy in the youth of Russia ,which eventually became too powerful for the government (and a tip of the hat to Mr. Gorbachev for getting it started). They youth of Russia used to buy Beatles records for 80 rubles each,when the average monthly wage was 150 rubles. Back in the days when this kind of music was banned, when Russians found out that you could turn an acoustic guitar into an electric guitar by using telephone parts, they plundered every pay phone in Moscow. Then they found out that the emulsion on X-Rays could transmit sound and started stealing old x-rays, to use to put music on.

The concert really brought home how art and music transcend the differences between peoples. The average person is just trying to get by and it is only the leaders who turn out to be power hungry idiots.

Having lived in the heyday of the Beatles, I can tell you from my experiences in Germany, that they were definitely a worldwide phenomena (my German brother in Krefeld listened to "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" till I thought I would go out of my friggin' mind!) and I can only imagine what it must have been like in Russia where there was no western music except for bootlegged copies.

Tickets for the concert were reported to be going for more than $100 each, where the average monthly wage is still a paltry $100. (I didn't see too many peasants at this concert). The Russians are still finding the capitalistic world a tough place, but I think the youth of Russia today will bring big changes in the years to come - they just need to sweep out the old refuse over time.

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