Paul McCartney: Something in the Way at Hollywood Bowl

After spending his 32nd birthday with Paul McCartney at the Hollywood Bowl, Matt reflects on his favorite Beatles song.

‘Something’ is inarguably one of the best Beatles songs ever written.  Last night, at the Hollywood Bowl, on my 32nd birthday, Paul McCartney played that song to a full house. While most of the Beatles songs he played, he wrote, this one he did not.  Paul played a stripped down version of it as a tribute to his friend, former Beatle, and song author George Harrison. 

Unlike the Harrison version on Abbey Road, McCartney begins this song on simply a ukulele and leads into it with loving words about his departed friend.  While the message of the song is a romantic one, the ukulele brings a sort of tropical melancholy to it through the first verse.  After the first chorus the rest of the band kicks in and the song becomes a bit more familiar.

While the entire concert could be best described as a spiritual experience, this song, specifically this ukulele version of this song speaks to me beyond any other. The first time I heard this version of the song was on A Concert for George, a tribute concert performed at The Royal Albert Hall in London a year after Harrison’s death.  I bought the CD four years ago and it has never left my car CD changer.   

The song has been with me through love and through heartbreak, success and failure.   The lyrics themselves make me long for love and miss the love I’ve lost. McCartney’s reverie for his friend behind the lyrics fills me with gratitude for all of the beautiful people in my life.   The simplicity of the ukulele awakens me to honesty and connectedness to the earth.

Matt outside Hollywood Bowl

Matt outside Hollywood Bowl

The song, which began so simply, ultimately explodes until it asks climatic question, “You’re asking me will my love grow?”  to which it answers itself “I don’t know..  I don’t know.”   McCartney sings this line with epic uncertainty, his gaze upward, heart completely open for just a second and in that moment, he like everyone else is left in a state of pure wonder at Harrison’s musing.  Seconds later the song returns to its ballad form and comes to a close.  I shut my slightly teary eyes and listen to the rest speechless. 

After the concert, from the hilltop, across thousands of fans, I see McCartney’s mansion-like tour bus leave.  In front are two SUV’s, two motorcycle cops, and a highway patrolman.  Behind the bus is a similar entourage.   

As the affable Beatle disappears onto the 101 freeway, I think about the world he has seen, the questions he has been allowed to ask, the love he has lost, and the universal love he has received and then my thoughts return again to the certainty with which he declares “I don’t know… I don’t know…” and I’m left to wonder…. If he doesn’t know, how can anyone?  This thought makes me laugh and with a chuckle, I venture into my 33rd trip around the sun, knowing nothing. 

Please share your favorite Beatles song below!  Let’s see what you guys think!

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Matt Payne

Matt Payne has lived and worked as both a television writer and producer in Los Angeles for nearly ten years.  Matt grew up in Oklahoma City and began his career with a degree in Film and Video Studies from the University of Oklahoma.  Since then, he has worked as part of writing staffs for such hits as 24 andWithout A Trace. Most recently Matt wrote and produced episodes of CBS’s The Defenders starring Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell and Memphis Beat, starring Jason Lee, which is set to air on TNT in August of 2011.

In addition to a successful television-writing career, Matt has developed features with major production companies and continues to work as a freelance script analyst for Relativity Media, the production company behind such hits as The Fighter, Zombieland, and Catfish where he has provided script feed back on nearly a thousand features.

When he is not writing and producing television, Matt works as contributor to the Washington Times Communities Travel section, where he has writing skills have taken him from the top of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpar to the jungles of the Philippine Islands.  New York City’s finest restaurants to the earthquake ravaged Port au Prince Haiti. 

Matt was the winner of the 2004 Comedy writing award for Scriptapolooza, a finalist for the Warner Brothers Television Writer’s workshop, and is an active participant in Los Angeles’s Young Storytellers Program.  

Early in his career, Matt spent two years working as an assistant the Endeavor, which is now part of WME, the second largest talent agency in the world, working closely with such talent as Christian Bale and Michael Douglass.

Matt  is a member of  the Writer’s Guild of America and the Screen Actor’s Guild.

Contact Matt Payne


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