My First Love Was Sir Paul McCartney

The first person I ever fell in love with was not the kid in my Sunday school class with Southern sky-blue eyes, hair like a wheat field falling over his forehead. It was not my fourth grade English teacher, with his intelligent voice and steady hands. It could have been either one of them, or my seventh grade science partner, or the boy in my neighborhood who taught me how to jump off the diving board at the pool, but it wasn’t.

The first person I ever fell in love with was one Sir James Paul McCartney, the big-eyed, plush-lipped dreamboat of Beatles fame. Sure, there was a 55-year age gap between us, and I was probably more in love with the version of Paul from 1965 than what was present-day Paul, but my fifth-grade self didn’t think too terribly hard about matters such as these. I just loved him—simple as that.

My dad raised me listening to the Beatles. Long car rides and Saturday afternoons doing yard work were always facilitated by my dad’s impeccable taste in music. He would put in one of his Past Masters CDs while we were in the car or spin his vinyl copy of Abbey Road on the record player in the basement, loud enough that we could hear it in the backyard while we dug up weeds. As I grew up, I found myself quite infatuated with the smooth voice I heard on certain tracks, “Penny Lane” and “Hey Jude” and “I’ve Just Seen a Face.”

Don’t get me wrong, ten-year-old me held no illusions about growing old with Paul McCartney. I knew he was out of reach, attainable only through his brilliant music or the black-and-white pictures I wasted time scrolling through on my mom’s computer. Despite, or perhaps because, of this, I wanted to know everything about him—what his life was like growing up, who first taught him to play guitar, how he joined the Beatles. I asked my dad endless questions, and those he couldn’t answer, I researched using Google or my elementary school library. If I kept the illustrated children’s book Who Were the Beatles? over the allotted time, the librarian never said anything. Maybe she could sense my desperation, my need to feel close to this man I had never spoken to in my life, and knew this was one of the only ways.

You may think in no way could I have fallen in love with someone I had never met, but I had met him, in a way. It happenedthat time I woke my parents up in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep—the first time my dad played “Let It Be” on the record player downstairs and told me to listen close. That’s when I met Paul McCartney, just not in the flesh. I met his voice, which was really the only part of him I needed. Looking back, maybe my love for him didn’t even go past his voice—maybe all the time I spent researching the man behind the melodies was just a way to get closer to the voice that had, in a sense, narrated my childhood.

Either way, my first crush was and will always be Sir Paul. It wasn’t the kid in my Sunday school class, or my English teacher, or my science partner, or the boy in my neighborhood. Four years later, I moved on from this love to a different love, that for a boy who reminded me of oak trees and World War II Americana. And in the five years after that, others. But no matter how much I am drawn to any of them, none will ever be Paul McCartney. None will ever have his voice. None will ever be my first love.

Feature photo: Wikimedia Commons