LONDON - I was doing a reconnaissance walk of the Olympic Park Tuesday afternoon, and when I reached the Olympic Stadium, an iconic song was coming from the loudspeakers.
“Must be recorded,” I thought out loud, listening to “Hey Jude.”
An Olympic worker corrected me.
“Sir Paul is in there training,” the man told me.
Indeed he was.
It’s no surprise that Paul McCartney will be part of Friday’s Olympic opening ceremony. I mean, how could London do the thing without featuring one of the two living Beatles? British media have reported it over the past month, and Tuesday’s online version of the Daily Mail said the ceremony would end with him asking the spectators to sing along with him on “Hey Jude.”
But it was certainly a wonderful, joyous surprise for me to walk into the stadium with a colleague, Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times, and see McCartney singing “Hey Jude” on a stage at the far end, then thrusting his arms upward in a celebratory “V” as he finished the song.
I remember the first time I heard “Hey Jude”, not long after my college graduation in a bar on St. Thomas, where the 7-minute song and its hypnotic refrain played over and over. It was a great trip, an indelible memory with - like so many things in our lives –a theme song to help recall it.
We kept walking, getting near the stage when he had finished rehearsing. We stood about 20 feet away, delighted by the serendipitous, somewhat close encounter with a musical legend.
My musical taste now is more Bach, Beethoven and Brahms than Beatles, past or present.
But here I was, nearly 44 years after I first encountered “Hey Jude,” about to cover my 16th Olympics, walking in on McCartney and the music. Now the song will forever be my Proustian link to memories of the 2012 Olympics
At the end of each Olympics, our editors ask us to write about our favorite Olympic moment.
I might be able to do this one already.