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Chapter 53

The mile high city was a city it was hard to catch your breath in, Paul decided, as he tried to complete his regular 3-mile run. He’d made it about half that distance before he was gasping for air, and his head felt dizzy. Feeling wretched, he made his way back to the hotel suite, where John was sacked out on a sofa mindlessly cycling through the television stations with his remote control.

Paul went straight to their bedroom, and took a shower, hoping that would make him feel better, but he found that he was feeling weaker and sicker when he stepped out, so he dried himself off and climbed into the bed, pulling the sheets and blankets over him. His limbs seemed to be shivering as he tried to get comfortable. The shivering went on for several minutes, and Paul didn’t feel as though he would ever feel warm again. Finally, the warmth of the blankets seemed to seep into his outer skin, and then into the tissue beneath, and the shivering stopped. But now his head was pounding as if he had just stopped banging it against the wall. He hadn’t had a single drink in over 24 hours! This was a hangover based on something else, entirely.

The flu! Shit! He couldn’t get sick now! There were only 7 more gigs – two and a half more weeks – left in the tour! They hadn’t missed a single concert, or been late even once; he hadn’t even missed sound check once! John had performed through the tail end of his food poisoning in South America that time, so Paul was determined to get through tonight’s performance come hell or high water. He looked at the clock. It was only 11 a.m. He could catch 4 hours’ sleep before they had to leave for sound check. Perhaps he would feel better by then.

Eventually, John began to wonder what was taking Paul so long. Usually, Paul would come back from his workout and go into the shower, and then come bouncing out, ready to take on the day. So, after a 30 or 40-minute time lapse, it dawned on John that maybe something was wrong. He got up, stretched a bit (getting older was a bitch) and entered the master bedroom. There he saw a huge lump on the bed, covered in several blankets and even a heavy woolen overcoat. The room was pleasantly warm to start out with, so John couldn’t understand the need for so many layers. He was concerned now. He walked around to Paul’s side of the bed, and kneeled down until he was looking in Paul’s sleeping face.

Paul didn’t look right. He looked a bit white, and to the touch Paul’s skin was clammy. Although he was asleep, his face did not look peaceful. There was a grimace frozen on his features, as if he had fallen asleep in the middle of an arc of pain. John put his palm over Paul’s forehead, and while the forehead was warm, it was not feverishly so. Although the skin was clammy, it was a cool clamminess. He didn’t have a fever, obviously, so it couldn’t be a flu. What was going on?

John didn’t want to wake Paul up, so he went to the other room and called the tour manager.

“Paul’s sick,” John said succinctly when poor, long-suffering Evan Willis answered the phone.

Oh, gawd, what now? Evan thought. But he said, “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know. He was absolutely fine this morning when we woke up. He went off for his run and came back and immediately went to bed. He isn’t feverish, but he seems kind of cold. It isn’t cold in the room at all. He looks miserable.”

“Is he hung over or coming off a high?” Willis was jaundiced by now, after having watched the pair’s antics through over 40 countries and 5 continents in the past 7 months.

No, Evan! We didn’t have anything to drink last night, and we didn’t even smoke pot.” John was impatient, now. Did Willis think he was an idiot? John could recognize a hangover from alcohol and drugs by now, just as easily as he could recognize his own sons.

Willis looked at the clock. 11:30 a.m. They still had time. “I’ll call the concierge and get a hold of the hotel doctor,” he said. “Can Paul describe his symptoms?”

“He’s asleep, isn’t he?” John snapped back. “And don’t ask me to wake him up!”

Willis hung up and immediately set the wheels in motion to summon the hotel doctor. Then he made his way up to the stars’ suite. John answered the door, and looked relieved to have responsible adult company. He led Willis into the bedroom he shared with Paul. Willis was a bit uncomfortable, once he saw that the bed had obviously been slept in the night before on both ends, but decided to put that behind him. He leaned over to take a better look at Paul’s face.

“He really looks bad,” Willis said.

“Didn’t I tell you?” John snapped, a bit more loudly than perhaps he had intended to. But it didn’t wake Paul up. He was, however, starting to thrash around in the bed as if he had a fever. But he didn’t have a fever. John and Willis looked at each other in alarm. “What the fuck?” John cried. He looked as though he might start falling apart at any moment. Thankfully, just then, the suite’s doorbell rang, and both John and Willis headed eagerly for the door.

The hotel doctor was a middle-aged man with prematurely all white hair, who had a ruddy but healthy complexion, and the body of an inveterate skier or a long distance runner. No doubt he was, living in Denver.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, looking at John as if John were his patient.

“It’s my…er…friend, it’s Paul, not me,” John stuttered. “He’s…he’s in ou…his bedroom,” he added, looking scared.

“What are his symptoms?” The doctor’s voice was calm and clipped.

“We don’t know, because he’s asleep, but his skin is white and cold to the touch, and he’s thrashing around in the bed.”

The doctor smiled, and said, “Ah, I doubt it is anything to worry about.”

“How do you know?” John demanded, indignant. Willis was glaring at the doctor, too, and ready to call a private doctor.

“How long have you been in Denver?” The doctor asked, choosing to ignore John’s outburst.

“We arrived here after midnight last night,” John said, wondering angrily what this had to do with anything.

“And the symptoms started?”

“About an hour ago, I think, after he came back from running.”

The doctor laughed. “Classic case of altitude sickness. It is aggravated by physical exercise, and its onset is usually 8 to 10 hours after the patient is exposed to the higher elevation. Of course, it is not overly common for people to suffer at 5300 feet above sea level, as Denver is, but there is a significant percentage of people who are especially sensitive to hypoxia who react to it with fairly strong symptoms.”

“What is hypoxia?” John asked.

“It means a lack of sufficient oxygen. Denver is a mile above sea level, and there is 17 to 30 per cent less oxygen in the air at this altitude than at sea level. Where we are now, I’d estimate about 21% less.”

“He has to perform tonight,” Willis said, getting down to brass tacks.

“Oh,” the doctor said, the smile disappearing from his face. “Well, that may be a problem.”

“Why? What do you mean?” John asked.

“It takes a few days for affected people to acclimatize to the lower levels of oxygen. It is doubtful he will feel better by tonight.”

“Don’t you think you should take a look at him before you diagnose him?” Willis asked in a skeptical voice.

“Yes, of course. It’s just that I am a hotel doctor, and 98% of the calls I get are for non Denver-ites who are suffering from altitude sickness, and the symptoms you described are textbook hypoxia.” He followed John to the bedroom, and studied his patient. He felt the forehead, listened for a pulse, and placed a thermometer in Paul’s mouth. That was when his patient stirred.

Paul’s eyes opened to see a completely strange man staring down into his face, and a moment later he could see John and Willis standing behind the man, looking worried.

“Who are you?” Paul mumbled, realizing suddenly there was a thermometer in his mouth.

“I’m the hotel doctor,” he said softly, “and you’re suffering from altitude sickness. Not serious, and it will soon pass. I have no doubt at all.”

Paul was relieved to hear this. It didn’t sound as debilitating as flu. “I need to get up in a few hours and go to sound check,” he said, although his head was doing loop-de-loops around the room, and his muscles were unresponsive and filled with lassitude. It didn’t seem likely he would be able to stand up, much less perform.

“Paul, don’t be silly,” Willis said. “You don’t have to do sound check. John will do it for you, won’t you John?”

John’s head jerked up and then he said, “Yes. Yes, of course. Like you did for me that time. I’ll do sound check, and you don’t have to show up until just before the show.”

Willis checked his watch. “That means, since it is just after noon now, you have seven hours to sleep. I’ll be sure to wake you up and accompany you to the arena in time for the show.”

Paul felt relieved. Seven hours sounded like a sufficient amount of time to get this thing out of his system. He didn’t notice the skeptical look on the doctor’s face, but the doctor was tactful enough to withhold comment until he and John and Willis had traipsed out of the bedroom. The doctor opened up his medical bag, and brought out some ibuprofen. He gave John instructions on how to administer it. He then said,

“It is not very likely that he will feel well enough to perform tonight. I’m assuming it will take an enormous amount of energy and oxygen to sing in a huge arena for a few hours.”

Willis looked a bit irritated and said, “You’re the doctor. How can we make this happen?”

The doctor nodded and said, “Let me call over to my office. I’ll have them send over an oxygen tank and mask. We can administer a little oxygen to him directly for a few hours, and that should help him feel better for the concert. But it is a temporary fix. The only way to get over a mild case like this is to get used to the altitude over time.”

“We’re not going to be here long enough to worry about it,” John said sharply. “We’re getting on a plane for our next gig as soon as the concert is over.” John turned to Willis, who was looking a little surprised. That hadn’t been the plan before. “No reason to make Paul suffer any longer than he has to,” John said firmly. Willis nodded and knew that he would be on the phone rearranging their travel and hotel arrangements that afternoon.

This all decided, the doctor made his phone call, and said he’d be back up to the suite when the oxygen arrived, and then he left. Willis looked at John and said, “What next? Christ! Oxygen tanks for chrissakes!”

John laughed in spite of his worrying. “You’ll at least be able to say that this tour wasn’t boring.”


The night’s concert was memorable on a number of counts, not the least (from Paul’s point of view) for the way John stepped up and did the lion’s share of the heavy lifting. As Paul had done for John when John had been sick, John had done the sound check, and sung all the loud and demanding numbers. Paul’s numbers were spaced out judiciously, and while he seemed much more subdued than his usual stage persona, Paul managed to smile and keep his wits about him despite his pounding headache and the dizziness and the queasiness in his stomach. He had periodically edged towards the wings of the stage and been given a few hits of oxygen, although the doctor would not have approved of this questionable use of the product. It may not have actually helped, but it sure helped Paul’s mindset, so they managed to close the show without short-changing the audience, and soon John was shepherding Paul on to the private airplane, and wrapping him up in blankets.

“I’m feeling a bit better now, thanks, John,” Paul said quietly, a little embarrassed by all the fuss: Paul wasn’t used to being the fuss-ee; he was used to being the fuss-er.

“Don’t go all Spartan on me, babe,” John said smartly. “I know when you’re sick; you can’t hide it. You always thought you could hide it from me, but you never could. Now lay back and put your feet up!” John was tucking Paul in a little too fiercely, so that Paul was left feeling a bit like he was in a sarcophagus. Surreptitiously, when John sat down and wasn’t watching, Paul wiggled a bit to loosen the blankets. He’d felt a little like a papoose there for a moment.


Vancouver, Canada. A beautiful northern Pacific coast city with frosty white mountain tops as a backdrop, and a cold deep blue harbor as a foreground. Paul had slept through the night, and John tiptoed around all the next morning, wanting Paul to rest as long as possible. John was relieved, because Paul’s thrashing and aches and groans and moans had stopped, and he had slept as peacefully as a newborn babe for hours now. Who knew that Paul suffered from altitude sickness? They’d been to Denver before, back in the ‘60s, and Paul hadn’t gotten sick then. John grimaced as the thought hit him: it sucks big time getting old.

The concert that night was good, although the audience was a bit cooler and (was this a fanciful thought?) more intellectual than some of their most recent audiences. John mused over the fact as they made their way through the repertoire, and noting the subtle differences in the audience’s reactions to the various songs. The sing-along songs were less enthusiastically greeted here, but the more serious and lyrics-laden songs were listened to with an intentness that John could practically cut with a knife. It had been an interesting night.

They decided to stay another night there before flying on to the next city: Seattle, in Washington state, U.S. John felt as though Paul needed the stability for another day to get his sea legs back, although by then Paul was showing signs of being every bit as hyperactive and annoying as he’d been before he got sick. They decided to fly out the next morning, which was the morning of the Seattle concert, and enjoy some nightlife in Vancouver.

The downtown lights were bright, and there were plenty of nightclubs lit up with neon, which were reflected back in the harbor’s water. They had decided to be conventional in Vancouver, but mainly because they were worn out and not up to the whole disguise thing. The first club they came to they were instantly recognized, and they attracted so much attention that they quickly turned tail, and tried another club, which was not on the beaten path, and looked a bit more subdued. It was a quiet blues club, with the kind of jazz-cool blues played by musicians in the Pacific Northwest. The music sounded like vodka spilling over ice cubes in a glass tumbler. The club was dark, and if John and Paul were recognized, no one bothered them. They were all too cool for school, John guessed, which was more than fine by him. They stayed and listened to the music for three hours, leaning against the wall in their wooden chairs, occasionally sipping their whiskey, and saying nothing. It was cool and peaceful, like the color blue.


The Seattle concert was popping with energy. It was an interesting change from the Vancouver scene. The two cities were reckoned to be similar in sensibility, but to John and Paul Seattle seemed a little more blue-collar, and therefore it had a bit more hustle to it. There was a musical underground growing and thriving in Seattle at the time. It was called “grunge”. One of grunge’s first super-groups, Soundgarden, had just gotten a mainstream record contract. Alice in Chains and a new group called Nirvana were following not far behind, and great things were predicted for them. John read about the groups’ new commercial success in the local underground newspaper, and commented to Paul, “Well, that’s the end of grunge, then.”

Paul looked over John’s arm to read what John had read, and then shook his head. “You’re not allowed to be such a cynic, John. You’ve already made it and have all the goodies. Don’t begrudge others for wanting it too.”

“But you go to the mainstream record companies, and you’re basically a sell out,” John argued.

Paul had long since tired of this argument. “All success means is that you’ve created a sound that has captured the imagination and hearts of a lot of people. Why is that ‘selling out’? Why isn’t that a good thing?”

“The eternal debate,” John commented wryly, and then winked at Paul. “You know I’m a hypocrite, babe. I do this just to tease you, and you bite every time. I’m as much of a sellout as the next guy – and more so, actually, because I pretend not to be.”

Paul sighed deeply and shook his head. He was determined not to respond to the prod. John was no more of a “sell out” than was Paul himself; and neither were any of the other acts that had managed to change the music scene by enticing listeners with a new and different sound. Paul had never bought into the ridiculous notion that in order to be “real” and “genuine” you had to be a financial failure.

However, both John and Paul were eager to go out and hear some of these bands, and so spent a good night moving from one club to the other and listening to the loud, head-banging music. Their guide to the clubs was the promoter of their concert, a youngish man who was a devoted follower of the underground music scene in Seattle.

“They all idolize the Beatles, you know, even though they are largely anti-melody,” he told them.

Paul’s eyes crossed with that one. He couldn’t imagine why they would like the Beatles if they were anti-melody. But he was too polite to say so.

John wasn’t too polite, however. “Well, what about the Beatles do they like if they don’t like melody?” He asked bluntly.

Their host looked a bit taken aback, but quickly recovered. “The spirit of the Beatles is what they appreciated. The complete nonchalance, and the fact that you came out of grungy clubs like ours, and the fact that you guys were thumbing your noses at authority, even as the establishment fawned all over you.”

That answered John’s question satisfactorily, as indeed it did Paul’s unasked question.

“We do have some groups that are bringing some melody in – like Nirvana. Have you met Kurt Cobain? Have you heard of him?

“I’ve heard some of their music,” Paul piped up, surprising John, who hadn’t.

“When?” John asked him, showing his astonishment.

“On the plane from Vancouver,” Paul said. “I’d asked for a compilation of local music, and I was listening to the tape on my headphones.”

John was chastened. It hadn’t occurred to him to brush up on the local music scene.

“What did you think?” Their host asked them eagerly.

“It is turbulent and discordant,” Paul said seriously. “The guitars sometimes remind me of Neil Young, the way he plays the distorted guitar.”

“I can introduce you to Kurt and his band mates, if you like,” the promoter said, a bit shyly. “They are huge Beatles fans.”

“Well, we’re leaving after the show tomorrow…” Paul started to say.

“They’ve got tickets to the concert. I could hook you up backstage before the show if you like.”

John and Paul exchanged a quick glance. Neither of them were great fans of socializing before a show. But they were not going to be inhospitable to their concert promoter, or fellow club musicians.

“Sure,” John said smoothly. “Bring ‘em back! It’ll be fun.”

So, the night of the concert, after sound check, John and Paul were hanging in their backstage dressing room when the promoter knocked on the door, and soon was leading in three very grungy looking young men, all of who had longer than shoulder length hair. There was a shorter blond with compelling blue eyes (who appeared to be wearing smudged eye makeup), and a tall, gawky looking guy with a long face and dark hair, and a medium-sized man with his hair parted on the side, with medium-colored brown hair. They reminded John – quixotically - of the three bears.

The blond turned out to be the lead singer and resident genius, Kurt Cobain, who was clearly high. The tall gawky kid was Krist Novoselic, the bassist, and the medium looking guy was their drummer, Chad Channing. Cobain did all the talking, and soon he was reminding Paul of John in a very striking way.

“I really dig your music, man,” Cobain said, looking at both of them, and not at all disturbed that he used the singular to refer to a plural.

John had taken the time to listen to Paul’s grunge tape before arriving at the stadium, so he wasn’t completely ignorant of their sound at least. “Yeah, Paul and I dig your music too,” he said, unconsciously modeling Cobain’s emotionless and laconic speaking style. “I hear you’re signing with Geffen,” John continued. “I recorded with that label in 1980.” John was remembering the ill-fated Double Fantasy.

“Krist and I are kinda like you two,” Kurt drawled. “We kinda grew up together, in our hometown of Aberdeen, which is south and west from here. We were in a slew of garage bands together.”

“We would have been in garage bands too,” Paul chirped up, mischief dancing in his face, “if we’d had garages.” Everyone chuckled at that. “Are you working on new material?” Paul asked.

“Yeah, but we’re kind of getting over the ‘pure’ grunge sound a bit,” Cobain said, making a face at the word ‘pure’ and surprising John and Paul (and apparently also his drummer, Channing, if the man’s expression was anything to go by.) “All these fuckin’ bands from places none of us ever heard of are infiltrating, and they’re turning the original sound into a cliché.” Krist Novoselic was nodding his agreement fiercely throughout Cobain’s speech. “We’re moving in a slightly different direction, now,” Cobain concluded.

“You’re using more melody than the others,” Paul said. “I noticed that right away.”

Cobain nodded in Paul’s direction with respect. “Melody is supposed to the antithesis of grunge, but the way I look at it, all music has to grow in order to be relevant.” How John-like, Paul thought, fondly. But Paul noticed that the drummer was looking decidedly pissed off as Cobain spoke.

Suddenly, the drummer spoke. “I don’t think the sound is cliché.” He was grumpy. “And I think melody is a fuckin’ sellout.”

“No one’s twisting your arm to stay, dude,” Cobain said lazily, taking a huge suck out of his cigarette and then tapping away the ashes. He then blew the smoke out in a slow, steady stream, as if he and his lungs had all day to do it in.

John and Paul exchanged quick glances. This was awkward. Well, they’d seen their share of band implosions, and been participants in them, too. There was nothing new under the sun. John being John, he chose not to ignore the elephant in the room.

“Dissention within a band is healthy to a point,” he said. “It keeps everyone on his toes. But in the end, you all have to pull in the same direction or you’ll all end up in the fuckin’ mud. Trust me. Been there, done that.”

Cobain and Novoselic snickered in agreement. Channing did not. Paul very discreetly kicked John in the shin.

Several months later, neither John nor Paul were surprised to learn that Nirvana had kicked their drummer Chad Channing to the curb (or had he left them?), and had replaced him with another long time Seattle grunge personality, one Dave Grohl.


The smell of marijuana wafted over the arena crowd like a protective shell. Seattle was that kind of venue. Give Peace a Chance had just trailed to an end.

“You’re gonna make us high by second hand smoke,” Paul complained into the microphone to the audience’s raucous laughter and applause. Catcalls came floating down from the highest rafters. The consensus seemed to be that this particular part of the audience thought that Paul was already high, entirely on his own initiative.

“Yeah, yeah,” John shouted back to the nosebleed contingent. “You’re fuckin’ out of it – what do you know?” The rest of the audience shouted out in encouragement and amusement. The loopy shouts were still emanating from the top of the arena, so John said, “You’ll have to quiet down now if you want to hear the next song.”

Gradually the noise abated, and Paul – who was back at the piano now – prepared to light in to the next show stopper.

Hey Jude, don't make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better

Hey Jude, don't be afraid
You were made to go out and get her
The minute you let her under your skin
Then you begin to make it better.

And anytime you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain
Don't carry the world upon your shoulders
For well you know that it's a fool who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder

Hey Jude, don't let me down.
You have found her, now go and get her
Remember to let her into your heart,
Then you can start to make it better

So let it out and let it in, hey Jude, begin,
You’re waiting for someone to perform with
And don't you know that it's just you, hey Jude, you'll do,
The movement you need is on your shoulder

Hey Jude, don't make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her under your skin
Then you'll begin to make it
Better better better better better better, oh!

Na na na na na ,na na na, hey Jude...

The audience carried on with the chorus until the ten- minute mark passed, and finally Paul put an end to it with a loud musical flourish.


The Las Vegas performance had come and gone, and the first gig in L.A., at the Hollywood Forum, was that night. They were staying at Ringo and Barbara’s home in the Hollywood Hills. The night before they had arrived so late, that Ringo was half asleep as he showed them to a guest room in his silk paisley dressing gown. He had then quickly disappeared back to bed. John and Paul certainly had not blamed him. They had quickly undressed and climbed into bed, falling directly into each other’s arms.

“I’d like to fuck you, but I don’t have the energy,” John said frankly.

Paul chuckled. “It sucks getting old.”

Instead, they held each other tightly until they both fell asleep.

But now they were standing backstage preparing to confront their first Los Angeles audience together since 1966, although Paul had played there –at the same arena – in 1976 with Wings. Los Angeles was a tough concert town. It was too infused with industry, and usually the first several rows were suit-types – agents, producers, studio executives and the like. They were notoriously unresponsive audience members, and it was dispiriting to try to maintain one’s enthusiasm and energy on a stage when the first 15 rows of seats or so are filled with dead fish, bored out of their minds or pretending to be. John and Paul both knew this, if not from direct experience, then from hearing about it from all of their colleagues in the music business, so it was with trepidation that they waited for the moment when they would have to take the stage.

In the end, it wasn’t as bad as they had been led to believe. There clearly were industry types in the front rows, but they were as crazy and goofy as the rest of the audience, so it was all good. The big surprise for the night was when Ringo joined them on stage to play drums on the rock ‘n roll segment, pounding out Twist and Shout, I Saw Her Standing There, Slow Down and I’m Down with panache, wearing that blissed out expression on his face that had always made everyone smile. He later came out and rejoined them for Hey Jude, and with the conclusion of that song, the main concert came to a close.

John, Paul and Ringo left the stage as the audience stood and cheered for more. A few minutes later, Paul came out by himself, carrying an acoustic guitar. He stood alone at the microphone, and began to sing with no accompaniment whatsoever,

All my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though they're here to stay
Oh, I believe in yesterday

I'm not half the man I used to be
There's a shadow hanging over me
Oh, yesterday came suddenly

Why she had to go I don't know, she wouldn't say
I said something wrong
Now I long for yesterday

Love was such an easy game to play
Now I need a place to hide away
Oh, I believe in yesterday

Why she had to go I don't know, she wouldn't say
I said something wrong
Now I long for yesterday

Love was such an easy game to play
Now I need a place to hide away
Oh, I believe in yesterday The audience had stood throughout the whole song, singing along. Lovers of all ages were holding each other, parents were hugging their children, and there were few dry eyes in the house: funny how a song so simple could move so many people so deeply for so long.

As the mournful strains of melody faded away, a loud orchestral crash was heard. This was really the work of Wix Wickens, sitting behind a synthesizer, but it sounded like a whole orchestra playing a discordant note all at the same time. The sound was instantly recognizable and the audience went wild. The crash melted into soft acoustic guitar chords, played by John Lennon, as he was suddenly highlighted with a pink spot. John’s drugged-sounding voice pierced the dark arena.

I read the news today oh, boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
And though the news was rather sad
Well, I just had to laugh
I saw the photograph
He blew his mind out in a car
He didn't notice that the lights had changed
A crowd of people stood and stared
They'd seen his face before
Nobody was really sure if he was from the House of Lords
Apropos of nothing, Paul all too clearly (as he played the piano) remembered his old dear friend Tara Browne, for whom the verse had been written: the golden boy Guinness heir who was too fond of fast drugs, fast women, and fast cars. Paul had experienced a very unpleasant wipeout on a moped one Liverpool December night, leaving his face in a kind of a mess. Tara had been there.

I saw a film today oh, boy
The English army had just won the war
A crowd of people turned away
But I just had to look
Having read the book
I'd love to turn you on.

As he sang, John was reminded of the flop of a movie he had starred in, How I Won the War, which was the subject of this verse. He remembered the six weeks in Almeria, Spain, where he had filmed it. He remembered how he’d lost all that weight, and cut his hair, and finally started wearing his bifocals because he had dug the round granny glasses they had given him for the movie. He also remembered the grim night the reviews came out. He’d felt worse for Richard Lester, the director, than he had for himself. John’s notices weren’t that bad. They had simply said that he wasn’t really acting. He was just being his irreverent self. And John supposed that wasn’t such a bad thing.

John’s reverie was interrupted as Wix went into a whirlwind of loud, discordant orchestral sounds, until it dissolved into Paul’s stark allegro piano chords, and then, Paul’s voice emerged from the sound garden.

Woke up, fell out of bed
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up, I noticed I was late
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke
And somebody spoke and I went into a dream

Paul remembered how he’d found this song fragment in one of his song notebooks while they were recording John’s verses, and realized it was a perfect middle-eight. He gave no thought to giving up his intriguing song idea to John. It never occurred to him to hold it back. It was the perfect solution to John’s song, to break the monotony and introduce the faster paced final verse. As he was thinking this, John’s anguished voice, seemingly from another stratosphere, suddenly interrupted. John sounded as if he were in physical and emotional pain.

Ahhhh ah ah ah, ahhhhh ah, ahhhh ah

The song’s tempo increased markedly, and John’s determined voice returned from the dreamy anguish of a moment earlier:

I read the news today oh, boy
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall!
I'd love to turn you on

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