When a Beatle walks in the room, you scream; no other response is appropriate.
For this reason, when I saw Ringo Starr play Radio City Music Hall in New York the other night, I issued forth a scream — much to the chagrin of my sons, ages 11 and 8. Not even their adulation for the Beatles was a sufficient antidote for the embarrassment of a screaming mom.
It wasn’t until I looked around and saw some middle-aged women waving their arms and screaming, “We love you, Ringo!” that I realized this perhaps was unsuitable behavior for adults over the age of 19. But these women are me. I am them. We are old. Kookookachoo.
Moreover, Ringo’s age, like that of the guys in his All Starr Band (which included Edgar Winter, Billy Squier, and that guy from Men at Work) justifies the temporary lapse in normative adult etiquette. After all, between them we are talking about roughly 462 years of rock experience still rocking – and youthfully at that – the stage. Decades away from the excesses of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, most of Ringo’s All Starr Band seems to be so happy to be vertical that the concert is pure fun.
Watching Ringo drum was an historic, momentous, culturally significant experience. And yet, at the same time one had the sense that one was watching a very content person doing the thing that makes him happiest.
All that black-and-white footage we’ve seen of Ringo playing with the Beatles sitting behind his kit, bopping his head, playing those drums with mastery and without effort – except this time the camera wasn’t cutting away to the other three of the Fab Four — the cute one, the intellectual, and the quiet one.
While my kids loved jumping up and down singing “Yellow Submarine” with the rest of the crowd at Radio City, it was the hit he wrote with George Harrison that took my sister, her best friend from high school, and me back in an instant to our girlhood bedrooms, where we could picture ourselves sitting on floral bedspreads listening to the 45 of the song over and over again.
Ringo covers his own past, too, in this summer tour. Liverpool 8 documents his youth with the boys back in their hometown. “Never Without You” fondly remembers his friend Harrison. The way he sang “With a Little Help from My Friends” made us all feel like we are helping Ringo by still loving him after all these years.
He ended the night with a chant of “All we are saying, is give peace a chance.” The crowd of John Lennon’s fellow New Yorkers went nuts and swayed together as Ringo strode off the stage, a happy guy.
Ringo has a peace and love campaign going on, in which he asks people to flash a peace sign and say, “Peace and Love” at noon wherever they are on his birthday, July 7.
I don’t know what a conversation with Ringo about world affairs would yield, but I do know that this advocate of peace and love shows it in his music and lets the fans figure out the rest.
— Susan Konig is author of I Wear the Maternity Pants in This Family.