Only hours ago the world received the unbelievably sad news that David Bowie has left us. Only the last couple of days I have given him more thought than in quite a while (see post below). I was once again reminded how much his music has meant to me. Obviously, therefore, it’s a very surreal sensation that suddenly the celebration of his 69th birthday and the release of his new album, suddenly only three days later now turns into grief.
I remember covering “The Prettiest Star” together with The Merrymakers back in 1997 (a rare, somewhat “underproduced”, B-side which has it’s world premiere on-line here today). It was that song that first caught my interest for Bowie when my brother Niklas was playing his records in my child-hood home at loud volume. Such a brilliant melody. But there’s many other songs that are competing about the other spots on my Bowie top 5 (which is always topped by the unbeatable “Life on Mars”). Among them are “Changes”, “Oh You Pretty Things”, “Ziggy Stardust” (which I’ve sung hundreds of times in cover gigs) and “Starman” (see video of my interpretation below). Power Pop Movie producer Justin Fielding chose a few words from that song for his Facebook status update on this sad day which I think describe the new situation very well:
There’s a starman waiting in the sky He’d like to come and meet us But he thinks he’d blow our minds
R.I.P. David Bowie.
(Original post, Friday Jan 8, 2016:)
I was a huge David Bowie fan when I was younger. I still am. In fact he’s among my top 5 musical heroes of all time (if all members of the Beatles – including their solo careers – count as one). But like many others I kind of got stuck into his first half of the seventies period which is absolutely fabulous. Again, like many others, I have had “Life on Mars” as my favorite song of all time since I was a kid. So it’s no surprise that I was absolutely delighted when I was invited to be part of the show “The Golden Years of David Bowie” back in my former hometown Piteå. The people behind these huge tribute shows call themselves GREAT GIG which is a constellation of great musicians from Piteå who were my local rock’n’roll heroes (and still are) growing up.
Since that November day in 2008 I’ve been kind of waiting for a proper documentation of the show, but I think both audio and video got lost among too many of Peter Eliasson’s hard drives. So in order to celebrate David Bowie’s 69th birthday today I thought I’d share whatever little glimpses I have from that show. The sound is taken directly from the mixer which means the levels and balance of the instruments are far from perfect. So please be forgiving in your judgement. Anyway, it’s a great memory for me! Thanks GREAT GIG for having me as your guest!
Ensemble: Dust Radio (Mikael Thurfjell, Gunnar Sundström, Peter Eliasson, Folke Wiklund, Mats Lundberg).
Guests: David Myhr, Stefan Tjerngren, Francis Goossens, Anna Wedin, Maria Juuso, Jonna Löfgren.
If you ever get the chance, I can highly recommend the Great Gig productions. Since then, they have made tribute shows to Queen, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, and more.
I guess it’s no news to anyone that my musical life (if not life?) revolves a lot around the Beatles. And it never stops. One climax was of course last year when I finally shook hands with Sir Paul McCartney! (Read the 4000 word long blog post about that defining moment and more about my Beatles background in general here).
Looking back on 2015 in a Beatles perspective, a fond memory is when McCartney came to Stockholm again. As usual, I felt I had to make something “extra”. So I put together a nice little “super group” (he said humbly), called Myhr, Kvint & Morén. In a “pre-McCartney-concert”-show at Clarion Hotel, Stockholm, we played a bunch of songs that McCartney wasn’t going to play himself and it was of course good fun. I mean, how often do you get to play (or hear!) songs like “Cafe On The Left Bank” live?
Before that day, I was interviewed by the Swedish news agency TT, in the role of “Beatles expert”, about the upcoming McCartney concert and my expectations, as almost a “spokesman” for the Swedish (hard core) fans. The interview was published in many leading Swedish newspapers (and included my list of favorite Macca songs and albums). See articles for instance in Dagens Nyheter, Göteborgs-Posten,
But the BIG Christmas gift this year was of course the news that The Beatles music now is available streaming. So, while digesting the Christmas food I thought it’d be fun to make a few playlists of Beatles songs on various themes.
It features all their greatest hits but also a carefully made selection of the greatest album tracks. All in chronological order. Basically it’s a top 100 list full of evergreens, and masterpieces. It might very well be the “ultimate” 4 hour and 42 minute introduction to their catalogue.
Then there’s three playlists where I have put focus on Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison individually where I have picked out 25 “cool” tracks. Which means they are not necessary their most famous songs (except in the case of Harrison where I had to include basically everything he ever sang and/or wrote within the Beatles).
There are of course many different themes that one could think of. One, close to my heart, is the “rock’n’roll”-theme. It’s sometimes forgotten what a marvelous little rock’n’roll combo they were. I mean the Rolling Stones were OK, but really…!? Just play The Beatles version of “Long Tall Sally” loud on your stereo, and you’ll get my point. 😉
A completely different theme is the one of “beautiful melodies”. What a beautiful melody is, is very difficult to define of course. And the Beatles very rarely recorded songs without beautiful, strong or memorable melodies. Anyway, I tried to use my gut-feeling to pick out twenty-five of my all-time favorites in this category.
The Beatles of course doesn’t need me to reach out to a new audience. But it’s that it’s hard to stop. It’s like I’ve been on a mission since I was ten. The Beatles is my religion and I thought this was a fun new way to “evangelize”. So, feel free to turn of your mind and float down streaming on Spotify with me…
As I’ve mentioned before I sometimes do what I call “the living Beatles jukebox”. It has become an annual tradition for me to play in Stockholm just before Christmas. For a few years at Noel’s but recently also at Upstairs Bar Clarion Hotel. I just got home and I am dying to get to sleep but I thought I’d share you some glimpses into what was going on this great evening. Among the guests in the clips below you will find my dear friends Lisa Backhans and Agneta Höglund (also fellow members of our ABBA tribute band Super Trouper) singing “Two of us”, my friend and student Alicia Carlestam making a version of “Imagine”, and my good friend, fellow Macca-head Peter Morén (of Peter Bjorn and John fame) helping me out with a rendition of “Yellow Submarine” (just what the world needed!). The second half where it got rough, rockin’ and we all went beserk will still have to wait some time before I make it public. Or I might never do it and instead save it as a (hopefully) sweet memory for those who showed up…? Anyway, what you will see below is some songs from the “soft part”. All in all, it was a great night, with great songs among great friends! Thanks everyone involved! I love when we all “come together”!!! Happy Xmas – War is Over!
So, the Melody and Madness adventure was over a little over five weeks ago! At my age it takes a while to recover but now is the time for a small summary. And more importantly – the digital release of the tour EP!!!
As you could see in the video clips from the summer in the previous blog post, my artist/songwriter powerpoppin’ friend and colleague Linus of Hollywood and I had big plans to conquer Sweden, U.K., and Spain armed with our melodies and our acoustic guitars. And a not small portion of madness! The whole thing turned into a great adventure and we are overwhelmed with the great reception from all you wonderful people out there who joined us along the way. It was great! From the start in Stockholm with the visit to ABBA-Benny’s studio and the V.I.P. showing of the ABBA museum (Linus is a HUGE fan with the ABBA logo tattooed on his arm!) including our impromptu karaoke performance of “Mamma Mia” being published on the museum’s offical Facebook page(!) to the last show in Bilbao, Spain, two weeks later it became a memory for life.
So many memories. The opening night in the Old Town of beautiful Stockholm where Peter Kvint was our honored guest, the amazing house concert in Uppsala, the honor to play Eggstone songs in the actual Tambourine studios with the actual Eggstone singer Per Sunding. The stop-over in Denmark where we got yelled at by an angry Australian waitress. The incredibly cosy and intimate atmosphere at the cool Green Note in Camden, London. The smashed toilet door at the great house party in Loscoe. The incredible interview for Spanish national Radio 3. The super cool gig at El Intruso Madrid, the wonderful people at Loco Club in Valencia, the uplifiting house party in Madrid. The list could be made a lot longer but… the big news today is – our limited edition CD is available on-line on iTunes/Spotify etc as of today!!!
The Melody and Madness tour EP was made exclusively for the tour and contains my cover of Linus’ song “Ready for Something Good”, Linus’ cover of my song “Icy Tracks” (written together with Peter Morén from Peter Bjorn and John) and lastly a cover of Badfinger, the song by Paul McCartney wrote for them, “Come and Get It”. This last song you will also be able to enjoy (as of today!) on YouTube in the form of a collage video that Todd Stanton was kind enough to put together for us where you’ll be seeing us in action from the tour from stages in Stockholm, Uppsala, Malmö, Loscoe, London, Madrid, and Valencia.
If you like what you hear, please spread the word, and share to the world!
Lastly, here’s a selection of photos from the tour:
In a few days I will be going on tour through three countries together with my friend, artist and songwriter colleague Linus of Hollywood! We call it the Melody and Madness tour 2015 (webpage here and Facebook-page here). It’s going to be an acoustic night of melodic pop where we play songs from our respective solo catalogues but also stuff from our former bands The Merrymakers and Size 14 as well as some carefully and lovingly selected cover songs. One of which is Badfinger’s “Come and Get it” (written by McCartney) that will be included on the very exclusive CD-single that we’ll be selling on the tour. (There will also be an exclusive T-shirt for sale – see photo below). On some of the nights we will have distinguished guests joining us on stage, like Peter Kvint (ex-Melony), Per Sunding (ex-Eggstone), Kurt Baker, and El Inquieto Roque.
Here’s Linus (and his dog Louie) explaining a little bit what it’s all about:
Followed by me explaining a little bit what it’s all about:
The tour schedule looks like this:
Aug 27 – Stockholm, Sweden – Waterfront Sunset (Loch & Quay) – feat. Peter Kvint (Melony) – FREE SHOW! (FB event here).
Aug 28 – Uppsala, Sweden – SOLD OUT living room concert
Aug 29 – Malmö, Sweden – Tambourine Studios – PRIVATE EVENT – email us at email@example.com if you would like to attend and we’ll see what we can do!
Less than a month after the video premiere of the Elvis Costello cover “Veronica”, it’s now time for yet another video premiere. This time it’s the recent singles B-side “Oh Susie” that has been honored with a video clip.
Both tracks also featured on two recently released American compilations.
Very excited today to present to you my new single out on Lojinx featuring cover versions of two songs from my own record collection that was spinning around heavily in my head in my late teens around the time when I first started out writing pop music. (Download available here).
I chose “Veronica” based on the fact that it’s my favourite Costello song but the fact that Paul McCartney co-wrote it can be seen a logical bonus considering my life-long obsession with the Beatles (more about that in the the day I met Paul McCartney blog post).
I remember Elvis Costello’s video for the original version was fascinating. What I loved most about it was the fact that one could actually hear in the video Costello half-singing the song over the track. Very cool! In my old home town Piteå in the north of Sweden there was a very nice cellar pub called “Kajutan” in the late 80’s where we (the origins of The Merrymakers) used to play a lot acoustically as “troubadours”. There was also a laserdisc video jukebox and whenever I could I used to put on “Veronica”. Way before YouTube!
The B-side of my single is “Oh Susie”, a cover of the debut single from 1979 by the Swedish new wave/pop band Secret Service. This track is also featured on an American compilation called Even More Superhits of the Seventies to which I was invited to participate together with among others Lojinx label mates (again!? coolest label on earth, isn’t it?) Marshall Crenshaw and They Might Be Giants.
When I first discovered this song it was evening sun in Piteå. I was eighteen and cruising around in my first car when this song suddenly came on the radio. It immediately struck a chord with me. Its melancholy seemed to me to have an almost Harrison-esque vibe. I found out it was from a Swedish band from the seventies called Secret Service and we used to include it in our otherwise sixties dominated cover repertoire. The singer Ola Håkansson had been a star already in the sixties with Ola & The Janglers and later became, and still is, a legendary music business mogul. It was he who first gave my former band The Merrymakers our first record deal releasing our 1992 debut single “Andrew’s Store”.
The original has a distinct disco flavor but co-producer Andreas Dahlbäck and I decided to try to give it a more timeless appeal. We’re especially proud of the fact that we give the beautiful little melody from the guitar solo a much more dominant role in our version played by a string section.
It would be wonderful if you wanted to buy the single on iTunes (and by doing so, help me to pay the wonderful musicians listed below) or stream it (shortly) on Spotify. Sharing this blog post or the video would be highly appreciated. Also please remember to get your copy of both compilations albums mentioned above (this one and this one). Both have an amazing line-up of artist, are great, AND for a good cause!Since iTunes and Spotify haven’t yet figured out how to include credits and liner notes – please check them out below the picture of the artwork..
Catalogue number: LJX094D (only available digitally)
(Elvis Costello / Paul McCartney)
David Myhr – lead and background vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, harpsichord, glockenspiel
Andreas Dahlbäck – drums, tambourine
Rikard Lidhamn – bass
Marcus Olsson – piano, organ
Anders Pettersson – electric guitar
Elin Andersson – trumpet
Produced by David Myhr
Engineered by Raoul Hamilton, Petter Näse, and David Myhr. Mixed by Marcus Black at Jelly Road.
Recorded at Durango Recording, Stockholm, and Strong Melody Studio, Stockholm.
(Tim Norell / Björn Håkansson)
Produced by David Myhr & Andreas Dahlbäck.
Recorded at Durango Recording, Stockholm, and Strong Melody Studio, Stockholm. Engineered by Andreas Dahlbäck and David Myhr. Mixed by Marcus Black.
David Myhr – vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, harpsichord
Hanna Ekström – violins, violas
Andreas Dahlbäck – drums, tambourine
The romantic comedy MICKE & VERONICA (see trailer here) has now been seen by over 250 000 people and is right now #1 on Biotoppen! (Box office number-one!)
Now the entire soundtrack by my good friend, the highly talented score composer Jimmy Lagnefors, can be found on iTunes and Spotify. It’s filled with great songs like charming ”Lover Lover”, the EDM-influenced ”Family Tree” (feat. Dan Reed) and the Motown-inspired ”The More I love you” just to mention a few.
I am of course very excited to have co-written the song “Vänta Inte På Mig” together with Jimmy. It plays an important role in the movie and is supposed to sound “like a local Swedish Eurovision Song Contest winner from 1970″. More about “Vänta Inte På Mig” and its accompanying video (featuring myself, Jimmy, and drummer Andreas Dahlbäck in the studio) can be found in my previous blog post.
What’s also very cool is that Jimmy invited me to co-write yet ANOTHER song for the soundtrack! It’s a latino flavored number called Superman! You’ll hear it in the trailer above and it’s sung by Jimmy himself.
Here’s a picture from the party after the gala premiere just before Christmas where all the movie’s actors were present. In the photo you’ll find Jimmy, my wife Paula, and myself enjoying some red wine to celebrate the premiere.
More about the movie from a pressrelease (in Swedish) from SF (Swedish Filmindustry):
MICKE & VERONICA är en relationskomedi i skärgårdsmiljö av Staffan Lindberg efter filmsuccéerna En gång i Phuket och Sommaren med Göran. Filmen är julens stora svenska biorelease och hade premiär på över 200 biodukar över hela landet.
I huvudrollen som snickaren Micke ser vi David Hellenius som gör sin första huvudroll på bio. Den andra huvudrollen, som läkaren Veronica, spelas av Izabella Scorupco. I övriga ledande roller syns bland andra Suzanne Reuter och Philip Zandén.
There’s not been much news here on my blog since The Day I met Paul McCartney. It’s kind of hard to match I guess. Since then I’ve been slowly adjusting back to normality. But there has more great moments. One of the true highlights was to see Jeff Lynne’s E.L.O. live in concert in Hyde Park in his first festival concert in over 28 years. Check out my wife and I helping Jeff out with the background vocals here.
But the BIG NEWS today is – I have a NEW SINGLE out: “VÄNTA INTE PÅ MIG”!!!
The single is released on the world’s best record label Lojinx and is distributed by Border in Sweden. This is my first (and last?) record release in my native language Swedish. “Vänta inte på mig” means “Don’t Wait for Me” in English and “No Me Esperes” in Spanish.
The song is the result of a new songwriting collaborationship that came about when film music composer Jimmy Lagnefors (En gång i Phuket, Sommaren med Göran, Solstorm, Bröllopsfotografen, Mammas Pojkar) invited me to the delicate task of writing a song that “could have been the Swedish Eurovision Song Contest winner forty years ago”. The song plays a crucial part in the coming romantic comedy Micke & Veronica which is the big Swedish cinema release this upcoming Christmas featuring David Hellenius and Isabella Scorupco.
In the movie itself you will not hear me singing though. In the key scene where the song is featured it will be performed live with one of the actors behind the vocal microphone. This means that the single I’m releasing today will be the only official studio version of the song and it will be featured on the film’s soundtrack in the near future.
Maybe I’m amazed? No, forget maybe. I’m amazed! Here’s my story. I want to share it with you in case you just like me have had this dream for some time. I’ve been very thankful over the years for being able to listen to or read about any story about meetings with Paul McCartney (whether it has been one of my lucky friends or some famous person like Dave Grohl, Ozzy Osbourne, president Obama or whoever…). So this is my little contribution to the mythology of meeting a true legend. I met Bob Dylan in 1992 (which I will blog about some other time). And that was as high in the world of popular music as you can get. At least in theory, since he was the only person (except for Elvis Presley) that The Beatles themselves were dying to meet when they came to America back in 1964. But still – for me, and millions of other people around the globe, nothing beats meeting a Beatle! (As comedian Dana Carvey so well describes here). It will take a while to read so enjoy your favorite beverage and put on your choice of music on Spotify. You can for instance, just as a suggested starting point, choose between my solo debut album Soundshine or Paul McCartney’s second solo album RAM.
As everyone who knows me know very well… I breathe The Beatles. They are my religion. I was born in 1970, only some forty days before the Beatles officially broke up. My fascination with the band, however, began after the tragic death of John Lennon when I was only 10 years old. Already a month later I held my first “lecture” about the Beatles in school, and when I was eighteen, I went on national television in a quiz show on the subject. In 1994, my last year in university, I played and sang the role of Paul McCartney in an insanely ambitious project – the world premiere of Sgt Pepper Live. We performed the whole album both in a choir version and in an original version featuring the three of us in The Merrymakers in the roles of John, Paul, and George. We ended up going on tour with an ensemble of more than 150 people from my hometown of Piteå, via Stockholm (with a show at Cirkus) to Liverpool’s Empire Theatre to perform for an audience including John Lennon’s first wife Cynthia and the mayor of Liverpool. In the preparations for the project I got to meet Beatles’ legendary producer Sir George Martin. We also did the whole Beatles tourist trip including visits to the barber shop at Penny Lane and Strawberry Field. I also got the opportunity to chat with Cynthia Lennon at the after-party, and I even signed autographs in the street the next day AS Paul McCartney. My little “hobby” had kind of gotten out of hand. (More about this Sgt Pepper Live project later in the fall since ”it was twenty years ago today”…)
Singing “Lovely Rita” at the Liverpool Empire Theatre in Liverpool, 1994.
Anyway, after all this I thought that it was time to prioritize our own music and so we did with The Merrymakers in the 90’s. (see me singing “April’s Fool” with the Merrymakers here). But as much as I tried to tone it down… the Beatles stayed with me and almost increasingly so. Apart from the enormous influence they’ve had on my own songwriting, musicianship, production and general attitude in life, little Beatle-related things always seemed to happen. I sang (again with The Merrymakers) ”No More Lonely Nights” on an American McCartney tribute album (check it out here), I give lectures every year about the Beatles at various institutions, I’m regularly making performances performing Beatles music in Sweden, Finland, and in Spain, from my one-man act ”The Living Beatles Jukebox” to being a part of bigger productions… and a couple of years ago it even led to me recording in the Abbey Road Studio! For full report and video from that exciting day see this old blog post. So… as you can see… I’m in full agreement with one of my other heroes, Tom Petty, on whom, like for so many others, The Beatles have had a ”great profound effect on my life” and the following words from him ring true for me as well:”I still think the Beatles [made] the best music ever, and I’m sure I’ll go to my grave thinking the same thing.”
So I met Sir George Martin, I met Cynthia Lennon, I even bothered James McCartney and Olivia Harrison to pose for “selfies” with me. And of course I have seen Paul McCartney live many times. Beginning in 1989 when I saw him twice in Stockholm (and once in London –I just couldn’t get enough!). And every tour since then that passed by Stockholm. And again in London a couple of times in later years. Every time it has been just as emotional and every time I have been so thankful that I have been able to see him in concert. And hey! Not to forget… I saw Ringo in concert too (at Gröna Lund in Stockholm)!!!
But yet… there was one piece of the puzzle still missing. I never got to meet a Beatle in person… I’ve been kind of “close”. And sometimes not so close. I remember for instance how frustrated I was when he was in my quarters on the island of Kungsholmen in Stockholm in the late 90’s when he wanted to get his mind off the loss of his very very loved “long-haired lady” Linda. Lovely Linda! So he came over to ”hang out” with some very loosely selected current songwriters and I thought, ”that should have been me! Or if not – at least someone really important like Benny Andersson of ABBA!” And then at The Royal Albert Hall in 2012 (where I bumped into Ron Wood!) I was kind of close to be able to attend a “meet and greet” afterwards through the help of a good musician friend of mine with some very important Paul-related connections. But it ended up with me circling around outside the arena for a couple of hours in the cold and finally not even seeing Paul’s exit from the building. I’m not saying it wasn’t worth the effort. But still… it didn’t happen then. And I kept dreaming (and I mean for real – and regularly – just ask my wife…). Until on the 31st of July, 2014, when it finally happened!
Through my work and my position as a senior lecturer in song writing and music production the School of Music in Piteå (my staff profile here), I had the wonderful opportunity earlier this year to go and see how they work over at the music department at LIPA (Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts) – the school that Paul McCartney is the Lead Patron for. Housed in the building that Paul himself attended as a young boy in the fifties. I was told that Paul traditionally attends graduation every year and I, being the open and straight-forward person I am, didn’t make any great attempts to hide the fact that I am a life-long, highly devoted Beatles fan, with one of my biggest dreams (well that’s a lie… it should be THE biggest dream) being to one day meet Paul McCartney in person. And to my great luck, it turned out they welcomed me as a guest to the event alongside people like Billy Ocean, and other leading figures in the entertainment industry.
So as if on auto-pilot I flew over to Liverpool, took in at the fab gear Hard Day’s Night Hotel (with John and George watching over my bed as you can see in picture below). I did my regular visit to Matthew Street, to the Cavern, and I even went to one of the pubs John, Stuart, Cynthia and other art school people used to hang out at, the legendary Ye Cracke. But again… this is just the ”normal” touristy Beatles-nerdy stuff that anyone of the 600,000(!) people coming every year to Liverpool can do while walking in the footsteps of The Fab Four. (As Howard Sounes points out in his book FAB; “it’s a fact that, alongside that of Elvis Presley, the Beatles are now the object of the most obsessive cult in popular music”). All these things are really worthwhile (for true fans) and great fun and very emotional… but still…. nothing beats meeting Beatle Paul himself… so here’s my recollection of what actually happened:
The two Beatles that sadly no longer are with us are watching over my bed at Hard Day’s Night Hotel.
I attended the graduation ceremony which turned out to be an enormously well executed event by LIPA. The 280 students nicely lined up on stage sporting their traditional academic regalia and a whole auditorium filled with parents, family and friends from all over the world. And suddenly, accompanied by pompous music, in comes a procession with Paul in the lead together with Mark Heather-Featherstone-Witty OBE, Founding Principal and Chief Executive of LIPA. And after them, all of those who were to become LIPA Companions including (most importantly to me) the ”not the son of Phil Spector” (as he puts it himself in his Twitter bio), but rather the son of Sir George Martin, the very talented and highly successful Giles Martin. Paul was in the building! And he looked fresh, fit, smart, stylish and as much of a superstar as he always has been. Such an exciting moment! He was kind of half-dancing his way through the audience as he passed me by only a few metres away from where I was sitting on row 4. Once he reached the stage, he was put in the center where he remained for another three hours. Yes, three hours. It might sound long for a ceremony but it was highly entertaining to see when Paul shook hands and posed for pictures with each and everyone of the graduating students as they got their diplomas. All of the LIPA Companions also held very inspirational and funny speeches to the graduates giving them advice about how to make it in the tough business of performing arts. Sir Paul himself offered his own guidance in his speech at the very end. He joked students should ignore what they had learned from tutors and said his advice was to “be yourself”. As Liverpool Echo reported in this article he said: “I just love to come here and see this amount of talent, this amount of hopefulness, the spirit, about to be launched into the world. Just go out there, be wonderful and be yourself.”.
After the wonderful graduation ceremony at LIPA.
What was even better was that I, as LIPA’s guest, was invited to a private reception after the official ceremony. This was an unbelievable honor, and something that I will be forever grateful to LIPA for. I didn’t really know what exactly to expect from this occasion. A ”meet and greet” that maybe, maybe… maybe… would include Sir Paul himself… and lo and behold, only minutes after I arrived myself and was served a glass of champagne, there he was! In the same room. Starting to mingle around and greet people and exchange a few words here and there. Basically doing the same thing as everybody else. Very early on I realized that Paul has a LOT of other VERY important people to say ”hi” to so I kept a low profile enjoying my vegetarian (what else?) egg and mayonnaise sandwich while at the same time enjoying the beautiful view of the river Mersey. All the time thinking to myself: Well… here I am. Little David from Piteå, Sweden, with my little career in pop music… and over there… there’s this other guy. Big Paul from Liverpool, England, with the biggest career ever in the history of show business. The most successful songwriter of all times. But we were both there. Just mingling.
Collage by http://jlghrspm6470.deviantart.com
And then… suddenly…. before I knew it… a woman took Paul aside and they started to walk right in my direction. Towards me!? It took a split second to realize that they were actually heading towards an older couple that was standing right behind me. And on his way over… (this is where my memory is starting to ”black out”) Paul ”saw me standing there”. Alone. With a dumbfounded look on my face. (My champagne glass strategically put on the table beside me in order to keep my hands free for any eventuality). I was obviously not able to look elsewhere as he approached me. And on his way to the people just behind me he suddenly reaches out his hand to me saying “-Hey! How are you, man…?” (or something similar) as he might be thinking ”well this guy here doesn’t seem to have anyone to talk to – and since he’s here in the first place, he probably wouldn’t mind shaking hands with me so why not….”. Or something like that.Who knows what he thought…. anyway, he did reach out his hand. To me! And the realization that Paul McCartney was coming towards me with his hand reached out kind of freaked me out. (I remember reading a funny story when Meg Ryan’s sister was introduced to Paul in the 90’s and puked from her nervousness. So it could have been worse.) People who know me can attest that I am usually not a shy guy. Not at all. And if someone “important” is supposed to be approached, I always seem to have been the one who’s had to do it. But this… this was different. To me, it was like Superman himself would come out of the movie, or Napoleon from the history books, or something… reaching out his hand. It was JUST surreal.
I took him up on the invitation and shook his hand. That hand! The “I want to hold your hand” hand… the hand that invented the intricate fingering on the guitar for “Blackbird”. That performed the wonderful bass line on “Something”. That played ”Live and Let Die”… the list is endless. Mindblowing!
OK, so NOW was the time for my very well thought-through once-in-a-lifetime ”elevator pitch.” How many times during the last thirty years haven’t I been asked ”–What would you say if you ever were to meet Paul McCartney?” I remember for instance an after-show talk over beers almost ten years ago with some of my students. I made an impromptu dramatization of such a fictitious moment that lasted over five minutes including how I got nervous, things I said wrong, and so on… my students, laughed and we all concluded maybe it’s better if it doesn’t happen.
So, in the middle of the hand-shake my mouth started making moves intended to formulate something articulate, wise, tongue-in-cheek, and with a certain level of sophistication and catchiness at the same time in order to make Sir Paul interested in me, my life, my music ”career”, and what I had to say….
On my way over to England, I had not managed to decide on anything specific to say. The same way as when I teach or give lectures, or even go on stage. I very rarely know exactly what to say. Even though my intention always is to have it planned beforehand. Just like my brother Niklas Myhr on his way to his classes as a marketing professor in California I have a tendency to think: ”-It is going to be interesting to hear what I am going to say today”. Scary. But I’ve come to know myself and trust my instincts.
But this day… well… I can say it already. It didn’t work! In the back of my head, I’ve been thinking ever since the day I ”was Paul” in Liverpool in 1994 I’ve been considering saying something along the lines of: ”-Hey Paul! Incredibly great to meet you!!! You know, you really did change my life. For real! I know thousands of people have said that you over the years. But again, it’s really true! And you made me become a musician! And I’m very happy for that. It’s not that I’m very well-known or anything but back in the 90’s I had a band called The Merrymakers and we had quite a bit of success in Japan. I’ve gone solo now and have an album out on an English label called Lojinx. And another high point as a musician was when we did your masterpiece Sgt Pepper… live! From beginning to end. As close to the original as possible. With a full symphony orchestra. I sang your songs, man! It was fantastic to sing”She’s leaving home” with a string section. Loved singing”Getting Better”, ”Fixing a hole,” and ”When I’m sixty-four”…. the whole lot! And it was wonderful to be there! At the Liverpool Empire!!! It was where you played your last show ever in Liverpool with the Beatles in 1965, wasn’t it? And it was certainly a thrill! A memory for life! And here I am with you now! It’s crazy! By the way I was once called the ’Paul McCartney’ of Piteå (that’s where I grew up) in the local paper. And they even called me to ask for my “view” when you released ”Free as a bird”. Man, Jeff Lynne did a great job there, didn’t he? I really love Jeff! And… also, we once covered ‘No More Lonely Nights’ for a tribute record to the memory of Linda. Did you ever get to listen to that record? It was great. Neil Finn was on it! But whereas all the others chose your predictable 70’s hits, we chose your underestimated 80’s song. You know it really does have a wonderful melody…. uhmm… you should play it live yourself sometime… but anyway, man… thank you thank you thank you… for everything you have done… I love RAM… I love your first album McCartney… I love the Beatles. I love Wings. love all your stuff… thank you Paul!!!!”
Something like that was what I would have wanted to say (in lack of some wise comment that really could evoke his interest, whatever that would be… vegetarianism…. “Meat Free Monday”…. the pubs in Liverpool…?). But instead this came out (recollections from a black-out): ”–Hi…! Wonderful pleasure… to meet you…. I once did… Sgt Pepper Live…. twenty years…. here in Liverpool….. uhmmm…..”.
By which time. Paul was already heading past me. Towards the people he was actually going to say hello to (I later figured out that the woman who had taken Paul aside most likely had said: ”-You should meet my parents!”). He heard me fumbling with the words… and noticed that I wanted to express something… but being the professional he is… he had to prioritize… and in the end…. I think I heard him saying, as he turned his head against me one last time, something like ”cheers, mate!” And it was kind of a relief for me. Because I could stop looking for words. And instead just take a step back. Trying to realize what just had happened. I started to grab for my iPhone in order to maybe get some kind of discrete photo of him. (We had been kindly informed, since it was a private occasion, to not ask Paul to pose for photographs or ask for autographs, which itself was kind of a relief, instead of having to worry about selfies at the same time of a potential hand shake). As I was grabbing for my iPhone in my little bag I noticed my hand shaking considerably. When I took it up it kind of dawned upon me… that was it! It just happened! David… you just shook his hand! That was all you wanted! Relax!!! And already then. A minute afterwards it was already surreal. Did it happen? Yes. It happened!!!
So I took a deep breath. Went on with my champagne. I made a quick analysis of the situation. The highly entertaining founder Mark Featherstone-Witty was carefully guiding Paul through the meet and greet. He seems extremely passionate for the school and its students and had made a remarkable speech earlier about the importance of performing arts in academia. Mark came up to me and said hello and we exchanged a few words. And so did his lovely wife. I felt very well taken care of. A little bit further away some of the teachers were standing, including Martin Isherwood, the head of the music department, whom I was fortunate enough to have gotten to know a little bit through work. So I knew I had somewhere to go after this unbelievable moment. But still… there he was. Still only a couple of meters away. I could almost hear what he was saying to people but obviously I didn’t want to intrude. So in a last attempt to capture the moment forever, and to be able to show my grandchildren one day, I thought… Ok… I’m not going to ask him for a photo. But since other people were doing just that. I thought to myself. Well if they do… there shouldn’t be a problem if I take a photo of the photo shoot so to speak. And in these times of ”selfies” I thought I’d better make one. And I wouldn’t “mind” to have Paul in the background. So that’s what I did. And between us is the above mentioned Mark Featherstone-Witty. So with all the love and respect for everybody involved in this occasion and for those that made it happen. I want to express a very humble, and deep gratitude. Looking very much forward to finding ways of working together in the future!
Sir Paul McCartney, Mark Heather-Featherstone-Witty OBE, and David Myhr.
Afterwards… well… what can I say… I was deeply moved by the occasion. Obviously extremely nervous. I chatted to some people here and there. And I left the arena some half hour later. The first thing I did was to call my wife Paula (for whom, by the way, I wrote “The One” in typical Macca fashion). She was anxiously waiting for my update. After all… even minutes before the ceremony started I wasn’t sure that Paul was going to turn up at all. For any possible reason. Busy schedule to begin with (to say the least). But, as a dedicated follower I was well aware that his U.S. tour wasn’t going to start over again until two days later. In Minneapolis. Two days? Is that really enough. I mean he’s 72… but in theory it should be possible. But still. And only recently he had to cancel a few shows in Japan due to some mysterious virus. But that whole incident had blown over luckily. And I had seen in the papers Paul was back on track even enjoying a nice vacation in Ibiza with his beautiful wife Nancy. But even the smallest flu could have stopped him from attending. Or whatever… I don’t know. I just couldn’t fully count on being in the same room this day. But, as you can see, he was… and very much so!
Paula could clearly hear over the phone back in Spain how shaken I was and how taken I was by the experience. I was truly moved. My voice even cracking up from time to time when I was trying to tell her that… “Yes… it worked!”. Mission accomplished! She shared the excitement with me because as anyone who knows me… and she knows me best… she knows what it meant to me. And so did more than five hundred(!) friends and followers on Facebook on my artist page. (Feel free to check out the more than one hundred comments (and my response to each and everyone of them) in my post from this day. I am truly, deeply thankful for all the supporting comments I’ve received there!
So after that I was on a “high” that still is lasting. It just felt logical the day after to take a guided tour to the childhood homes of John and Paul. Enormously interesting and so well executed and presented with so much personality, love and respect by Colin and Sylvia Hall of the National Trust. They really made those young days of the ”lads that shook the world” (to use one of the old clichés) come alive. As I was walking through his house, playing (as always when I see a piano) “Lady Madonna”, walking through the rooms where John and Paul rehearsed and wrote their first hits. I was thinking. I met him. Yesterday!!! And all my troubles seemed very far away…
At Paul’s childhood home at 20 Forthlin Road, Liverpool.