Go sing with the crowd at Strawberry Fields. I don’t live in New York but I happened to be there back in 2003. I had forgotten it was his birthday and was just wandering around the city as a tourist, heading toward the Dakota to check it out. Walking through Central Park, looking at the skyscrapers poking over the trees under the gray sky, I heard the echo of a crowd singing “Please Please Me.” It made me think of how exciting it must have felt back in February ’64 when then Liverpudlians first arrived in New York.
Dozens of fans were circled around the Strawberry Fields mosaic, along with guitarists, keyboardists, a drummer, and sax player. For hours people sang early, mid, and late Beatles from hits to the obscure and solo Lennon tunes. When it came to songs like “Help!” and “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl” half the people took the lead vocals, half the backing. For some reason the moments that stand out the most are everyone singing the wordless “Flying” (of all songs), and the haunting “oooh” coda of “It’s Only Love.”
I was back in the Big Apple in 2007 and the crowd was even larger, with a lot of kids having been turned on to the Beatles by that year’s “Across the Universe.” So if you make it there this year, sing “I Feel Fine” and “Don’t Let Me Down” for me.