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Lovers and Friends


Chapter Fourteen

The performance at the Playhouse Theatre on 19 June was a taping for a BBC radio program called "Saturday Club." Brian had arranged for Auntie, Rog and I to go; he got us pretty decent seats. I had seen them perform before, but the atmosphere was nothing like this. The mostly-female audience was screaming and becoming quite frenzied. I will admit, it was difficult to not get wrapped up in the mania--although I was so doped up on painkillers I probably would have been cheering for just about anything at that point! We got to see them perform again on 24 June for the same event, and again the same thing happened. It was amazing...and at the same time a little unnerving. Here I was, the girlfriend of one of these guys, and some of the girls in the audience were screaming his name and "I love you Paul!" and bawling and tearing at their hair. One girl three rows in front of me even fainted. Sure, I was getting into their performances, but nothing like that.

A few days after the first show, I went over to Cyn's one evening for dinner when the group was away. I asked her what she thought of all the attention, and how she dealt with being the wife of one of these young men who had so much adulation from it seemed every teenage girl in England. She explained, "Well, Jill, to tell you the truth, I have been with the guys from the start. Maureen, Ringo's girl, hasn't been in the circle quite as long as I have, John & I met at the Art College. You'll be able to handle it, no problem. Brian has told me to keep a low profile, which I suppose is alright. He says it will help the Beatles' image if they don't appear to be married. If this is a roundabout way for me to help them make it big, then I suppose that's my contribution, keeping out of sight!" She laughed at how I was holding Julian: I had him cradled against my left arm, still frozen with plaster into a 90-degree angle, and repeatedly wiping baby drool off his face with the rag in my right hand. Holding young children was entirely foreign to me, never mind that I had the cast on my arm, adding to my discomfort.

I asked her, "It doesn't bother you, being told to keep out of sight?" I was amazed at what she had been through, and terrified of what the future would bring for me if Paul and I were to become serious.

"Not really. Like I said, it's just what Brian requested. I can't keep a low profile forever, though. Some people have already found out about me, but they don't spread it around too much."

I reached down and got a newspaper out of my shoulder bag, which was sitting on the floor next to my chair. "Take a look at this, though. Paul sent it to me, I just got it in the post today." It was an article in the MerseyBeat magazine talking about the Beatles. Whoever was taking pictures at Paul's party (and there were several people) had sent some in to the magazine. There was a picture of Paul and I on the bottom of the front page. We were sitting on a couch before the presents were opened (and before I broke my arm!) and he had his arm around me--we were both smiling for the camera and looked pretty friendly, I guess. The caption underneath read:

COZY COUPLE: Breaking hearts all over Merseyside is Miss Jill Dearborn, an American visiting Britain who has captured the heart of Paul McCartney of the Beatles. They are shown at Paul's twenty-first birthday party, where several local groups performed for the occasion. SEE PAGE THREE FOR MORE!

Cyn read it and said, "Ah...good picture of you two, though, you look good together." She smiled and turned the page to read what else they had to say. As she skimmed it, she said, "Well, I guess the secret's out!"

I scooted my chair around the table to read with her, continuing my attempt to balance Julian on my lap. "What else does it say? I just picked it up and haven't had the chance to read it yet."

Cyn scanned the page. "Hmmm...well, it doesn't seem to mention you too much, it's mostly about the groups who were there. After all, this is a music circular, not a gossip tabloid. But I suppose they needed something to draw people in to read the article, so they picked you." She handed the paper back to me, and Julian reached out for it, almost covering it with baby drool. "If I were you I'd get a few more copies of that, the picture of you is great!"

I took the paper back and asked, "So, what do you think? Will people start hunting me down, death threats and all that?"

Cyn chuckled and shook her head. "No, I don't believe so. Besides, there's no mention of where you are, it just says you're visiting Britain. Most people will probably assume you're near Liverpool anyway. I wouldn't worry about it until it hits London papers. That's when you have to worry." She smiled reassuringly. "But seriously, I don't think you have anything to worry about; talk to Brian if you're worried about it."

***

I started work around the time I went to the second Playhouse Theatre show. It was like picking up where I had left off. The store looked great; Auntie had kept it up nicely. I couldn't do too much physical work with shipments and the like due to the cast. That thing was getting heavy, and my skin under the cast was beginning to itch a little. Even though I was right-handed, I was amazed at how much I used my left hand for things!

Paul and I tried to see each other as much as possible when he was in London. I wanted to travel with them a bit, but as I knew all too well, with retail management came long hours and inflexible schedules...but I was making good money and having a lot of fun in London, so I wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

One day while the Beatles were in London, Paul stopped by the store and took me out to lunch. He commented, "I see that cast is getting pretty dirty now...and looking kinda thin. Why haven't any other people signed it?"

I looked at my cast, signed by all four Beatles and Brian. I shrugged my shoulders and said, "Every time I show it to someone, they tell me that they don't want to sign it and ruin what could be the most valuable plaster cast in the world! Auntie says she'll hang it in the store once it's off, a tourist attraction I guess. They're going to put a new cast on in a few weeks, some sort of softer plaster I think, or something, I think it will only cover the lower arm, so I can actually move my arm then."

"Well," Paul replied, "that is certainly good news. But you still need the others' signatures, at least George Martin's...why don't you take the day off tomorrow, come down to the studio. I'm sure the others would let you watch at least from the control room."

I couldn't believe my ears. My face lit up like a kid at Christmas. "Are you serious? I could really sit in on a recording session?" My dropped jaw turned into a huge smile as he nodded his head. I squeaked in approval and leaned over to hug him, trying not to hit him with my cast and carefully avoiding hitting the food.

"I guess that means that you'll be there," Paul said as he smiled at me.

"Of course! I have tomorrow off anyway, this works out great! So, what are you going to be recording? Can I hear my song?"

"You'll see. You can wait twenty-four hours, can't you?"

"I guess," I said forlornly. "I'm sure it will be worth it, though!"

***

The next day Paul stopped by to pick me up around 9:30 in the morning. I was a little tired, mostly from staying up late talking to Auntie about the gossip on the music scene, but I was so excited about being able to attend a real recording session, much less one with my boyfriend's band. We pulled up right to the front of the EMI Studios on Abbey Road. There was someone waiting outside the building, and he snapped some pictures of us as we walked inside. Paul explained as he held the door open for me that that was happening more and more lately. The receptionist greeted us with a smile and handed Paul some mail. As he looked through it, we walked the halls down to Studio Two. A tall, thin, attractive older man with light slicked-back hair met us at the studio door. "Paul, you're a little late," he reminded him. He extended his hand to me. "You must be Jill Dearborn; I've heard a lot about you. George Martin." We shook hands.

"It is a great pleasure to meet you, Mr. Martin, and I want to thank you for allowing me to listen in on this session. I'm really excited to see what goes on in the recording studio."

"Well, I'll let Geoff give you the grand tour first. Geoff!" George yelled down the hall to a short young man with sandy blonde hair, wearing a long white lab coat. He turned at the sound of his name and came over to us. Paul excused himself and slipped into the studio. George introduced Geoff and me, and he instructed Geoff to give me a tour of the place. George walked into Studio Two, and Geoff led me back down the hall to where we came in.

"Well, I think you'll remember this as the main lobby." He introduced me to everyone working there. He showed me everything from the basement area where they were starting to catalogue and keep all recording session tapes, up to the rooftop where he had put a small table and a couple of folding chairs. "This is where I go to eat lunch. It's a nice view of the top of everything, and I can just sit up here like a fly on the wall and listen to the sounds of the city!"

"What an great idea!" I said. "I love to people-watch, though...can you actually see any people though?"

"Not really, but I just like to listen...hey, speaking of listening, do you want to go into Studio Two and listen to the guys?"

"Sure, let's go! I'd love to just see a studio, see what happens, how the process goes..."

"Man, you sure are curious! Say, I think Studio Three is open, wanna go in there? I can show you the ropes."

We walked back down to Studio Three, which was quite large. Musical instruments, in and out of their cases, littered the room. I had never been in a recording studio before. There was a familiar-looking man at the piano. He was probably about Rog's age, and I guess he was attractive. I stopped right as we walked in because I thought we were interrupting a recording session. Geoff laughed and said, "No, we're not interrupting, if the red light is on outside the door that means they're recording."

"Oh," I said, thinking to myself that I shouldn't open my mouth the rest of the time to at least make it look like I wasn't a total ignoramus. But I did anyway. "Sorry, um, I'm not really familiar with a studio..." I muttered as I looked down at the parque floor.

"That's quite alright, miss, I was just practicing," said the piano guy. He introduced himself as Mark Schwartz, he said he was a session musician. "Do you sing?" he asked.

"Well, I do have a degree in voice, and I sang with my college's choir and Jazz Ensemble, but I haven't sung much since graduation. But hey, I'll be the acoustics in here are great!"

Geoff started to walk away, and he whispered something to the pianist as he walked into another room. Mark and I talked for a bit. Of course, he had to ask what I did to break my arm; that cast was a great conversation piece! I commented on how my not-so-white-anymore sling got in the way of everything and how I hated wearing it, but I showed him whose signatures I had on it. He said, "If I were you, I'd keep that once it's off--that's definitely a one-of-a-kind souvenir!"

We got back on the subject of music, and he asked me what songs I liked to sing. "Well, I sang 'Someone to Watch Over Me' last year with our Jazz Ensemble, I'd have to say that's my favorite right now."

He played around a bit on the keys, mumbling to himself, and found the song and started playing it. "This it?" he asked.

"Yep! Do you know a lot of standards?"

"I sure do, I do a lot of playing in Harrod's for background music."

"That's where I've seen you!" I sat on the bench next to him. "I've gone in there a couple times...but not too many times, it's a bit pricey."

He chuckled. "Well, I'm glad I've been 'seen' by such a beautiful young lady."

I blushed and fiddled with the piano keys in front of me. "Thanks," I whispered.

"Well," Mark said, "shall we get on with it?"

"Get on with what?" I had no idea what he was talking about.

"Would you like to sing that song you like so much? We're in a studio, we might as well, right?"

"Sure, but I haven't warmed up or anything." Mark took me through a series of warm-ups. Someone came in with a pitcher of water and a couple glasses for us during the warm-ups. Mark played through the song once just to make sure he had it right and how I wanted to sing it, tempo, codas, arrangement...he was very thorough. Then, I started singing.

There's a saying old, says that love is blind;
Still we're often told, seek and ye shall find.
So I'm going to seek a certain lad I've had in mind.
Looking everywhere, haven't found him yet;
He's the big affair I cannot forget.
Only man I ever think of with regret.
I'd like to add his initial to my monogram;
Tell me, where is the shepherd for this lost lamb?

There's a somebody I'm longing to see,
I hope that he turns out to be
Someone to watch over me.
I'm a little lamb who's lost in the wood;
I know I could always be good
To one who'll watch over me.

Although he may not be the man some girls think of as handsome,
To my heart he carries the key.
Won't you tell him please to put on some speed?
Follow my lead, oh how I need
Someone to watch over me.

"That was great!" a voice said over the intercom. I looked around and saw a light come on in the control room. Geoff was up there. "Just great, Jill. Would you like to do another one?"

I conferred with Mark on what he knew. I asked him if he knew "Little Girl from Little Rock" from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. I was glad he knew it, and I sang that one as well. I also sang "Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries" which was a standard from Good News, the musical I had done the previous fall. Geoff piped up again and asked, "Wanna do a couple more? I could listen to you all day!"

"Sure," I laughed as I called back up, "but why don't you just come down here? I can barely see you."

"I have the best vantage point up here, and actually, it sounds better up here. Is that okay?"

"Yep! No problem, I'll take your word for it."

I sang two more songs, "My White Knight" from The Music Man, and "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend", again from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. I really got into "Diamonds," doing a little choreography and trying to imitate Marilyn Monroe as closely as a short, average-built redhead with her left arm in a cast can imitate a voluptuous, sexy blonde. I realized I was getting hungry, and even though I was having fun singing in that studio, I wanted to go hear the Beatles, and sit in the control room. Geoff came out from the control room after a while. I thanked Mark, and gave him the phone number to MC's so he could reach me. He said if I wanted I might be able to get some singing gigs around London in jazz clubs or cabarets.

Geoff led me down the long hall to Studio Two. The red light was on by the door, so we waited until it was off. We walked into the control room, and I was amazed. All the switches, tapes, gadgets and gizmos...I was amazed that anyone could keep it straight. Paul saw me come in and smiled up at me. The others waved, and John piped up, "Ah, finally we have someone musically talented in our presence!" Everyone laughed at his joke.

I saw Geoff come into the studio and talk to Paul as George and John worked out some guitar parts. They got ready and ran through another take of "She Loves You". It was great to see them in the studio, and how a song evolved from start to finish. I almost didn't want to leave, but I was still hungry. My stomach growled during a quite moment in the control room and George Martin looked down at my stomach. "Don't worry," he said to my stomach, "we'll get you some food right after this take." He looked up at me with a smile. "Really, we will. There's some fish and chips being delivered any minute now. Hope you like that."

I nodded, and sat down on a chair in the back corner of the control room. Sure enough, the food came quickly, and the rations were divided among everyone. Paul called up to me, "Jill, you can come down here and eat with us if you like." I walked down the stairs to the studio. This one seemed larger that Studio Three for some reason, although I'm sure they were about the same size; it was Studio One that was the orchestral studio, and therefore larger. We ate as Paul & I talked about our day. I told him about Geoff showing me around and finding Mark in Studio Three and singing with him for a while before we came in. Paul brushed a lock of hair out of my face and said, "I wish I could have heard it, luv."

"Me too," I said. "Not to brag, but I think I was sounding good! I loved the acoustics in there."

After lunch, they recorded several more takes of some cover songs, "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Please Mr. Postman". After the session was over, we left. As we were leaving, we heard a voice yell, "Mr. McCartney! I have your acetates finished!" We looked back and a young man in another one of those white lab coats was walking after us and waving a handful of square manila envelopes. Paul took the bundle from him and thanked him. I wondered what an "acetate" was, but for some reason didn't ask then. I thanked George and Geoff for letting me sit in at the studio and for their hospitality. Before I left, George and Geoff signed my cast.

***

We hopped back into Paul's car and he drove me to the flat he was using while they were in London, just a temporary place he had just acquired. It came furnished, which was nice. Paul said that he had no idea how to furnish a place! He turned on the stereo system that he had just hooked up the previous night, and took the stack of manila envelopes off the couch. He took one of the records out and went to the turntable to put it on. "Is that from today?" I asked.

"Yeah," he said, "but it's not something we recorded." I sat down as he started up the turntable and put the needle on the record. A piano began the opening to "Someone to Watch Over Me." I smiled at Paul, thinking that he got me a recording of that song because he knew I liked it. As the singer began, I noticed she sounded familiar, and that the arrangement was similar to the one I preferred.

Paul was looking at me with a strange look the whole time. "What?" I asked him.

"Oh, nothing," he said as he stifled a laugh.

Once that song was over, he put another one of the records on, and it was "Little Girl from Little Rock," and it was the same singer. But why were these recordings turning out to be two songs that I had sung in Studio Three when he wasn't there; how could he have known? I shot a puzzled glance at Paul, and he was still giving me that strange look, almost expectant, like when you give someone a present that you know they'll love and you're waiting for their response. "What?" I asked again, a little more curious than I was the last time I asked.

"Don't you realize what this is, Jill?" he asked, laughing. I looked at him quizzically, cocking my head like a curious kitten. He explained, "I talked to Geoff last night after I knew you'd be coming with us. I had a grand idea. I got him to get you into a studio, and when you were singing, he recorded you!" He pointed to the rest of the acetates. "It's you on these records, Jill!"

"Me?" I had never heard my voice before on an outside source. I wasn't sure if I liked it or not. I got down on the floor and sat right by a speaker. Everyone's voice sounds different in their heads than how it sounds to someone else, and that's what I was experiencing. I listened more intently to the rest of "Little Girl from Little Rock." My voice didn't sound like I thought at all. I liked the way I sounded in my head, but I wasn't so sure if I liked how I sounded on the record.

Paul joined me on the floor. He looked upset. "Don't you like it?"

"Yeah, I do, I guess. It's cool that you did this for me, it's just that I've never heard myself on a recording before, you know, outside of my head, so this is a new experience for me. If I would have known I was being recorded, I would have done a little better!"

"Nah, you did fine, luv, it sounds great. Besides, if you would have known, you probably would have panicked and gotten all tense, and that's no good. This recording just sounds natural. You've got a really nice voice, Jill. I mean that."

I leaned over and kissed him gently on the lips. "Thanks, Paul. This is a really cool gift, I do appreciate it, really."

We listened to the rest of the acetates. During each song, I was being very critical of my performance, and cringed when I thought I had screwed up. Paul made me listen to each of them again to show me that I really did sound alright. He made some tea for us, and brought it into the living room.

The doorbell rang while we were drinking the tea. Paul answered the door, and it was Auntie and Rog. "Did you get the acetates?" Auntie asked.

"Yep, we're listening to 'em right now. Jill, turn it up!" he yelled into the living room.

I walked out into the front hallway and saw Auntie & Rog standing there. "Why are you two here?"

Auntie replied, "I have to admit, we knew about this little plot, and Paul said he would most likely be back here by 6, so here we are! We can listen to your recordings, and maybe grab a bite after."

"You can listen, but I don't know if you'll like it, I don't like how I sound on record," I said as I wrinkled up my nose.

The doorbell rang again. I rolled my eyes and said, "Paul, who is this? You didn't invite everyone I know here, did you?"

"No, it's just Brian I think," he replied. He opened the door, and it was Brian and George Martin.

George said, "I had to tag along, Geoff didn't let me listen to your master tapes, and he said that you did quite well, so I had to hear for myself!" He and Brian came into the living room, and Paul offered tea to everyone. I was so embarrassed. I wanted to crawl into a mousehole and stay there until everyone was gone. I really didn't like the way I sounded on record. My opinion of my voice had drastically changed. I wasn't conceited, but I had always thought that I had a pretty good voice, and I had a piece of sheepskin that said I did, so I guess I was entitled to think that.

Everyone said they liked the record. I wasn't sure if they were sincere. Brian even offered to put me on one of those small package tours that were popular at that time in England, and even offered to be my manager. I politely refused, even though Auntie and Brian were insistent that I was good. "You're just saying that because I'm sitting right here!" I said.

Auntie replied, "No we're not, and you know it. I'll bet if I played this at the store, people would ask for the recording." She extended her hand to me.

I shook it. "Alright, you're on, Auntie. I highly doubt anyone would want to buy it, though."


On to Chapter Fifteen
Back to Chapter Thirteen


Copyright © Winona Patterson, 1999-2006.