Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Attending a Fan's press conference with Paul in 1993

I found this adorable story of a Japanese fan who was at a Paul McCartney press conference in Tokyo in 1993.   Anyone who says that pigeons dropping bombs on them won't keep them away from Paul is hard core.   I like that.   This story was written in Japanese by Setsuka Fujimori and translated into English.  The grammar isn't perfect, and I left it how it was originally written because I liked the style.  You can really feel how excited Setsuka was to have this opportunity to meet Paul.    I also typed up the transcript from the press conference.   Fan press conferences are always so fun.   The fans ask different questions than the press.   These fans wanted to know about the Anthology (which wasn't named yet, but rumors were spreading about it in 1993), if Paul was going to be singing different songs in the concert than he had 3 years before (some things never change....fans in 2013 ask Paul the same thing!) and the all time favorite, "do you remember me?" questions.     

Strangely I could not find any photographs from this press conference.   So I included some fan taken photos of when Paul was in Japan in 1993.    All of these things were found in the Tokyo Beatles Fan Club Magazine Issue #8 from 1994.

Attending the fans conference
By Setsuko Fujimori
Translated by Kenji Maeda

I thought that I had caught a cold because I had a fever, aching throat and headache.  It was only three days before Paul’s first concert.  I was hoping that I would get well soon at least by the day of the concert.  On that night, a friend of mine called me on the phone and said, “Someone told us that Paul is hoping to do a conference with the fans.  This is only a plan and they have not even the slightest idea of how the conference might go.  But you can come with us.  I will call you tomorrow again.”
I was quite elated to hear this.  Then I thought, “This can’t be true, this can’t be true.”  I answered, “I can’t speak in English, I am shy and all I can do is smile.  Even then don’t you think I may be a burden on you” and then I cursed myself because it sounded like I was rejecting his offer.  But he said, “Don’t worry; we have friends who can speak in English.  Anyway, I will call you tomorrow!”  And he hung up.

A smile rose and filled my face and then it turned into a large grin.  It was the happiest time of my life.  I thought that I would not mind if anything whatsoever happened.  If somebody called me an “obasan” (middle aged woman), I wouldn’t be hurt.  If pigeons dropped bombs onto my head, I wouldn’t be angry!  Why?  Because I would see Paul!

I thought I had to go to a beauty parlous, then to choose nice looking suits and of course to buy a gift for Paul!  Next day I went to Asakusa to buy a Japanese gift for him.  I walked up and down and looked in every souvenir shop in Nakamise Street.  Suddenly a “Den Den Daiko” (traditional small drum) caught my eye.  I played it with a stick and it sounded good.  I was always going to buy it but something occurred to me…it was made from leather!!!  I gave it up and tried to find something else.   Then I found strange things in the corner of the shop window, it consisted of a pair of little square lumbers connected with red and white strings suspended form his next.  These were “hyoshigi” (clappers) for Sumo matched, it looked right for Paul as these were harmless to anyone, no problem with animal rights, and made of 100% wood!  I clapped them again and again, it sounded great.  I found them at last!

I saw a news of Paul’s arrival that night, and heard that the “fans conference” would take place as planned.  My future looked bright!  I called a friend of mine who is a beauty specialist and asked to her set my hair next day.  She asked me why and I said, “Don’t tell anybody. I will see Paul!” She was surprised and said, “oh really? It’s unbelievable!  Okay I won’t tell anybody but how is your cold?  I’ve heard you caught a bad cold.”  Of course I replied, “I will go to the conference by any means, even if I am dying!”

Next day, I went to her beauty parlour and had my hair down but it bulged too much as if it was Liz Taylor’s hair.  I tried to press it in order to reduce it to my normal size, as I thought Paul would not recognize me if I had a chance to see him again one day.   The owner of the beauty parlour asked me, “It looks very charming.  Do you like it?”  I answered, “Yes, I like this very much but I prefer a more natural look especially for today.”  She nodded and said, “You are going to a wedding, aren’t you?”  I shook my head.  Then she asked me again, “Are you going to a party?”  I had to say no.  I thought she misunderstood me because she seemed to be convinced that I was going to “omiai” (which means to meet a man formally with a view to arranging engagement) at this point.  But I didn’t mind whatever she thought.  It’s all for my Paul!

Then I suddenly noticed that my friend was beautiful in her best suit that day.  She said, “Your cold seems terrible.  It will be a problem if you pass it on to Paul, but I’m afraid you haven’t time to find another person.  So how about me?  I don’t mind to attend the conference instead of you.  Oh how transient friendship is!  You can’t trust anybody when you’re meeting Paul!

This was the first time for me to go into TV studios.  We were conducted into a waiting room, which looked like a classroom or something.  There were more people than I had expected, but there were no familiar groupies.  This must be great.  The woman in charge began to explain the details of the conference.  She told us to write down questions go to Paul on sheets of paper, but how could I ask Paul a question?  I might faint if he looked straight at me.

At last we were led to the studio down below.  There were many TV cameras and a stage was set with a large photo of the new album “Pau is Live.”  There were a table and a chair that Paul was to sit on.  Such an atmosphere made me hot, nobody can be cool under there circumstances.  Suddenly Geoff Baker announced, “Paul McCartney!”  I heard him stepping up on stage and there he was!  I couldn’t believe it, but it was the real Paul   He had been an important man for all my life, who sometimes made me run, sometimes surprised me and sometimes made me cry but never made me hate him.  A bright, warm and cheerful man who always made me happy.   The real Paul was sitting there in front of me!  The way he sat, the way e turned his face sideways, the way he drank a cup of water, the way he winked and the way he looked straight – they were all familiar to me, but they were different.  The real Paul was sparkling, far smarter than I had imagined.  I was glad not to be chosen as a questioner, because I would prefer to look him fixedly without any worries.  I really hoped that time would be stopped at this point. 

But unfortunately, time passed us by.  Questions ended.  Paul was going away swiftly, but a woman with a bunch of flowers detained him.  And I found myself standing at the front row of the crowd who had gathered around Paul for his autograph.  At that came in sight was only Paul’s face, I wouldn’t noticed even if something else appeared, I watched him, just him.  The fans in the sixties might have fainted on such occasion, but it seemed to be a waste of time for me, so I just kept watching him.  People pushed me from behind just like a rush hour train.  I felt my leg was aching and one of my shoes was lost, but I would defend my place to the death even if the third world war began!  Paul was giving autographs very swiftly, using Geoff’s marker.  I had a box of Linda’s veggie foods to have him sign on, but there were hands after hands even form behind me, and Paul couldn’t try to grasp my box of veggie foods for a moment.  But at last, the time for me case.  There was no time to have a conversation with him.  I tried to say something but my mouth couldn’t move.  I tried to pass him my gift, a bag that contained hyoshigi and a short message saying, “Welcome Paul and Linda!  Please enjoy Japan!”  He was busy giving autographs.  I almost gave up but he got it a few second before he left.

Then every thing was over.  I met Paul at last.  I had every happiness on earth.  I hugged my box of veggie foods with his autograph on it.  It was already dark outside.  I said to myself, “Is this all over?  No, it has just begun!”

Fan Conference In Tokyo, Japan November 11, 1993
Q:  The Paul is Live album has just come out in Japan on 10th November.  How did this album cover come about?  Is it a kind of parody of Abbey Road?
Paul:  Yeah, um…can you understand me?  (Fans:  YES!!).  Sure, you can.  Um…yeah.  I was looking for a title for the live album and we were talking about the old rumour of “Paul is Dead” story.  So I thought “Paul is Dead” was good but it’s a live album so we called it “Paul is Live.”  I went back to the crossing in Abbey road and I went across it again with my dog, actually my son’s dog, and we made it up.  So it’s a parody, yes, a parody of “Paul is Dead” story, because I admired it!

Q:  You’re trying to establish a music school in Liverpool.  When will the study be opened and is it possible for us to enroll form Japan as well?
P:  Yeah.  It’s going to…we’re hoping to be opened in 1995.  It is my old school, a school I went to with George Harrison and it was called the Liverpool Institute.  But it was closed and it was falling into ruins.  So we decided to try and save it.  I am going to try and create a performing arts school in 1995 for people over 18.  And yes, you can enroll from Japan.  It’s for local children and for overseas people, so anybody can enroll—Japanese, Americans, Chinese…

Q:  (The questioner complimented Paul in English before asking her question in Japanese. “You’re aging well.”)  Is there any possibility of broadcasting the Japanese tour on Japanese TV?
P:  Yeah, I think we are going to film certain bits.  Thank you for your compliments by “aging well”.  (Fans laugh)  I think they might do some bits but I am not sure yet.  There’s no plan for the whole show to go.  I think they might be doing some numbers, and there’s a plan for a moment to do stuff on the sound check which we do, we do a sound check every day.  So I think there’ll be something on Japanese television.  I’m not sure what yet, but there’ll be something just for you.

Q:  (A Japanese actress, Tomoko Fujita, asked in English)  What is the difference between other countries’ concerts and the Japanese concerts on this tour?  Is three any difference between the 1990 concerts and the 1993 concerts?
P:  Yes, there is quite a difference form the last time we played in Tokyo.  But it’s basically the same show we’d been taking around to America, Australia and Europe.
Q:  Some new songs?
P”  Yes, some new songs form the last time, definitely yes.  We do new “old” songs.  You see what I mean, new Beatles’ songs.  And quite a few of the songs are different.  I think about five were in the last Tokyo show, but the rest of all are different.  But it is the same show we are doing all over the world because we like it.

Q:  Ossu!  Paul!  (Ossu is a funny word which means, “Hi” and Paul used to say this on stage in Japan.  He answered, “Ossu” and fans laughed)  The red and blue Cds had just come out in Japan and they sell well.  What would you say the reason you’re capturing younger generations’ mind?
P:  I don’t know!  But I am very pleased to hear it because, you know, it’s quite 25 years since we made most of our songs.  It’s difficult to say.  I think because the songs are good and that’s the work we did as a group.  I can say it now because you know.. I’ve not been modest but I think it’s a very good work and I think that the songs are loved by every one, which is quite special.  I’m very proud of the work I did with the Beatles.  Young people these days listen to the songs and they still find something in them.  I think that’s the reason.  Just that the songs and the recordings were good.  I think young people now who look at modern music may think maybe some other old stuff is just as good, or maybe even better.

Q:  Have you got any Japanese artists or musicians whom you know well?  Who is your favorite?
P:  Unfortunately, we don’t hear or see Japanese artists in England.  So I don’t really know too many people.  I heard some record, I used to know, “Yellow Magic,”  is it?  That’s all I know really, because I say, there’s only one or two groups really get on to England and we hear the record.  So there’s probably people I’ve never heard.  Terrible, isn’t it?

Q:  It is said that you’re going to collaborate with George and Ringo in writing and recording a song.  When will it be realized?
P:  Well, we haven’t done anything yet.  But the idea is that making of Beatles’ story in England which is an eight-part TV programme and it’s the whole story of the Beatles.  We’re doing interviews and helping them make it.  One of the ideas was that maybe we make the film for the last episode, maybe we make a few pieces of music, maybe one piece of music .  So this is a plan at the moment, just maybe we do that.  But if we’d do it, might do it in January sometime, and then you might see it by the end of next year.  But we haven’t got in the studio yet, so we don’t know.  We’re talking about it. 

Q:  (The questioner brought a Rickenbacker bass guitar with Paul’s autograph on it).  I’ve got your autograph on this guitar at the Hotel Okura 3 years ago.  Do you remember me?  (Paul gestures that he didn’t remember him at all, but said, “Yeah” reluctantly.  Fans broke into laughter).  Until when do you think you’ll be able to continue as a rock hero?
P: I think it’ll be about the age of probably 98 (fans laugh).  But then I think I’ll probably be getting too old; there could be very slow songs from a wheelchair! (Laughter again).  Now I don’t know, I don’t really know.  Just the truth is as long as I enjoy it, and as long as people come to see me.  And, you know, if we have trouble selling tickets, or people don’t wanna come, then I…. But I enjoy it so much.  I thought we would be finished at about the age of 30 or something, but I’ll keep going on.  I don’t know why but I like to so much.

Q:   It’s about 30 years since the Beatles debut and many Japanese people have been influenced by the Beatles.  What would you like to say the most of the people in Japan who now like the Beatles’ music?
P:  Well what a nice thing looking back on the Beatles thing is that the message was always “Love and Peace,” which I am very proud of, because it influenced many other people.  So it’s really still the same message.  I think if we can reach some people in the world, we would say to them, you know “Peace is great, to understand each other and trying to love each other are great thing,” Then if there’s a chance, if they all told their children and passed the message on, obviously can’t reach everyone, but if we can reach enough people, then we might have a good world in the future.  That’s still our message, same old message. 

Q: I’m crazy about you and I’ve been thinking if I could be your wife but…(Paul gestures and then wagged his finger with a desperate look on his face so every one laughed) now you have a wonderful lady so I must give up the idea.  She is your wife, but sometimes she’s a mother, a photographer, a vegetarian specialist, or even a player in the band.  How do you feel about her gift?
P:  My wife’s talent, yeah?  Umm..she is great, that’s why I married her.  Yeah, I think she has many talents, I think probably her best talent is as a photographer, which is how she started off.  That’s probably what you’d most remember her for, but she has now got into cooking vegetarian foods and she’s doing great things with that.  I think it’s good you know these days that women are becoming more equal.  I think it’s good somebody like that can get a long career.  So I’m very proud of her.  I think she is a great woman.  We’ve been together, next year we’ll have been married for 25 years.  Anyway, but I must like her to be married for 25 years.  She’s good.

Q:  (The questioner has a large car with a big heart on it)  This card is the one you threw into the audience after the encore for the last concert in Tokyo 3 years ago.  I picked this up and have cherished this since then.  Do you remember this card?   Well, I like the Sumo match, the Japanese wrestling, very much.  Are you interested in these cultural and traditional aspects of Japan?  How are you interested?
P:  Yeah, I like Sumo.  Actually I first saw it in Hawaii a few years ago.  Yeah I think it was very good.  I  was just watching yesterday when..what was his name..Konishishi…Koni (fans say Konishiki)yeah, you got it, he’s too fat now, he’s too big, but anyway it’s great.  I like it, you know, it’s very interesting.  It’s good sports, I like that.  Yeah.  One day I’ll be a Sumo wrestler, gaining weight.  Do you like to do it?  Sure I think it’s very good.  I’m interested in it now.  Yeah very good.

At this point Geoff Baker said it’s time to go and Paul said, “Okay, Arigato, Goodbye!” but before he went he gave autographs to the fans. 

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