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Sir Pauls visit could upstage painful memory

Hey, Sir Paul McCartney is in town. Can't we at least make him a Royal Rosarian? Think of all that the Beatles have done for the world. Maybe he'd even agree to be the grand marshal in next year's Rose Festival Parade.

OK, I admit it. I'm a huge fan. In fact, I used to think I was the biggest Beatles fan around. But that was before I met Steve Goodman.

Goodman's Beatles collection is staggering Ñ approximately 500 albums, 200 singles, 500 CDs, several hundred magazines and more than a hundred books. When I first visited his Trax Studios Ñ formerly at 55th and East Burnside Ñ he told me to pick a Beatles song. I chose 'Strawberry Fields Forever.' Goodman went over to this huge bookcase and pulled out an entire album made up of different versions of the tune. I was amazed.

Over the years, he's played me tons of rare tracks. It's incredible hearing a Lennon-McCartney composition evolve in the studio or watching old film of the band.

By now, any real-life encounters with the complete group have taken on a mystical status. I mean, I still can't believe I was in a hallway with Ringo last year, behind the stage at the Schnitz. I had played the media card and gotten to watch his concert from just offstage.

How's this, though? Tribune reporter Don Hamilton was actually in attendance at the first Beatles concert in New York's Shea Stadium. Tragically, his mom Ñ who also was there Ñ made him leave after five songs. Given that she was six months pregnant at the time, though, it was understandable.

So, what live memories does Goodman have to go along with his vast collection? Alas, this is where the story turns.

Back in 1965, an 8-year-old Steve Goodman lived next door to his 13-year-old aunt, Dina, who loved the Fab Four. It was through her record collection that Goodman first got into the band's music. When his aunt's friend fell sick, she offered Steve a ticket to see the Beatles live at Memorial Coliseum. It was Aug. 22, exactly one week after the Shea Stadium gig.

In another tragic-yet-understandable decision, the idea was nixed by Steve's mom and dad. Steve encountered a parental veto that he had no wayÑ despite a ticket Ñ to override. He remembers the exact words: 'I'm sorry, but 8 years old is too young.' Then, the clincher: 'Don't worry, they'll be back next year.'

Goodman has lived with this missed opportunity his whole life: 'I was devastated there for a couple of weeks. Maybe that's why I became such a fan É because of having been denied. I do feel lucky that I've gotten to see Ringo twice and Paul twice. And this will be the third time.'

That's right. Paul McCartney has finally returned to the Rose City, although it took him 37 years. Goodman is elated, but I'm sure on his way into the Rose Garden tonight, he'll pause to look over at Memorial Coliseum and think again of the show he missed Ñ the time the legendary Beatles rocked Portland.

Oh well, the main thing is that McCartney's here today. And if someone goes for this Rose Festival idea, he could be back again by June.

Bill McDonald is a Portland writer and musician.