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    Standing Stone Interview, 1997

    Question: All right, what is "Standing Stone"? Paul McCartney: "Standing Stone" is the title of an orchestral piece that I've written to celebrate EMI record company's 100th anniversary. They asked me to do this about four years ago to help them celebrate their centenary and so I used the idea of a standing stone as kind of being symbolic of long-lastingness and standing and weathering the storms of time, because, after all, it is just the title of a new orchestral piece. Question: And where will it be performed and when? Paul McCartney: It's gonna be performed first of all at the Royal Albert Hall on October 14th and that will be with the London Symphony Orchestra, Lawrence Foster conducting. That'll be its first performance. And when we're going over in November to Carnegie Hall with a different orchestra, same conductor. We're going to do it then for the New Yorkers. Question: Now, why did you write it? Paul McCartney: I wrote it because I was asked to write a piece to celebrate EMI Records' 100th anniversary and I was kind of looking around for a commission to do something orchestral. Because after the "Liverpool Oratorio," which was a piece I'd written for the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra's 150th anniversary, I was kind of looking to do something similar...um...and so when I got the offer, I jumped at it. And I just thought four years would never come, so I must say it's only the last couple of years I really got down to it. But, um, I wanted to do it anyway because I love the stretch of writing pieces like this. It doesn't necessarily have to be a big orchestra but it's interesting to work in the field that you're not used to. So I'm...in the kind of rock 'n' roll world which is my normal world. I love it and I haven't forsaken it at all, but it is sometimes interesting to do something different. So when this opportunity came along, as I say, I grabbed it. Question: Is it a symphony? Paul McCartney: No, it's not really a symphony. Symphonies apparently don't really have stories. The music kind of tells the story and I think when you get a story in it, like my piece has got, then they either become called something like a tone poem. Or, in this case, we thought that probably the easiest thing to call it was like a symphonic poem. But that doesn't actually feature in any of the...on the record, it never says that, but if people want to know what it is, I think the nearest thing is a symphonic poem. Question: Are you playing at either Albert Hall or Carnegie Hall? Paul McCartney: No, I won't be playing. No, when the piece is performed at Albert Hall, one of the great things is, after I've spent four years writing a piece like this, I don't. I'm not one of the performers, so I actually just get to sit in the audience and it is one of the rewards of ... er..because I'm used to whenever the first night of the thing is, I'm used to being up there on stage. In this case, it's the conductor, it's the orchestra, it's the soloists who've got to do the business. And it's quite relaxing for me, a little nail-biting, you know, and hope they get it right, but at least it's them that have to get it right, not me. Question: You're quoted as saying, "I don't know how we're going to get 'round this, but it's a point I want to make. 'Win or lose, I'm to blame.' " Paul McCartney: Yeah. The thing about doing big pieces like this, big orchestral pieces, is that I can't notate music. In other words, I can't write it down and I can't read it if you give me a bit of sheet music. I can just about pick my way through something very, very simple, but it's not something I've ever been interested in learning how to do, actually. I got into music in much more of a kind of "hands-on" way through the rock 'n' roll world where we just talked to each other in a band and there's no need to produce written music unless you're gonna work with an orchestra. And in our case, with the Beatles, it would always be handed over to George Martin. So this kind of a piece a lot of people, I think, naturally can think that whoever actually wrote the music down, even though I may have composed it, they often will say to me, "Well, he really wrote it, didn't he?", you know, just 'cos of the physical act of writing it down. So, when you do something like this, you either, or if it goes well, people can either think, "Well, he didn't really write it, anyway. It's all this team who's helped him write it." Or, if it really badly, they can sort of say, "Well, he can't write music anyway." In actual fact, I don't think the writing down of the music is the difficult bit. It's the thinking it up. It's the making the tunes, the making of the harmonies, the making of the rhythms and the structure, that's actually hard. It's like being able to write, in your mind, a great novel, but you can only put it down on a bit of tape. It doesn't matter. They could still make a novel out of that. You don't actually have to be able to physically write the words down, particularly these days with all the recording devices. So sort of, that's why I say, 'Win or lose'...um...I have written this. If people think it's not good enough, well then that would be 'lose.' But in my case, I'm not really too worried, I think, because I enjoy it myself and I like the piece myself. And in the end, that's who I'm trying to please. Question: How did you use a computer for "Standing Stone"? Paul McCartney: About...a year or so into the project, a couple of my friends were starting to mention music programs on computers. And I would say, "Well, I'm not really into computers. I'm not very up with it...um...because I don't use them normally." And they'd say, "Yeah, but you could be really interested in this music program. It'll allow you to orchestrate and actually print out parts, you know. So I thought, "Well, maybe it is something I should look at." So I did. I looked at the idea, had a couple of demonstrations off computer salesmen and stuff, and finally bought some double-glazing. Ha ha, no I didn't. So, in the end, I got hold of one and without knowing anything about it...um...me and one of the technicians from the studio, a guy called Keith Smith, sat down and got hold of the manual and tried to figure out how to work this thing. It was quite good fun, actually, because neither of us knew much about it, even though he's more technical than I am, which is quite easy to be...um...because I'm hopeless. But, we worked it out anyway. We found our way through this and gradually, became quite competent at it. And so, I was able to play a keyboard, play the melody I wanted and then have the computer play it back to me either on strings, or if I wanted to hear it on, like, an oboe, it could try...it could play that, or if I wanted to hear trumpet playing that line, it could do that. So I could orchestrate as I went along. And it became fascinating for me, too, 'cos it was a new thing for me. Actually, it was like multi-track recording, but actually fiddling with all the members of the orchestra and trying to get the colours right and the, ah, dynamics. So I ended up enjoying those computer sessions although, you know, you had to pull me off it because I'd have to sort of ask, "What time is it?" You know, before I knew it, four hours would have gone by. Boy, you know, it's fascinating, so I lost all sense of time. And so I had to say to myself, "OK, I'm only going to do like four hours at a go," or I think I would have stayed up all night. But I enjoyed the process and started to enjoy the music that was coming out of it, and so I had to check it out with various other people to see whether it was correct, musically, or not. And so I got a team together to help me with that. But in the end, I managed to do it, put the whole thing down on to the computer. And that was what became a new ball game for me and has now allwed me to actually orchestrate myself instead of always having to get someone else to do it. Question: Does "Standing Stone"...writing "Standing Stone"...give you a different kick or a different satisfaction from rock 'n' roll? Paul McCartney: To me, writing any kind of music is the same kind of kick, even though the colour of it, in other words, the feel of it, will be different. In other words, if you come up with a great rock 'n' roll song, it's obviously a very energetic thrill and it's a kind of upbeat thing 'cause of the nature of what you're doing. Now, I wouldn't differentiate between doing that and then doing a slower song, more of a ballad, 'cause if you get that right, it's as exciting, but it's a different colour of excitement, if you see what I mean. It's like...it's a sweeter pleasure. It's a more melodic pleasure. Maybe it's not quite as rhythmic, but it's still as exciting. So I don't really have these barriers. So when I come to write orchestral music, it still is the same kind of deal for me. But again, it's not a thrilling, upbeat rock 'n' roll kind of thing. Nor is it necessarily like a very melodic...loving, ballad thing. It may be something else completely. It may be trying to portray a ship lost at sea or it may be trying to show an army having a victory or something. So, it's a different ball game. But because I don't really see the musical barriers, it's actually still as pleasurable to pull it off. It's just different. But it's equally as thrilling to pull it off if you can. Question: You may have already answered this, but why did you call it "Standing Stone," and how is it linked to your Celtic roots? Paul McCartney: I was looking for a title, because it's always good when you're writing something, to have some idea of a title....um...I've always done that. If I've been lucky, come up with a good little title. "Eight Days a Week." OK, then you've got...you're pretty much there on the idea of the song. On this one, I knew I wanted to work in a kind of Celtic, ancient thing because I wanted to go through history and come more up to modern day. So, playing around with that idea, I realised that I love these big, ah, stones that you will see in Scotland or in Wales or in France...a lot of places in Europe that were put up by Celtic people. And...um...nobody knows what they really are, so I knew there was a nice mysterious, intriguing little thing in that for me. And so I wondered whether the title, "Standing Stone," would be good. I like the sound of the words. And I mentioned it to Allan Ginsberg, who I was hanging around with about the time, and he said, "Great title." So, his word was good enough for me. So I had the title and then it meant that I could play with all the intriguing aspects of these ...er...very ancient, mysterious stones. (pause) The other aspect of that was, in looking back at Celtic stories, I realized that I was kind of researching my own roots becaue my family had been Liverpool-Irish. My Mum had come over from Ireland when she was 11, and ah, our family traced back our roots to that area. So it meant that in..ah..so it meant that in some ancient time, I suppose, our family had Celtic roots. So that was a good aspect of it for me. And it also gave me a great excuse during the middle of this writing. I suddenly thought, "Well, that's maybe...that's why I don't write things down because the Celts never did." They didn't even...let alone their music...they didn't even write their history down, but it fitted in so well that it was...ah...it was an interesting idea that maybe that's why I've never been bother to learn something deep and Celtic within me. Question: You wrote an epic poem along with this. Was that an aid or was that something that happened along with it? Paul McCartney: Yeah, when I was trying to think of a story, because I realized I wouldn't just be able to do what the old classical composers would do, which would just be develop a theme musically and not use a story, I felt like I had to have some kind of framework for what I was doing 'cause..number one, I had no idea what it was I was going to do, or even how I would go about it. So it seemed to me it would be a good idea to get an idea for a story I could hang it on if necessary. And and least I would know where I was up to in the story at any given time. So I started thinking of it as a poem and each day I would just get a couple of lines and scribble them all down until I had about 20 pages, which turned into sort of a long epic poem. But at least I had the story and I had the images in a kind of tight, economical form because of the fact that you were trying to write poetry, which the discipline is quite economic. So that was what I did and I ended up with this long poem. And then I spoke to a friend of mine who's a poet called Tom Pickard. And he's a Newcastle guy and, over the fax and over the phone and over some various chats, he helped me edit the poem down, get it even tighter and get it so that it could stand alone as a poem. So, in the end, I've published it in the CD booklet so if you want something to hold onto as you're listening to the music, you can refer to the story. But, to my mind, it's not actually necessary 'cause I've been listening to the music sometimes myself and completely forgotten where I'm up to in the story. And I think it's only right that the music should really drive itself. But the story, the poem, was as an aid. It was a framework in case I sort of lost track of where I was. It was something to help me...ah...find my direction. So it ended up as that, but it never actually got used in the piece, so it comes along with the piece, in case you're wondering. It'll be in the programme notes. In case you're wondering where we're up to in the story, you can refer to the poem. Question: In the song, you've got this blackbird that's supposed to be you gliding through space. All he does is search for love. Love is the oldest secret of the universe. Interesting use of the secret, by the way. You still saying, "All you need is love" in a different form? Paul McCartney: Yeah, I think so. I mean, I realized that. At the end of the poem, I had this little bit where the celebration's happened. There's the happy ending which is what I wanted because I was being asked to write...I was being asked to write something to celebrate 100 years, so I thought. Well, it can't have a downbeat ending. So, in my mind, when I was looking at the picture and writing the end to the story, I imagined a camera pulling back, pulling back into the summer sky. And so it was something like I had an image of blackbird which you'll see in the summer way, way up in the sky. There'll be just one little bird hovering. And I just wondered what he was looking at, you know what he was thinking about. And, at the end of the poem, he just sort of...he's wondering why so many bite-sized people spend their lives, times, running on the spot. But in actual fact...so I had him as a kind of character in the poem. But then I came to write a love song for the end of the piece which was the same point and I used the same blackbird to open the love song, which is kind of like the wedding song for the hero and heroine. And at that point, you seem him gliding overhead. And then in that song, it says that all he does is search for love. And yeah, I suppose I am going over old themes that we used in The Beatles. Certainly a blackbird was one of my themes. And all you need is love...you know, one of the things that the Beates' songs were often about was love. And some people would say it's a bit soppy, you know, talking about love and stuff. But I think, the more I go on, the more important I realize it is, you know. If you've got a family, you've got some kids, it's really important that there be love or else you've got a dysfunctional family. If you're married, it really helps if you love who you're married to, you know. So, when something like the Diana tragedy happens, it's love you're seeing pouring out. It's not hatred. It's not disregard. It's that old thing...it's that old thing called love, you know. And so I think so many know about it deep within themselves, if they're lucky, that I do think it is really an important thing, and in some ways, I think it is...the great thing that we as humans have. I'm sure animals can feel it, but we can actually talk about it and sing about it. And I think it is really an important thing in our world, so even though it may be harking back to themes that I've written about before, I still think it's as imporant as ever, perhaps even more important than ever. Question: Again, referring to the quote you've used there, you're sort of talking about bite-sized creatures running. They spend all their lifetime, not "life," but "life time," running on the spot. Are you saying in the poem, "There, don't be normal. Break the rules," and is that part of your musical attitude and that's why you've been able to write "Standing Stone"? Paul McCartney: Yeah, you know, I suppose a lot of people would look at my work and say, "Well, you know, it doesn't break a lot of rules," but there's another group of people that would say it does and has always been doing that. I think in some small way, I do enjoy doing that because we were never musically trained. When anyone would say, like George Martin might say, "Well, you're not supposed to do that officially," we'd go, "Ooh, ooh, ooh, let's do it." You know, it would excite us actually that we weren't allowed to do it, because obviously in the Beatles, we allowed ourselves to do anything. So we suddenly get this idea that there were rules. First thing we wanted to do was break 'em, you know. And often it was the exciting thing to do. Instead of just sort of saying, "Hello, I love you," you might just say, "P.S., I love you," or "All you need is love" or "She loves you." You'd find a slightly different way of doing it and that became fascinating. And so for me, I don't really break rules for the sake of it as much as the fun of it. Obviously, if you break the rule, there's more chance of your stuff being original. Because if you abide by the rule, then obviously someone has done it before you 'cause it's a rule. So there are some rules I like to stick to. But mainly, I do enjoy when I get a chance to break 'em, but not just for the sake of it. It's mainly because it often throws up something a little more interesting. Question: Is this classical orchestral your future now or are you going to continue doing rock 'n' roll as well? Paul McCartney: Well, one of the things that has worried me a little bit in getting into orchestral music is that there might be some people who think, "Ah, he's gone over to the classical world and it's because he's not interested in rock 'n' roll. That was one of the reasons I wanted to put out a new rock 'n' roll album, "Flaming Pie," in the same year as I did "Standing Stone," because I wanted to show people quite clearly that no way was I going to give up one branch of music in order to get in another. It's just that I like 'em both and I've always been a bit that way. Before rock 'n' roll started, I liked the music my dad liked and I liked some classical stuff, you know. And even with the Beatles, we would play things like Bach and stuff, you know, and it always seemed fascinating. And it wasn't a question of you just have to be one way or you just have to be the other way. I like the mixture. I like balance, you know, so to me, it's just interesting to do something different, but in no way does it mean that I'm going to throw out the old in order to get on with the new. It means that I'd like to be able to do both of them and other things besides, too, you know. I'd like to paint, for instance. I wouldn like anyone to think, "Oh, he just wants to paint. He doesn't want to do music." The truth is I love all these things and I think I love them equally. So it just means that at one time in a year, I really want to write some rock 'n' roll stuff and at another point in the year, or another day, I must just want to paint. And I thnk, you know, heck, it's a free world. I don't see why I shouldn't. So, I really like to mix all these things and hope that no one really thinks I'm going into one of them at the exclusion of others. I like 'em all. Question: At the end of "Standing Stone," there's been what has been called by you a lullaby or a love song. Can you tell us? You said something about that this song was kicking around the kitchen or the kids grew up listening to it. Paul McCartney: There are some songs that you play just for your own pleasure and some of them that I have like that take years and years and years for me to even think of recording them, because they're just songs I sing when I'm around the kitchen. Or certain little tunes are just things I noodle about with when I'm playing the piano. When I'm at somebody's house and they've got a good piano and there's nothing much happening, I'll noodle around on it. And the tune that appears in the fourth movement of this "Standing Stone" was one that I had from quite a long time. And I remember things like I'd be at Linda's Dad's house and I'd be playing this tune and he'd turn around and say, "That's a nice tune. What is it?" And I'd say, "Oh, just something I'm knocking around." So I knew I liked it. It was a candidate for various other little things that I was going to do, but never got 'round to using it. So when I was looking for a tune that I thought would be a memorable tune that had some strength in it, that could be used to close the piece and to finish "Standing Stone," this one came to mind. And I played it to one of the people working on the piece, who was Richard Rodney Bennett who was helping with the orchestrations. I played it to him and I said, "I'd like this to be in the fourth movement as a tune." He said, "Well, that's a song." I said, "Well, I haven't got any words." He said, "Well, it sounds like one of your songs." So that gave me the clue and I went away. And I went away and wrote words to it. And I thought...seeing as it is just a very, very simple straightforward love song, I don't want to get any complex words. I want to just go straight from the shoulder. And so I wrote a very simple set of words. I checked them out with a couple of people, and I thought, "Should I complicate these?" And I thought in my own mind, "Should I look for more complicated images?" But these were the ones...these were the words that just fitted. And they seemed to work, so I kept them in and eventually went to one of the rehearsals with the choir. And I heard them sing it acappella and I just thought, "It works," you know. It's very, very simple, but the rest of the piece isn't necessarily simple. Some of it's quirky, some of it's a little bit difficult to understand, so we thought it'll come out of left field. Right at the end of this piece when you've been listening to 72 minutes of instrumental music and there's hardly any words at all, suddenly the orchestra stops and you get...a straight love song. And I thought, well in that context, it's almost radical, you know. In another context, in an album of love songs, it would be straightforward, but used in this way, it's a little bit of a shock. So I thought that was quite funny that a straightforward love song could have that kind of effect. So that's the one we used. And it was one that I'd been playing for millions of years. So my kids and close family all have known it for a long time, but it finally found its place. Question: Finally, what sort of an evening do you hope people will have at "Standing Stone"? Paul McCartney: When I was asked to write "Standing Stone by the man from EMI, I thought, "Well, what kind of an evening do we want?" And one of my tricks is sort of to visualize the evening and think, "OK, here's everyone sitting around in their Sunday best." We've all got a programme, probably. They'd mentioned that they'd wanted an orchestra, so I thought, "OK, we've got the orchestra up on stage. I like choirs, so I threw in a chorus." I thought, "Right, there'd be an orchestra, a chorus," and then I started to kind of work backwards from that moment and sort of imagine, "OK, now what are they playing then? What tunes are they doing? Is it all orchestral or whatever?" So I really just thought...the main thing I thought was that I'd like it to be a very enjoyable evening. EMI, after all, has waited a long time for this celebration. So I should imagine that I'd like people to go out having enjoyed it, also having some food for thought, possibly for them to think, "Ooh, I didn't know he could do that." It's always nice if you do something new for people to think that. But most of all, really for people to have enjoyed the evening, so that I'd like them to go out thinking, "Alright, I didn't waste the money for this ticket. This was worth coming to. This was a worthwhile evening," and for EMI themselves to think, "Yeah, OK, this fulfilled the brief. This was a celebration and I'm glad we asked him to do it."

    Guitar World Interview, 1997

    GUITAR WORLD (Vic Garbarini): Were you aware, when you were recording Flaming Pie, that it was a definite improvement on your other recent efforts? PAUL McCARTNEY: You do get a feeling that something is working, though you can always be wrong. I've thought I was working on something good, and then it turned out people thought it was average. I don't know if I was right or they were right. Time will tell. GUITAR WORLD: What did you do differently this time? PAUL McCARTNEY: I was checking the songs in my own mind against some of the early Beatles stuff, because I'd just been doing the Anthology and it surprised me how simple, and yet complete, some of the early Beatles work was. I didn't see any reason why my new stuff shouldn't be just as simple and complete. So whereas I might have been a little bit lazy in the past and just thought, "Ah, near enough!", which is very tempting to do, I made it a point to go in and sharpen the chisel and get it a bit tighter. GUITAR WORLD: Do the Beatles hang as a shadow over you, in the sense that you are always being measured against your past? PAUL McCARTNEY: That's a very difficult question. I am not four people, therefore I can never do as well as the four of us. And in that way the Beatles can be a bit of a ghost that constantly haunts you. But I was partly responsible for what I see as a great body of work, and that can't but give you a feeling of great confidence. Okay, I've gotta live up to it, but so does everyone else in the world. I figure I've probably got a better chance of coming up with a good Paul McCartney song than Oasis has -- and I mean that with no disrespect, because I like Oasis. I must say I'm not really haunted by the specter of the Beatles. We wouldn't have done the Anthology had we been paranoid about the whole thing. It's a ghost, but it's not a malevolent ghost. It's a friendly one. A bit of a Casper. GUITAR WORLD: The Beatles broke up when you were 28. Do you ever get the feeling that you peaked early and you're never going to reach those heights again? PAUL McCARTNEY: It really depends on what mood I'm in. There is a minority of occasions when I think, "Oh s***!" But in actual fact, rather than thinking I could never do it again, the feeling I get is "Why do it again?" I can't be bothered trying to do it one more time. But it comes back to the question, "Why do it at all?" We started really for fame and fortune and then it developed into actual musical inquisitiveness. And that's where I'm at now. I'm still very inquisitive to see what I can do with music. People often say, "Do you still enjoy your music?" I can't believe they think I could ever have gone off it! GUITAR WORLD: Do you think that your lyric writing is an area that you have generally let slip? When I listen to a Beatles track like "For No One," which has such a sharp and mature lyric, I find it hard to understand how the writer of that could also be the writer of some of your more whimsical material. PAUL McCARTNEY: You could be right, but you gotta realize that when I wrote "For No One" I was in a very secure position. We are not masters of the universe, and if I have things in my life that affect me badly, they do affect my writing. The breakup of the Beatles was tantamount to having a nervous breakdown. You can't just say, "Well, okay, I'm in exactly as cool a position as I was." And a bit of it was a haze too, the post-Beatle trauma, and the partying. I went through a lot -- a bit of drink and drugs and stuff. And you know it wasn't always the greatest stuff that came out. But I think it's natural. You can let things slip. GUITAR WORLD: But how do you slip from "Eleanor Rigby" to "Biker Like An Icon"? PAUL McCARTNEY: Well, you can be drunk when you're writing, for instance. And, I don't think there is an artist who can say every single line he ever wrote is as good as the best of his work. For example, I heard a recording of Chopin's "Nocturnes" the other day. There's really one cool track on it, which is the one we all know, and the rest was very good and interesting musically, but none of it is up to the same standard. There are one or two pieces I think I should've done better, but I'm not about to whip myself for it. GUITAR WORLD: There's certainly a hell of a lot of stuff. Not including greatest hits and live sets, you've released 20 albums since the Beatles broke up. PAUL McCARTNEY: Yeah, too large an output is probably a major reason for a slip in quality. I did a bloody record a bloody year for a long time. But I think there may be some revisionism to come on these sloppy lyrics. Take Back To The Egg [the final Wings album, released in 1979]. Linda and I were so disappointed, thinking, "God this is a terrible bloody record." But my son pulled it out recently and it's really not as bad as I thought it was. It's not easy to do your tightest, most succinct work all the time, and I think if my work does slip it probably is in the lyrics. And I hate to tell you, but I put a lot of it down to laziness, where I just thought "Yeah, that'll do." And in mitigation, I think that sometimes I probably was right. GUITAR WORLD: What kind of music do you tend to listen to at home? PAUL McCARTNEY: I listen to all sorts of stuff, depending on my mood. Nat King Cole the other night, Chopin the other morning. Montiverdi, choral stuff. I like reggae. I've got a lot of old 45's. Not a lot of new bands, that tends to come through my son. I like Beck, he's quite good. Some of these Seattle bands are good. I like Nirvana a lot. To see [Kurt Cobain], he was anguished, he was a traumatic character, but unfortunately that's often what makes good music. GUITAR WORLD: Do you think, as is often suggested, it is harder to produce great art when you are happy? PAUL McCARTNEY: I don't know. It's an eternal query and we're not gonna solve it here. But the thing is, all you're seeing of me is the surface. It's like when I was talking to Ringo and I was trying to help him because he was going through all sorts of problems. I was saying, "It's okay, man, you're great, you're fantastic, you're having a great life." He said, "Don't you f***ing tell me what's going on inside my head!" And he was right. I was looking at his surface. You don't know what people are going through. I'm very private. I don't let everyone know what's going on inside. But I was brought up in Liverpool and there are lots of Irish connections there; thank God there is a very happy-go-lucky side to it all, and an optimistic side -- which is the main side of my character. I'm very lucky to have had a great family that was always pretty upbeat. But that doesn't mean to say that's the whole story. And when you do write songs you draw more on the whole story rather than just the surface. I mean, "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" is nice, very cheery. But "Helter Skelter" isn't quite as cheery! GUITAR WORLD: Do you get bored with answering questions about the Beatles? PAUL McCARTNEY: Sometimes you don't wanna go through that f***ing stuff again. You hear yourself for the 50th time go into your routine. But it's an occupational hazard. Like being a doctor at a party -- everyone's going to ask you about their health problems. GUITAR WORLD: Do you enjoy your fame? PAUL McCARTNEY: You know what? When we were in our mid-twenties, we were trying to build the Beatles thing and we were just barely out of Liverpool and it was very exciting. But I remember going on holiday and there were one or two places where you still wouldn't be recognized. Greece was one of them, and then we went back there on one holiday and suddenly it had all broken loose. And I realized right then that I was cutting off all my exits. I was burning every single bridge of privacy that had been quite important to me. And I remember consciously facing a decision: "You're at the point of no return -- you either wind it all down or you're going to be a Beatle for the rest of your life." And I decided that would be okay. And by the way, don't tell anyone, but I really do get a lot of privacy. The other bit of my life that isn't the famous bit is more low-key than most people. You'll find me doing very, very private stuff, like writing poetry and making trails in the woods. Once, the Maharishi [the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Indian guru who taught the Beatles transcendental meditation] gave us a book that he'd written, and he wrote a message in it. It was one word: "Enjoy." I was totally freaked out because this guruish guy's best advice was "enjoy." But I think it is seriously great advice. If at the end of today we have enjoyed it, it's better than having a s***ty day. That sounds horrifically simplistic, but I'm a believer in that. Unfortunately, I suddenly regret having said that, because I know what it's going to look like in print. It's going down in posterity that John was the cool one, and Paul was a bit soppy. But I do try to enjoy my life. It's out of choice and it's out of my background. And I figure it's better if you're at the end of you life and you can say, "I sort of enjoyed that." I know I'm not going to be able to go much further than "sort of." I can't say "That was just a f***ing great laugh, ha ha ha," because I would be lying. There would be other elements, or else you're just not human. GUITAR WORLD: What's next for Paul McCartney? PAUL McCARTNEY: I don't know. Something will happen. I've told this story before, but once in the early days of the Beatles, we broke down on the motorway going back to Liverpool. One of us said, "what are we gonna do now?" And another said, "Well, something'll happen." Immediately a lorry came up and said, "Wanna lift, lads?" We all piled in. I'm a great believer in "Something will happen." You can look at it two ways, like the "enjoy" thing with the Maharishi. It's either true, or you're totally naive. We always used to say, "Something will happen." That's like the village idiots, but something always did happen. There's a lot of magic about, you know what I mean? You've gotta believe that s***. If you've come from where I've come, and what's happened to me has happened, then you've gotta believe that.

    Meet The New P.M.

    Q Magazine, 1997

    John Lennon? Pah! Weekender! It was Paul McCartney who was experimenting with "loops" and going to student gigs in '66! Sick of being seen as "the soppy one", and re-energised by Anthology and the Oasis Effect, Sir Paul is at one with his past, and mad for the future. In this exclusive tète-à-tète, he tells Andrew Collins, "You don't retire. That's boring!"     Hastings is abuzz. They're opening a new shopping centre this very weekend, and none other than Her Majesty The Queen is coming down to cut the ribbon. It is a momentous retail occasion, and big, traffic-slowing news in the half-picturesque, half-rubbish coastal town of some historical significance.     Negotiate the modest town centre jam, drive 15 minutes inland, away from what the locals probably regard as bustle, down a short and winding road past a number of far-apart houses with dove coops in their gardens, head towards Rye, and you'll be able to pick out a Camberwick Green-style windmill perched on a hill. Which, in the late '70s, is exactly what Paul McCartney did. Then, he bought it - after an associate posing as an Australian tourist had enquired about the price, like it mattered. It's since been converted into a recording studio and crash pad, with adjoining rehearsal barn, and, if The Queen had but known it when she rolled into Hastings with the large, comedy scissors,she could easily have taken apleasant detour and dropped in on an old pal. Or, more specifically, an old Paul.     Hastings was only featured on ITV's Wish You Were Here a week back (they cunningly missed out the slot-machine end and concen-trated on "the old town"). Some viewers no doubt wished they were here. Paul McCartney, Lord Of Round These Parts,has no need to wish. For anything. He's here already padding around the place in couldn't-give-a-hoot brown sandals and denim casuals, nibbling at moreish dried apple pieces from a bowl, and getting ready to do a spot of "jawing", as he'd quaintly have it, about his new album. He used to be in The Beatles, you know. Younger than John and Ringo, older than George. His first instrument was a trumpet, his third was the bass, which he took up when no-good-at-it Stuart Sutcliffe bailed out in Hamburg. He once appeared as half of The NerkTwins in Caversham with John. Although George looked great during Let It Be,Paul consistently looked the best out of the lot of them during the three-year transition from lightly psychedelic popsters to hairy old nutcases, despite the grandad shirts. He was the second Beatle to leave Rishikesh in India in March 1968. He married Linda Eastman on March 12, 1969 and, within the year, had effectively broken up the band by favouring a management deal with her dad over one with Allen Klein. Of the 211 songs The Beatles recorded, approximately 56 of the ones he co-wrote will simply live forever and ever (and that's if you're in a mean-spirited mood), and he sang lead vocal on 28 of them. He co-presented Disney Time with his wife in 1973.     Flamine Pig, McCartney's ninth album as himself, was recorded right here in the Sussex hideaway, for the most part, and with precisely the sort of people he might nominate for BT's excellent Friends And Family offer, should he actually need to save money: the wife, his 19 year-old son James, Jeff Lynne, and even the drummer out of his old band from the '60s.     As if to neatly express Macca's at-oneness with the Fabs legacy, post-Anthology, post-Threetles, post-Yoko-hug, Flaming Pie refers to John Lennon's supposed "vision" in which a man standing on said overdone pastry decreed that the band's name should be "Beatles with an A". And Ringo drums on two tracks (not to mention co-writing Really Love You, the first appearance on record of the McCartney-Starkey credit).     There's a line in one of Flaming Pie's finest songs, the American single The World Tonight, which runs "I go back so far I'm in front of me." In his notes for the album's lyric booklet, the author muses,"If I'd been writing with John he would have gone, OK, leave that one in; we don't know what it means but we do know what it means." This is entirely significant: that Paul McCartney is this comfortable and forthcoming with reminiscences about - indeed, comparisons to - The Beatles on his own record. Anthology was possibly the grandest, most hands-on and love-lubricated rock'n'roll band compilation in the histofy of repackaging. The TV series! The "director's cut" video! The three double-CDs of out-takes, re-takes, first-takes and piss-takes! A marketing extravaganza, it lasted a year, and re-established The Beatles as Kings Of Rock & Pop Forever.     It also marked the culmination of the Fabs-Ono peace process (Yoko handed over the tapes of John's voice; Free As A Bird and Real Love were the splendid results) and coincided with the rise of the Post-Fab Five, Oasis. George Harrison gritted his teeth and saw the Threetles circus through (stopping only to allegedly object to the working title, Long And Winding Road, because he hadn't written that song). Sir George Martin accepted a Q Award on the project's behalf. Anthologies 1, 2 and 3 became The Beatles' 16th, 17th and 18th US Number 1s. Director of the TV series, Geoff Wonfor, got on so well with McCartney that they agreed to do another one, this time based around the making of the solo album duly inspired by Beatles memories.     In March he went back to Buckingham Palace, 32 years after the first time, and became Sir Paul McCartney. Truly, he'd gone back so far, he was finally in front of himself.     "People say, God! That was 20 years ago! I say, Everything's 20 years ago, luv!" muses McCartney today in the photo-lined living room above his Sussex studio, clearly chuffed that the world does, indeed, still feed him and need him now he's 54. "Boy, do we go back!"     He relaxes his remarkably lithe frame into the sofa, no indication of any trouble at this particular mill, and with a "Right, whaddya wanna know? If anything?" makes himself amicably available for questioning. Q: Was Anthology the almighty purge that it seemed? A: Well it's good that it worked, because a lot of people went, Oh no! I remember looking on Ceefax, and it said "Cynthia Lennon says,They're just doing it for the money" Now Cynthia's a friend from way back ... but, like, doing Lennon's Lounge wasn't? (his joke name for her part in the Lennon's restaurant venture) Excuse me, Cynth! And then there's David "The Child" Jensen saying, They shouldn't do this, Free As A Bird, they'll never pull it off. I thought, Fuck you! Well fucking show you! It's fatal if they come out in the papers and say we shouldn't do it,because I want to do it even more. Q: The reason it worked was because you three actually got involved, hands on, rather than just sit back and rake in the cash. A: We wanted to know the story as well. I mean, there were certain elements of fudging things here and there,just because there were too many people involved - if it's just one person's angle, you can tell "The Truth", but when it's four-sided, you've gotta, like, compromise a little bit. But we wanted to get the story down because there are so many books. People have always said to me, Have you read the Chris Salewicz hook about you? And I've said, No. Have you read Blackbird about you? And I haven't. I don't even know what they think of me. And I've never wanted to do a memoirs. I always thought you've got to be over 70 to do that. It's not really true, I suppose. It's like getting a Lifetime Achivement Award. And then Debbie Gibson gets one the next week. Q: The "victims" on This Is Your Life get younger and younger... A: I know. They've asked Linda about me over the years. I've always said, If they ever ring you up, don't! You're not allowed to! Q: So, the way you actually made Flaming Pie was inspired by the Anthology experience? A: Yeah .The record company said they didn't need a record off me because of all this other stuff comingout.so that gave me a window of laziness. Great,I don't have to do anything! I'll just wander into Abbey Road, see what George Martin's doing, come home, doss around a bit. Nice work if you can get it. But you can't stop the songs coming, you don't want to stop 'em, so they do, and I stick 'em down in one of these little cassettes. There was a power cut when we were staying out in Long Island, and nobody could have any music for the whole week, except what me or my son James played on guitar. So it was quite productive, that week. And it took me back; the last time I'd done that a lot was when Linda and I first got married, because The Beatles had finished and I had a lot of time on my hands - too much, in fact - and all I did was sit around playing. And the time before that was teenage years, when me and John used to sit around in the vestibule of his house,or the dining room - dining room? Sounds very posh - of our house in Allerton. So it just started to gather and I suddenly had a few songs. And I'd enjoyed working with Jeff Lynne... although I had been a bit worried about working with him. As I said to him, A lot of people are very wary of your sound. I said, You've got a sound. He said, Oh, have I? George Martin remarked that Free As A Bird was Very Jeff Lynne. He's got a way of working, but it's very similar to some of the ways we worked in The Beatles. I said to Jeff, Look, it's gonna get boring if the whole album is a Jeff Lynne album, I'm not gonna do it like that, I'm gonna throw in some solo stuff, some stuff with George Martin, some stuff with Steve Miller, but come on over... He said, how long do we need - a couple of months? I said, Come over for two weeks, I'll be bored with you after two weeks, and you'll be bored with me. Then we can split and go on holiday, it'll be nice. So that's how we did it. It meant that we didn't have to do that terrible thing where it's all put off until we go in for the very serious mixing session. I always remember Michelle (Rubber Soul, 1965) whenever we talk about mixing. There were four faders and we'd come in, and I remember seeing the guy go (mimes pushing all four faders up at once), and he just sat back and it mixed itself. And then he put it onto a quarter-inch tape, put it in a little box, and put it up on the shelf. If you listen to Michelle today,it's that little bit of tape! So I thought, let's do that! It was always mixed at the same time or the next day, while it was hot. Q: It's been 25 years since you worked with Steve Miller. (McCartney recorded My Dark Hour with Miller in May 1969 at Abbey Road, after a Beatles tiff; Macca was credited as Paul Ramon, a pseudonym from The Silver Beetles' 1960 Larry Parnes tour.) A: He's cool, Steve, but he's got a vocal warm-up technique! We'd make fun of him. I shouldn't tell you this, but you'd hear him with his headphones going, Ba-ha-doo-dah-doo-dah-doo-hee! A-dee-doo-dah-hee! We're going (mimes sniggering behind hand), Fucking hell! I'll tell you who I saw doing that once: Jagger! That really gave the game away for me - Jagger doing vocal warm-ups! Anyway... I kind of rushed Steve. His roadie, Dallas Shue, said Steve's very fussy about what guitar he uses - because he's got a huge collection of guitars - and it'd take a long time. So I said, Choose your favourite, Steve. And to give him his due, he will be produced by me, although you get the feeling he wouldn't be doing it for anyone else. So he did a take, and I said, That sounds really good, a little bit more treble, great! And we used it. And Dallas said, Gee, man, thanks, that could've been three, four hours, and I woulda had to tune every single one of them! Q: So how was working with Jeff Lynne? A: Pretty much on the same basis as I'd worked with Steve. He'd play a guitar riff, I'd play bass, and then he'd sing harmony with me. It's good having somebody like that who's a guitarist-singer. When you think about it, it's 'cos it's John really. Q: Does Jeff not feel self-conscious about being the surrogate John Lennon? A: I think he might've, but he got over it, because during Anthology we realised that that's what he was: he was being the Fourth Beatle. Q: That's a hell of a mantle to carry. A: Yeah, well, you know, he wanted to. I'm funny about The Beatles; even when Billy Preston came in (keyboards, Let It Be, 1969), I was in two minds. The others were so definite that I went with their thinking, as I always did, because I knew they had right-on opinions. But George H had said that we ought to use Jeff as a producer rather than George Martin, and I had a struggle there, but George M was giving up production largely because of his hearing. I'd said to him, George, you're the talent-spotter, you don't need ears! But George H suggested Jeff, who has good ears. He's got perfect pitch... (comic pause) Anfield. (Waits for unforthcoming Q laugh) No? Alright. While the three Beatles were working on Free As A Bird, it came to backing harmonies, and George H said to me, Jeff is such a big Beatle fan, he'd love to get on this record, he'd just die! Even if he goes "Hey!", he can then say he was on it. And I was a little bit reluctant. I'm a bit sort of precious, a bit private about who's in The Beatles - the Yoko thing, and all this - and we didn't do too badly on that philosophy. So we got Jeff on Free As A Bird, and he'd got over all that by the time we came to do my stuff. Q: Shared opinion is that ELO were simply The Beatles with more instruments. A: Well Ringo says, You know why ELO broke up? They ran out of Beatles riffs. One of Jeff's great prides is that he met John once - obviously a huge fan of John's - and John said, I really like all that ELO stuff, man. That was the highspot of Jeff s life! He was vindicated. John said it was alright! He's a smashing guy. Beer and football Q: Flaming Pie is an unselfconscious record. A: Yeah, I've said to people in meetings. I don't give a shit if this album is a hit. And of course, the marketing people go (mimes face dropping), but my rationale is, we had so much "hit" off Anthology, I want to have a bit of a good time. I've just been reading Nick Hornby's High Fidelity. And I brought it to a meeting and said to these guys, He's got this shop called Championship Vinyl and they sort of don't care if they sell a record - and I identify with that! We've got to do that with this album. Q: Whatever you say in meetings, this unselfconscious record now goes into the mill and become "product". A: I know. I call that The Wall - like in a marathon, the pain barrier. And I really hate it. EMI took it quite well, actually. There's this phrase I'm using, and it dates back from when we were in The Beatles, endless aeons ago, and our van slid into a ditch off the motorway as we were coming back from London. There was no retrieving it, so we were stuck in the middle of this British winter, and no-one was stopping. One of us, I can't remember who it was, said, What's gonna happen now? And again one of us replied, Something'll happen. Immediately, a lorry pulled up: "Where you going, lads? Liverpool?" And it was, like, Wow! So we always kept this naive answer to everything - something'll happen. So I said to the guys on this campaign, if I don't go to Cologne, something'll happen. It'll be alright. They're saying, This documentary won't be out in time. So I say, It'll be out just after time then. Something'll happen! It's an amazing mantra. I do believe in magic - it sounds a bit '60s to say it, but I do. I always think this with computers, when it says, "You have filled up nearly everything, please erase something", and it seems to me that that's what you've gotta do in life: erase a bit of discipline and thought. Q: How are EMI? They must love you. A: Well, they've got to love The Beatles! There is a graph that I think The Sunday Times did years ago: the success of EMI and the success of The Beatles are directly correlated. My brother-in-law, John Eastman, is a lawyer for Disney, and they were trying to buy EMI but it was around the time of Anthology, and so the price went up too much. And he said, Do you know how much you've cost me? Millions! I said, Too bad. The only other company I've been with has been CBS (he signed to Columbia in 1979), and I once went to the big, black skyseraper in New York where they live. It could've been anywhere, any office. It certainly wasn't Championship Vinyl. There was no smell of anything to do with records. You just went up to the sixtieth floor, carne out, Oh God, where are we? It was like Hell - a record-lover's version of Hell. Q: Did you feel sad when EMI moved out of its Manchester Square offices? A: No, I didn't really spend too much time there. I'd be sad to see Abbey Road go, but Manchester Square was occasional. Outside of the two cover shoots, we didn't have a deep affection for it. It was a place we had to go. Whereas Abbey Road was somewhere we loved to go. Q: Abbey Road seems to be virtually unchanged since the golden days. A: It's strangely unchanged. Studios One and Two are largely unchanged. But Three is modern. Two, well, they don't wanna change the room that "got" The Beatles. And it got a lot of Cliff s early good stuff, Move It, Living Doll. And now Oasis have just checked out... EMI is like the Beeb, it has rules, and I guess younger bands are not used to having rules - but Oasis were making a lot of noise. And we used to make a lot of noise, doing things like Helter Skelter or a loud track anyway, and you'd always get the classical guy next door - in our time, it was Daniel Barenboim's producer - going, (mimes knocking the door) Bang bang, we're doing a quiet classical piece and we can hear you through the walls. The walls obviously aren't that good for soundproofing. And we'd be, going, under our breath, Fucking bastard classical, we subsidise them! However, we would turn it down a little bit, pull out a bit of a sulk, put the acoustics on. We lived with it. But apparently, the same thing happened to Oasis, and it was the same producer who's worked on my new piece (a symphony for EMI's 100th birthday), John Fraser. He said, Would you mind turning it down? But they've gone, Fook off! I'm fooking leaving this place, you fooking bastards! And they've walked out. He's probably lost EMI an awful lot of money! Q: Oasis recording in Abbey Road. Did they really have to take it that far, do you think? A: Well, they do, don't they? Q: Did you enjoy working with Noel Gallagher on the Help album in 1995? A: Yeah, it was good actually. I'll tell you what I liked - their equipment! 'Cos it's copies of ours. They've got the same gear as we used. Same amps, Marshalls and stuff. So I love that, very at home. People say to me, You must hate Oasis, and I say, Nah, they admire us, and they could admire anyone in the world, they could be copying anyone, they could be derivative of any artist who's ever been. They could be like Tommy Steele! It's funny, you see, because I'm not seeing photos of myself, so I feel their age. When I see the photo afterwards, I'm, like, Oh gosh! I appear to be older than them! Must be some quantum leap or some time warp or something. I was ten stone ten doing Pepper, 'cos I was living on my own and not eating, basically. Doing a lot of this (mimes smoking "cigarette"). I never had time to eat. Just buzzing. So I ended up in these very thin suits. It's all turned to muscle now. It's all outdoor activities now and eating. Q: You're a pretty healthy bloke aren't you? A: I suppose so. Veggie's cool, that's a good thing. It's over twenty years now. It's a compassion thing, it's a moral thing. There were some lambs playing in the field while we were eating a leg of lamb. And we said, Maybe we won't do it. Q: It's very easy to see it that way if you live out in the country. A: Alright, it's like, I live about 20 minutes away and there's quite a few woodlands around. And on our farm I've got some woods. I'm being accused now of harbouring killer pigs! It turns out there are killer pigs from Ashford, thirty miles away. These wild boar got away from a zoo, and they're flourishing, They have this thing called Chestnut Coppice, where you put it down every twenty years, and then you don't go in there for twenty years, it just grows up - so the boar love it. Anyway, I won't shoot 'em. Because  I don't fancy shooting them. Plus I haven't got a gun! I could snare them, but what you find is that local people get really crazy, like as if I've invented these pigs! They say they kill lambs, but I've got a lot of sheep and I don't think they've killed any of mine... But a fox'll kill a sheep. It's nature. Even though I'm a veggie, I understand that a hawk kills something. I don't go, Oh you naughty hawk! It's his gig. But it's not necessarily mine. Q: OK. You see a homeless person in the Street with a dog. Who do you instinctively feel most sorry for, the bloke or the dog? A: Equal. Both of them really. Q: Surely, for you, it's the dog every time? A: Ah, but he's more used to living on the street. The thing for me is sussing out whether they're genuine or not. Does he just come here in the morning and have a nice day out with a sleeping bag? I always buy The Big Issue and stuff. Q: Has anyone called you "Sir Paul" yet? A: Only like official people. An airline pilot: "Welcome, Sir Paul." And I had a doctor's appointment. and they went, "Sir Paul's here." Q: It's a bit weird, then? A: It's extremely weird, not just a bit. Because I kind of value that... it's not anonymity, but it's a private life, an on-the-groundness - that's why I keep trying to tell people I'm ordinary, 'cos I feel ordinary. I live sort of ordinary. But there's this huge phenomenon that keeps getting on telly and stuff. He's not really me. I play him and I enjoy it, but this is me. He's done very well. Q: So he's the one who's been knighted? A: Yes. It was a brilliant day. I'm two-sided about things, I can easily be cynical about stuff like that - it's not hard, you just use your intellect, and if you've been around a bit, you can see what's happening. It is a very convenient way to reward people, and not a very expensive way either. Anyway, having said that, the other side of me says it's a big deal. It's a schoolprize. I went in for the art prize but I didn't expect to win it. And then suddenly something like this comes... My kids have this expression - rude not to. Are you going to have that last piece of toast? Rude not to. Do you accept it? Rude not to. Someone said there's a certain cachet to turning the knighthood down! I looked into it, and Paul Schofield was the only cool person who'd turned it down,and I thought, Well, great actor, but he doesn't look the world's cheeriest chappie! When I was at school I always wanted to be a Catholic lorry driver in my mind - so I'd have a direction, literally, and a faith. And I never had it — so it was a great day. It's amazing, you forget that you're gonna go down on one knee before the monarch of Britain and she's gonna put Edward The Confessor's sword on your shoulder. Q: Was the first time you met Her Majesty at the Palace in 1965? A: Yes, I get them a bit mixed up. Mark Lewisohn (Fabs chronicler) knows! One of the first times we met her ... I hate to tell you this, I hate to tell her, in case she reads Q, but we quite fancied her at school! She was a lot younger and she was, like, quite (holds hands out in front of chest) big. Seriously, George and I really quite fancied her, young princess, come back from Treetops to assume the crown of Hngland. She's become more of a sort of mum figure now. But there was always a bit of a thing going on about her - teenage fantasies. Q: Anthology has tied up The Beatles for good, and it sold loads into the bargain, the nod from Oasis and co. has restored you to cool icon status for a new generation, your solo work is re-energised, and they've knighted you. Is this, would you say, the best time to meet Paul McCartney, now that you're famous and... A: Famous and acceptable? Yeah, I know exactly what you're talking about, I've lived through it. And you'd be a fool not to enjoy it. Q: People have a clear picture in their minds what the four Beatles were or are like. Does it bother you that they have John down as the arty, experimental one, when you were just as arty and strange as he was? A: Well, the difference was, I always used to feel that all of that was like my private life and I'd bring some of it into The Beatles. By the time we got to Sgt. Pepper, it started to emerge, but it would be John who'd want to do something like Revolution 9. If anything exciting happened, he wanted to get it out immediately. He wanted it to be frontline. When he met Yoko, she gave him the green light for all of that. She'd say, Oh yeah, you should do that. He'd do it - bang! I did get a bit pissed off that John became The Avant-Garde One, because two, three years before John got loose, I was going to a lot of concerts - he was living out in Weybridge, pipe and slippers time. I didn't wanna say, I did it first you know, but it was niggling me a bit that it was going down in posterity that John was the cool one, and Paul was a bit soppy. When I was doing lots of these little crazy loops, I did a loop symphony. I was going to all these concerts, Luciano Beno, Cornelius Cardew (modem composers in the John Cage experimental mould), and we'd go down amongst all these students, and the loops would find their way onto Tomorrow Never Knows - but the symphony was just for me and my mates getting stoned round the corner. I said to John, I've got all this stuff, and I'm thinking of putting it out as an album called Paul McCartney Goes Too Far! He said, Brilliant, man.' Fucking do it! Please! But I don't mind keeping something up my sleeve, whereas John had nothing up his sleeve. I've been painting for about twelve years, and I'm finally gonna get an exhibition later this year in Germany, but do I really want to say to people, hey, I'm a Renaissance Man? I just let it out in dribs and drabs. Q: When's the worst time to be Paul McCartney Famous? A: At the end of The Beatles. Because I was like, redundant. Still famous but feeling terrible, and I knew that if I did an interview, which was still on the cards, one of the first questions would be "Are you happy?" And I wasn't. And I couldn't bluff it, so I got out of it for a while. That was a bit of a bummer. I thought, I'd like to have no persona for a couple of years. But I try to handle the fame. I don't mind the autographs, because I used to collect them, at the Liverpool Empire stage door - I met The Crewcuts, and they talked to me and I've loved 'em ever since - and I sort of knew then that there was a game afoot. When my kids got to be teenagers, they wanted me to get Phil Collins's autograph,so there was another wave of it then. and I had to ask Phil for his! So I do understand it. But I won't sign people's hands, I won't stoop to that. Never, ever sign body parts. They say, I'll never wash again! I say, You will, you know, it rains some days... Q: Where do you divide your time? A: Here is a big, popular venue for me. London, if there's something like a bigger recording to do, like I've just done something with the LSO and I couldn't fit them in here - luckily, because it's a good excuse to go up to Abbey Road. I try and get outdoors a lot. My hobby, and I did it yesterday actually, is getting out in the woods and making trails for riders, so I'm Chainsaw Man - no tree is safe! I apologise to them, though, and I point out to them, There's an awful lot of 'you, it's virtually a thicket! I like that. Me on my own. I do a bit of sailing, just me in a twelve-footer, mainly on a reservoir, it's incredibly relaxing. It's something I never did as a kid. "They" sailed, we didn't. "They" rode horses, we didn't. There were huge gaps. I changed a lot of that, consciously. Q: Many of the songs on Flaming Pie were inspired while you were on holiday. A: I know.The guy from Billboard said to me,you're not supposed to work on holiday, Paul. But I split the day into two. There's a little bit of the afternoon, after lunch, that can get a bit boring for me, where people have a kip or another sunbathe, but I'll do all that in the morning - instead of crashing, it can be me sitting with a guitar. I do it as a hobby. To call it a profession sounds a bit gynaecological. I point out to people that you play music. It's only playing. Q: So you cant retire then? A: Not really, no, but I don't fancy it. You don't retire, that's boring. Because what could I do? I couldn't stop a song coming. If a tune hits me, what am I gonna do? Go, Get thee behind me, tune? Q: You like travelling, though? A: Yeah. I'm hooked on it from The Beatles. When we as a family go to a hotel, Linda's not that keen on it, but I sneakily like it. Because I was on tour for all those years. I know my routine: get my shaver,get my toothbrush, (rubs hands with glee), get the telly, check out this. I'm Hotel Man. When we were on tour with The Beatles, I used to take a sun lamp! (Laughs to himself) Much to the others' hysteria. I used to sit on the bog with this sun lamp. 'Cos we only had five minutes between things - a quick scrambled eggs and grilled tornato, and a sit on the bog! Q: Tell us about your symphony. A: It's not actually a symphony, it's a symphonic poem. Symphonies are in four parts, but they tend not to have a story. Once it has a story it gets called a tone poem. But a lot of people I know would think it was just a poem if you called it that, so symphonic poem suggests that there's some music in it. It was commissioned, four years ago, for EMI's 100th birthday, and it'll be performed at the Albert Hall by the LSO on October 14. Q: What would you say if someone carne up to you and said "The Beatles were shit"? A: I'd say, Fuck off, you twat. And so, in effect, we must. Sir Paul McCartney has some important padding around in his sandals to be getting on with. Here's the deal: there's no point in wondering what John Lennon would be like today if he hadn't been shot (he'd be 56, divorced, and like Ivor Cutler in Central Park). There's no point in wondering what The Beatles would sound like today if they'd all signed up with Klein and stayed together (they'd sound like The Bee Gees). Would Paul have done The Frog Chorus if he'd been the only one to take LSD? (Yes.)     Try to calm down. The Beatles story is interesting enough. Eight videos interesting. And McCartney's solo life has been, in the final analysis, by far the most successful - commercially, and, on occasion, critically. Asked on Channel 5, who was best out of The Beatles and Oasis, American stand-up comic Greg Proops spluttered, "Oasis have made two records!" Quite.     At 54, and £420 million, Paul McCartney is still singing about "peace, love and understanding" (he talks like Neil from The Young Ones: "Cool... right on... bummer!"). Flaming Pie might not sell like hot cakes, but he doesn't care! The thumbs might have flown at half-mast while Linda was unwell, but she's on the mend, and better than that, she's singing on his latest record - and if its closing track, Great Day, is in fact 25 years old, its sentiment is as "Paul and Linda" as it was when they used to perform it "sitting around the kitchen or when the children were dancing": "When you're wide awake / Say it for goodness sake / It's gonna be a great day."     As Q idles in Paul McCartney's kitchen, preparing for the imminent ride home, our host insists we take some cheese and pickle sandwiches for the journey.     "Wrap some up in a napkin," he orders, "You'll thank me for it when you're halfway back to London..."     And he was right. The way things are going, they're never gonna crucify him.

    McCartney Turns Back the Clock

    by Thom Duffy Billboard April 12, 1997 "I've really started to say to myself," muses Paul McCartney, sitting in his recording studio overlooking the English Channel, "look, what's it been worth to do all that Beatles career, earn all this money, get all that fame, if at some point I don't go, 'That was great, now I can have a good time.' " Lately, McCartney's been doing just that, bringing a spark of spontaneity and freedom to "Flaming Pie," his first solo album in four years and his first since the phenomenal success of the Beatles' "Anthology" series. Set for release by EMI in most international markets May 12, "Flaming Pie" will be served in the U.S. and Canada by Capitol Records May 20. In the first interview he has given to discuss the new album, McCartney explains how revisiting the Beatles' legacy for the "Anthology" project helped inspire the sound and spirit of "Flaming Pie"--and also gave him a new perspective on the music business. "I feel like the suits are back in charge now," says McCartney. "So I want to be subversive and sort of break that lock, just for me personally this time." Rather than planning "mega-campaigns" to launch "Flaming Pie," McCartney describes his desire to make an album "for the kid in the bedroom. The Beatles, we all wanted to make records for the kid in the bedroom somewhere, because we had recently been that kid in a bedroom." "Flaming Pie" finds McCartney collaborating with friends and family including Ringo Starr, George Martin, Jeff Lynne, Steve Miller, his wife, Linda, and his 19-year-old son, James, who makes his recording debut in a guitar duet with dad. The album is both rocking and reflective, emerging from a period in McCartney's life marked by personal struggles, such as Linda McCartney's battle with cancer, as well as triumphs, such as the knighthood conferred upon him this year at Buckingham Palace. Fans in North America will get their first taste of "Flaming Pie" with the release April 17 of the upbeat guitar-driven single "The World Tonight," while the song "Young Boy," featuring Steve Miller on guitar and backing vocals, goes out as a single in most other countries April 28. Although McCartney has no plans to tour, as he did to promote his previous solo album, "Off The Ground," in 1993, a new television documentary about his solo work by "Anthology" director Geoff Wonfor is due to air next month on outlets in some 25 countries, including VH1 in the U.S. In addition, there are discussions under way about the placement of "The World Tonight" and "Young Boy" in the forthcoming film "Father's Day," starring Robin Williams and Billy Crystal (see story, page 1). "It's the best Paul McCartney album I've heard in years," says Gary Gersh, president of Capitol Records (U.S.). Gersh and other record executives also acknowledge the impact that the Beatles' "Anthology" series is likely to have on McCartney's solo album. "There are a lot of people who learned a lot about the Beatles over the course of the last 18 months and a growing number of young fans who will be receptive to a great new Paul McCartney album--and this is it," says Gersh. The album "is much more simple and direct than anything he's done for a long time," says Tony Wadsworth, managing director of EMI's Parlophone Records in London, who has been involved with McCartney's solo career for the past decade. "In looking at 'Anthology,' I saw the standards that the Beatles had reached," says McCartney. Those were standards of both songwriting and studio spontaneity that McCartney sought to recapture. The "Anthology" project gave him that opportunity. In mid-1995, as Capitol and EMI prepared for the release late that year of the first of the three "Anthology" albums, McCartney recalls, "One of the bigwigs at the record company said, 'We don't want a [solo] record from you for the next two years. We don't really need a record off you for awhile. "I was almost insulted at first," he says. "But I thought, well, yeah, it would be silly to go out against yourself in the form of the Beatles. So I fell in with the idea and thought, 'Great, I don't even have to think about an album.' What a great, lovely, lazy couple of years--although we worked quite hard on the 'Anthology.' " McCartney began exploring a number of creative projects, including a new classical piece, "Standing Stone," which he will debut at London's Royal Albert Hall in October to mark the centenary of EMI. As a solo pop artist, however, "the only music I made then was just for the fun of it, because I couldn't stop," he says. "The songs were written purely for fun. There was not one of them which was, like, 'Oh, this is a song for my next album.' " As he did on his first self-titled solo album in 1970, McCartney recorded most of the musical parts for "Flaming Pie"--drums, bass, guitar, and piano-- himself, either recording alone or with one or two friends sitting in. The title of "Flaming Pie," as well-informed Beatles fans know, comes from John Lennon's fanciful tale of how the group got its name. "We're talking about teenage years. Glory years," says McCartney. He describes the day Lennon announced he was penning a piece for Mersey Beat, the Liverpool music paper. "We were so keen to get into Mersey Beat; it was like our official organ," says McCartney. "So he wrote this thing called 'On The Dubious Origins Of The Beatles' or something like that. It was very goony. It was John's typical wit, slightly biblical, which was the humor of the day. He wrote something like, 'I had a vision when I was 12, and a man came unto us on a flaming pie and said, "You shall be Beatles--with an A." And so it was.' " McCartney's recollections of the Fab Four flow fast and deep. For years, he kept memories of the Beatles at bay, and he acknowledges that for much of his solo career he kept a musical distance from his past. But "Flaming Pie" displays a joyously familiar style--in the pounding piano of the title track, the guitar rave-up of "The World Tonight," the George Martin orchestration of "Somedays," the acoustic coda of "Great Day," and more. "It's the 'feel' that you're talking about," says McCartney. "It's true. I've got a feel. I've got my feel. And throughout my career, I have made efforts to get away from it. "But I started to think on this album, no, I don't really need to. And somebody pointed out to me, 'Hell, a lot of what these younger groups are doing is your sound.' So I thought it's actually mad if I don't do it and I just let everybody else do it and admire how well it sounds when they do it." The ease with which McCartney now taps into his past led to two of the most noteworthy collaborations on "Flaming Pie," the first with Miller and the second with Starr. After discovering that his son James was a fan of Miller, McCartney told him about "My Dark Hour," a song he cut with Miller (drumming under the pseudonym Paul Ramon) in 1969 at Abbey Road after an aborted Beatles session. More recently, the two musicians renewed their acquaintance at an Earth Day concert in California. After recording "Real Love" with Ringo Starr and George Harrison in early 1995 for the "Anthology II" album, McCartney flew to Idaho to play again with Miller. "We invited him to join the band," quips Miller, speaking by phone from Idaho, describing the snow-bound session that February that produced "Young Boy." McCartney, he says, "is a great songwriter and a great musician." The two collaborated again at McCartney's studio in May 1995 on a "road song" titled "If You Wanna," written by McCartney, and a blues jam called "Used To Be Bad," which is credited to both songwriters. "We fell in, like an old habit, like a comfortable glove," says McCartney. "When you can work with someone like that, it's stranger to lose it than for it to still be there. It often is still there, like with Ringo . . . "Ringo had always said, after 'Real Love,' that he was comfortable in this studio. And he said we should do it again some time," says McCartney. The opportunity came in May 1996, as Starr came down to play on "Beautiful Night," a song on "Flaming Pie" that McCartney had written a decade earlier but never released. "We had a lot of fun doing it and then he stayed over the next day in case we needed to fix any drum things, which we didn't," says McCartney. "I could see that whenever we'd gone out to rehearse anything he was very comfortable. So I said, 'Well, let's take this a little step further. I'll get on bass, you get on drums, we'll get Jeff [Lynne] on his guitar, just a three-piece, and we'll have a jam for the hell of it.' " The resulting track, "Really Love You," is a cool R&B groove built upon Starr's drum beat and McCartney's rock'n'roll vocals. It is the first song ever released that is co-written by the Beatles' former drummer and bassist. While McCartney relishes a new sense of ease in making music, he describes a fresh sense of frustration with how corporate marketing can overwhelm creativity in the music business today. After all, the Beatles, some 30 years ago, took control of the business from "the suits" he now says are back in charge. He describes record company meetings in which representatives of EMI and Capitol each outlined their promotional plans for his new album. "They're saying to me, 'You've got to go to Cologne, you've got to go to Stuttgart, you've got to go to Amsterdam' " and to New York and to L.A. and so on. McCartney put up his hands. "I'm saying, I don't think I fancy it. I really don't want to try too hard on this album. The success of the 'Anthology' is one reason. I've [also] noticed a couple of other artists recently who have been on mega-campaigns, and it looks like they're trying too hard. I just looked and thought, 'God, I thought he was better than that.' And I'm guilty of it, and I've done it in the past, because managers and [record] people sort of say, you've got to do that, or if you don't do that . . . " In working on the "Anthology" project and in making "Flaming Pie," McCartney was reminded that the music once mattered more than the marketing campaign. He tempers his frustration with humor, dropping into the voice of a proper British gentleman as he suggests: "Letting the talent floooow, and not putting too many demands on it, is the rrr-right way to go. "It really is, man," he says, serious once more. "You've got to nurture talent instead of beating them about the head. You've got to give them a little bit of freedom. It's absolutely where it needs to go now."