Oobu Joobu
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2021-10-26 20:20:26

    Happy birthday to head Bonzo Vivian Stanshall, who would've been 71 today. Here's a tribute Paul wrote after Viv's tragic 1995 death:

    "I originally met Viv in the London club days, out and about on the town. We used to have drinks and a laugh together and he was a lovely, funny man. He was in The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, which I saw live on stage at the Saville Theatre a couple of times when Brian Epstein promoted shows there. They were very eccentric — sort of modern yet very old-fashioned — following on from bands like the Temperance Seven. Then I phoned Viv and asked if the Bonzos would be in Magical Mystery Tour with us. They did the scene with the stripper that we filmed in Paul Raymond's Revuebar and I think they had a pretty good time, playing while the woman took off her clothes. So Viv became a very good friend and I used to visit him at his house — I remember that he had an aquarium with turtles, at which we used to sit and wonder! Then he asked me to produce their next single 'I'm The Urban Spaceman', which I did at Chappell Studios. I went down there, met the guys, and Viv had a length of brightly-coloured plastic piping which made a noise when he swirled it around his head. That was to be his contribution. We chatted a while and then I produced the record. He suggested that I be credited as "Apollo C Vermouth", which indeed I am, still, to this day. It turned out to be the Bonzos only hit, although hit singles is not what they were about anyway. I'll always remember Viv and Keith Moon being a sort of double act, the two of them playing very, very posh English gentleman. They did have their crazy side, of course, but whenever I saw them together they were perfect gentlemen. They did a joint Radio 1 show, which I heard while driving up to Scotland and was the inspiration for Oobu Joobu. Over the following years Viv and I would see each other, on and off, at functions, but I gradually lost touch with him, so it was with particular sadness that I heard he had died. He was a wonderful man and he'll be much missed."

    Paul McCartney talks to Guitar World Acoustic, 2004

    "Yesterday," sings Paul McCartney, "all my troubles seemed so far away." It is the Ed Sullivan Show, and as his fellow Beatles wait in the wings, Paul does it on his own with nothing but an Epiphone Texan acoustic guitar and an off-screen string quartet.

    One month later, on 12 September, 1965, 73 million people watch the performance on TV – among them some of my American family: brother James, who is 12, cousin Goldie, just one year younger, and me, about to turn seven.

    "This is so old-fashioned," complains James. "Shh," interjects the awestruck Goldie, today a grandmother who staunchly denies that she ever collected Beatles cards. I say only: "It's such a pretty song."

    I know that if I were to insert my present-day self into that scene, I would say something like, He doesn't really have much of a fingerpicking technique, does he? His hands are all over the place. Or, He's playing an Epiphone acoustic. He's a Beatle – couldn't he afford a Gibson J-200, or a Martin? But I also would have admitted that McCartney's playing, for all its inelegance, was spot-perfect and beautifully conceived, with flowing chord changes effortlessly anticipated by bass runs.

    Even as he speaks in considerable detail of some of the inventive and memorable acoustic guitar parts he played as a Beatle and in his solo career, he says things like, "You know, I'm not really technical," and, "I never learned the proper way of picking." With regard to his guitars, he insists, "I was never really so concerned about the instrument as I was about the song."

    It's usually the case that brilliant guitarists who denigrate some aspect of their playing, or claim to be disinterested in their gear, are as believable as football strikers who claim to not worry whether they're scoring as long as the team wins. You can believe McCartney, however, a man who indeed does not play the "right" way, and who hasn't filled his basement with rare and delectable guitars – or basses, for that matter.

    As for his overriding concern about the quality of his songs, his records speak for themselves. Paul McCartney is a great acoustic guitarist in the same way Creedence Clearwater Revival's John Fogerty is a great electric player – while neither is a master technician, both are able to create melodic parts that take up permanent residence in the minds of their listeners.

    And like Fogerty's best solos, McCartney's accompaniments, from the harmonically sophisticated chords of Michelle to the celestial counterpoint lines of Blackbird to the wistful-sounding inversions of Junk, were clearly devised for the sake of the song, to be integral parts of the whole.

    While he has never been a 'gearhead', McCartney was intimately involved in the creation by Gibson of a new signature edition replica of his 1964 Epiphone Texan acoustic guitar, the instrument he immortalised when he used it to perform Yesterday. But even there, McCartney's interest in the project was triggered by the fact that a large percentage of the profits garnered by sales of the guitar will benefit Adopt-A-Minefield, a charity he and his [then] wife Heather have long championed. He did it for a cause. But now it is time to let Paul McCartney speak for himself…

    Gibson is issuing a replica of the Epiphone Texan acoustic guitar you used to record Yesterday. What made you decide to give them the go-ahead?

    Actually, though I'd seen others do that sort of thing – signature guitars – it was just never anything I got involved with. But I believe it was the charity component – the money that's going to Adopt-A-Minefield – that made me think it was a good thing.

    Then, after many years, I started to play the Texan again, using it on my tour, and I actually saw an old bit of footage of me playing it. I said to my guitar tech, John Hamell, Wow, you know, it really is a pretty historic instrument. I don't ordinarily think of my instruments as historic; they're just my guitars. But seeing it up on the screen like that gave me a certain perspective about it.

    From then on, it just became kind of exciting, trying to re-create it. Then, while going back and forth on the guitar's preparation with Gibson, I realised that this whole thing is a pretty cool honour.

    On the early run of the guitars Gibson are getting it right down to the very last detail, reproducing every nick and ding you ever put on it

    It's crazy, really (laughs). But the exciting thing for me is that they play well, these new guitars. In fact I did say to Pat Foley, who ran the project for Gibson, It's all very well getting the cracks and the crannies right, but I want it to be a guitar that sounds good. And it does.

    It's interesting that in 1965, despite being hugely successful by then, you chose to play a $175 Epiphone Texan for the Ed Sullivan performance of Yesterday

    The terrible thing about me is that I got locked in a mindset that I picked up from my dad. He really ground it into me to never be in debt, because while we weren't on the poverty line, there wasn't much money to go around.

    The first time I wanted a guitar, I bought an Epiphone Zenith 17 for £15 pounds on hire-purchase, so I had to pay such and such an amount every month. It sent a bit of a shudder through my dad – I could see the look of horror on his face, his sense of, Whoo, that's debt! He used to say, Never get under an obligation to anyone.

    It was great advice, but it did lead to my always tending to look for a great instrument, yes, but one that was reasonably priced, even when I could afford stuff. It was many years before I ever got a Fender bass, even though I thought they sounded terrific.

    The Hofner (violin bass) I played, it was kind of symmetrical and looked good upside down, but I liked that it was also a well-priced thing. I think I saw the Epiphone the same way: they were never really top-of-the-line, but my dad had ingrained in me a certain way of thinking, and I don't think I've ever lost that.

    Can you recall anything besides Yesterday that you wrote or recorded with the Texan?

    I'm a bit hopeless on all that – I actually can't remember what I wrote on what. I'm really the least technical guy ever, which can sometimes be a bit embarrassing. If I listened to a bunch of songs I might be able to say, Yeah, that was that guitar… but really, I'm very sort of nonchalant about what I play.

    I just pick up what feels good on a given day. If I played a Martin yesterday, I may say, Oh, I'll play the Epiphone today, or, Wait a minute, let's get the Gibson Everly Brothers guitar out.

    Let's talk about some of your greatest acoustic guitar-based Beatles songs – how they came to be written and how you play them. You have in the past asserted that the melody to Yesterday came to you in a dream. Did the fingerpicked guitar part also appear in the dream?

    No (laughs), there was no guitar in the dream. It was just a tune, and when I woke I fell out of bed and went over to a piano nearby.

    Do you usually write on piano?

    Either acoustic guitar or piano – it's kind of split between the two, I think…

    You recorded Yesterday in the key of F, but lowered your strings a whole tone so you could play it in G. Was that because it made it easier to play the bass runs?

    That's one reason. Also, I think I just wanted to play it in G but that key was just a little too high to sing in. The other possibility is that F is a better key for the string quartet we used in the arrangement.

    I recently saw footage from the Sullivan performance and it struck me how unusual your fingerpicking technique was. The way you plucked the bass strings with your thumb and then sort of strummed the treble strings with your index finger reminds me a little of the way some old-time country guitarists played

    A lot of people think I can do proper fingerstyle, but when you see me up close, you realise I can't. John and I wanted to learn the formal style of fingerpicking, but I never got around to it. He did, and he used it on Julia and some other things.

    I never really got into it, but I love the sound so much, so I just figured out my own way of doing it: that's really how I learned every instrument I play. On things like Yesterday and Blackbird I just hit the bass string and sort of flick the high strings.

    And that's how you always play acoustic guitar, is it?

    I use a flatpick on more chordal stuff, but I did a bunch of that, yeah. It's my own goofball version of fingerpicking. The main drawback to my approach is that because of the way I flick the chords and notes with my finger, it wears my nail down.

    A couple of years ago, my [then] wife Heather suggested that I put an acrylic nail on. I said, No, I can't do that! But I did do it on the last couple of tours and it works like a dream.

    And wearing an acrylic nail hasn't made you feel like less of a man?

    I still feel like a man – a full-grown man.

    You don't appear to regard your fingerpicking skills all that highly, yet you somehow came up with Blackbird, which is a fingerstyle masterpiece. How did you "dream" that one up?

    You know how when you're a kid, you learn these little show-off pieces? Well, George and I learned Bach's Bouree In E Minor. Actually, we just heard it a few times and bastardised it. I sort of borrowed its approach in Blackbird, those kinds of intervals, and just made it up as it led on. It was the only time we ever got vaguely classical.

    Perhaps you should have called the song Bachbird

    (Laughs) I like that, I will remember that.

    Michelle, another Beatles classic, features some fairly sophisticated chords. You grew up playing fifties rock 'n' roll – Elvis, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran – so when and where did you learn something like, say, the second chord in Michelle: the F7#9?

    First of all, Eddie Cochran was one of the most underrated guitarists around. But I'll tell you exactly where I learned that chord: from Jim Gretty, a salesman at Hessy's music shop in Liverpool. All the guys who worked in that store when we were kids were jazz guys – they had to play jazz well if they wanted to hold down their jobs. Gretty showed us jazz chords, which is exactly what we called 'em.

    I know some jazz players who are offended when they're called "jazz" chords...

    Well, it's too bad, I'm afraid – I'm still going to call them that. You know, that F7#9 is a beautiful chord, and it was outside our frame of reference because nothing that we listened to contained that chord.

    I remember George and I were in the guitar shop when Gretty played it, and we said, Wow, what was that, man? And he answered, It's just basically an F, but you barre the top two strings at the fourth fret with your little finger. We immediately learned that, and for a while it was the only jazz chord we knew. Later we learned other chords from him.

    How did your knowledge of those chords lead to your writing Michelle?

    I used to take a guitar along to parties and sort of sit enigmatically in a corner, hoping it would attract a girl. I remember that I actually pretended at one of these parties that I was French, you know, wore a black collar-necked shirt, and sort of enigmatically played this little fingerpicked instrumental that went like this: [sings] Ding ding ding, and then that doon din, which was Gretty's F chord with the pinky barring the two strings at the fourth fret.

    Years later John said, Remember that French thing you used to do? We should stick some words on that.

    Let's return to The White Album, which features more of your acoustic playing than any other Beatles record. Mother Nature's Son begins with a descending riff played over a partial chord on the treble strings. It's quite similar to the guitar intro to Michelle, and variations of that same pattern can also be found in Junk, from your first solo album, and other songs.

    That chord sequence was just the kind of thing I heard growing up. My dad was very musical – he was a professional musician and used to play the piano at home – so I grew up musical, and I had a naturally musical ear.

    There were things I heard that I just fell in love with, and was sufficiently interested in and musical enough to go, Wait a minute, what was that? Oh, I see what they're doing, just this one note in the chord is descending. So I'd figure it out and then it would become a favourite little thing of mine. And I inserted the kind of things I heard back then in my songs to sort of refresh things.

    Exactly what kind of music did your father play?

    Well, it wasn't skiffle, it wasn't blues, it wasn't rock 'n' roll – it was standards, music I listened to from the day I was born. Things like Stardust – I really liked Hoagy Carmichael. And I still go back to a lot of that stuff because it gives me variety in my writing, gives me places to go when I'm looking for a surprise.

    How did you apply those little, refreshing things when writing for The Beatles?

    Me and John would come in with our acoustics and start with E, A and B chords, and then we'd throw in, like, a C# minor seventh. It'd be very exciting – I still remember the palpable thrill of finding a chord that we hadn't used before. It can empower you to write five songs, or help make the one you're writing better.

    The first two albums you released as a solo artist, McCartney [1970] and Ram [1971] were jam-packed with great acoustic guitar tunes – Junk, Teddy Boy and Heart Of The Country – and you also released Another Day as a single back then. Was there any particular reason that you went in such an unplugged direction?

    When I worked with The Beatles there were at least two guitars, and when I played there were three. We would often play a song through on acoustic, and sometimes we'd develop it from there on electric – or sometimes we just kind of liked it where it was, and it stayed acoustic. On those early solo albums I didn't have the guys I developed things up with – John and George – and so things often remained acoustic. Of course, I also liked how it sounded [laughs].

    Do you ever use altered tunings?

    I play everything in standard tuning, except that sometimes I'll lower the bass E string to D when I'm playing in D. You know, we have a performing arts school up in Liverpool (LIPA), and in the prospectus of the music department I saw this item: we'll show you the special tuning for Blackbird. And I thought, You'd better show me that, guys, before we go any further!

    Do you recall taking any specific approach to recording acoustic guitar with The Beatles?

    You know, this is the truth, man, people analyse our stuff much more than we ever get around to. So you probably have a better answer to the question than I do.

    Who were some of your favourite guitarists when you were growing up?

    Well, my interest in fingerpicking came from Chet Atkins. I remember a lot of us tried to learn Trambone, an instrumental that's on an album of his called Down Home. Otherwise, I loved Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Lonnie Donegan's guitarist, Denny Wright, who was fantastic. I liked acoustic folk playing by Woody Guthrie and Ramblin' Jack Elliott.

    Were you ever a big country blues fan? Songs like Three Legs (from Ram) and Bip Bop (from Wings' debut Wild Life) have a rural blues flavour about them?

    I listened a lot to Leadbelly, to all of those guys. But I never got stuck in one groove. One day it would be, Oh wow, Chuck Berry! And the next, Oh wow, Scotty Moore! I was a bit of a magpie, really, picking up various styles and gradually assimilating them. It's probably a bit of the same in my vocal thing, you know?

    I loved Elvis and sang some songs trying to be like him, but then I also had my Little Richard stuff.

    In Man We Was Lonely, (McCartney), you sound like Buck Owens in the chorus and Paul McCartney in the verses – like you're doing a duet with Buck Owens?

    Actually, I thought of myself as Johnny Cash on that one. Johnny could have done that one right! I remember playing that to him and June (Carter-Cash), in fact.

    What is your main acoustic these days?

    A Martin, but don't ask me for the serial number. It's one of my old ones.

    You bought a D-28 in 1967, could that be the one?

    That's it. Actually, I have a few home bases and have an acoustic in all those places – I always have one waiting wherever I'll be.

    How do you go about getting your acoustic sound in the studio these days?

    With the help of a great engineer (laughs). And that's always been my advice to those who want to know how to get a great sound: get yourself a great engineer. Seriously, they just put a mic up and I go, That sounds nice. And if it doesn't I might fiddle with it a bit, but normally I credit the engineer.

    Here's a story that shows how low-tech I really am: I went into an instrument store in New York, and this guy recognises me and says, Oh man, I'm a bass player and I've always wanted to know what strings you use. And I swear I wasn't trying to be funny when I said, Kind of long, shiny ones. And I actually don't know – it's not really important to me. I will play on anything and everything because I'm genuinely not too fussy about gear. The playing and the song are more important than the equipment.

    Do you play much acoustic these days?

    Yep. Just last week, I finished up a few songs that are either acoustic or piano-based.

    Do you have a new album in the works?

    Next month I'm going to be in Los Angeles to do some recording. I'm doing an album that's being produced by Nigel Godrich (Radiohead et al). But we're not actually looking to release anything until this time next year.

    How would you characterise the level of your enthusiasm for music these days?

    You know, I'm still excited about what I do – I love it. I think the tour in America that started with the Concert For New York [a post-9/11 tribute] really sort of revitalised me. The American audience has been so cool, so warm and informed and receptive.

    That you're still enthusiastic is clearly expressed in the photos in your new book, Each One Believing: Paul McCartney On Stage, Off Stage, And Backstage (Chronicle Books), a sort of photographic travelogue of your last tour. It's very interesting, and the book's title sounds familiar

    It's taken from Here, There And Everywhere. It just seemed to sum up the tour. We went out with this inexplicable spirit that just caught everyone in the crew. We all really believed in what we were doing!

    Live 365 interview, 1999

    Music365: How did you decide which songs to cover for Run Devil Run? Paul McCartney: "The track listing was my memory. Rather than think: what were the great songs from the period? I just thought: what do I remember with great affection? Maybe I don't need any more reason than that - it doesn't matter as long as I love 'em! So I just did it like that: I remember that one, that's beautiful....

    "So mentally I just amassed a list. I just went 'She Said Yeah' , great, always loved that one... There were one or two that really kicked it all off, that haven't made the final record - they'll make B-sides or bonus tracks - they'll see the light of day. One of them was called 'Fabulous' by Charlie Gracie - it's a little known thing I remember from a day at the fairground, Sefton Park Fair, when I had on a blue fleck jacket, with a flap on the top breast pocket, and my mate had a fleck jacket too - I think mine was blue and his was white - it was just great. We thought we were looking cool, and we just walked around the fair, and I remember hearing this playing off the waltzer... the great thing for me musically was the riff - dum, dum diddley, dum... That was the first one we actually did, that was the kick-off on the Monday morning." Music365: You do a version of 'Lonesome Town' - I wouldn't have had you down as a Ricky Nelson fan.... Paul McCartney: "No, I liked Ricky. 'Stood Up' - I had that record; and we were going to do 'I Believe', but never got round to it. Mick Green (The Pirates) tells me 'Lonesome Town' was an A-side, I thought it was a B-side - but I loved it. 'Lonesome Town' is like 'Heartbreak Hotel', it's a place we all know... You hit a nerve with everyone with those kind of songs. It's a nice song, sort of Elvis-y, and as I was coming to do it, I thought I'll do it like that. But as the session came nearer I thought, nah, I can't just do it like him. Some of the tracks, like 'Blue Jean Bop' and 'She Said Yeah', I don't need to go far off the original, I know it'll be different enough when I do it. But with 'Lonesome Town' I was worried it was going to be a pale imitation of Ricky - and he got there first, so fair dues. "But in actual fact, when I got to the studio, I said I know what I'll do - I'll do it high... and I was looking for the new key. But the great thing with working so fast was that I had to come up with a solution exactly like The Beatles would have done. So I got Dave [Gilmour - Pink Floyd] to sing the harmony, which we thought of in five seconds flat. Let's try it. It works. Great, OK, that's it. That was the excitement of working that way." Music365: 'Run Devil Run' is one of the three tracks you wrote yourself, but it sounds just like a Gene Vincent song from the mid-'50s. Paul McCartney: "Making the album I was mainly going to make all my memories. But then, as it happens, I had a couple of songs that were going in a rock'n'roll vein. I was in that mode and I happened to be in Atlanta and I saw this shop, a herbal cures shop, voodoo medicine. It was like 'exorcise your demons, burn this incense!'; and 'Stop Evil!' - 'get rid of irritating relatives, liars and thieves, get rid of them, put this on your floor!' It was like floor polishes, and this particular brand was called 'Run Devil Run'. I looked at it, and I thought 'that's a great rock'n'roll title'..." Music365: Which are your personal favourites on the album? Paul McCartney: " 'Coquette' is a Fats Domino B-side - I love that, it's a beautiful one. I really just do Fats on this - it's just me singing Fats. We tried fixing little bits of it because I thought God, this is too much like a pub singer, but we ended up going back to the earliest mix. I just said, 'oh sod it, we don't want to fix this, it just has a feeling'... That's the pub song - the Glasgow, Saturday night one! " 'She Said Yeah' is a Larry Williams song... Me and John particularly loved Larry Williams: 'Bony Moronie'; John did 'Slow Down'; I was always gonna do 'She Said Yeah', and never got round to it till now. I just loved it, and I remember turning Mick Jagger onto it in my house in London in the '60s. I was living on my own - all the other guys were kind of married - but I had a cool little record collection, and you know, when you're living on your own, that's very important... I used to get 45s sent from America, I'd get ten records a week sent over - soul stuff and what was charting in America. George had a good Chess collection, he had a lot of Stax and Chess and we pooled our resources, we all played it to each other... And I remember having Mick up, and saying listen to this one, man. And I think The Stones did a version of it. I remember listening to it and thinking, nah, I can still do it." Music365: Some of the choices are pretty obscure, like Little Richard's 'Shake A Hand'. And The Vipers' 'No Other Baby' isn't the most obvious song to cover...? Paul McCartney: "The Vipers were Dickie Bishop and Wally Whyton, who did Olly Beak (TV puppet) - nice guy, I got to know him later on the London scene. I never had the record of that, and I've no idea how it actually got so firmly embedded in my memory but I always used to do it at sound checks. People would say, 'I know this song, what is it?' But I never had the record, still haven't!" Music365: 'Party' is an Elvis song and the last track on Run Devil Run; why close with that? Paul McCartney: "I really just remember it from Loving You (Elvis' second movie). And whenever we used to try and get the words of that one, we used to get stuck on the verse... 'Never kissed a bear, never kissed a groom...!' We got a clue off 'room', but we were trying to work backwards, and we could never get it. We had a go at it, tried to find a way to it... and then at the end I said instead of just fading out, let's all keep going on the last chord. But come the take I think everyone thought I was joking, so I'm the only one who does it. I'm giving it 'bom bom bom bom' on the bass, and they've all stopped, and are thinking what the...? And that's me going, 'I'm not giving up, man...', so they all come back in. So it seemed like a good idea to end the album on that - I'm not giving up! " Music365: Most of the songs on 'Run Devil Run' are from the pre-Beatle era... Paul McCartney: "Yeah, it's history - you've gotta be old to have history! I told George [Martin] the songs we'd been doing. I said funnily enough we've done a song called 'No Other Baby', and he said I don't think I know that one, and I suddenly thought, 'He recorded The Vipers!'. It was one of his early efforts, along with Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Bernard Cribbins - 'Right Said Fred' - George did all that, that's his history. I said, 'you probably recorded the bloody original version George'. He said, 'How'd it go? So I sang it to him, 'I don't want no other baby but you...' and he said, 'Oh yes, I remember that'!" Music365: What were your impressions of London when you first came down from Liverpool with The Beatles? Paul McCartney: "We loved it. There was a slight rivalry, Liverpool and Cockney kind of thing, but we loved it, we had a great time. We went round a lot of the offices, like NME and Melody Maker, and we had a lot of fun 'cos we were just 'wacky guys', and we'd lie a lot to the journalists, which was great fun... We hit upon this wheeze, we'd see who could plant a lie in the newspapers. There was another thing, we were fascinated by being in print at that age, we'd never seen our names in print, so much so that when Mersey Beat started, we used to place personal ads - 'Dear Percy, see you soon, Bertie'... It was just a thrill, it didn't have to be anything more than that. "Once we were with Alan Smith of the NME, and George hit upon this thing: really deadpan he said, 'Oh yeah, my cousin's Tommy Steele, you know?' Alan said, 'Really?' Head goes down, scribble, scribble, and we were all trying not to laugh. But it got in. So that was like, drinks for George! "So we were doing all that sort of stuff, just mischievous... and going round the clubs. We went to a place called the Nucleus, and that was the first time we ever saw speed and pills. Guy came round, 'Want speed, man?' What are you talking about?... He was talking 50 to the dozen... but we didn't know what he was talking about. We were black velvet men, Guinness and cider, that's us, man... golden days." Music365: Did you get to see many of your rock'n'roll heroes playing live? Paul McCartney: "People down here saw Buddy (Holly) at Finsbury Park, but I never saw him. I did see Bill Haley; and when we were working as The Beatles in Hamburg, we saw Gene (Vincent). He was the featured American act they used to have occasionally at the Star Club. They had Little Richard, Fats Domino and Gene, and we hung out with Richard and Gene. Gene was a crazy man, a Marine, and he had the injury to his leg, and he really liked his Scotch. He was sitting at the table one time when we came offstage, and he just had a bottle of Scotch and said, 'You wanna join me, guys?' 'Why sure, Gene'. So we all just sat around him, had a little drink with him." Music365: Did The Beatles ever see Elvis perform? Paul McCartney: "No, we never saw him. Didn't want to go to Vegas, could only have been a disappointment. But meeting him was nice. We had a good time. It was great. We were all very pleased to meet him, and he was a great guy, in very good shape. It was before his crazed period. He was really cool to us. We just sat in awe but we had a great evening. It was nice. I'm really glad to have met him." Music365: Have you got any other special memories of your musical heroes? Paul McCartney: "Later, seeing Hendrix at the Saville was mind-blowing. You know he opened with 'Pepper'? And it had only been released two days before - now that is a tribute! I don't care what anyone says about me, that'll do me, that's my medal. They don't have to honour me, man - he already did." Music365: Beatle myth has John as the group's rocker and you as the balladeer, does this date back to the beginning of the group? Paul McCartney: "It was never an issue. I think it just happened after 'Yesterday', I became known as... 'Oh, he's the one who sings the ballad in the group' and then I was often given a ballad on the record. But you know, when you think of it, John's done a lot of very touching stuff. And you gotta remember he wrote 'Good Night' for Ringo - now had John ever done that, that would have been really very, very beautiful. It was very heartfelt but it was just a bit too... soppy for him to get his head round, so he gave it to Ringo. But when you heard John do it, it was very beautiful." Music365: Are you surprised when people still find new things in your songs, even after nearly 40 years? Paul McCartney: "Oh yeah, but I love it, though. I love the... inexactness of all that stuff. I'm certainly not one of those people who says can you please get those bloody lyrics right. I often prefer other people's versions. The great classic was Elvis Costello's manager, Jake Riviera, and we were talking about this, how people always got the Beatles' lyrics wrong, and he says: I always thought the beginning of 'Strawberry Fields' was 'Living is easy with nice clothes'... And I kinda almost prefer it!" "It's in the spirit of it: you can get rock'n'roll words wrong, you can get Beatle lyrics wrong. I just thought, 'Great! Spot the deliberate mistake!' We should have a competition..." Music365: Recording 'Run Devil Run' at Abbey Road must have brought back a lot of memories of working there with The Beatles? Paul McCartney: "I remember John bringing in 'Girl' that we'd just written the week before. I remember coming into the studio, Abbey Road Number Two, sort of summer-ish, I seem to remember - you'll have to look up Mark Lewisohn - but my memory is quite summery. I'd just come back from a holiday in Greece, so I was all bazouki-ed out, hence that guitar sound on the record - that's my Greek holiday creeping in there! "I remember John and I arriving at the studio, starting the session, midday sometime - with George Martin and Geoff Emerick, I think - George and Ringo coming in, and all of them saying:' OK, what are we going to do?' And the great thing, I realised, shit, the producer didn't have an idea what we were throwing in; the engineer certainly didn't. The other two guys in the band didn't know what we were going to throw. It was so think on your feet, and it was actually an improvement that no-one knew. It was like you'd just written it on the spot for them, and you can't get any fresher than that. "I remember John saying it goes like this, 'Giirlll...', and I want to get that intake of breath, and I'm doing the harmony, and all me ding-ding-ding Zorba... And it hit me like a bit of a bombshell - nobody except me and John knew... That was kind of exciting!"

    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.

    Paul McCartney Interviewed by Paul Gambaccini

    1979, Rolling Stone

    Introduction by Ben Fong-Torres Between the first long Paul McCartney interview and this one, London correspondent Paul Gambaccini filed what seemed to him like hundreds random notes about McCartney and Wings.             "I began to feel embarrassed by the number of McCartney pieces I'd done," he says. "But it was -- simple. Paul doesn't like schedules. So you couldn't plan weeks ahead, from America, and nail him down on a specific date. And if he wanted to do something, he'd ring up two or three days in advance."             In spring 1979, a McCartney aide rang up Gambaccini. Paul had just finished the album Back to the Egg "and they knew Rolling Stone was interested -- the magazine had sent a writer over a couple of years before, and he could never pin McCartney down, so this was the interview that was supposed to have been done in 1977.             "Back to the Egg turned out to be McCartney's major disappointment, says Gambaccini. But, he would bounce back, in 1980, with the hit "Coming Up," reunite with Beatles producer George Martin and release Cold Cuts. [sic]             1979 Introduction: Fifteen years ago the Beatles' first film, 'A Hard Day's Night,' opened around the world. The mere fact that it was a black-and-white film tells us how much time has passed. During the intervening decade and a half, millions of lives were affected, some profoundly, by the Beatles. It sounds heretical and contradictory, but one person who seems relatively unchanged is Paul McCartney. He is definitely a richer man, but his wealth has merely brought him the freedom to do what he wants, and that is simply to make music and be with his family. He makes few concessions to his celebrity and attends few public functions, unintentionally ensuring that each appearance is an event. The Buddy Holly tribute he has been involved with have drawn the most star-studded assembly the London musical fraternity has seen during the last three years. At home on his estate south of london, Paul watches a good deal of television with Linda and the kids. He listens to BBC radio going to and from his London studio, preferring to drive himself rather than be chauffered. Anyone searching for a departure in his behavior from that of the people who buy his records would be disappointed.             Whereas 'Please Please Me,' the Beatles' first British album, was recorded in one day, McCartney, now works for weeks on a Wings LP. He records where fancy strikes: in Nigeria ['Band on the Run'], New Orleans ['Venus and Mars'], on a boat afloat in the Caribbean ['London Town'] or, in the case of the new LP, 'Back to the Egg,' in a castle overlooking the English Channel.             'Back to the Egg' does not include his recent disco-influenced hit single, "Goodnight Tonight," simply because McCartney felt it would not fit musically. While the LP makes few obvious concessions to disco or New Wave, it rocks more than 'London Town'; "Old Siam, Sir," the new single in Britain, sounds more like Tina Turner or a manic bluesman than Paul McCartney.             Paul is frightened of critical reaction, but this is nothing new: He remembers when a top BBC disc jockey predicted "She Loves You' would not be a hit. Time and public acclaim of his work have given him the confidence to plan activities that critics may not consider rock & roll. He is also relieved to have put behind him the financial mismanagement the Beatles suffered and to be in the skilled hands of his father-in-law, Lee Eastman, who with his son John has succeeded both in negotiating the most preferential recording contract in history and in investing the McCartney profits in publishing catalogs that have already earned many times their purchase prices. John also represents Paul in the seemingly neverending negotiations to allocate the funds of the Beatles' now-defunct record company, Apple.             I have Known Paul McCartney, for over five years, since just before the release of 'Band on the Run.' When I first met him, he was struggling to establish Wings. After an inauspicious start with "Wild Life, " "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "Give Ireland Back to the Irish, " the group had rallied for three hits: "Hi, Hi, Hi," "My Love" and "Live and Let Die." Not surprisingly, McCartney at that time was desperate to avoid talking about the Beatles, especially about the neverending reunion rumors. He regarded me with the suspicion he had for any inquisitive young reporter and dismissed mention of the Beatles' early days as "ancient history".             In the years since "Band on the Run", Paul has let down his defenses. Anecdotes about the Beatles now flow , in addition to reminiscences of pre-Beatles days. He seems pleased with his past. This is a product of being happy with his presence.             This interview was conducted in two installments in late March 1979. We began in EMI Studios, Abbey Road, where McCartney worked with the Beatles and where he works with Wings whenever they are not flying around the world. "Silly Love Songs" and "My Love," Wings' biggest American hits, as well as "Goodnight Tonight," their latest hit single, were cut here.             The second phase of the interview, was held in a photography studio above Belsize Park subway station in north London. While the cover picture of the new alum was being set up, a long and exhausting process, we chatted in a third-story room discussing the new album, the two-song supersession that Paul calls the Rockestra and McCartney's hope that Wings can tour later this year and turn up unannounced at small clubs. We also talked about his opinion of the British New Wave; the time Paul and the original Beatles drummer, Pete Best, were deported from Germany; how McCartney considered counseling Sid Viscious the, Beatles' fear that Gerry and the Pacemakers would be more popular -- things like that. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ROLLING STONE: I remember reading a quote from journalist-broadcaster Tony Palmer, I believe, who said at one point in the Sixties, "lt must be the hardest thing in The world to be Paul McCartney." Have you ever thought it was hard to be you? PAUL MCCARTNEY: No, I think it would be harder to be Idi Amin and one or two others. To go from being a kid living on a street on some council estate [public-housing project] to becoming very famous is a big change. Living with all the trappings of that isn't an easy adjustment; your privacy has to go a bit. It is a bit humiliating sometimes if you have a hangover or you really just feel rough, and you've got to do an autograph or stand while someone takes a picture. But you reach a point where you realize you can't turn back. ROLLING STONE: I wonder if live television would be too nerveracking now for groups, considering that the audiences would just multiply a million-fold by international broadcast. Do you think that would be a bit nerveracking? PAUL MCCARTNEY: I don't think any group minds an audience of millions. I think they thrive on that. ROLLING STONE: That's interesting, because when those silly offers to reunite the Beatles were being made a couple of years ago, I thought the most terrifying aspect of it would have been so many people watching, but that wasn't scaring you? PAUL MCCARTNEY: No, I don't think that had anything to do with it. The whole Beatles reunion thing was always a nonstarter, because we had all just broken up. It is like getting divorced: After you've made the big decision you don't want someone coming up and saying, "Hey, listen, I think it would be a great idea if you all got married again." Things like money and TV exposure are not relevant. If we'd wanted to get together, instead of the opposite, then I'm sure no one would have minded. They would have wanted all that TV exposure. In fact, I remember when the Beatles were breaking up, my thought was that what we needed to do was get back on the road and do what I want to do now, which is sort of turn up at small clubs. And I remember John saying, "No way. We want to play to 200,000, don't we!" ROLLING STONE: Well, do you think you will be turning up unadvertised with Wings? PAUL MCCARTNEY: Me! Yes, I think so. I like just turning up on a bunch of people. There is a different kind of electricity when they didn't expect you. You get something and they get something, which was my original idea for the Beatles [in the late Sixties]. As far as a Beatles reunion is concerned, I don't think that would ever happen. I don't think it would really be a good thing if it did. ROLLING STONE: By now it has taken on such a mythic quality. PAUL MCCARTNEY: Yeah... it gets a bit that, doesn't it! A bit legendary, and the mists of time roll back to I mean, you know, there's no use. say, "Look, you know we're all humans, and we were in this fun group together and we had a great time, but it ended for various reasons." I don't need to go into them for you; it was bad enough going into them for me. So you don't really need people expecting all that sort of stuff to happen, but people still do. ROLLING STONE: There are still little legal hassles to this day, aren't there? PAUL MCCARTNEY: Not legal hassles. What happened is that when we were the Beatles, instead of setting us all up legally as individuals, everyone set us up as a partnership. So when we wanted to split up I just naively thought, "Well, I'll take my ball and go. I'll just have my bit, and we'll call it a day." But we found that you couldn't just take your little ball and go because of millions of legal reasons. So it's now ten years since we started the whole thing, and you wouldn't believe what we've been through. You just wouldn't. ROLLING STONE: How much of this is because of being young and naive when you originally signed your contracts, and how much of it is because of disagreements within the group? PAUL MCCARTNEY: Well, I think I was young and naive about all of that until the Beatles broke up. It was just, "Well, we all know nobody will screw each other. We all pretty much know each other. We'll all do it okay." It's just disagreements within the group because, as I say, all contracts that were signed could have broken up quite easily. I would be happy to do a deal that's going now. Just so that we don't have that hanging over our heads and can just say hello again without having to say, "Hello, and by the way, Apple requires you to sign this." ROLLING STONE: Have you been following the trial of Allen Klein? [The Beatles' short-term mentor after the death of Brian Epstein, Klein was convicted this year on one count of income-tax evasion for failing to declare a "substantial" amount of cash obtained in 1970 by selling promotional copies of Beatles albums, He was to be sentenced June 18th and faced up to three years in prison and a maximum fine of $5000.] PAUL MCCARTNEY: No, I just started reading about it the other day. I feel sorry for him now. I was caught in his net once, and that panicked me. I really wanted to do everything to get him. I was contemplating going to where he lives and walking outside his house with placards, doing all that. I was really that crazy at the time. I would have done anything to get out of it, but it all turned out okay. ROLLING STONE: Do you now regret selling the publishing rights to the Beatles songs? PAUL MCCARTNEY: I don't now because I own some of my new stuff totally, and my company is into publishing. So I don't mind, but it's funny to think somebody owns,"Yesterday" and that it's only to do with me as far as the royalties are concerned. It's funny to think of some of the things that went down. In fact, it's more than funny, it's crazy, because companies were sold behind our backs, and we always had a tiny share of everything. And all the big businessmen always advised us to sell everything. They never said, "Hold onto your paintings because one day they might be valuable." So we were persuaded to sell all the bits and pieces of our rights, which is about the worst advice you can get. Lord Goodman, who shall not be nameless, was one of the people advising us at that time. I don't think it was good advice, and he ended up advising the Labour government. So he told us the wrong things; he probably told them the wrong things. ROLLING STONE: Were you really on one percent royalty at the beginning? PAUL MCCARTNEY: To tell you the truth, I don't remember. I don't really know what percent. Those days I just signed the contract. It was too long and boring to really read. It would have taken way too much time, plus I couldn't understand it. ROLLING STONE: You said something very revealing when I just changing the tapes, which is that you are still a bit shy to say you own "Stormy Weather." PAUL MCCARTNEY: You've got to do something with money. You've got to invest it in something. I love songs, and the opportunity came up to do all that, and so I'm now a publisher and a businessman, which to me is something I don't like to talk about too much. Maybe I'm not grown up enough. What originally happened was, Lee Eastman said to me, "if you were to invest in stuff, what kind of stuff do you like " And I said, "Music." And he said, "Well, what kind of people in music do you like!" I told him a few. I said, "Buddy Holly, but if you're talking about more up-to-date people, Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman."             I love Buddy Holly, I've been crazy about him since I was a kid. And Lee rang up one day and said, "Buddy Holly's publishing is up for sale." I said, "Fantastic, I don't believe it." And he said, "We got it, for the company, we got it." So, I just thought, well, either we just get it and leave it, which would be possible, or we try and make a bit of noise about it and get some bit of activity going. So I said, "Let's have Buddy Holly Week; let's have it on his birthday instead of his death day and just try to get people to play his music, cause there are kids who've never even heard him. "It's a pretty haphazard thing, but last year we had Buddy's film [The Buddy Holly Story], which worked out great; the year before we had the Crickets [Holly's band] and the year before we had Norman Petty [Holly's producer]. It awakened a lot of interest. You suddenly started to find Teds pouring out of the cracks in the floorboards cause there was incredible interest there that I hadn't even realized, really. Finding these fourteen- and fifteen-year-old kids coming in?all the hairdos -- saying, "Yeah, man, Buddy Holly, he's my favorite, him and Eddie Cochran." And Eddie Cochran was dead before they were born. But they still got this big feeling for him. And Buddy is now like the big hero. Not that he wasn't always, but there is new interest in him, which I think is great. ROLLING STONE: It must have been a relief when you realized that all of these protracted Apple negotiations really don't matter that much anymore, because your current fiscal structure means that, while it may not be a drop in the bucket, nonetheless you don't need it. PAUL MCCARTNEY: Indeed. That was it. For a while it wasn't so much that I needed it; is was just that the whole thing was like a headache, an emotional headache. This is getting like a psychiatrist's interview, isn't it! It wasn't particularly all the money. It was just that it was a drag to be arguing with these three people whom I'd come all this way with, and it just wasn't possible to wink and say, "Come on, let's sit down at the table and just talk about it." ROLLING STONE: How much were you involved in the decision to switch labels in America from Capitol to Columbia? PAUL MCCARTNEY: I stay along with the trip on top of it all, and I'm very involved in the decisions. But I don't do the deals, and I don't go to the meetings and sit down and make demands. We're really lucky to have... some honest people whom you feel you can trust. I think most people have slight suspicions about their managements or their lawyers. ROLLING STONE: Would you feel comfortable advising some of the younger musicians, like the Sex Pistols? They obviously went wrong financially from your point of view. PAUL MCCARTNEY: It would be very easy; I'd know exactly what to tell them, having come through it, but there would be certain conditions. One is, find yourself an honest person to do that bit for you. Did you mean it on the level of, would I as an elder, feel like the kids would say, "Aw, piss off, you old fart, what do you know?" [Gambaccini nods.] Yeah, because I know that they've got to be just like what we were. So for that reason it isn't easy to approach people like that. I certainly thought of going to see Sid Vicious and trying to say something to him that would cool him out and make it all okay, 'cause i feel I can really understand people who get into things like that. ROLLING STONE: And then Sid Vicious dies, and what do you think? PAUL MCCARTNEY: Well, exactly. You don't know. You didn't know what to think before he died. I don't know [shrugs]. Lord Lucan is missing [a young British lord, who is suspected of murder and has disappeared.] ROLLING STONE: I was thinking this when you were talking about the Apple hassles. Do you have days now when you never once think of the Beatles? PAUL MCCARTNEY: Oh, yeah. Most days. When the Beatles broke up it was painful to talk about. It was just hard. So you found yourself thinking about it. Now, having come all this way, I can remember only the good stuff. I know one or two spicy stories and I have my bitch now and again, but generally I always did dig it; I always did think that what we were doing was great. Even when we broke up, I never thought like John did. Who knows why he thought that! John's pretty complex. He possibly didn't even mean it. All the stuff about how we were "bastards"... He brought out the worst side, as if to exorcise it. But I really didn't agree. It was pretty good, you know. But there are days when I don't think about it because I'm doing all sorts of other stuff. ROLLING STONE: Actually, it's fifteen years ago... PAUL MCCARTNEY: That "Can't Buy Me Love" was out! No! ROLLING STONE: Well that the Top Five in the States were all yours. PAUL MCCARTNEY: Oh, was it! Great! So what shall we do about that! ROLLING STONE: Well, I think that whenever that week comes along, you should just have a little toast. PAUL MCCARTNEY: You'll have to play them one by one [on the radio]. ROLLING STONE: You must have taken so many plane rides. Do you feel safe flying? Have you ever had any close shaves? PAUL MCCARTNEY: Oh, yes, too many, but for me, flying has been sort of like a long story. It started off when me and Pete Best, who used to be the drummer with the Beatles in bygone ages, got deported from Hamburg, and the first time I'd flown was on that plane back. ROLLING STONE: Why? PAUL MCCARTNEY: We got deported because we'd been changing clubs. We used to play this place called the Indra, and we got an offer to work another club for higher pay. So we were going to move to this other club called the Top Ten. And we'd been stuck in the back of a cinema by our employer, a really dirty old place right next to a bog [toilet]. It was all concrete walls. No sort of paper on the walls -- really damp and everything. We used to sleep there in our leather jackets -- camp beds, two in a room. ROLLING STONE: Pretty punk? PAUL MCCARTNEY: Pretty punk, man! The jeans and leather jackets, next to the bog -- pretty New Wave at the time. Anyway, we always thought our employer had never done well by us. So I seem to remember that Pete Best had a contraceptive in his luggage, so when we were moving, just as a joke, we pinned it up and set it up in smoke, black mark about two feet long on this wall.             We packed up and went to the other club. As we were walking down the street, same evening, the German police pulled up [imitates a siren and the police voices saying, "Come on, step inside please, hello!]. And they slung us in the jail, and we were in there for about three or four hours with one of those little peepholes and we couldn't see anything, and we didn't know what we were in for. Eventually it transpired that this guy had said we tried to burn down his cinema. He was kidding; he should have known better. But I think it was basically because he was sore at us for leaving him. He tried to nail us for breaking our contracts. And the fellow from the other club came down with a bottle of scotch for the police -- or whatever, I don't really know -- and he eventually got us out and we went and played at the Top Ten.             So anyway, we got woken up one morning -- me and Pete. I think it was because we'd set the little fire, that's why. And the cops just said, "You come with us." And we got in the back of the car, went down to a place called the Rathaus, which is like some government building -- it means something in German. It doesn't mean rat house, it just felt like one. And they had these lifts with no fronts on them, you know, these a things like big boxes that keep coming at you. You just gotta jump on one. It was all a bit surreal. And we had to wait outside this passport office for hours and hours before he guy eventually said to come in. We tried our best to persuade him it was nothing, and he said, "Okay, fine, well, you go with these men." And that was the last we knew of it. We just headed out to the airport with these couple of coppers. And we were getting a bit -- "Oh, dear, this could be the concentration camps -- you never know, you know; it hasn't been that long. ROLLING STONE: I read an interview with Billy Joel in 'Melody Maker,' in which he said that he wouldn't know what to do if he met you because he admired you so much. PAUL MCCARTNEY: Yeah, I saw that, too. It's weird. I'd be the same. Dave Bowie came 'round when we studio down there called Replica, which is a replica of Abbey Road Studio Number Two. He came down, and we just had a laugh. I reminded him of the day when he brought round a demo to me when he was still Davy Jones. It was all just chat. ROLLING STONE: Whom could you meet now and feel a great deal of respect for? PAUL MCCARTNEY: You mean that I'd be tongue-tied with! ROLLING STONE: Yeah. PAUL MCCARTNEY: Probably Dylan. I'm exaggerating, really, because I do like him. There's no point going round and just not being able to say anything. But, you know, I don't want them to read this. People know enough of my insecurities and my weaknesses, and they blast me left, right and center with it. I don't want to give them any more. ROLLING STONE: You mentioned to me once, jokingly, that you remembers when the Bee Gees came in and applied for work, as it were, at Brian Epstein's while Robert Stigwood was there. Can you actually recall any of their earlier days? PAUL MCCARTNEY: One night in 1967 I turned up at Robert Stigwood's place, and he said, "What do you think of this record?" And he played some young songwriters that he was thinking of signing. It was a couple of their early songs. I liked them, and he said, "Oh, great,'cause I'm thinking of signing them." And that was really the start of them for me. ROLLING STONE: Your disco single, "Goodnight Tonight", has made a tremendous entry in the American charts. It's actually something that you recorded a while ago, isn't it? PAUL MCCARTNEY: Yes, about a year ago. ROLLING STONE: It seems to be out at the right moment because of the popularity of disco material, but had you foreseen this would be the right time? PAUL MCCARTNEY: No, I didn't plan the timing at all. We had a meeting and decided it would be nice to have a single while the TV show [Wings Over America, which aired March 16th, 1979] was out, because it had been something like seven months since we'd put a record out. "Goodnight Tonight" was going to be the B side and "Daytime Nightime Suffering" was going to be the A side. So we sat around years -- well, it seemed like years -- discussing it; you know, the normal soul-searching you go through. And we decided, "No, it isn't all right; we won't put it out." So we scrapped the whole thing. And about a week later, I played the record again. I thought, "That's crazy, we've made it; it's stupid, why not put it out! Just because people are going to pan it." I liked it, and other people had taken it home and played it to people at parties. So we decided to do it. ROLLING STONE: It's a bit of a shame, isn't it, if as an artist you are inhibited by what you feel people's reactions might be to something that is an expression of what you want to do? PAUL MCCARTNEY: Yes, but you can't help it; you've just got to put it out and hope for the best. ROLLING STONE: Obviously you've not a hungry artist in the sense that, "We've gotta maximize our profit, so lets put the hit single on the LP." PAUL MCCARTNEY: I think that's the record company's view, you know. It's understandable that kids who don't want to buy singles will be waiting for the album, and when it's not on the album, they might feel a little bit cheated. ROLLING STONE: Have you gotten some word from the company saying, "Please Paul..."? PAUL MCCARTNEY: Yes, the companies here and in America, worldwide, would like a single on the album. It makes more sense merchandising wise. But sometimes, I just have to remember that this isn't a record retail store I'm running; this is supposed to be some kind of art. And if it doesn't fit in, it doesn't fit in. They're not really strict on it. We've got a lot of artistic control, thank goodness. But I can see the wisdom of what they're asking. I remember Al Coury. We weren't gonna put "Helen Wheels" on the American Band on the Run [1973], and he rang up and said, "I can give you quarter of a million more sales if you put it on." And I said, "We don't want it, we really don't want it." I was being kind of reticent, an in the end he persuaded me anyway. He said, "Just do it, just in America or something." I suppose he was right: 'Grease' and 'Saturday Night Fever' and the way they have been selling albums recently, having four hit singles and then making it all come out as an album. So you've gotta have an album with that many hits on it. ROLLING STONE: 'Wings Greatest' didn't do very well in the States, and I think I know, why, but... PAUL MCCARTNEY: Why! Tell me. ROLLING STONE: Did it have something to do with the fact that it was your last album for Capitol? You're kind of a lame-duck artist for them, so they might as well promote somebody else whom they have a long-term contract with. PAUL MCCARTNEY: I see, well, yes. I suppose that's a possibility, but I really don't know the ins and outs of stuff like that. I'd really be up to my neck in it if I got involved in all those little side issues. I don't know, to tell you the truth. Lord Lucan is missing. ROLLING STONE: Do you feel any degree of panic that it wasn't a big album? PAUL MCCARTNEY: No, no. I don't really feel the need for everything to be incredible and great. I'd probably get quite annoyed if I had a big string of albums that didn't do it, but I'm more interested in the new thing. To me it was just a repackage. I'm not into Beatles repackages or anything myself because it seems like a second-class item to me. ROLLING STONE: Did you ever care when Capitol in the States would repackage the Beatles albums? PAUL MCCARTNEY: Yeah, I really didn't like it. The worst one, I think, was 'Help!'. We didn't have a very good communications system then; it was like ringing up the moon. When we brought 'Magical Mystery Tour' over, it was an EP, and they said, "We don't do EPs in America." We said, "You're gonna have to, because we made one. " He said, "No, no, you're gonna have to make it an LP because rack jobbers won't take it," and all that technical stuff. But the worst was when we did 'Help!'. We arranged for the album over in Britain not to include any film music by Ken Thorne, who did the incidental music In the score. But in America they put on bits and pieces of his music. We turned up in California one day, and we played 'Help!' and found all this funny music on it that we couldn't believe. So those things used to happen.             And we had covers and stuff that they'd veto. Like 'Yesterday and Today'. They wanted a repackage album, they wanted a cover, so we gave them a photo of butchers in white coats and babies -- not real-babies, but dolls and meat and stuff... It's a bit sick, isn't it! But yeah, it's a laugh. So we did it, and of course, Capitol said, "No way are we gonna do this." So we just sent them some more photos. ROLLING STONE: By the way, did you do 'Please Please Me' [the first British Beatles album] in one day? PAUL MCCARTNEY: I think it was probably done in a day or two. We never used to take much longer than a day. We did the first album in a day, fourteen hours, I think it was. "Please Please Me" was originally to be a slow song. It was more like Roy Orbison: "Come on . . . come on [he sings the words] please please..." Yeah, Roy Orbison stuff. And when we took it in, George Martin said, "Can we uptempo it a bit" And we said, "Are you crazy?" And we tried it through like that. ROLLING STONE: So many of the old song credits said "Lennon and McCartney" even when they were written by one of you. Did you ever wish or do you wish now that the McCartney ones had said McCartney and the Lennon ones had said Lennon? PAUL MCCARTNEY: No. Okay, rephrase that answer. Yes. Because you asked me if I ever think that. Yeah, I do, and not just out of a personal thing for me; I sometimes feel it for John, things getting called Lennon and McCartney, things like "Strawberry Fields," "Norwegian Wood," certain ones John wrote and I just helped a little bit. And there are certain ones that I wrote. There's probably only about, say, twenty that are really our own. On the rest there's quite a lot of collaboration. I suppose you do get a little bit niggled; you wish people knew that was mine. But, hell, how much credit do you want in a lifetime! ROLLING STONE: Do you ever hope that John records again? Do you think he should? PAUL MCCARTNEY: I hope that if he would like to record again, he will record again, but I hope that if he doesn't want to, he doesn't. This is something totally down to his own personal feeling. Whatever gets you through the night. ROLLING STONE: Do you happen to know what his personal feeling is? Because nobody else seems to. PAUL MCCARTNEY: Not particularly. I would imagine he's just getting on with his own life. He has a son by his previous marriage whom he didn't get to spend a lot of time with, and possibly be feels that having a new son by Yoko, with Yoko -- it sounds a bit like a racehorse, out of Yoko -- that he would want to spend time with his son and see him grow up. I suspect that's what he's doing. But I don't really want to go talking for him. I would imagine he's just getting on with his life and being cool, and I hope he's digging it. ROLLING STONE: Do you feel that you are maintaining a proper balance between your family life and your work? PAUL MCCARTNEY: What's proper? Proper would be, possibly, to be with them all the time because they are my kids and it's my family, so it would be really great just to be totally with them and give them any support they need. But I work. I come in to do music, and I'm not there all the time. But yeah, I do think I've a good balance, myself. It feels good, but if anything, I wouldn't mind being with them even more. I just like them. ROLLING STONE: It seems to me that you have an excellent working arrangement here at Abbey Road; maybe some people don't realize how close you are to home. PAUL MCCARTNEY: Well, actually, you don't, because I'm not living there now! Which is crazy: I've got a house right around the corner, but we live in the country, which is two hours away. So I drive in -- would you believe? Having a house around he corner and driving in every day, two hours. And that is mainly just because the family is Iiving there. ROLLING STONE: Do you drive yourself? PAUL MCCARTNEY: Yeah, I don't like to be driven. Except wild. ROLLING STONE: And this is down south? PAUL MCCARTNEY: Yeah. ROLLING STONE: So if you drive home, it takes two hours. How long do you spend in the studio? PAUL MCCARTNEY: A long time. I kind of just drive in, make music all day, drive back, go to sleep, get up, drive in, make music all day. ROLLING STONE: Linda's the cook of the house? PAUL MCCARTNEY: Yeah, she's great. ROLLING STONE: I remember her telling me that you and she had agreed that if things ever went wrong, there would be no big alimony settlement and everything. PAUL MCCARTNEY: Well, you know, it depends if you think that money would be a compensation for a breakup like that. I don't think it would be. I can't imagine her ever ringing up and saying, "Oh, by the way, I'm having half of the mantelpiece, and you can have the Volkswagen." ROLLING STONE: Have you ever talked to Al Coury about the RSO 'Sgt. Pepper'? PAUL MCCARTNEY: No, I haven't seen Al since he went to RSO. He used to be with Capitol, so I used to talk with him a lot then. Ah... he's very good, obviously he's gotta be good, he's sold a lot of records for people, he's what you want behind you. A sort of vital force. Yeah, yeah, sell, sell, sell... ROLLING STONE: Did you see the film? PAUL MCCARTNEY: No, I haven't seen it yet, so I can't talk about it. I thought at the time of Sgt. Pepper that they couldn't make a film of it. We used to be stoned all the time and talk about things like that and say, "Hey, what a great film this would make." But we used to say that the trouble is that people are all freaking out on acid with this album. You're never gonna be able to get those big elephants that are coming through their heads. And we just thought, you just can't capture it: Once it gets to be a film, it's always going to be a bit plodding compared to the album. Those days it was a fantasy thing; it all took place in your mind, and it would really be harder than anything to capture that feeling. And I think from what I've heard of the Stigwood thing, it doesn't seem to have captured it. ROLLING STONE: Did you have any particular image in mind? PAUL MCCARTNEY: No there were too many... I couldn't tell you... they were silly things: tigers leaping and herds of horses, you know, add good morning [he sings], good morning, good morning. Well, I mean, there's a hunt that comes through there and galloping horses come through, a fox and some hounds come through. I mean, in your mind, you see the band and you can see all the horses. Your mind is a great thing -- especially when you're hallucinating [laughter]. ROLLING STONE: You mentioned the other day that Paul Simon had dropped and that he is interested in doing a lot of film work, which is one of the reasons he went to Warner Bro's. Do you have any desire to do more film work. Do you ever think, "My God, before my life is through, I want to have this done." PAUL MCCARTNEY: Yeah. We're doing a couple of film projects with the group. But there's one thing I haven't really got together yet. One of the big ambitions is to do a thing called Rupert. He's a white bear, a cartoon from a newspaper strip, and he's got a bunch of mates. He's very England in the Forties. We've recorded a demo album, and I've written a story. That, I suppose, is my big ambition before my life is over. I wouldn't mind making that into, like, a Disney film, only I'd even like to get it better. Yuk, yuk. ROLLING STONE: Of course, there will be somebody who says, "'Rupert the Bear' is not rock and roll. Why are you doing this?" PAUL MCCARTNEY: Oh, well. It doesn't matter, I'm not just rock and roll; I don't live my life by that kind of limitation, you know. I like stuff that isn't necessarily rock and roll. ROLLING STONE: I know you were thinking about doing a Christmas show last year and didn't. But of course in the Beatles days you did have a Christmas show. People in the States don't really know what a Christmas show is like in England and the kind of people you used to have on it. PAUL MCCARTNEY: It would be a residency thing for a couple of weeks at a big theater like Finsbury Park [now the Rainbow] or something. What Brian Epstein did was get a producer who was used to putting on shows like that. You know, it was more of a variety show in a way. But based on the groups and after Billy J. Kramer and the Fourmost, maybe Gerry [and the Pacemakers[. They didn't take too much out of you. And with the residency thing, you got this great feeling of going into the same place; it got very easy to do. We'd stand behind the big screen while they did an introduction on film. Then they'd turn it off and we'd appear, and everyone would go, "Yeahhhh!" And then we'd run off; there'd be a blackout and we'd run off. We did various things. Like old music-hall things, where we'd all dress up and John would be the wicked Sir Jasper. I'd be the hero and knock him out at the end. George would be the wanton woman who is saved from being tied on railway lines. It was all daft stuff, but it worked. It was just... the audience just wanted to see us; they didn't mind what we did. And we had a bit of a laugh with it. ROLLING STONE: Do you think rock has gotten too big to do anything like that? PAUL MCCARTNEY: No, it's just that the style has changed. I still 1 feel it would go down as well. But stars have changed. For instance, everyone used to go on all the plug shows. Anything that would have a song, we went on: local shows, network things, interviews here, people and places, regional news, you'd just go on anything. And that's something people don't do half as much these days. I think it maybe didn't please everyone, but the nice thing was that you had a very varied day. ROLLING STONE: How did you assemble your "Rockestra"? PAUL MCCARTNEY: A lot of people in music have been thinking about using a rock and roll lineup instead of an orchestra. So I wrote a tune, and finally I just asked the people who would like to be in a Rockestra. Keith Moon was going to turn up, but unfortunately he died a week before. So he couldn't make it. It's a bit sick, but he would have laughed along with all that stuff.             But Jeff Beck was gonna come. And Eric Clapton. And they actually didn't turn up. Beck was worried about what would happen if he didn't like the track. He wanted to be able to say, "Well, I don't like it so it can't go out." So there were a few of those little political things. So he just didn't turn up in the end. Eric didn't feel like it. There was some kind of reason; he had the flu or something. But he didn't come. Most of the people did turn up: Pete Townshend, Dave Gilmour, Lawrence Juber of our group and Denny Lame. And Hank Marvin. That was the guitar lineup. On drums we had Kenney Jones, John Bonham and Steve Holly [also of Wings]. And then on bass we had me and Bruce Thomas of the Attractions and Ronnie Lane. And then we had John Paul Jones, who did some bass and some piano. And then we had Gary Brooker, who played piano. We had Speedy Acquaye. We had Tony Carr and Ray Cooper on percussion. We had our brass section from the American tour. Linda played keyboards, and we had Tony Ashton, also on keyboards. Oh, and we had Morris Pert on percussion, and that is the full lineup, I think. ROLLING STONE: Where you happy with the turnout? PAUL MCCARTNEY: It was great, actually, 'cause we filmed it. You saw how we actually built the whole thing. So that's being put together at the moment as a film by Barry Chattington. It shows certain people in the music scene today trying to get together. For instance, Pete, of course, got roped into ending everything with one of his big jumps. So he got that. ROLLING STONE: Do you worry about your image? PAUL MCCARTNEY: I try not to these days, 'cause it's stupid to; I mean, we're all gonna be dead soon, so there's not an awful lot of point, you know. The main thing is to be able to enjoy it in some form or another. So worrying about your image and your reviews stops you from enjoying it. Takes away what there used to be in music, which is just trying to avoid doing the job and just getting out and doing it just for a laugh. So I'm all right, actually, recently... even... I don't know, just not even bothering if we get bad reviews and stuff. Which really used to; I used to go off in the corner and I'd go, 'My God, the critic is right; I'm terrible; he's got it; we're useless.' But then you'd go out and you'd play to somebody, you'd play live. You start to see critics being wrong, so generally everyone should be able to ignore them and just get on with the work that he does. Basically, I'm not too careful about image. If I were careful, I would try to avoid that "family man" and "he lives on a farm." 'Cause you know that kids and the farm are ammo, and they say, "Here's old family man Paulie, back with the sheep, what a yawn." I give them all the ammo with that. If I were really concerned with it, I'd live in London. And always be down in the clubs and always be buying them drinks and always be popping pills just to show them how hip I am. But you reach a point where it just doesn't work; you can't live for all of that. You reach a point where it all becomes real and you become all that. And if you don't like it, then you suddenly... wait a minute. So, I'm down trying not to bother with all that stuff now. ROLLING STONE: On this new album, which I haven't heard yet, have you been able to investigate?this sounds really corny, but -- new areas? PAUL MCCARTNEY: Slightly, yeah. You start off really wanting to do something very new, but eventually you come back to what is you. So it always gets an imprint of what is you, and you always do what you do. You know what I mean. The sort of magnetic forces, or whatever it is around you, make a certain mold, I think. I think you must listen to the music because I can't really talk about it. I think so many different things about it. So if anyone asks me what it is, I can't tell you. "It now is a ballad of the Sixties" [McCartney proclaims in a strong voice]. You know, until about after ten years, then, oh, yes, it was a ballad of the Sixties. ROLLING STONE: Do you have any particular current favorites? PAUL MCCARTNEY: In records just knocking around, I like "The Logical Song" [by Supertramp]; I like a few of the young bands, a few of the British ones -- it wouldn't mean that much in America -- I like Squeeze, Jam and a few people. I'm not into it but I like some of the good stuff that's going on. I like some of Elvis Costello's stuff; I like a lot of that stuff anyway -- the newer stuff. And I still think Stevie Wonder is amazing. I like Elvis Presley a lot. I like the Gene Chandler record. I like "Lord Lucan Is Missing." Who does that one, do you know? [Peter and the Test Tube Babies.] John Peel keeps playing it, has played it a few times. ROLLING STONE: You met a couple of the Boomtown Rats, I hear. PAUL MCCARTNEY: Yeah, They're great, because they're exactly what we were; they are doing the same thing we were doing. And it's crazy that anyone should ever forget that. They're all lads just let off the leash from school or college or home, and they are just having a ball. Some of the music is really good; I really like some of the directions because it's brought a lot of rock back into rock. A lot of what it was all about back into it. But so is the revival of the Fifties stuff. It's all brought back a kind of feel that was missing for a while there or was underplayed. ROLLING STONE: Did the Beatles ever get bad reviews? PAUL MCCARTNEY: Yeah, sure we did, sure. I remember before 'Sgt. Pepper,' we were coming in for a lot of flak. People were saying. "The Beatles are finished: they're rubbish." Because we weren't doing anything, we were just hiding away in the studios, out of our skulls making this album -- we were having a great time. And then it came out and they changed their tune and they said, "They're all right, they are okay." ROLLING STONE: Did you ever personally feel part of the "Merseybeat" movement? PAUL MCCARTNEY: No, that was just something the journalists called us. We just laughed about it. God, what did they call us: the Merseybeats, the Mop Tops, the Fab Four. God. Couldn't they think of anything better? It just used to be a joke, all that stuff. We never used to take it seriously. But the Merseybeat was quite a good little paper. The most fun we used to have out of it. And then we won a poll. They had a poll for who was the best group, and that was a tense moment because we thought Gerry and the Pacemakers were definitely gonna take it off of us. So we bought a few copies and filled them in. ROLLING STONE: Did you really? PAUL MCCARTNEY: Yeah, of course, doesn't everyone? ROLLING STONE: Actually, yes. PAUL MCCARTNEY: I'm sure Gerry bought just as many copies as we did. ROLLING STONE: Have you ever wondered why someone like him hasn't really survived in terms of the charts? PAUL MCCARTNEY: Not really. I mean, Gerry's thing was great, he was very good, but he didn't have as natural of a thing going as we did. We had at least two writers, and George turned out to be a writer, and even Ringo. So we potentially had four writers, and they had just Gerry, who wasn't as prolific as John and I. He wrote a couple that were good, but he had to rely mainly on other writers for his big hits. We were very keen on getting our own stuff in. Because... we sort of arrived at the end of an era; most of the groups around about then were just doing impressions of Roy Orbison or the Shadows or Cliff Richard. And we liked Bo Diddley more and Chuck Berry and things like that. So we'd do stuff that was slightly more obscure. "If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody," by James Ray. And we'd do covers of those kinds of things. And we were writing a couple of not very good tunes. We had one we used to do called "Like Dreamers Do," which was pretty bad. But it used to go down quite well, so we latched onto this idea -- it gave us a special identity. Because you wouldn't hear these songs anywhere else, just when you came to see us. So it started to work, so we went a bit more in that direction of trying to get our own thing going rather than have it laid on us by a producer. So George wasn't too happy in the beg inning, and "Love Me Do," wasn't a very big hit, but it was our first one. The second one was a Number One. So it worked out. ROLLING STONE: Gerry did have three Number Ones in a row with his first three records. Were you ever afraid that they might beat you to the brass ring? PAUL MCCARTNEY: Oh, yeah. And Dave Clark was the other big threat. There were a couple of moments when we were worried, but our philosophy then was that something would happen. ROLLING STONE: Since so few British artists had made the American charts in a big way, did you think that you might do it, or any of those groups might do it? PAUL MCCARTNEY: We thought of this; we said, 'We're only going to America." It was a bit of a big statement, but we did decide among ourselves that we'd only go to America if we had a Number One. We'd walk in a bit cocky. We were playing in Paris when the news came through -- telegram -- "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was Number One in the States. Wow! So we were able to go to the States without begging.             When we arrived, there was this big thing at the airport, all the millions of DJs; it was on all the stations, and we'd arrived. So it worked out. It was a great way to do it. And then there was a terrifying interview. I never used to think I was good at press conferences because I'm one of those people who -- I don't think I'm good at it; I'm probably all right. But John was always much better with a snappy remark. Then, Ringo was good at that, too. It turned out we all managed to get a quick remark in there, and we did well at that press conference. And because we were just so keen on America and R&B and all the great New York stations, we used to just ring them up all the time. "Hello Murray... Yeah, why don't you come around and interview us?" We were in it totally; it was magic for us; we'd just arrived in America, Land of promise. We had a great time with it all -- meeting the Ronettes and Phil Spector and people like that. What more could you ask? ROLLING STONE: Last question for today. You've had many chances to leave England, and yet you choose to remain here. Is there a reason, other than that it's your home, why you enjoy living here? PAUL MCCARTNEY: No, there isn't any other reason; I just live here. There are all sorts of reasons, really. I've been a lot of places on tours and I enjoy them all for visits, but after a while I don't feel at home. England's not the greatest of places all the time. But I don't want money to dictate where and how I live. I live here and try to pay the taxes and avoid as much as possible going to buy guns and sandbags and vaguely try and keep it all straight and be reasonable about it all.


    This interview was conducted at a pre-show press conference early in McCartney's 1989/90 world tour. QUESTION: How does it feel to be singing the old Beatles songs again? PAUL: It feels great. With some of the songs, like "Sgt. Pepper" and "Hey Jude," the Beatles had given up touring before they were written so I never got to play them live before until this tour and so they feel really fresh. QUESTION: Will you be having any guest artists joining you on stage? PAUL: It's kind of difficult to work in guests because we've got the show set now. Really the only person who's guested so far was Stevie Wonder in L.A., but that was easy because we do "Ebony and Ivory" in the set. It's just not too easy to open up the set when you get to this stage with a production. QUESTION: What made you decide to tour again after thirteen years off the road? PAUL: It was the fact that I'd got a good band together. I'd been recording and doing solo stuff and little guest spots, like Live Aid. But during the recording of Flowers in the Dirt the band felt really good; we've got a sense of humor in common and they're good musicians too. So it was either a question of saying goodbye, see you next album, or shall we stay together. And if you stay together it's like, what shall we do now? So it's like, let's go on tour. So here we are. QUESTION: How did you approach this album mentally? Do you ever get to the point of saying, "Right, I'll shove it right down their throat?" PAUL: Yeah. I get to that point. I was not pleased with the album before, which was Press to Play. I just wasn't that keen on it. So I did want to make this one better and shove it down a few people's throats. I'm quite happy with the album itself. There's some nice songs on it. QUESTION: Has coming out on the road inspired you to go back into the studio a little bit faster than you would have in the past? PAUL: Not really. But it's good for you to get out on the road. It's a stimulating thing, you know, to actually see your fans instead of getting letters from them. To actually see those faces really lifts you. It gives me a great buzz. QUESTION: Many people have said that they've found your concerts to be a very moving, emotional experience — especially because you are taking so many of us back to the sixties. Why has it taken you twenty years to perform these Beatles songs again? PAUL: When the Beatles broke up, it was a little bit difficult. It was a bit like a divorce—you really didn't want to do anything associated with the ex-wife. You didn't want to do "her" material. So all of us took that view independently. John, George and Ringo and me all stopped doing Beatles stuff — because I think it was just painful for a while. It was painful memories. But enough time's gone by now to do 'em again. And because of the last tour I did with Wings in 76 —we avoided them —it feels kind of unnatural to do them again. But it's a question of either getting back to them or ignoring them for the rest of my life — which I think would be a shame. And, as I said earlier, some of them I haven't actually done before. I found myself saying, "This feels great, 'Sgt. Pepper,' this feels really good. Why does this feel so great?" And someone reminded me, "You've never done it live before." It was like a new song to me. QUESTION: Will there be a time when you'll get together with George and Ringo for a jam or whatever? PAUL: Well, I don't know. It's always on the cards. But a reunion as such is out of the question because John is not with us, and the only real reunion you could have would have been with John. We might easily get together—there's a couple of projects that are possible now — now that we've actually solved our business differences. QUESTION: Why did it take so long to resolve your business differences? PAUL: Have you ever been in a lawsuit? I was in one for the last twenty years. It just takes forever. You get your advisors and they get theirs. I think lawyers are trained to keep those things going. It must be the first rule in law school, you know, keep it going. QUESTION: Do you ever regret that the four ex-Beatles never got together again after the break-up? PAUL: Oh yeah, I regret it. But it's just life you know. It just didn't happen — for a number of reasons. It would have been great. But John not dying would have been even better. QUESTION: What do you think about what's going on in Eastern Europe? PAUL: I think it's very exciting. To me it seems like the sixties kicking in — that's my point of view. It's all the stuff that was said in the sixties —peace, love, democracy, freedom, a better world, all that stuff. The way I look at it, people like Gorbachev grew up with the sixties, like we all did, and I don't think you can be unaffected by it. And I think it's all kicking in now; you look at the people coming across that border now and they're all wearing denim, and I think China's next. QUESTION: Are you going to play any dates in Eastern Europe? PAUL: I'd like to. But we've got so many dates on this tour and they don't include Eastern Europe. We tried to go to Russia but the promoter said it was too cold, so we went to Italy instead. QUESTION: What are your plans after the tour? PAUL: I'll be writing. I've got a lot of writing I want to do. I'm doing a very interesting thing, a sort of classical work for an orchestra and stuff which is due to be performed by the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in Liverpool Cathedral in 1991. And that's a serious work so I've got a lot of writing to do. QUESTION: What about your memoirs — why don't you write them now? PAUL: I always thought you had to be about seventy before you do that. QUESTION: How do you feel when you look out into the crowds and you see parents holding their children up to see you? PAUL: It's really beautiful because I've got four kids, and the great thing about me and my kids is that there isn't this generation gap that I thought would be there. QUESTION: Do they listen to any music that bothers you? PAUL: No, but I know what you mean. I thought that they'd get into some odd punk music and I'd be saying, "Well, the sixties was better," but they're not. My son loves the Beach Boys. His big new turn-on album that I turned him on to is Pet Sounds. And he loves James Brown, Otis Redding, The Commodores— he's got some good taste. QUESTION: Are you surprised how many young people on this tour are responding to your music? PAUL: Well, kind of. But a couple of years ago I started to notice how kids like my nephews, who are eighteen now, but who I've known since they were two or whatever, started getting into the Grateful Dead. Now they're all Deadheads. It's incredible. I think maybe it is because modern music is a little bit synthetic and shallow that they're looking back to the sixties. And the great thing about a lot of that sixties stuff is that it does stand up still. QUESTION: Are your children musically inclined? PAUL: Yeah, they are, but Linda and I have always said that we'd never push them because it's a tough game, and unless they're really keen.. . . But they're all very good. They're all very interested in music and they can all carry a tune and stuff. QUESTION: Would you ever have your children play on stage with you? PAUL: Not really, because that's a little bit too much showbizzy for me. But if they really wanted to do it, desperately wanted to, then I'd help them. But it's got to come from them. As I said, it's a tough game. QUESTION: How do you think your performances of the sixties compare with your performances today? PAUL: They're strangely similar, you know. Some of the crowds have been strangely sixties. It's very good, but you can hear yourself now, with the new technology. Compared with what we started out with, we've got Cape Canaveral out there. When we started we had two guitars and a bass and one amp. QUESTION: When you get away from this for a while is there anything that strikes you that you would like to effect, being a father and with your stature in the world? PAUL: The thing we're doing on this tour is hooking up with the Friends of the Earth and mentioning the environmental issues a lot. I mean, I'm no expert but I've got four kids and I see this Exxon spill and how well they cleaned up. ... I don't think anyone wants that to happen. I don't think anyone wants the hole in the ozone layer to get any bigger. But I was like anyone else. I thought, well, the government will fix it for us. But last year it became apparent that no-one was going to fix it, and we've got to address the problem ourselves. So that's what I'm doing on this tour. I'm mentioning it just to give the issues publicity, because I really think we have got to get serious on all that stuff. QUESTION: What are you trying to do with Friends of the Earth? PAUL: Friends of the Earth are basically just trying to clean up the planet. Instead of putting your toxic waste in your water, instead of blowing a hole in the sky, instead of having acid rain. ... If someone had told me when I was a kid that when I grew up the land would have poisons in it, the rain would have acid in it, the sky would have a hole in it, I would not have believed them. But here we are, we're at that point now, and my hope is that going into the next century we really address that problem and get the planet straight. My point is that we are definitely the species that's won. Man has definitely beaten all other animals hands down, and what I'd like to see is us be cool dudes about that. But instead we're still blasting the hell out of everything. It's time we realized we've won an Earth that fouls its own nest. Everything else, all the birds and stuff, go over someplace else to take a dump, but we don't. We do it right here, right where we live. We put all our toxic waste in our lakes and we put all these poisons in cans and dump it under the sea, saying it'll be all right for a hundred years. But what about a hundred and one years, when it blows up?

    Fly away, Paul

    Melody Maker, 20 September 1975, page 8

    As Wings take to the road on one of the hottest tours of the year, Chris Welch – the journalist among the entourage – reports from behind the scenes of a band on the run     Manchester appeared through the coach window – bits of flyover marching through a jumble of crumbling old buildings, halfcompleted landscaping, a huge abandoned railway terminus, boarded up shops, and rain swept concrete blocks, once a 1950s dream of the future – now an aimless, broken mess. “God, the property developers have been at work,” I observed.     “And what are you going to do about it?” demanded Paul McCartney, squarely. I thought for a second. “I’ll write a few scathing attacks.”     “And I’ll write a protest song,” smiled Paul, as the coach drew up outside an elderly hotel that maintained past splendours in defiance of the surrounding shambles. The band on the run had come to rest in another town, for another concert. And the stars would be right for another night – Venus and Mars – Linda and Paul, working their way around Britain on a tour unique in recent rock history.     “Why are you doing it?” demanded a puzzled press, as Wings dropped in on town after town. The answer was plain to see, in the ecstatic reaction the band received from audiences who cared not one jot that Paul had a previous existence. Only the press seemed to have difficulty in acknowledging the fact that Wings have their fans, just as The Beatles had theirs.     At press conferences and TV recording sessions the same old questions were asked, understandably, as they are geared for mass consumption, but as Linda said after one session: “They’ll be asking if The Beatles will reform when we’re old and grey.”     Of all the aspects to emerge during a three-day stay with Wings on the road, my greatest impression was of McCartney’s sheer musicianship and instinctive professionalism. Despite his repeated protestations that both he and Linda were “very ordinary people”, McCartney’s all-round ability puts him into a special category reserved for very few.     Watching a succession of shows by one group is sometimes a chore, but in this case it’s a privilege. A Wings concert is everything that a true pop concert should be. And yet, when Paul read his daily reviews in the national press, he found himself receiving such glib dismissals as: “McCartney is a throwback” and “Paul should go solo”.     “What do they mean?” he demanded, his face contorted by a mixture of pain, bewilderment and resignation. “Don’t they think I’m the centre of the show already? But I think I can see what this guy means when he says I’m a throwback. I suppose I am from another age…” He tried to look convinced. It is not difficult to understand why, when Paul refers to the press he makes a screwing motion, as if operating some medieval instrument of torture.     By the time I caught up with the tour in Bristol on Wednesday last week, the band had already played its opening date in Southampton the previous night,and had been greatly pleased by the response. Each night saw progressive improvement, while the party surrounding Paul and Linda grew by the hour, as they commuted between hotels and concert halls.     The basic Wings line-up includes Linda on keyboards, Denny Laine on guitars and Joe English on drums. They are augmented by a four-piece brass section: Tony Dorsey on trombone, Thadeus Richard (sax/clarinet), Howie Case (sax), and Steve Howard Jr (trumpet), all from the States, with the exception of Howie, an old Liverpool friend from the Hamburg Star Club days.     Add to this entourage erratic, likeable publicist Tony Brainsby; Wings’ manager Brian Brolly, a sophisticated urbane gentleman of slow and thoughtful speech; an ever changing polyglot of EMI representatives; Rose, the McCartney children’s nanny (honoured on the ‘Red Rose Speedway’ album); the McCartney children, the band’s children, a young tutor to keep up their book learning; a gentle, immensely strong looking West Country bodyguard; chauffeurs in peaked caps charged with care of the two Rolls-Royces that accompanied the coach; representatives of tour promoter Mel Bush and of course the boys from Showco, the American rock tour experts, and you have a modern equivalent of a touring circus.     Quite a team, that spent many minutes of each day phoning each other, waiting to assemble. It was one of those ‘hurry up and wait’ situations, where “five minutes” means an hour. Added to this pool of people waiting to see who would move first and where, were the folk who drifted on and off the tour, TV crews and interviewers, more reporters and photographers, including MM’s own Bob Ellis, who is also official Wings’ photographer, and Kate Simon, a charming American who was crushed, bruised and lost her film to the fans, while attempting to take pictures at Cardiff.     The Post House Hotel, 11 miles from Bristol was made base-camp for two days and was booked to capacity. As a result I had to stay in a nearby hotel which locked me out the first night, as I stayed up to 2am watching Woody Allen’s Play It Again, Sam at the nightly Wings film show. BRISTOL HIPPODROME, WEDNESDAY, 8PM.     Fans are jammed in the tightly-packed seats of the grand circle and stalls as the show starts promptly. It runs for two hours, without supports or any other deviation from Wings’ appointed course.     Like the feeling generated within the band there is a strong family atmosphere, a sense of reunion, that affects the youngest Wings fans who know best the music of ‘Band On The Run’ and ‘Venus And Mars’ and can sing along softly to the words of every ballad; and the mix of young marrieds and adults come to hear their favourite songwriter of the decade.     The band lined-up with the brass section, somewhat distant at the right of the stage, raisedup but discreetly at the back, with Linda’s array of keyboards parked sideways, at the right. Jimmy and Denny spread out in front of Joe English’s diminutive drum kit, while Paul essays between the grand piano virtually hidden behind Linda, and a place at the microphone in line with the boys. A clever layout – nobody disappears to dominate anyone else.     The measured, plaintive tones of the ‘Venus And Mars’ theme introduce our hosts and then it’s into ‘Rock Show’ and ‘Jet’, stalwart rousing statements, custom-built for a touring band, which seem to epitomise the rock ethos. Like Elton John, Paul has a sense of history.     As the gig picks up momentum it becomes increasingly apparent that all past hints of amateurism and stories of incompetence have ever been expunged. A great amount of rehearsal had gone into ensuring that arrangements are delivered with accuracy, that solos slot into each appropriate moments, and above all to ensure that the confidence of each performer is unimpaired. As a result, Wings frequently sound like an orchestra.     It’s a strange band in many respects. Denny Laine, the Midlander who has experienced success and disappointment in his long career with The Moody Blues, his own String Band and later Ginger Baker’s Airforce, is flanked by the diminutive figure of Jimmy McCulloch, a chirpy, sometimes aggressive Glaswegian, who has been a respected lead player since he was a mere lad, working in such bizarre settings as Thunderclap Newman’s band, or with John Mayall and, most recently, Stone The Crows.     Both are prone to outbursts of wild behaviour offstage and display symptoms of inner frustration that can grip many a professional musician. Joe English however, has the business-like approach of the American engaged in advancing his career, his drumming funky and direct, its roots in the South. Whatever their differences in age, personality and background, somehow the group works, displaying a discipline that would be hard to find in many a band that has grown up together. “See if you remember this one,” says Paul, and ‘Lady Madonna’ has the audience clapping to the barrel-house beat. The band swap around instruments a lot. Denny plays bass, or doubleneck guitar as the occasion demands and Jimmy helps on bass too.     Meanwhile we’re into the measured grandeur of ‘The Long And Winding Road’, with its emotive brass arrangement from Tony Dorsey, emphasised by Joe’s sonorous tom-tom accents. A tremendous outburst of cheering greets his performance, but here is a pause onstage as Wings sort out who is going to announce the next tune, the only hint of disorganisation.     There is barely any stage gimmickry throughout the concert. No dry ice, laser beams or pantomime horses, just an occasional slide projection. And yet it holds the attention and provides more continuous enjoyment than any concert I can recall this year. Barely any of the songs extend beyond four minutes and there is none of the mind-wandering boredom that can be induced by bands who say virtually nothing in 30 whole minutes of blathering.     “All right – a bit of rock’n’roll!” yells Denny as at length the band return and launch into ‘Hi Hi Hi’ and eventually double the tempo to a shattering finale. The group return after more thunder to take a bow, but there are no more encores. Wings have literally exhausted themselves and have no arrangements left to play.     A babble of voices beak out as the crowds struggle to quit the building. You can judge a show’s appeal by the terse comments passed in the gents’ loo. “Didjer enjoy it?” “Yeah – really good.” Oddly enough, no one suggested “the throwback” should “go solo”. THURSDAY: POST HOUSE HOTEL, OUTSIDE BRISTOL.     Despite claims by some of the band to be hardcore ravers, there were no overnight excesses, such as might be endured on a tour with Zeppelin or The Who. Thus, Wings nose relatively early the morning after the Bristol triumph. The film shows seemed to provide a good substitute for aimless boozing and the talk was of treats to come, like Blazing Saddles, and French Connection II. Rumours of Deep Throat proved unfounded.     Even so, Wings were somewhat bleary-eyed when it was time to face the cameras for two lunchtime interviews set up in the hotel for BBC TV and Harlech TV. There was some delay while the band were being aroused and assembled and the crews jested, somewhat nervously, that it was: “Like waiting for an audience with the Pope – or General Amin.”     Eventually PR Tony Brainsby arrived, beaming through his glasses and singing: “We won’t be long!” to an old Beatles tune. “Right – yer on,” he added. “No screaming.” Paul and Linda led the way, Linda muttering an aside to the MM: “Am I ready for this?” The rest of the band followed, including Denny Laine’s baby, known to all as “Lainey”, who seems to have struck up an interesting line in dialogue with Paul, consisting entirely of them blowing raspberries at each other.     “OK, quiet please,” said the master TV technician above a burst of raspberries. The interviewers have assured they will discuss Wings and incorporate all of the Wings personnel. In the event the camera stays mainly on Paul who is asked why, as one of the most famous men in the world, and a rich ex-Beatle he carries on touring. Just what kept him going? “Drugs,” replied Paul earnestly.     “I must have them. No… I just like music.” Had he seen The Beatles lately? “We run into each other and stuff – we’re just good friends.” Was Wings really a logical development from the Beatles? “Well, I’ve always written songs, but with The Beatles we only ever rehearsed for three days – at the most. With this band we rehearse a lot.”     Was he looking forward to playing in Cardiff? “Of course,” begins Paul, but there is a rumble from Denny Laine, who says to nobody in particular: “When are they going to start speaking English there?” End of first interview.     Second interview. Why did Paul decide to go back on the road? “Well, either we sit at home and do it, or we play in front of people. Now it’s a pleasure to do it and we want to keep on working.” Would Wings ever become as big as The Beatles? “I think it could be, funnily enough. The whole thing is bigger now. We’re having a great time – we like to play music and people like to come and hear it.”     How different was Wings from The Beatles? “They scream at our concerts, but they don’t scream as much. People used to come and scream and didn’t hear any of the music. Now they can.” Did Paul want to bring back The Beatles?     “It wasn’t within my power to bring back The Beatles. It was a four-way split and we all wanted to do different things. We’re all very good friends. John is keeping very quiet at the moment while, fortunately, I’m out working… I like it.”     Paul tries to find new words to fit an old theme. What can you achieve now? “I don’t know – that’s a bit heavy that question. What do you want to do? I want to make really great records. Maybe your ambition is to do a really great interview and, when you do, well, you won’t want to give up, will you? You don’t ever give up. Everyone goes on.”     It was time to make a move and as the TV men packed up, Paul and Linda dived into a black Rolls-Royce, heading for Cardiff and the afternoon soundcheck. As we drove along the motorway, the TV crew zoomed alongside, filming through the window.     They weren’t angry, but the McCartneys seemed genuinely perplexed at the interest in things past when they had Wings fresh and new, waiting to be discussed. “I think they’ll go on asking those questions for ever,” sighed Linda. “The guy asked me what was there left to achieve, as if I’d done it all,” said Paul. He kept repeating to himself, “What is there left to achieve?”     It seemed to me that Wings had achieved a lot as a band that made its first tentative appearance on a secret tour of colleges a few years back. They seemed remarkably rehearsed and professional. “That’s the difference,” said Paul. “As I said, in the old days we might rehearse for three days. But we’ve spent months rehearsing with Wings.”     Said Linda: “If you’re going out into the world, it’s got to be good.”     “It’s better than I thought it would be,” said Paul: “We had worried that it’ll be over-rehearsed. We haven’t played to anybody for years and we were a bit nervous. I didn’t mind the silences during the songs at all and nobody seemed to mind the tuning-up when Jimmy broke a string last night. We saw Dave Mason’s concert in London, and he tuned up between every number and I used to think that was death.     “We rehearsed the band down in Rye in Sussex in an old cinema last summer, learning all the numbers. We could have rehearsed the chat between numbers too, but we thought that might make it seem to formal. Originally we weren’t going to allow that – chatting ad-lib. But audiences don’t seem to mind and, in any case, they seem to be Wings fans, calling out requests for old Wings B-sides.     “After The Beatles – well, I didn’t think anyone could be a Wings fan. The TV man kept asking me why I kept going and I wish I’d told him about Wings fans. That’s what’s left for me to do! I can see their point when they say, ‘You’re a family man now,’ but Charlie Chaplin didn’t stop after making one film.     “They say ‘Sgt Pepper’ was the best period for me and it was the best music at the time, but some of the stuff that happens now is better than The Beatles.”     Said Linda: “You could go on talking about The Beatles forever and all of them get so bored with it.”     “Why can’t they let us get on with something new?” demanded Paul.     “They’re still talking about… ‘George is the religious one,’ and ‘John is the nasty one,’ and ‘Ringo is making movies,’” Linda laughed. “They don’t seem interested in the fact that this is a working band. The people are up-to-date. It’s the press who don’t know what’s going on.”     “Do you still see John?” said Paul rhetorically peering out of the window at the TV crew still coasting alongside at 50mph. “I always feel a bit weedy when I answer those kind of questions, as I should have done more. Maybe I should have gone to see John more often. Maybe I should send him a telegram.”     “Maybe, if we do so many interviews, the press will get bored with us,” suggested Linda brightly. “I can’t think of anything that the word ‘press’ means that is nice,” said Paul with unexpected bitterness. But he cheered somewhat as the conversation turned to the choice of music for Wings concerts.     “Well, we wanted to choose stuff from ‘Band On The Run’ and ‘Venus And Mars,’ and we thought people would like to hear ‘The Long And Winding Road.’ The records are the arrangements. We could either play the songs like the records or stretch them out. We thought people would like to hear them just like the records. Tony Dorsey has done the brass arrangements and he used to work with Joe Tex.     “We’ve worked with the brass players individually before and Howie Casey is an old mate from Liverpool. The only problems we have had have been in rehearsals, where they were ironed out. Denny Laine turned up one day with a cut finger and couldn’t play for a couple of weeks. At last night’s show, I thought ‘Junior’s Farm’ was jinxed and Jimmy was breaking strings, so there was lots of bass and drums cover up. Before this tour started, I thought we should learn all the songs, and get them right.     “But we all have different musical tastes, and there is a lot of room for development. For instance, Joe doesn’t do a drum solo and we could bring that in later on.”     Did Paul enjoy the acoustic guitar section?     “I’d never been onstage on my own before and I was a little bit nervous. Then I remembered I’d sung ‘Yesterday’ on The Ed Sullivan Show in front of 40 million people. I love doing it.”     I expressed surprise at Paul’s skill as a pianist and guitarist.     “I started out as a guitarist. My first guitar was a Rosetti Lucky 7 – which was a plank of wood with strings. Then one night in Hamburg at the Star Club, I went on piano while Stu Sutcliffe was on bass. I used to play piano on a lot of Ray Charles numbers like ‘Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying’. So really I’ve been playing the piano long enough, so I should be able to play it!”     Paul hinted that he actually played a lot of lead guitar solos on old Beatles records, but said he didn’t like to put about his various skills as an instrumentalist. “I like to surprise people,” he said gently. Did Paul feel the Wings tour was a drain on his and Linda’s energy?     “Thirteen dates is not a heavy tour. And we’ve got two weeks complete holiday before we do a bit of recording. In November we go to Australia and all this is practice for that.” As the Rolls drew up behind the stage door, Paul remarked: “What makes me want to go out on tour again – is a decent audience.”     He disappeared into the thick of a crowd of fans, who magically materialised seeking autographs, while all around the office windows were filled with faces gazing down on the star in their midst.

    Interview in The Bass Book, 1994

    Tony Bacon: I'd like to talk about you as a bass player, really, and go back as far as we can. I apologise in advance for going back... Paul McCartney: No, I'm happy to go back. People think oh, you've had so many questions about The Beatles you must be fed up. I love it. It was a great period of my life. I don't mind, I'm proud of it. I think what it was, near the break-up of the Beatles we didn't want to hear about Beatles because it was painful. Now there's enough time gone. But my bass playing days go back to when Stuart was the bass player with his big Hofner. Tony Bacon: Because you started out as a guitar player. Paul McCartney: Yeah, I did. We all started together when we were kind of kids, early teens, I would have been about 15 or something. Me Dad bought me a trumpet for one my birthdays, because a trumpet was kind of a heroic instrument at that time, 'The Man With The Golden Arm' and all that. And I liked it, and he'd been a trumpet player so he showed me a bit of trumpet. But I realised I couldn't sing with the trumpet, and I wanted to sing as well, so I asked him if he wouldn't mind if I traded it in for a guitar. He said fine, he was very understanding, an amateur musician himself, he had a little band called Jim Mac's Band in the 1920s. So I went down and got a Zenith guitar which I've still got around somewhere, quite nice, and I learned on that. Tony Bacon: Was being left-handed a problem straight away? Paul McCartney: I realised when I got it home that it was right-handed and I was left-handed, and I didn't know what you did about that, there were no rule books. Nobody talked about being left-handed. So I tried it this way, and I couldn't get any rhythm because it was all the wrong hand doing it. And then I saw a picture of Slim Whitman in NME or Melody Maker, one of the early musical papers, it was a little ad for Slim Whitman, and I just noticed... hang on, he's got the guitar on the wrong way round, oh this is OK. I found out he was left-handed, so I thought that's good, you can have it the other way round then. Then I changed the strings round. I never could change the nut, I was not a tech, so I would just change the strings round. The sixth string always had a fat hole, so the first string would have to go into it, and we'd chop a little bit of a match off, stick that in there, and that would kind of lift the nut enough, and then you had to hollow out a bit of the nut to get the bass string in because that kept slipping out. So you did your own technical work, ha ha. High precision... a very do-it-yourself affair. But it eventually worked, and it would hold all the strings, that was the main thing, because if you clouted it it would just come off. Tony Bacon: You met John and George around this time, didn't you? Paul McCartney: George used to get on the bus. I was and still am one and a half years older than George, I've managed to keep ahead of him. So he was the younger guy getting on the bus one stop after my stop. Cos we were round about the same age... it was probably like his haircut or something that made me think well, he's a bit groovy, he had what we used to call a bit of a Tony Curtis, greased back, you know? So I'd think well he's probably all right to talk to. We got chatting on the bus and he had an interest in guitars like I did, and music. Turned out he was going to try to make one, going to make a little solidbody Hawaiian, which was like a good place to start. You didn't have to get into the hollow body or anything, which was very difficult. And he did that, and we kind of hung out and became good friends. He did that Hawaiian thing and it wasn't bad, real high action of course. Tony Bacon: And John? Paul McCartney: Meanwhile I'd met John through another friend of mine, and he'd asked me to join The Quarrymen, which was the very first group. So I did that, and I kind of went in first of all as lead guitarist really, because I wasn't bad on guitar. And when I wasn't on stage I was even better. But when I got up on stage at the very first gig I totally blew it, I had never experienced these things called nerves before. Tony Bacon: Was this still with the Zenith? Paul McCartney: This was still with the Zenith, yeah, might have got a pickup on it by then. I did, I got a little pickup and a little wire, bought the pickup separately, tried to gash it on there. But I was playing 'Guitar Boogie' (sings riff) and I knew it fine off-stage, like I say, but on-stage my fingers all went very stiff and then found themselves underneath the strings instead of on top of them. So I vowed that night that that was the end of my career as the lead guitar player, I just thought I'll lean back. So me and John kind of both did that around that same time, both became rhythm guitarists. And I knew George, as I said, and we were kind of looking for a lead guitarist, so I got George in. So that meant there were three of us on guitar at that time, on and off, the nucleus of us was just three acoustic guitars. So we did a few auditions like that, sometimes John wouldn't even have his guitar. Because he had one of those Guaranteed Not To Split guitars that were advertised in the back of the Daily Mirror. That was his main claim to fame. So maybe it had split. But we did a few auditions where just me and George played guitars and John just stood in the middle. And then he nicked a guitar at that audition so he had a guitar again. But it was mainly three guitars. Tony Bacon: What about your first electric guitar? Paul McCartney: Then we got to Hamburg and I bought a Rosetti [Solid Seven model]. It was a terrible guitar. It was really just a good looking piece of wood, it had a nice colour or something, some paint job, but it was a disastrous guitar, cheap. I bought that in Liverpool and took it out to Hamburg. My dad had a big thing against hire purchase, on the never-never, he'd lost money that way, and so he was very keen that you shouldn't do that, so I had to buy something really cheap to persuade him that I could do it. That fell apart when I got to Hamburg, the Rosetti, the sweat and the damp and the getting knocked around, falling over and stuff. Tony Bacon: Can you remember buying it? Paul McCartney: Yes, in Hessy's [music store in Liverpool]. It seemed nice at the time, but obviously as I say it didn't perform very well, and eventually half the gigs... because you couldn't always get things, we were playing in a little club and there wasn't immediately a music shop, you had to go into town of Hamburg to get strings, new equipment. We'd always go into Steinways, which is where John found first of all a Club 40, him and George got Club 40s, which was one step up from where we'd been, and then John found a Rickenbacker, which was like boom! We're there. Because you couldn't really get Rickenbackers in England. It was like the clothes thing in Hamburg, there were different clothes, so you'd buy up a few little outfits, come back to England and it'd be like, bloody hell where d'you get that? Oh, I've been abroad. We had some natty jackets with suede collars, and we came back with some bits of equipment. I didn't really, until my guitar bust. I then turned to the piano.


    Club Sandwich, 1994     Bored with celebrity interviews? Sick of those professional journalists who can never seem to ask what you really want to know? Exasperated by the colour-supplement purple prose that seems to accompany every encounter with a superstar?     The staff of the official Paul McCartney fan club magazine, 'Club Sandwich', felt the same way. Luckily, they had an antidote. They encouraged their readers to send in questions they wanted McCartney to answer, presented him with the best of them, and left the rest up to the man himself.

        The resulting interview, conducted by 'Club Sandwich' editor Mark Lewisohn, was printed in the Winter 1994 issue, and made fascinating reading. What did Paul think about the Beatles' reunion? Does he read books about himself? And did he really make a Christmas album back in 1965? All these questions, and many more, were put to McCartney, and answered in style.     With grateful thanks to 'Club Sandwich' and to Paul for his co-operation, we're delighted to be able to bring you these extracts from "The Club Sandwich McCartney Interview" this month.     In return, a couple of plugs. Paul McCartney is closely involved in the launch of the pioneering Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts (LIPA), which will be opening its doors to its first intake of students this autumn. More details from LIPA, Mount Street, Liverpool LI 9HF.     Meanwhile, Linda McCartney has donated photos for a 1995 calendar in aid of War Child, the charity set up to assist deprived children in Bosnia. The calendar's in the shops, and you can send donations to War Child at 7/12 Greenland Street, London NW1 0ND. Q: What did you, George and Ringo do to the demo of John's "Free As A Bird" which Yoko Ono gave you? A: We fixed it up. We took the attitude that John had gone on holiday saying, "I finished all the tracks on my album except this one. I'm sorry that I can't make the last session but I leave it to you guys to finish it off. Do what you'd normally do. Don't get fussy, just do your normal thing. I trust you."     And once we agreed to take that attitude it gave us a lot of freedom, because it meant that we didn't have any sacred view of John as a martyr, it was John the Beatle, John the crazy guy we remember. So we could laugh and say, "Wouldn't you just know it? It's completely out of time!" So we fixed the timing and then added some bits. John hadn't filled in the middle-eight section of the demo so we wrote a new section for that, which, in fact, was one of the reasons for choosing the song: it allowed us some input.     This question will be answered in more depth when we release it, though. I don't want to appear coy about the subject but we are having to sit on a great track for the first time in our lives and it's not easy. Q: What was the first song that turned you on to guitar and vocal harmony? A: "That'll Be The Day" by Buddy Holly & the Crickets. Q: You often seem to dismiss, or at least gloss over, the Wings period of your post-Beatles career. How do you really assess the music of the 1971-79 period? A: It's very difficult for me to assess Wings because they came after the Beatles. So, to me, there was always a feeling of let-down because the Beatles had been so big that anything I did had to compare directly with them. And I was still in shock anyway, after the Beatles broke up.     But I remember, years later, being with David Bowie and looking through one of those chart facts books. First we looked up James Brown and then somebody else until, finally, we admitted that, really, we wanted to look up our own entries. And when we looked at mine I saw that the albums I thought had died a death, like "Wild Life" and "Back To The Egg", had got to something like No. 8 in the States. And I thought, "My God, people would give their right arm to have that sort of 'failure'!" That's a very successful failure.     But I must admit that the whole period was always mixed with the feeling of comparison to the Beatles. I would have felt much better about Wings if it had just happened on its own, either before the Beatles or with a decent interval afterwards. But it happened straight after the Beatles, which was unfortunate. I know why though — I needed to continue in music. I didn't want to retire or do anything else.     Wings did have a lot of success, but also an awful lot of criticism. And you can't help it: it always gets through. Even Van Gogh, with all his criticism, was bound to conclude that he never painted a good picture. Q: Did you appear in George Harrison's video for "When We Was Fab"? There were stories that it was you inside the walrus costume. A: No. George wanted me to be in it but I wasn't available. So I suggested that he put someone else in a walrus costume and tell everyone that it was me. We've always had fun with the walrus thing. We don't lay many false trails but the walrus has always been one of them.     Anyway, though it was me in the walrus costume in 'Magical Mystery Tour', it wasn't me in "When We Was Fab" — it was a joke between George and me, which we purposely decided not to tell anyone. Q: Apart from the 1958 disc of "That'll Be The Day" and "In Spite Of All The Danger", which we've known about for years, did the Beatles, the Quarry Men or whatever, cut any other private recordings in Liverpool or the north-west before signing with a record company? A: I don't think so. We helped out on a recording of "Fever", with Lu of Rory Storm & the Hurricanes. That was done in a little demo studio in Hamburg, where you could go in and make your own record. This was before the Bert Kaempfert/Tony Sheridan recordings.     "That'll Be The Day" and "In Spite Of All The Danger", which we made in 1958, was our first session, but there were some other recordings that we made at home, which will be included in "The Beatles' Anthology". Sometimes I'd borrow a tape recorder — a Grundig with a little green eye — or John would manage to borrow one, and we'd go around my house and try to record things. I seem to remember recording "Hallelujah, I Love Her So" because I had the Eddie Cochran record. They were very much home demos, very bad sound quality. Q: In terms of atmosphere in the studio and relations within the band, what were the happiest and least happiest Beatles albums to record? A: It's a good question, but also a difficult one because time is a great healer, and looking back on the Beatles I tend to think that it was all great fun. And that's not whitewash, it's just the way that memory goes. You can have a terrible holiday, it might rain all the time, but years later if someone asks, "Did you ever go to the south of France?" you would say, "Oh yes, I had a great time . . .".     So, relatively speaking, they were all great to record, and I wouldn't take one degree off any of them.     But, to answer the question, "Revolver" and "Rubber Soul" were especially nice. It was still early days and we were coming good as an album band, so they felt very fresh. On the other hand, the "White Album" and "Let It Be" had to be the most difficult because the group was starting to break up.     I suppose what I'm saying is that the earliest were the best and the later ones weren't. But, as I say, I wouldn't take anything away from any of them, not even the "White Album" or "Let It Be" — I think they're great albums, it's just that they were just done during a tense time. But, who knows, that may make them better, because it's difficult to say what works in creativity. Q: The book about the Beatles' reeording sessions says that you recorded a demo of a song called "Etcetera" during the '"White Album" era. Whatever happened to it? A: I offered it to Marianne Faithfull and Mick Jagger, who were looking for a song for Marianne to record, but it wasn't what she wanted. I think she was looking for an "Eleanor Rigby" and instead I offered her an "Etcetera". I've got a lot of those silly little songs — they can't all work out well, and sometimes when people ask me for one I'll pull out one of those. Q: Would you over consider releasing a compilation of your promotional videos? A: Yes. We've been planning it for years but it's the sort of thing we hold back for when nothing else is happening. This year, for example, there'll be "The Beatles' Anthology," in 1993 there was "Paul Is Live", last year we left it too late. So it won't be for a couple of years yet but, yes, we do have definite plans to do it. Q: Is it true you and John Lennon recorded together in L.A. in 1974? John once mentioned something about you and him plaving on "Midnight Special". How did this happen, and do you have a tape? A: It's very difficult to remember those days because it was all a bit crazy and everyone was getting 'out of it', but, yes, John was doing some recordings in L.A. and I showed up. It was a strange session. The main thing that I recall, apart from the fact that Stevie Wonder was there, is that someone said "What song shall we do?" and John said "Anything before '63. I don't know anything after '63". Which I understood because it's the songs from your formative years that you tend to jam. I'm always doing old Bo Diddley tunes, or Elvis songs like "That's All Right Mama". Anyway, it wasn't a very good session, and I don't think we recorded much of interest, but I ended up on drums, for some reason. And no, I don't have a tape of it. Q: Is it true that you can be heard munching vegetables on the Bcaeh Boys track "Vegetables"? The CD liner notes say so. A: Do they? Well, I was certainly at a few Beach Boys sessions, and if I someone gave me, say, an apple, I would have munched it, and if there'd been a microphone nearby I suppose it might have gone down on tape. But I don't remember doing it knowingly. Q: What happened to the "Cold Cuts" album project? A: It became a bootleg, which put me off the idea.     The project originally started out as "Hot Hitz And Kold Kutz", with two k's and two z's, but then someone at the record company said "Why have cold cuts on a hot hits album?", as a result of which it became simply "Cold Cuts". So it went on the back-burner and cooled off, to mix a few metaphors, and then went even cooler when I discovered that it had become a bootleg.     I still have a lovely unused cover for the album, drawn for me by Saul Steinberg, best known by the public for his 'New Yorker' drawings. I got to know him and for many years was asking him to draw me a cover, and eventually he carne up with something. This is probably the most compelling reason to issue the album, actually: just to use his cover!     Like the promo video compilation, though, these things can get in the way of other projects. I mean, if you've got a 'real' album already out then to issue another one can be confusing. I'd love to release millions of things but it would mean issuing about 12 albums a year, and the powers that be don't like that because you spread yourself too thin. Q: In your world tour magazine you hinted at a possible future collaboration with Paul Simon. Is this going to happen? A: It might. We know each other as friends and we keep up with what each other is doing. The truth is, though, that I'm a bit wary of collaborations. I had one of the best collaborations of the century, I think, with John. There was a special chemistry between us. And I have collaborated with some other very good people too - Elvis Costello is good fun to work with, and I don't give up the idea of working with him again.     So, yes, it would be very rewarding to work with Paul Simon, but . . . and I don't know what that "but" is, except that I am, generally, a bit wary of doing collaborations. Q: Have you considered writing a book detailing your recording sessions? A: No, not really. The only recording session I've written about was the new record the Beatles made this year, "Free As A Bird." It was an exciung week, and then, shortly afterwards, Linda and I went on holiday to America, and on the plane I wrote down what had gone on at the session. I did it just to remember the facts, really, before they were forgotten. Q: Was "Dear Friend" about John Lennon, and "Let Me Roll It" a deliberate Lennon pastiche? A: "Dear Friend" was written about John, yes. I don't like grief and arguments, they always bug me. Life is too precious, although we often find ourselves guilty of doing it. So after John had slagged me off in public I had to think of a response, and it was either going to be to slag him off in public — and some instinct stopped me, which I'm really glad about — or do something else. So I worked on my attitude and wrote "Dear Friend", saying, in effect, let's lay the guns down, let's hang up our boxing gloves.     "Let Me Roll It" was not really a Lennon pastiche, although my use of tape echo did sound more like John than me. But tape echo was not John's exclusive territory! And you have to remember that, despite the myth, there was a lot of commonality between us in the way that we thought and the way that we worked. Q: I've heard you tell how you came upon the name Rigby, for "Eleanor Rigby", above a store in Bristol. But did you know that there is a 19th century gravestone in the church grounds where you met John Lennon, St. Peter's in Woolton, with that name? Is it possible that you saw it as a teenager and your brain subconsciously retained it? A: Yes, I do know about the grave, and someone has also told me that if you pan right a few yards there's another gravestone that says McKenzie on it. The only answer I can give is that "we are living in the twilight zone"! I have no other explanation because I definitely remember McKenzie coming out of a phone book at John's house. It was originally going to be "Father McCartney" but we didn't want that so we looked in the phone book and found the nearest name that we liked, which was McKenzie.     I don't  even remember visiting the graveyard, but it's possible that I did. Pretty spooky stuff, eh? Q: Are there any Paul McCartney compositions which you feel have not recieved due recognition or have gone unnoticed? A: Yes, I suppose there are one or two. "Daytime Nighttime Suffering" is the main one, which was the B-side of "Goodnight Tonight". "Waterfalls" also - fans know about it but not many other people do. Q: You are rumoured to have recorded a special album at home one Christmas in the 1960s, in which you sang, acted and performed sketched, only three copies of which were said to have been pressed - for John, George and Ringo. Is this true? A: Yes, it's true. I had two Brenell tape recorders set up at home, on which I used to make experimental recordings and tape loops, like the ones in "Tomorrow Never Knows". And I once put together something crazy, something left-field, just for the other Beatles, a fun thing which they could play late in the evening. It was just something for the mates, basically.     It was called "Unforgettable" and it started with Nat 'King' Cole singing "Unforgettable", then I came in over the top as the announcer: 'Yes, unforgettable, that's what you are! And today in 'Unforgettable' . . .". It was like a magazine programme: full of weird interviews, experimental music, tape loops, some tracks I knew the others hadn't heard, it was just a compilation of odd things.     I took the tape to Dick James's studio and they cut me three acetate discs. Unfortunately, the quality of the discs was such that they wore out as you played them. I gave them to the fellas and I guess they would have played them for a couple of weeks, but then they must have worn out. There's probably a tape somewhere, though. Q: You've occasionally referred to some of your early post-Beatles music as "unfinished". If you were to re-make any of those songs which would they be? A: "Waterfalls" comes immediately to mind because that's a song which could take a little more of a finished treatment, whereas the "McCartney II" recording had a very thin treatment, even though a lot of people like it for that. So although I don't have any regrets about the way I did it that's the one I'd jump at first.     Going back to earlier songs, "Every Night" could stand up to being re-made. Other people have made good recordings of it, and I remember that when I played the "McCartney" album to Ringo he said that he preferred my original solo version, when I had first sung it to him.     Generally, though, as I say, I don't have any regrets about the way I've recorded songs. Q: I've read about your forthcoming authorized biography of the 1965-68 London 'avant-garde' period, written by Miles, but have you given any thought to writing a life-long autobiography, or a series of autobiographies? A: I've always thought that you needed to be at least 70 hefore vou considered writng your memoirs. It always seemed to be the province of old general, sitting in their houses after they had retired. Now I'm not so sure.     The Miles book was occasioned by my realisation that I don't always remember things as crystal-clear as I used to believe. You cannot remember everything. I liken the human mind to a computer, where a message will appear saying "You have used 99 per cent of the available memory, I cannot proceed unless you wipe something". And I always feel like I've wiped certain bits in order to leave space for new events. Q: If you could go back to 1962, would you still choose to become famous or would you opt for an "ordinary" life? A: No thank you! I had "an ordinary life" for 20 years and this one's better. Q: Have you written any songs to express thoughts or feelings that you could not verbalise in any other way? A: Yes, "Here Today", which was written for John. It was always a very difficult question, after John died, to deal with the finality of it. He had been making digs at me, in "How Do You Sleep" and all of that stuff, and I'd not really addressed any of those comments. But we had settled our differences before he died, we enjoyed good fun phone conversations.     So I addressed them in "Here Today", saying, in effect, "If you were here today you might say that such and such a thing is a load of bullshit but you and I both know that it isn't." Q: Are there any of the very early small-time shows with the Quarry Men which particularly stand out in your mind? A: The two I remember most are the Wilson Hall in Garston, which was one of my first shows with the Quarry Men, and which was great fun, and also my very first, at the Conservative Club in Broadway, Liverpool. That night was a disaster because I got sticky fingers and blew the solo in "Guitar Boogie Shuffle", which is one of the easiest things in the world to play. That alone made me resolve never to become a lead guitarist. Q: Do you read books about the Beatles, and if so, what do you like and dislike? A: I don't really bother these days. My system is to open new books at random and read one page. If I find a mistake on that one page then I assume that there must be more, that I haven't found the only mistake.     People write such wild stuff these days — I recently read that I was supposed to have given John a painting and he was supposed to have come around to my house and put his foot through it. Well, I never did give John a painting, and if I did he never put his foot through it. So, no, I don't really read them.     There's so much fantasy in books now, and they're mostly written by people who weren't around when the things happened. The funny thing, though, is that when George, Ringo and I got together recently at George's house, to be on camera together for the first time in the "Anthology", even we couldn't remember anything the same! Even the three of us who definitely were around when the things were happening now have completely different recollections of events. In fact, the director of the "Anthology" suggested that it was the perfect way to end the series: the three of us sitting there disagreeing on what had happened. "It was in June." "No it wasn't, it was in February." "No it wasn't, I remember it being quite hot so it must have been August." It was hilarious! Q: Every major artist these days is putting out beautifully produced and designed boxed set retrospecives of their career. Have you considered doing this? You should consider CD-ROM too. The scope is awesome. A: For the Beatles there'll be the "Anthology", but for me, solo, I haven't considered it yet. And we do know about CD-ROM but still the answer is: not yet. Q: What's the story behind a song called "Penina" which I believe you wrote for a Portugese band leader in 1968? Might you ever record it yourself? A: I went to Portugal on holiday and returned to the hotel one night slightly the worse for a few drinks. There was a band playing and I ended up on the drums. The hotel was called Penina, I made up a song with that name, someone made enquiries about it and I gave it to them. And, no, I shouldn't think I'd ever record it myself! Q: What piece of music moves you the most? A: Quite a wide range of music moves me and can make me cry, but what comes immediately to my mind is not actually a piece of music but a musical situation. We were in Africa once, listening to Fela Ransome Kuti, and when he and his band eventually began to play, after a long, crazy build-up, I just couldn't stop weeping with joy. It was such a fantastic sound, to hear this African band playing right up your nose, because we were sitting right by them. The rhythm section was so hot, so unusual, that it was a very moving experience for me.     Hearing the "Oratorio" done for the first time in public, at the Liverpool premiere, was another moving moment, especially the a cappella "Mother And Father" section at the end of "War", the first movement. Q: Over the last 30-plus years of your career, is there one piece of criticism that really sticks out in your mind? A: Yes, too many pieces, actually, although I have to say that the most hurtful stuff carne from John. It was like a mate betraying me. But I don't hold any grudges.     There's been a lot of stuff in the newspapers. I remember one piece that was so bad that Linda wrote to the journalist and asked him how he could have written such cruel off-the-cuff comments. He wrote back saying "I never thought you'd read that . . .".     The saving grace in it all, though, is that not one of the great artists, painters, ever got a good review in his lifetime. Van Gogh never sold a picture during his life, not even to his brother who was an art dealer. Stravinsky's "The Rite Of Spring" was booed off the stage. Mozart was criticised — "too many notes". And these are the greats, whether you like it or not.     So I take a philosophical attitude and, ultimately, conclude that, in a way, criticism suggests that I'm better than "they" think! Q: Did you have to eat meat when you were imprisoned in Japan in 1980? A: No, I didn't have to. The food was really strange in there, actually. In the morning we got seaweed soup, which was like a broth, together with one of those white bread rolls that are used for hot dogs and a little sachet of marmalade. It was a combination that almost made me throw up a few times. But I learned to pick at it because I wasn't sure how long I was going to be in there and I didn't want to lose too much weight.     I was very keen to be just one of the crowd in there, so when they offered me a Western-style bath, in private, I said that I'd rather go for the communal bath with all the others, which was a rather funny experience because the female guards were watching. © MPL Communications Ltd. 'Club Sandwich' is published by the Paul McCartney Fun Club, P.O. Box 110, Westcliff, Essex, SS0 8NW.

    Goodbye to Yesterday

    Melody Maker, 19 November 1977, page 8 From the Virgin Islands to ‘Mull Of Kintyre’, Paul McCartney talks to Chris Welch about pipe bands and punk rock and explains why he will never play his most famous song ever again     Paul McCartney swears he will never play ‘Yesterday’ again. Not since a review in which, he claims, I said that I thought he would play it forever.     “Surely not,” quoth I. “Oh yes, you did. Prat,” says Paul. “Pranny.” And a lot worse besides. But I didn’t remember saying anything worse than the last Wings concert in London had lacked the spontaneity of their earlier round-Britain concerts.     Surely I didn’t slag off ‘Yesterday’, one of the great popular songs of our time? Why, it always brings a lump to my throat or a tear to the eye. “Oh yes you did,” insisted Paul. “I remember everything. All that stuff about ‘Yesterday’ – it’s engraved on me forehead. I’ll never play it again.”     But somehow I don’t think Paul would take such advice or a less than enthusiastic review too seriously. For someone who has been at the centre of the rock whirlpool for 15 years (count ’em) he is a bit too long in the tooth and experience to start getting belligerent or suicidal.     He reserved himself a go back, which was delivered in forthright, but unmalicious tones.     “I thought your review was shit,” he greeted me pleasantly, in the bowels of number two studio at Abbey Road last week. It was here that Paul and the rest of The Beatles recorded so many classics – ‘Yesterday’ included.     Now it was decorated like a Parisian pavement café with tables and umbrellas and plants.     “Just to give it a little atmosphere,” he explained. While Wings seem to have been quiet since those last concerts (still referred to by radio DJs as among the greatest they have ever seen), in fact, they have been busier than ever. Paul and Linda have added another child, baby James, to the family, but Paul kept on recording, first on a floating studio near the Virgin Islands, then up in Scotland. The results are a new album due out in February, and a new single, ‘Mull Of Kintyre’, out now.     Wings have also suffered the loss of two of their number in recent months. But as Paul explained, he wasn’t too worried. He would be quite happy to play at Joe’s Caff with Denny Laine, his old mate, on guitar. And they may even do that next year.     But first Paul gave me an ear-bashing for smiting his work. What could I say? If more artists spoke up for themselves instead of brooding or plotting violence, a good deal of the unpleasant tension that afflicts rock today would be dissipated. Paul explained how even his daughter, as a member of the public, had fallen foul of duff reviews.     “My daughter went to see The Stranglers. She’s into punk… well, she’s the right age. She came back a changed person, over the moon, just loved it.     “And the next week, a review appeared in one of the papers… and it was a terrible review. ‘The bass player was inefficient’, same old technical crap, y’know. Reviews are always wrong. But come on, let’s get off critics.”     Paul had been strangely inactive for a year.     “No,” he said firmly. “Not inactive. Very active. But in the studio and on boats. We went to the Virgin Islands.     “We hired a charter boat that people use for holidays. The captain went spare when he saw all the instruments. We remodelled his boat for him, which he wasn’t too keen on.     “We converted his lounge into a studio and we turned another deck into a sound control room, and it was fantastic.     “We had a recording boat and two others we stayed on. We didn’t have any problems with salt water in the machines or sharks attacking us. At night there was much merriment, leaping from top decks into uncharted waters and stuff. I had a couple too many one night and nearly broke something jumping from one boat to another. But then you always break yourself up on holiday.     “The studio worked out incredibly well and the very first day we got a track down. There was a nice free feeling. We’d swim in the day and record at night.     “We had written most of the songs beforehand. Denny and I wrote a lot of stuff last summer. We stayed a month on the boat and by the time we recorded it the songs just seemed to work.     “You’ll have to tell me when you’ve heard the record if there is any boat feeling in the music. I think there is.     “We’ve come back to Abbey Road here to finish it all off. We’re overdubbing and putting main vocals on. We did nine tracks on the boat.     “I’d like to play you some of the stuff but I can’t really, because it’s gonna be so far in advance of release it would be silly to play you anything now.     “You’ll hear a track and say it’s very nice and then we’ll change it all around. But there is an up feel to the music from being on a boat. We got moved on a lot for being naughty rock’n’roll people infesting the waters.     “We moored at the island called St Johns and it’s a national park. You must not play amplified music. I think they mean trannies.     “But we had a whole thing going. You could hear it for miles. We got fined $15.     “I’ve been working out of London for a long time and when it’s raining and it’s boring and there are power strikes, you do start to think, ‘It would be great to get away.’”     Did many great new songs come out of this aquatic experience?     “Well, I never really like talking about it. I like it. People who’ve heard it like it. It’s nothing like the live album of course. It’s just a new studio album with a lot of songs on it and no big concept idea.     “But you can never tell, you know. ‘Sgt Pepper’ wasn’t supposed to be a concept. That was just a collection of songs.”     But not a bad collection.     “You can’t tell, they may all suddenly run together and mean something. It won’t be out ’til February, so I don’t want to start dropping titles yet. It’s cooler to wait until the time comes.     “There’s no title for the album. I didn’t get where I am today by giving titles ahead of time.     “Jimmy McCulloch and Joe English (guitar and drums), who are not longer with us, did all their stuff before they split.         “They were on the boat, and now Denny and I are just finishing it off. Wings is a trio at the moment.     “A couple of years ago I used to worry if anyone left; ‘Oh God, I can’t keep a group together.’     “But I don’t worry now – there’s no need to keep it altogether all the time. I’m more interested in the music and, if we can do that, I don’t mind how it has to be done.     “Next year we won’t do anything live until the album is out, because we wanna go out with some new stuff.     “I mean, you didn’t like us playing all the old stuff. Yes, I could quote your bloody reviews to you, Welch. We’ll get some new stuff together and think about going out again.     “We’re not worried at the moment. Joe needed to go back to America because he is extremely American and isn’t struck on Britain.     “It’s not everyone you can persuade Britain is an OK place to live, you know. He’s used to things like late-night telly and hamburgers. Linda is not really American, in inverted commas. She doesn’t miss any of that at all, so she tells me anyway.     “Jimmy’s thing was… another type of thing. He wanted to make a move. I don’t know how long he was with us. I don’t keep track of time. Since before ‘Venus And Mars’, whenever that was.”     Jimmy was quite an extrovert I believe?     “Well, yeah. He’s a good lad, Jimmy, a good guitar player, but sometimes he’s a bit hard to live with. It’s pretty well known in the biz and we just decided it would be better if we didn’t bother any more.     “It got a bit fraught up in Scotland. He’s with the Small Faces now, but he’s done a lot of nice guitar on the new album and on the boat he was incredibly together. He’s really into playing heavy rock.”     Was Paul looking for a replacement guitarist?     “No, not really. I’m getting letters from guitar players. But me and Denny both play guitar, and if it’s not live we can work out the guitar things. And if we need to overdub, I can play drums too.     “I did the drumming on ‘Band On The Run’ and, er, that did all right. I can’t drum technically very well but I can hold the beat and to me that’s what you should be able to do if you’re a drummer.     “It’s nice to be a bit fresh but I like a drummer who just holds the beat. So here we are – back to being a trio! No sweat. We’ll just continue like this.     “It’s easier now there are less people to deal with. We can make decisions quicker among ourselves.”     But what will Paul do if concerts are planned? They can’t play live as three-piece surely?     “Well, gigs have started to come up. But with having the baby this year… that sounds a bit un-rock’n’roll, doesn’t it? But these are the realities you’ve got to face, and I just didn’t fancy Linda being onstage at the Peterborough Empire and having to rush off to hospital. It’s a big number, having a baby.     “So, we decided to get ourselves a drummer or guitarist. Or we may have another think. We might change the whole line-up and go out with something different.     “But seeing as we’re not accepting any dates at the moment, we’re not bothering. It’s no big sweat. We could always go on as me and Denny with a couple of acoustics. We’d have a laff anyway!     “Denny and I have written together on previous albums but never more than one tune. Then, in summer ’76, we sat down and wrote a bunch together. It’s good to have someone to bounce off.     “To tell you the truth, we haven’t got really into songwriting together yet, but we did write a few where we’d patch each other’s songs up.     “The next stuff we write will be more half and half. We haven’t actually tried sitting down and writing from square one. We’ve been helping arrange each others’ songs.”     At this point we are joined by Denny Laine and Paul introduced us thus: “This is that cunt who gave us that bad review. Fuckin’ ’it ’im.”     “No hard feelings,” said Denny with surprising warmth. I began to feel like a traitor to the cause. All we needed now was Miles Davis and Ian Anderson to walk in, waving back issues of the MM.     Denny joined us at the table and began strumming his guitar. Paul pointed out the various features in the famed studio. “‘Love Me Do’ was done about where Denny is playing right now.     “The studio hasn’t changed since then because they don’t want to change the sound.”     Meanwhile, here was Paul, 15 years later, talking about yet another single, in the room where so much history was launched. This time it’s ‘Mull Of Kintyre’ and, says Paul, “It’s Scottish. It’s different from the songs we did on the boat, we thought it should be a single, and it sounds very Christmassy and New Yeary.     “It’s kind of a glass of ale in your hand leaning up against the bar tune. We had the local pipe band join in and we took a mobile studio up to Scotland and put the equipment in an old barn.     “We had the Campbeltown Pipe Band and they were just great – just pipes and drums. It was interesting writing for them. You can’t just write any old tune because they can’t play every note in a normal scale.     “They’ve got the drone going all the time so you have to be careful what chord you change over the drone, so it’s a very simple song.     “I had to conduct them very heavily. It’s a waltz and an attempt at writing a new Scottish tune because all the other Scottish tunes are old, traditional stuff. And I like bagpipes anyway.     “But it’s a double A-side. The other one, ‘Girls’ School’, I wrote after reading the back pages of those American entertainment guides. These days there are whole pages of ‘X’-rated films, you know the porn page?     “It’s all titles like School Mistress and The Woman Trainer. I just put them all together in the lyrics and called it ‘Girls’ School’. It’s about a pornographic St Trinians.     “We made it a double because the B-sides always get swallowed. You never hear them. At least ‘Girls’ School’ will get played a bit.     “‘Mull Of Kintyre’ is different from anything we’ve done before… but sure, it’s Wings. It’s definitely not punk. No, I’ve not seen any punk bands. Yeah, it’s a good thing innit? Like everyone says?     “In interviews, everyone says, ‘It’s very good for der business… it’s for young people… it’s good to see it.’ Waaal, you’ve gotta have something of your own, haven’t you?”     Had Paul lost his audience in the meantime?     “What, to punk? Nah, it’s a different audience altogether. To me, punk is more important than glitter, and a lot of the stuff that’s been going down in the past few years, just because it’s got a bit more balls to it.     “It’s a fashion, so it would be silly for us to attempt to go along with it. It’s not what we’re about.     “We never even used to do that when The Who was doing it. Know what I mean? I can hear a lot of Who in it, Bryan Ferry and Dylan too, and Lou Reed.     “It’s Velvet Underground, New York stuff type stuff, but the British kids do it best at the moment. But I’m not into it, I wouldn’t pretend to be. It’s just a different kind of music.     “Instead of sitting down, they’re jumping up and down. Great, nice one.”     I thought I detected just the faintest hint of sarcasm in Paul’s otherwise encouraging noises.     A film is being prepared of Wings on the road in America. How was that progressing?     “It’s being mixed and the sound is being put on by Chris Thomas out at Wembley and they’re thinking of putting the concert stuff together with some documentary stuff and making a TV show.     “It’s working out great, but I don’t know when it will be released. You can’t worry, because other people have tried the same thing and it hasn’t worked.     “If you’ve got a film, you’ve just got to finish it and see if it works. That’s the stage we’re at.     “We’ve got all the stuff shot. It was going to be a concert movie but we decided, as we don’t go to concert movies ourselves, and we’d rather see One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, we’d make it a TV special, so at least you don’t have to go out of your nice warm house to see it.     “It sounds a bit boring, but it’s better than it sounds! I didn’t even see Gimme Shelter. I just don’t think they work somehow. I’ve seen so many psychedelic rock dreams – climbing mountains and stuff.”     In the New Year, would Linda want to go on the road again?     “Yeah, I think so. It’s just different for us. A couple of years ago, I used to read the papers and think, ‘You’ve got to be like everyone else. If everyone else is putting make-up on, well you’ve gotta do it.’     “But now I’ve grown out of that, realised whatever I do is my thing.     “There was one point where we felt we had to be onstage every night if we were going to be any good.     “But when it comes around to the right time, we’ll do it – go out and play.     “We actually fancy playing in some small, steamy clubs and get back to the people right there and playing to them for a laugh.     “So we’ll probably do that next year. We keep wanting to do a residency. We’d like to get a little club somewhere and build an audience. We’d like to get a great little scene going for a couple of weeks.     “We did it on our old university tour, which was the first thing we did. And cheap tickets. I love all that – if we could charge 50 pence or something. People expect bootleg prices all the time.     “There’s a scene in the film we’re doing where a fellow is offering a girl £3 tickets for £20. We’d like to get away from that situation of ‘You are now coming to see this extremely expensive group!’     “I’d much rather have people come in at lunchtime, or after work, have a little dance and a cheese roll. We might have a couple of lunchtime sessions next year.     “I fancy getting into all that, where it’s not as precious. That’s what ’appens when you get… big. I suppose that’s what the punks are up against.     “You can get trapped in all that tinsel and glitter, like Rod Stewart. I’m sure he doesn’t really want to be like that. The first thing you want to do when you see someone on a pedestal is knock ’em down isn’t it?     “But what we want to do is find a gig in the centre of London, so all the kids who are working in the offices can come and hear us.     “It’s based on the old Cavern idea. You tumble out of bed, play a couple of sets, have a couple of pints, and tumble back to bed. No, not at the posey places, somewhere like Joe’s Caff, in the basement.     “We’ll see. We’ll probably end up doing 50,000 dates in America! The real truth is, we’ll do what we fancy at the time.”     Was Paul happy to be in Wings as a working environment.     “Oh sure. We’ve actually done quite well, despite all the slagging off and the bad reviews. The main thing is the music, it’s not the bread, it’s not the fame, it’s not the acclaim, it’s not even the reviews, it’s down to whether you like the music or not. And this stuff we’re doing now… we like,” said Paul emphatically.

    Maybe I'm amazed

    He never expected to be doing this when he was 46 — "We thought 25 was the end of the line" — but Paul McCartney has stoutly refused to give up his day job.
    Engaged in rustic rehearsals for his first British tour in 10 years, and with a fresh solo album on offer, he's preparing once again to be public prope
    With mixed feelings, as Paul Du Noyer discov

        "I sometimes hear myself in interviews going, Well I'm just a sort ordinary guy. And I think, Will they go away thinking, Did he really say he was an ordinary guy? 'Cos there's a lot of evidence to the contrary. No ordinary guy is as famous as I am, or has got the money I've got, so it's difficult to claim I'm ordinary.
        "But inside I feel ordinary, and inside is where I come from. That's what's speaking, not the exterior. So I go back up to Liverpool. and I really like the earthiness: A'right Paul? Bloody 'ell, don't like yer jacket. I'm comfortable there. I'm not as happy with, (cool, snoot accent) Oh, hello Paul, what a super jacket. Paul Smith is it? I just don't seem to get on as well with those people. So that's this obsession with ordinariness, I've never really round anything mach better. I've looked, believe me.
        "Are people disappointed when they find me so ordinary? Oh yeah! And you shouldn't drive ordinary cars to premieres, and you should dress up. But I'm not living my life for other people. The truth is that what people liked about The Beatles and all that shit, was this refreshing honesty: Don't like thatm don't like yer tie . . .

        "I've got this memory and I swear it's true, but unfortunately it's getting a little bit long ago, and with these things it's. No, we couldn't have done that. But I swear to God that we as The Beatles met Nureyev in Madrid, Brian brought him around to meet us and it was a little bit late at night and we were all tired as newts, and we were sitting in this Madrid hotel room all bored out of our skulls, wondering what to do for a laugh. And I swear we met him with our swimming cosutmes on our heads. Ha ha! (Mimes a Quasimodo figure shaking hands) Very pleased to meet you! Outrageous, but not in a tough way. Not like biting a pigeon's head off."     A couple of things strike you after an hour's conversation with Paul McCartney. One is how often he'll trail off into a reminiscence about The Beatles, or explain what he's doing today with a reference to The Beatles. It's funny because he spent so many years, after their less-than-jovial split in 1970, shuddering at the very mention. Nowadays he'll bring them up without you even asking.     Maybe he thinks that's all that people really want to hear. But his talk will turn to John Lennon, in particular, with such regularity that it suggests it's more of a need with him, an abiding determination to sort those matters out, both in his own mind and for public record.     Another is the number of references to his father, Jim McCartney, a Liverpool cotton broker and part-time musician who brought Paul up after his mother's death (when McCartney was 14), and who died himself in 1976. One song on McCartney's new album Flowers In The Dirt, is called Put It There, after a favourite phrase of his Dad's. Another track, Motor Of Love, invokes his "heavenly father".     And then there's Paul himself. In the olden days when folk were admitted into the Fab Presence, they used to come away with a dreamy look in their eyes, saying he had a way of talking to you as if you were the only person in the world that mattered. So the cynics' line was, well, McCartney's a manipularor, a PR schemer — not like honest-to-goodness John, the acid-tongued debunker of bullshit.     So far as this interview goes, at least, the real-life Macca was coming on like your actual Regular Bloke. Within 30 seconds of my meeting him he'd identified the common ground — in our case, similar Liverpool upbringings — and he would refer to it, in a double-strength Scouse accent, almost constantly. And he has a flittering knack of appearing more curious about you than you are about him.     Up to his old tricks, then? McCartney the professional charmer? Or just a friendly, every-day technique, learned through years of dealing with starstruck strangers? It's hard to say, of course. But if it's an act, it's still a pretty skillful one.     It was revealing in this respect to watch him film a French TV interview, which he did just before it was Q's turn. He was irritated by the questions (especially one suggesting he'd given his recent rock 'n' roll LP, Choba B CCCP, a USSR-only release because it "wasn't good enough" for the rest of the world. "Bloody 'ell!" he shouts a cross to me, tooking for an ally. "Yer try and do something nice for the Russkies and this is what yer get!"). He didn't like the production crew for shunting him around — stand over here, say this, do that — and made no effort to pretend he was enjoying it. If nothing else, you could see that he isn't always Mr Thumbs-Aloft, smile-for-the-camera.     High on a windy hill, in the countryside of Sussex, there sits a little windmill, which happens to have been converted, at some stage in its long and useful life, into a recording studio for Paul McCartney, resident of a nearby village. Next to this windmill there stands a black barn.     Nearing this rustic construction, we hear the muffled thud and bump of a rock band, "jamming" casually on a version of the old rock'n'roll number Don't Get Around Much Any More. Somebody opens a little door, set inside the barn's bigger door, and you clamber through, out of the cold sunlight and into the warm, muggy gloom of a small rehearsal room.     Before your senses have entirely adjusted, somebody's sitting you down on a folding wooden chair, and the next thing you know vou'ie positioned in the middle of the rock band. Linda McCartney and her keyboards are under your nose, and — yes, you dimly recollect that face — Paul McCartney is standing three feet away, registering your arrival, mid-song, with a welcoming wink and a cheery, chubby smile.     The next unsettling sight to confront you is a bass guitar, propped just by your seat. It is, indeed, a Hofner "violin" bass — an object that's acquired, for many of a certain age, the status of a Magical Thing.     Four hours pass, the rock band "jamming", you on your folding wooden chair. And it's all rather wonderfully diverting. McCartney leads his team — who are Linda, as ever, and a chap called Wix on keyboards, Hamish Stuart (ex of the Average White Band) and Robbie McIntosh (formerly a Pretender) on guitars, and Chris Whitten on drums — through a repertoire including stuff from Flowers In The Dirt, old rock standards, things by Wings, and a few songs by The Beatles. Even now Paul McCartney is looking right atyou, from across his piano — the eyebrows arched, the sad, sloping eyes that open so widely in a look of soulful hope — serenading you personally, with a beautiful rendition of Fool On The Hill.     He'll be facing larger crowds when he and his still-nameless new band ("We thought of calling ourselves Lumpy Trousers, but then I thought That's just silly") go out on tour, a little later this year.     A little later this afternoon, meanwhile, where rehearsals are over and truculent TV crews have been sent packing, McCartney sits down to talk. A greyer and paunchier Paul than formerly, he shuffles about in sloppy pink T-shirt and saggy black Levi's. Phone calls interrupt him all the time — new LP and tour aside, he's still the head of a company, MPL, which oversees the copy rights of everything from Buddy Holly's catalogue to musicals like Grease, though not The Beatles' own songs, for which he was outbid by one-time collaborator Michael Jackson. The only call he takes, however, is from America, from Elvis Costello, who wrote a batch of songs with Paul, two of them on Costello's Spike album, and four more on Flowers In The Dirt:     "They're a bit more wordy than they would have been if I'd written them, 'cos he's very into words. He's a very good foil for me, and I think we foil each other fine, y'know. I foil fine. Occasionally I found he used too many chords for my opinion. I've found in writing music over the years that it's often really cool to cut your chords in half and make do with one chord, leave all your melody the same but really space out what's behind it. So I remember doing that once with Elvis, saying, Look, if you just go from C to A minor and lose all the chords in between . . . And he came back in the next day and said, Yeah, I'm really glad you said that. So we were buzzing off each other.     "I think he's very opinionated, but I like that. With Elvis it's, you're opinionated, narrow-minded and fun of yourself — I like that in a guy! I actually do, he's upfront, there's no two ways about it, he's Elvis, and I enjoyed that. Where it didn't work was when we carne to co-produce some of the songs, our opinions were really too different, but funnily enough a lot of the stuff I suggested, that Elvis didn't want to do, by the time we finished, he was doing. I don't know if he became a little more receptive to those ideas, but I definitely think we had an effect on each other."     As to the whole of the album, first impressions suggest that it's the best he's done in years. He says he has no instincts about its worth, himself, only other people's reactions. "And then you've got sales. That's why I always feel it's funny when people say, Oh, it doesn't matter whether it sells, you don't look at that aspect. I think that's what does matter, the people out there with their little pennies, going to the shop and spending them. I think that's a big move, to spend your money on someone. So that's what I tend to look at, if people will buy it. Some people think that's just crass commercialism, but I think its the public's vote."     Among his own favourites, though, is Put It There, a light acoustic-and-strings job. "It's very much what you might expect me to do. It's something my dad used to say, Put it there if it weighs a ton, a Liverpool expression. He had millions of mad expressions, my dad, a great guy, and like a lot of these Liverpol guys you never think about it till years later when you've grown up and you think, What did he mean? We were living on a little estate in Speke (a mostly overspill district in the Liverpool suburbs) — God does that seem like a million miles away from now, from Speke to mega-ness— and we'd be talking about a kid on the estate and he'd say, You know the one, his dad's got a little black penknife. They're all full of that. You'd say, Why Dad? Why do we have to do this? And he'd say, Because there's no hairs on a seagull's chest. I love all that, It's why I love surrealism so much."     The line about "heavenly father", on Motor Of Love, seems to have the same double meaning as "Moiher Mary comes to me" in Let It Be, half personal, half religious.     "I don't like religion as such because there's always wars with every bloody religion. There used to be some guy on the Pier Head. I'd go down to get the bus actually, 'cos the bus was always full, I had to go about 10 stops back, there was a thousand kids at my school, the Institute, so come four o'clock I'd go to the Pier Head which was the terminus, and I'd walk through town, clocking everything, and there'd be all these preachers there. The Catholic faith is the only true faith! And then you'd hear another one. The Protestant faith is the only true faith! Don't listen to him! And you'd be going, Oh bloody hell, I wonder if any of them know, I've got a nasty suspicion they don't.     "But with life and all the stuff I've been through, I do have a belief in, I don't know what it is, in goodness, in a good spirit. I generally think that what people have done with religion is personified good and evil, so good's bccome God with an 'o' out, and evil's become Devil with a 'd' added. That's my theory of religion. But don't get me started! I waffle on for hours about this.     "So, Heavenly Father, it's like Mother Mary, my mother was called Mary and it's just something I find myself doing, like a dirty habit. In Let It Be it was 'Mother Mary comes to me' and that was true, I was going through my dark hour, it was a fairly trippy period for me, there was a lot going on and it was just a bit strange occasionally, and there was a lot of drugs about too . . .And during these tough things I'd have a dream about me mum and it was very comforting, she died when I was 14, it was very comforting her sort of coming saying, Hello son, how are you? Oh you're there! Bloody 'ell, I thought you'd died!"     Another new song is We Got Married, the tone of which is not completely sentimental. "Once in America I was sitting around with Lorne Michaels and Paul Simon, cos I know 'em both, it was late one night and Lorne was talking to Paul and said, Why don't you write about your own experiences? I think it was before Graceland. Paul was wondering what to write about, so Lorne said, Why don't you write about your own life? You've got a punk son, who goes on stage with The Dead Kennedys and stuff, that's a really great thing, you've got this young son, no wife, you're bringing him up, what are those problems? Write about that, it's a great subject, real life.     "And I don't know if Paul ever did, but I took that to heart and thought, Well that's not a bad idea really. In We Got Married I took the idea of celebrating marriage, because I don't want to shy away from it, I think there's millions of people who are well into it and if you're lucky it's something that should be celebrated, but also there's this slightly cynical edge to it because it isn't all that sweet.     "To me it's all very what happened in the '60s when we were all in Liverpool, John and Cyn (Cynthia Lennon, his first wife), the first verse is very John and Cyn: 'Going fast, coming soon, we made love in the afternoon', 'cos they were like art students and it was the first time I'd ever heard of anyone making love in the afternoon. I was about 16, and fairly 'Whaaat! In the afternoon? Whoo! It's like a French film!' I was fairly naive."     In another song, Distractions, he ponders the problems of balancing career and personal life: "It's a question for me, some people ask me this. Why d'you do it, man? Why bother with the distractions? You're rich. 'Cos I think everyone's little dream, ccrtainly mine when I was at school was, what you'll do is get a lot of money and then you'll go on holiday for ever. Just go off on a boat. But when you grow up you realise it doesn't work. A year of that, maybe, is dead funny and a great groove. But after a year you think, What do I do in life again? Sail around the world in boats? Surely not. Oh dear.     "I don't mean to put down anyone who does that, but for me I know that after a year I'd start to wonder, I'd pick up a guitar. Actually John did a lot of that. He had periods when he renounced the whole thing, and I remember him phoning me to say, Look lad, it's the most difficult thing to renounce our fame because we're so hooked on fame, but it's great, you should kick it over! And I'm going, Hmmm, do tell me.     "So I kind of listened to him, but after a year of that, he was back, and what was his famous line? This housewife wants a job. Ha ha! He'd done the role reversai bit and now his line was, This housewife wants a job, luv.     "This is sort of what went on the '60s a bit. You thought, Well if I'm going to go with this person for the rest of my life, like John and Yoko or me and Linda, I really ought to look them in the eye all the time. And John and Yoko really did spend a lot of time (stares manically). And it got fairly mad, they'd sit there looking at each other, going It's gonna be all right, it's gonna be all right. After a couple of hours of that you get fairly worn out."     McCartney's 1989 tour will be his first in 10 years, and the first full-scale outing since 1976. He's reached the point, he says, at which he thinks it's now or never again. Was John Lennon's murder, in 1980, something that's kept him out of public circulation?     "That must have had something to do with it. It was mainly after my bust in Japan, that was what really put the kybosh on it. I thought, I'd rather stay at home, And you find a million people will sympathise with that one. If you didn't have to work, and could just hang about at home and just dig the kids. A lot of people would go for that one.     "So it was something to do with John's thing, but it was like Mohammed Ali said, When God calls me I'll go. It's gonna get you one of these days. We had a lot of scares like that with The Beatles, and yeah, I know on the eve of the tour I'll go, Oh dear me, am I kidding, going out on tour? But you've just got to live your life. It's like when people used to talk about living in the shadow of The Bomb. Well it's true, but what good does it do to think like that? You've just got to get on with it. We're all in the shadow of something, and I'm not the only person out there who might get mugged or might get shot at.     "You've just got to cross your fingers and touch a lot of wood. So I'm fairly fatalistic about it. I don't think it's a good idea to hide away: I've never been a great one for that. I'll go on a bus or I'll go shopping in London, and people say, You're mad! You're walking around on your own in London? What are you doing? Bloody hell, expected you to have about five bodyguards. Yeah, but I'd be walking around with five bodyguards then, wouldn't I? You've just got to make that choice. Sometimes you've got to do that security thing, and on tour it'll be fairly tight, which I won't be pleased with, but it's just realities of the modern day."     Apart from the ongoing deluge of Beatle books, there have been a few McCartney biographies published in recent years. He mentions having been asked by a neighbour to autograph Chet Flippo's book the other day. It happens a lot, apparently. "And I think, wait a minute, this is a silly book, why am I gonna kind of endorse it with my signature? It's like signing a bootleg. I just read a couple of bits this morning. It's so funny: how do you explain to people who you are? If someone says I'm a megalomaniac. I mean, I think, well I bet I'm not.     "All those stories that somebody put around about me trying to get Stuart (Sutcliffe, who was in an early Beatles line-up) out of the group to become bass player. I got lumbered with bass player. I had to ring George up recently, George Harrison, and say, Hey George, what d'you remember about me? Did I push Stuart out of the group? He said. No, you got lumbered with bass 'cos none of us would do it. Ah, that's what I thought it was.     "You're constantly trying to remember if you're OK or not. I hate justifying myself. I remember looking at George Martin once and saying, George, are we really gonna have to keep justifying ourselves? He said. Yeah. Forever. You never can rest on your laurels. And it's just as well really, I don't want to rest on them. It's probably why I'm touring and making new albums.     "I don't actually want to be a living legend. I came into this to get out of having a job, and to pull birds. And I pulled quite a few birds, and got out of having a job, so that's where I am still. It's turned out to be very much a job, a bloody hard job the way I do it, running a company and stuff, but I do like it, and if people think I'm a megalomaniac or if people think I'm mean — it's difficult to know what to do about that, really.     "I just blank it. I know what I'm about. It's like. Is Cliff Richard a homosexual? I don't bloody know, I don't care, I wouidn't think so, but there's always gonna be people whispering it. So you're in that position, there's always gonna be someone who'll detract from what you do. Jonathan King slagged off Live Aid. We know it wasn't a perfect show, but it earned millions for those starving bloody people, and some pranny like Jonathan King, Mr Everyone's Gone To The Bleeding Moon, Mr University — that's the only reason they love him at the Beeb, because they love anyone who's been to university at the Beeb, you check it out - I don't go for his opinion."     It's noticeable how those books compress his whole career since The Beatles (19 years, now) into a chapter at the end. He's philosophical about it. '"I've met enough journalists and seen enough people having to get articles that are winners, to know the game. I know the game, which is, He was a Beatle. Any book on John Lennon they do the same, condense the Yoko period into, Oh yeah, peace chants, he wore funny hats and a lot of sunglasses and he was militant, and then he slept around a lot with Yoko in bed. It compresses fairly easily.     "But what I like about the music I've written in that period is, I kind of think it's undiscovered: it's really been just blanked. No, he didn't write anything since The Beatles. But once you start to look, I mean, commercially there are definitely things that outsold anything The Beatles did, like Mull Of Kintyre. But critically people don't consider that.     "They didn't like Ebony And Ivory, the critics, and I can see what they're talking about, but I liked it, I think it was good. I had a black sax player in LA, Ernie Watts, and he thanked me. So why am I gonna listen to some critic after that? And it sold OK, and I got to sing with Stevie. I think if you're gonna damn it, it wasn't the greatest coming together of me and Stevie, 'cos he's a giant, and I can be fairly gigantic, so the two of us could have been mega-giants. But for Christ's sake it was Number 1. You find yourself justifying your successes; it's a funny state of affairs.     "And they just dismiss Linda, which is interesting because she's not that dismissable. She's actually a very talented girl. She's a very good photographer for one. Everyone automatically dismisses her singing: She sings out of tunc doesn't she? I had a period when I started listening to them, thinking, Maybe they're right. I know she's not the world's greatest singer, she's not a front singer, but I liked it when we sang together, we seemed to blend. So I started to use more session singers where there was no question of whether they were any good or not, and I just didn't like it, it just sounded like session singers to me. So I've come back to Linda."     In the years that Wings were together, from 71 to '79, the group was noted for its changing line-ups. Why might that be?     "The thing is, what do you do, stay stable with a bad group? That's the alternative. I just wasn't happy with the people, so you try and do better. In fact I've only had about three line-ups of Wings, it's not that many.     "It did get me the reputation, Ooh he's difficult to work with, but you can look at it another way — they weren't that good maybe. Either I'm a sod or whoever it was wasn't that good. I'm not sure which it is, but I can remember why we broke up in each instance. Once I was trying to get a guitar player to play something and he said it can't be played. Oh dear, it can you know. It got to be one of those."     The McCartneys don't, by most accounts, indulge themselves in luxury to any great extent. To the more jaundiced observer, such as their one-time colleague Denny Laine, who sold his story to The Sun, their plain living is a sign of meanness. For others. it's good old Paul being down to earth.     "l'm not very into luxury," comes his own explanation. "I'm not very impressed with it really. I think luxury is a transition phase between not having much money and having a bit of money. The first thing you do is get luxury, a big car, 'cos everyone's into that, you get a Roller — yeah! After a while you find you're getting seasick going round bends, and you think, I'm not into this car. I liked me Ford Classic — that's going back a bit, that was me first car. So I'm not that keen on a lot of luxuries, but I like comforts and all that stuff.     "The thing is. you've got to remember when I first got money with The Beatles, it's quite a long time ago, so I've had a lot of time to adjust and to pace myself, and get sensible with it all. And this is what I think is a sensible way to live with money, which is not have it rule you but really take full advantage of it. And it comes in very handy if someone gets ill for instance. You're not one of those people who're saying, Well I'm waiting for me hip replacement. So there's instances with friends and relatives and people who work in the company where I'm able to kind of say, No sweat, let me treat you.     "I take luxurious holidays, 'cos I'm into that. But I'm not into luxury. I think it's where I'm from, they're always dead suspicious of too much, too far, too soon. It's, Now look son, keep yer head on yer shoulders, moderation in all things. My dad was always like that. I've tried to meet people who were better and groovier and had better opinions, but I never really met any. I met people who were more far out, but in the end some of those basic things like, Oh you won't find your happiness there, luv, turn out to be true.     "I've tried a lot of luxuries: tried live-in couples, hated it, tried the big house in London, didn't hate it but grew out of it. The example that always sums it up for me was John, when we first all got loaded, he moved out to Weybridge, very near a golf club and it was very much the landed gentry kind of thing. And you could have anything you wanted, kind of, in the first flush of success. He went mad on Jaffa Cakes! He went insane about them, gimme gimme gimme. And about a week later he couldn't look at one. For the rest of his life it was, Don't talk to me about Jaffa Cakes."     With a few temporary exceptions, he's had his children educated at ordinary schools: "State schools! (Adopls a sort of Wigan magisirate's accent) It was good enough for me, it's good enough for them! I always feared the day they'd come back from a posh school saying. Hello Pater, and start to look down on me, which I've seen happen; it's a fairly regular occurrence with the working-class parents who make good. The first thing they say, and you can't blame them, God love 'em, He's gonna have everything I never 'ad. I still know millions of public school-kids who want to slum, they wanna groove, they wanna get their feet on the ground, man. 'Cos they suddenly realise that's what's important in life, to be really solid with a few mates, or to care deeply about anything. And that's what we learned anyway, from being knocked around a bit. So I've always been keen on that. I always thought if the kids are really smart they can get to universities from state schools. So that's roughly what we've done, and they seem OK for it."     How do matters stand between him and George and Ringo nowadays? One had the impression they were growing closer, until last year it was announced he wouldn't be joining them at a "Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame" ceremony in America, because of "business differences".     "I'll tell you what that was, I hate that thing 'business differences'. You know Apple still isn't sorted out, it's only 20 years later. We've all got our sides of the story; my story is that I just want us to divide it in four and go home. And then be nice to each other. But all the advisors say it's not as simple as that, so it goes on forever. At present, one of the levers George and Ringo have against me in negotiations is a lawsuit that's about something I wasn't supposed to do - I think I was allowed to do it, they think I wasn't — it's just a difference of opinion. I rang them up.     "What happens with Apple is that you do it all through Neil Aspinall, our guy, he's been our roadie since the Tower Ballroom (New Brighton days, he used to drive us through the Mersey Tunnel in a little van. So Neil is like a very strong guy from the past, he's great. We haven't done his health any good, he had a heart attack last year, he's only our age — 'only' our age, ha! And I rang up and said, Look, l'd really love to go to this Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame thing.     "'Cos we keep talking about this film we want to do, The Long And Winding Road, the definitive Beatles story, where we get our heads together and we say, This is how it was, and c'mon Ringo, you narrate that bit, in your own voice, instead of (big US annouucer's voice) 'And then the fabulous Beatles blah blah blah'. It'd be, (in a Ringo drone) They said they were gonna shoot us and a firework went off in the audience and I did get a fright. Get it all in the real words.     "'But I keep saying to everyone, we've got to sort out our problems. We can't move forward in harmony while you're suing me. So I wanted that to be the reunion night, and I said, If you can drop this lawsuit guys, or just nearly drop it, show me something that says you love me, give me a sign, a wink. And it just went and went, I kept ringing. George was in Hawaii, I got a message back from him, sit tight, don't rock the boat, don't worry. But that wasn't good enough.     "So I had to ring him up and say I couldn't go to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame, no way was I standing up on stage going, Yo! United! when I know they're suing me, I just couldn't do it. So that got watered down as 'business differences'.     "It's bloody embarrassimg because I'd have liked to have gone along, and my thinking was, It'll be great, we could hold hands, and they'd take a picture which would go around the world, and we'd use that as a jumping off point to do our movie. Great! But it just wasn't to be.     "But one of these years it'll get sorted. This film could be very interesting, 'cos we've all got private footage. I've got some of us in India, with us all being very Swami indeed, black and white footage of us wandering around with funny things on our heads. joss sticks in our hands.     "We could extend it into a real nostalgic piece where we The Beatles try to set the record straight. Why did you say you were bigger than Jesus? Well bloody 'ell, John just mouthed off, that's all. Isn't it allowed to make a mistake? John got the fear of God put into him. Boy, if there was one point in John's life when he was nervous... Try having the whole Bible Belt against you. We tried to laugh it off, but it wasn't so funny.     "So, yeah, one of these days we'll sort it out. It could be a great film, we could mess with the records if we wanted to, take orchestras off if we didn't want 'em, maybe Long And Winding Road, pare some stuff back. 'Cos I think Let It Be was a great album with nothing on it, the originai Glyn Johns mix before Phil Spector got it. I was a great fan of that, but everyone considered it too daring and bare, 'cos it was just a little four-piece group playing. I think people would have loved it, myself, it was just us in the raw. But (Wigan magistrate again) Klein didn't like it and he was a powerful figure at the time so he brought in Spector, and poor old Phil was stuck in the middle not knowing what to do. Hectic days.     "So that's the pian, to do all that, get friendly, maybe do some songs, that's the other big interesting area we could really get into. 'Cos George has been writing with Jeff Lynne, I've been writing with Elvis Costello, so it's natural for me to write with George, and we've never actually done it, ever. And we're both quite interested in that idea, so if only we could get the shit out of the way and get a bit of sense happening..."     Will he be doing any of John's songs when he goes out on tour?     "I don't know. I had an idea to do something. I was going to do one of my songs ealled Here Today (off the 1982 Tug Of War album), it's about John. It's just a song saying, If you were here today you'd probably say what I'm doing is a load of crap, but you wouldn't mean it, cos yer like me really. I know. It's one of those 'Come out from behind yer glasses, John, and look at me' kind of things. And it was a kind of love song really, not to John, but about John and my relationship with him.     "It was trying to exorcise the demons in my own head, 'cos it's fairly tough when you have someone like John slagging you off in public, 'cos he's a fairly tough slagger-offer. Like he said my singing was like Engelbert Humperdinck, which I quoted somewhere, and Engelbert rang up, he got really annoyed. He thought I'd originated it, and I said No, John said it, about me. And he says, John Lennon would never have said that.     "That was all fairly hard to live down, so I wrote this song to try and come to terms with it myself. and I had thought I'd do that on stage, but then someone suggested, Why don't you do one of John's, that'd be really poignant. And it would. I don't know if I'd be able to get through it, you've got to deal with the emotion of something like that. But it'd be nice to make a nod, or a wink, to the lad. He was, great, a major influence in my life, as I suppose I was on his.     "But the great thing about me and John is that it was me and John. End of story, That's the one great thing I can think, whereas everyone else can say so-and-so, so-and-so, That's the nice thing. When we got in a little room it was me and John sitting there, it was me and him who wrote it, not all these other people who think they know all about it. It was me, I must know better than them. I was the one in the room with him."     And how does his own work, solo and with Wings, seem to him in retrospect? "There are some people who like the sillier side of what I do, and there are some who won't accept it, the kind of people who hated Within You Without You, on Pepper: 'Oh I don't like that, is that George? Oh dear he's gone all Indian, sounds like a bunch of Indians to me.' There's a bit of rubbish too, I'm not saying everything I've done is great. I hear some of them and I think, Blimey, you should finish that one some day, son. Like my dad would say if a girl was revealing too much, That'll be a nice dress when it's finished. And some of them are a bit, That'll be a nice song when it's finished.     "You can't win them all. I've done so much. there has to be an element that doesn't make it. I don't know how many songs I've written, but I have had a fair share of success ... he said, shying away modestly. Every dog has his day — God, the metaphors are getting funny here! — but that's what it is. 'I've done great for some scruff from Speke, 'cos that's all I am. Well I wasn't that much of a scruff, we were quite well off really, I thought. We never had anything, we didn't have a telly, didn't have a car and that kind of stuff, but it was great. And I must say, in truth, I've never met anyone better than those people I grew up with, and I've met a few, including the Prime Minister of this fair country, and a few other fair countries. Not any of them has ever come anywhere near some of those people, from where I'm from.     "I feel pretty good about it. I feel amazed that I can still sing, 'cos I'm 46, I never expected to be doing this when I was 46. We used to think 25 was the end of the line. I really do get off on doing it. Jamming is what I really love. Who'd have ever thought I'd still be messing around with electic guitars?"

    "Once There Was a Way to Get Back Homeward..."

    Record Magazine, September 1984

    London. In a city where every kid on the street looks like he's rushing off to audition for Duran Duran, Paul McCartney, dressed for work in a blue-and-white-checked Levi's shirt, blue cotton jeans and slightly muddy rubber-soled loafers, seems almost ... out of place. No matter how you may feel about his recent records, his wife, his bank account, his marijuana busts, his "it's a drag" response to his ex-partner's and ex-best friend's assassination, the man has contributed to more incredible moments of rock history and rock music than almost any other human being on the face of this earth. And Paul carries that weight, even though he bounces into the coffee bar of George Martin's AIR Studios, where he's mixing the soundtrack to his first feature film, "Give My Regards to Broad Street" (which features Ringo Starr, Dave Edmunds, Chris Spedding and Led Zep's John Paul Jones among the musicians, and Sir Ralph Richardson, "Breaker Morant"'s Bryan Brown and Tracey Ullman among the thespians). Whistling and trying to play it nonchalant, he fires off a few rounds of Asteroids, complains that some engineer or another is threatening his house record, then says hello. As you note his fading semblance to "the cute one" of the Fab Four - his greying hair, crinkling eyes, bit of a tummy - he's checking you out, too. Are you going to see him as the kid who grew up in a Liverpool housing project, never content to just reach for the brass ring? Like the figure in the logo for his multi-million dollar company, MPL (for which he oversees every aspect, from making albums to picking out photos for his fan club newsletter), Paul McCartney, at age 42, 20 years after the onset of Beatlemania, is still trying to juggle, the sun, moon and Saturn.
    Question: In the last two years you've had successful records on the charts (Tug of War, Pipes of Peace), but you haven't toured since 1976 and your recent public appearances seem to have been limited to a brief wave as you emerge from jail. People probably read all sorts of things about your supposed seclusion, but what they may not realize is that for the past 18 months you've been at work in England, doing a film. Maybe you should explain "Give My Regards to Broad Street" and how it came about.

    Paul McCartney: I was sittin' in a traffic jam and I was bored and I'd been trying to get together a film of some kind. At first, it was going to be based on the "Tug of War" album, an anti-war film. We were working with Tom Stoppard, who's a great writer. But it wasn't happening. I think if it's someone else's idea, it's not as easy as if it's your own. I'd talked to a few directors and David Putnam, who did "Chariots of Fire", recommended Peter Webb. So I was trying to do this "Tug of War" thing with him and Tom Stoppard, and it was all falling down. And I was stuck in this traffic jam, so I said I'll write something then.

    Question: Do you ever write songs while you're driving in the car?

    Paul McCartney: Not really. I sing along with the radio. You can always sing best in a car, can't you? It's better than a recording studio.

    Question: You actually wrote a film script while stuck in traffic?

    Paul McCartney: I wrote it first as an account. After I got busted in Japan and I was held in jail for nine days - you may not have heard, it rarely got in the papers - after I got out of that, I wanted to write it down. Just for the record. 'Cause I know how I am, I forget things very easily. Haven't go the world's greatest memory. Anyway, I wrote it all down. I sort of thought, God, this is like writing an essay for school. I can't do it, I'm frightened of the piece of paper. But because I knew I had to write it down to remember the incident, I forced myself to write it. In the end, I'd written 20,000 words.

    Question: Why didn't Paul McCartney, the richest man in show biz, etc., etc., pay someone else to carry his contraband, like some other musicians do? Did you think you were above the law?

    Paul McCartney: Because everyone knows you don't bring grass into Japan, people assume I was arrogant. I wasn't. I was just bein' dumb. I'd got some good grass in America, if you wanna know the truth, and I was loath to flush it down the toilet. And I was silly enough to think I might get past. It was daft. Obviously, looking back, you could say why didn't you pay someone? Then they woulda got busted. I don't want anyone else to take the rap. It was just dumb, that's all. We all make mistakes. That was one of mine. The joke of the matter is they haven't changed my opinions on the marijuana thing a'tall. 'Cause they didn't make any attempt to rehabilitate me; they don't, of course, in jail. They lock you in a box and hope the experience will be so horrible you won't do it again.

    Question: Was it the first time in years you'd really been alone?

    Paul McCartney: First time that kind of alone. It's a different kind of alone when you're stuck over in Tokyo. It's bad enough when you're stuck in jail when it's your home town, I would think. Although I've never been to my hometown jail. It's always some weird foreign country. It was one of those things ... y'know, when I was a schoolboy, I sometimes went into first class carriages on a second class ticket. I sometimes got caught then, too. I'm not an angel; by the same token, I'm not a criminal, either. This is sounding rather like dialogue from our film, actually.

    Question: But "Broad Street" isn't about your bust, is it? It's a musical fantasy. You play a character with no name, who loses his master tapes - but that's not intended as a heavy metaphor or a deep-rooted existential dilemma. You see the film as fun family entertainment rather than the great statement that sums up your life's work and everything you want to say to the world.

    Paul McCartney: In the same way, really, that "A Hard Day's Night" was just these four guys going 'round from song to song and being chased by a lot of fans - which was a kinda parody of what was really happening to us. Well, this is a sort of "Hard Day's Night" of me solo. It's a kind of parody of me now. The truth of the matter is, anything I say about it, I can't pin down. When I was faced with making it, it was sort of like, well, should we go into this kinda space blockbuster - that's Spielberg, that's Lucas, that's "Raiders", that's those guys. They do it so well, there's no point in tryin' to compete with them. The other thing was "National Lampoon", "Saturday Night Live", Monty Python, "The Young Ones" over here - but I'll look like a second class any one o' them if I try and do their thing. So this was just more ... my thing. And it comes off a bit more English, a bit lighter on the comedy. 'Cause I'm not any great, stunning comedian. Ringo's funny.

    Question: It's interesting that as movies are getting more rock, or at least more soundtrack oriented, rock people are getting more involved with film.

    Paul McCartney: It's exciting. You're getting people like Spielberg - you go and see "Close Encounters" - I saw it in New York and it was like [makes noise like an explosion]. They've wound up the volume. And I thought, God, this guy is nicking everything out of our thing. He's making films like rock shows. He's grabbing you at the beginning with a big special effect. He's very plugged in with the average head, Mr. Spielberg, isn't he? Y'know, television, cornflakes. The mother who lives on her own with the children. He's very plugged in to how it is.

    Question: Do you think you're plugged in?

    Paul McCartney: To some degree, yeah. My family is like the families that happen in the Spielberg movies. Where the kids swear and say "Penis breath" and the movie says, "Stop that, Jonathon," and the kids come home from school with new words and the boys wanna be rougher than the girls. It's all the same as it ever was, really. I don't know how it is in the States. I know how it is around me.

    Question: Your children go to a regular school, don't they?

    Paul McCartney: The normal kind of school like I went to as a kid, yeah. Just a state school. That's mainly because if they're gonna be privileged in some way - and I s'pose money gives you privileges - I don't want 'em lookin' down on ordinary people. I see that as the main danger when you get money. Especially inherited wealth. You start to think, Well, I'm better than him anyway, I've got more than him, and you tend to look down on him. It's that easy to do. We all know about that. So my kids go to ordinary schools in order for them to learn how it is first. Then if you want to be terrific and privileged afterwards, you can handle it. You've got some humanity and compassion with it. But if you are just hit with a big bank balance and you're a bit of a slob, you'll go and slob all that money all over people. You can cause a lot of harm. So I'm trying to bring them up to have values. To have heart, more than anything. It's heart, really, I want them to have. I want them to actually care, you know, if someone gets hurt. And they do. They're very good kids, like that.

    Question: What do the kids at school think of them?

    Paul McCartney: We try to play down the whole thing. They know I'm famous, but they see the kids are trying to cope with it normally, so they help 'em. Some of them pick on 'em. Like all kids at all schools. But the main body of them know what's going on there. That we're not big-headed swine trying to take over the area. We're just trying to fit in. Real normal. With a little bit of privacy here and there - just like most people want. Normally I steer interviews off it. Just so we don't make them the subject. Good kids, though. They're good kids. I'd love nothing more than to be able to show you photographs of my house, let you publish 'em. 'Cause I love it, I'm very proud of it. But if you do that, everyone goes, "Oh God, look at 'im, showing off." So now I try and play it a little more private.

    Question: Let's get back to "Broad Street", then. If it's supposed to be a parody of your solo career, why did you record Beatles songs for the film?

    Paul McCartney: As it's a story about me and what happens to me, we decided to draw on my entire composing output. We were trying to do the equivalent of, like, a live show. If you're doing a live show and you're doing all new songs, people don't understand. They don't, really. All of us would like to go out on a tour and have some new ideas and just do it. For the freshness. Just for ourselves. But if Jagger gets on and doesn't do "Satisfaction," I'm gonna want my money back. I know the Beatles and the Stones - two of the biggest performin' acts in history, I s'pose - always tried to do new numbers. But whenever we stuck a new number in, it went flat - as a pancake. We'd have to explain it, we'd have to set it all up. Now audiences are better. But there's always gonna be someone who will kinda say [cups hands and yells like a drunk] "Yeah, sing 'Yesterday'!" There's always gonna be someone in the audience who's gonna wanna hear it. So I think what you gotta do is, you compromise. It'd be lovely if everyone was madly sensitive to the artist, but they're not. People are just people. I love that fact, though. To me, I love that people are real ... slobs. I love that. That people eat junk food and watch a lot of telly. There's something I find I identify with. I'm a bit like that.

    Question: You eat junk food?

    Paul McCartney: I don't really eat junk food. But I can identify with people who do. I happen to be a vegetarian now, but that's another matter. If they had vegetarian junk food, I'd eat it. What I mean is, I agree that the customer's always right. To an extent. I hate to agree with it, actually. 'Cause we'd all love to say, No, he isn't. But there's a bottom line somewhere. F'rinstance, people have said to me, "Will you make another film after this one?" It depends on if I think this one works. Critics, forget. If the public likes it, that's who I'll listen to.

    Question: You used to be extremely sensitive to criticism.

    Paul McCartney: Well, I still am. Everyone is.

    Question: Your work has been described as mawkish, insipid, silly, vacuous - and worse.

    Paul McCartney: The stuff they write is so much better, isn't it? Storms the charts, what they write. The thing is, they all tell you about the story of getting' to the top and that's when everyone tries to knock you off your pedestal. They all tell you it's tough at the top and it is. But you get used to it. I've never liked criticism. Unless it was really constructive. This is what you'll hear everyone say and it's the same for me, really. It's the negative, bitchy kind I don't like. I know this film, I know the critics will have quite a bit to say, y'know? The thing is, we set out to make a film and the great thing is, as David Putnam said the other day, is we've done it. These same people who kind of put me down and say, "Oh, he's insipid and vacuous - f'rinstance, "Ebony and Ivory," I just saw it described as that the other day. It is a very simple song. If you're looking for thoughty verse, 40 stanzas, you won't get it. You better look to Coleridge for that kinda gig. That was the best I could do. But for me, they didn't do anything less insipid. Who else has had a number one talking about the black and white color problem? Who else has done anything remotely like it? There were a few records a few years ago - you got anti-Vietnam, give peace a chance and stuff. There's not many people actually even bother to take issues like that.

    Question: Are you concerned with other issues or political causes? You did a song, "Give Ireland Back to the Irish," and not long ago you fired off a telegram to Maggie Thatcher about the nurses' strike here in England.

    Paul McCartney: I figure I'm just a fella, livin'. I got four kids, I'm a rate [tax] payer. So that entitles me to an opinion. I'm livin' in the West, so we're allowed to talk over here, right? So when the English paratroopers, my army who I'm payin' rates for, go into Ireland and shoot down innocent bystanders, for the first time in my life I go, Hey, wait a minute, we're the goodies, aren't we? That wasn't very goody. And I'm moved to make some kind of a protest. So I did "Give Ireland Back to the Irish." Which was promptly banned in England. But it was Number One in Spain, of all places. That was rather odd - Franco was in power.

    Question: Maybe they couldn't understand the words.

    Paul McCartney: I think that's what it was, actually. They just liked the tune. It's not so much that I'm a protester, it's just that there are some times when you can't help but protest. So "Give Ireland Back to the Irish" was something I had to write. And "Ebony and Ivory," I just had the idea and thought, Yeah, well, that says something I wanna say. One of the reasons it says it simply is I tried forever to write the second verse and never could. And to me, this argument that commercial is drippy - I don't think it's true. That's underestimating the intelligence of the people who are buying your stuff. I mea, "soap" is the number one comedy show 'cause it's funny. Those things don't get there 'cause someone manages 'em. It's 'cause we all laugh. Or 'cause we like the new Michael Jackson thing. "Thriller" doesn't sell because he's some kind of jerk. It's proof that you reached people rather than this rathuh vulgah commercial thing, dahling. He sells, good God. But dahling - how vulgah! That's the weight of snobbery, I think.

    Question: Is Michaelmania as intense over here as it is in the States? It almost seems as if the media won't be happy until it's used him up. His face is everywhere, every week. When you're sick of his face, they write about his glove.

    Paul McCartney: It's known as being hot. There was Beatlemania, now there's Michaelmania.

    Question: Can it destroy you?

    Paul McCartney: I didn't get destroyed by it. It's nice of everyone to worry about Michael - I don't think he needs it a'tall. He's a very straightforward kid. He's very talented: he can dance, he can sing, he knows how to make records that people'll like. He's got a great lot of faith. He's got a lot of innocence, he protects it especially. He's very careful about that.

    Question: How does he protect it?

    Paul McCartney: Look at cartoons all day. Don't do drugs, look at cartoons and you'll be more innocent. That's sort of how he does it. One of my theories about Michael's high voice is if you were whatever age he was when he started getting' famous - a little itty bitty kid you see in those old Motown videos - well, at 13 or 14, when most of us fellas are trying to make our voices break so girls will go out with us and we're all tryin' to look butch - someone who's earning that much off not being butch isn't going to want his voice to break as easily. And he just doesn't want to lose his childhood. I know that feeling. I mean, sometimes people will say I'm trying to be a Beatle. I'm not trying to stay young-looking, although I prefer young-looking to old-looking, actually. I'm not working at it like mad. I don't dye my hair or anything. What I don't like is "growing up" in inverted commas. That kind of idea of putting aside serious foolish pleasure and getting into the serious worrying things in life. There's too much of that about anyway. I love to be able to look through child's eyes at rain or something like that.

    Question: Does having children keep you in touch with that?

    Paul McCartney: That's one of the great things about having kids. I know that when I was 20-odd and we'd ridden on the crest of the wave of the Beatles and it was breaking up, I was at a point where I was writing songs like on "Abbey Road" - [sings] "Once there was a way to get back homeward" - like once there was a way to get back home, but now there isn't. Like you couldn't get back to your roots anymore once you've been in the city a long time and not been back to Liverpool. Once you've been on rock 'n roll tours and seen people snortin' this and doin' this and doin' that. You can't keep your innocence because you've been exposed to the non-innocent thing. But suddenly that's not true, 'cause it's only you exposing yourself. It's you putting yourself down there. If you want to go into a field and lie down a smell a dandelion - sounds all very flower power and 60's - but if you want to your youth floods back. The great thing with kids is they want to roll down hills, so you get to do that. And they want pen knives and bits of string. They do all that stuff that you remember.

    Question: There's a Delmore Schwartz quote I always try to keep in mind. Actually, I think he was paraphrasing Pater, or some ancient philosopher, but it's something to the effect that every stage of life aspires to the condition of childhood and all art constantly aspires to the condition of music.

    Paul McCartney: That's the way I feel. You've heard of the painter - people like Picasso or an English painter, Peter Blake - we've heard him say how he learns all his life to be a painter, to be technically brilliant, and then he gets to a stage and says now I've got to unlearn it. Now I'm so stiff in my lines, I'm so clever - when I was a kid, God, how free that was. I don't really wanna go through all that. I just wanna stay unlearned. That really is my intention. If I can have some kind of fun whilst doing my job and kinda being me, then that'll help.

    Question: Has it become more of a job?

    Paul McCartney: A lot more. Not a little bit. A lottle bit. When we started off, we came down from Liverpool, we went into the studio, we sang 10 songs and then we went to the pub. And that was the last we heard of that record 'til it was out in the shops. That was when we had no control, no money, nothing. Those were the lightest working hours ever. And we began to take over control, the workmen taking control of the tools, and become members of the team. So now you stay for mixing, you talk about what's gonna be the single, and you work. You work harder than I ever thought you work. And for someone who only got into music to avoid getting' a job ... But think about it, think about it. I've survived. After the Beatles. And I've even had another group after the Beatles and even that did well. I mean, anyone forced to carry on after the Stones, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin - you can't top it. There's no question you can top it. But even just existing, without topping it, is really tough to do. And me, I just feel really lucky that no matter who's slagged me off here, there and everywhere, somehow I ended up here. I'm just an ordinary fella, really. I've done bloody well.

    Question: How do you feel about the books that keep coming out about you and the Beatles? Does it bother you that people who were once friends and employees are trying to cash in by revealing all the trash?

    Paul McCartney: It's trash, let's leave it at that. It is trash. And they know it and they have to live with it. I think I'm pretty lucky to have got off like this, considering how bitchy and jealous people can be. I don't feel wrong about anything I've done. Obviously, like everyone, I'd prefer everything of mine to be a complete critical success and number one in every country in the world. At least. But you know, it doesn't happen like that. I remember actually looking at Sinatra's career, when I was 30, and thinking, God, you know, he took some knocks. 'Cause he had big slump periods and all that. But I was thinking but still, he's reckoned by some people to be the tops and so it is obviously possible to live life and take some knocks and take some slumps and still ... get on.

    Question: Let me ask you about someone else taking some knocks. I can understand that for you, having Linda in the band was a way of having her on the road with you. And people probably would have objected to anyone you married - unless it was Princess Di, probably. But having Linda in the band really set her up.

    Paul McCartney: What happened, really, was that the Beatles broke up and there we were, left with the wreckage. I just thought, that's the end of me as a singer, songwriter, composer - 'cause I hadn't got anyone to do it with - unless I now work out another way to do it. I looked at someone like Johnny Cash and I thought, well, Johnny Cash just takes a coupla guys and goes around Folsom Prison and has a sing. It doesn't particularly matter who's in his backing group. And I thought, Well, I'll just do a similar thing, I'll just get a band and it'll really just be for the playing and singing, just so I don't forget how to do it. Like an athlete keeping in some form, some kinda condition. All in all, I ended up sayin' to Lin, So how'd you fancy it, c'mon, hit a synthesizer for us - just a little wah-wah. Just somethin' simple. We'll go and have a laugh. I needja onstage for my confidence, that was really the major point. I, like an idiot, asked her to do it. And like a wonderful person, she agreed. It was mad, really. But in truth, in our own innocence at the time just kinda the first years of like knowin' each other - we just thought we could do anything. And we did, for God's sake. That's the joke about it. It doesn't matter who hated her on the way. We did it. On the '76 tour there she was, by God, doin' it all. The thing is , it caused a lot of trouble between us.

    Question: What was interesting was that both you and John appeared to replace each other with your wives as your primary collaborators.

    Paul McCartney: It wasn't serious collaboration. I mean, I don't even feel like writing with Michael (Jackson) was a collaboration in the same way it was with John. That was a songwriting partnership. We were very special. I could feel it was a special kind of thing 'cause it was dead easy to write. Talk about sittin' around for days trying to write songs - in a matter of hours, we felt we'd been at it too long. John and I were perfect, really, for each other. I could do stuff he might not be in the mood for, egg him in a certain direction he might not wanna go in. And he could do the same with me. If I'd go in a certain direction he didn't like, he'd just stop it [snaps fingers] like that. The thing is, I don't think Linda and I have ever taken her contribution seriously. So when other people judge it seriously, they're not really using the same terms of reference we're using. You gotta imagine these people - the guy's just lost the Beatles and he's out of a job. The girl is a photographer. They've just suddenly fallen in love. It's the 60's. They wanna do stuff that suits them, not what anyone else thinks. It's just some fella, some girl. Just getting' married. And we just went and did it [sings] "Our way ..."

    Question: Are you ever going to tour again?

    Paul McCartney: I don't know. I haven't ruled it out. I know in the back of everyone's minds when they ask this question - and they all ask it - in the back of everyone's minds is he won't tour again because John got killed. And no one mentions it. To me, I haven't been able to consider a tour in the last two years because I've been making this film and no way could I have taken one second off what I have been doing. I may easily do it after this movie. If I was some 24-year-old bachelor, I sure as hell would want to be on tour - just for the women, probably. And if I was as I was once, it would be - hey man, the performance, there's no substitute - all of those things would be true. But I've got four kids and they deserve most of my time. If they're to be brought up happy. They deserve for me to be around sometime.

    Question: Did you really play drums on a lot of the Beatles' things? At least one of "those books" claims that in your attempt to control the band you sort of pushed Ringo right off his own drum stool.

    Paul McCartney: Some Beatles things. On "Back in the USSR" and I think I played guitar on "Taxman" and "The Night Before", a couple of those. But everything else gets exaggerated in the Beatles' case. People were reading so much into our lives and our lyrics that we found ourselves feedin' 'em the crazy facts. Like me going across the Abbey Road crossing with no shoes on. I mean, that's all made up, that stuff. If you're trying to look for the truth of it, with the Beatles, you got four guys who were a good little band, a tight little unit, and for most of their working lives were really good with each other.

    Question: Do you miss it?

    Paul McCartney: Yeah. But I don't miss it as much as I would've if I'd been the 28-year-old bachelor. Hey, this bachelor's getting older by the minute. I can see there would have been a bigger thing for it then. One of the great things about my life is that I don't have too many regrets. As far as women are concerned, I don't lust after them now because I sowed a lot of wild oats. Me and Linda got a lot done, y'know, in the 60's. We got a lot out of our systems. Which is good for now, because it allows you to sort of settle back and be content with just kind of ordinary life. That's how we feel. We don't feel like we missed anything.

    Run Devil Run interview, 1999

    Paul McCartney: For many years, I've been thinking about doing a rock 'n' roll album. It's something that Lin and I were talking about and she was very keen on the idea. She loved that rock 'n' roll. So she loved the idea of me doing some of these songs that I never did with the Beatles. So I started planning it. And what happened was, I started to remember that the early recording session with the Beatles happened a particular way. And a very specific way. What happened is, you're supposed to get at the studio for ten o'clock. Then you're supposed to be ready with the guitar in tune or your bass, set up your amp, everything ready to go by 10:30. Then at 10:30, the grown ups would kind of arrive, then they'd say, what are we doing. You'd tell them, and in the next three hours you were expected to do two songs. Then at 1:30, you had 1:30 to 2:30 an hours' lunch. Then 2:30 to 5:30 you had another three hours, another two songs. And that was the way we worked for quite a while, like Revolver, Rubber Soul, all the early albums. And I remember loving it, 'cause it was so fast. There was no time for anything but music. Wasn't indulging, you couldn't have time. So I thought, it'd be really great to do that again. And I had a kind of like professional nostalgia for that way of working. So I thought, I wonder if it would work these days, you know. The other thing I realized was that when John and I were writing we often would have written the stuff just a week before. So when the producer, George Martin, and the engineer say, what are we doing, John and I would say, it goes like this. We'd pull our guitars out and we'd show the song. Often Ringo and George also didn't know what was coming up. They weren't with us when we had written. So it was really fresh. It meant that every new recording people had only just heard for the first time. You'd really had to think, what do I want to do on this. Make instant decisions. Nothing could be left till later. You just had to go and do it. So I thought, well, I should try and recreate exactly that. So what I did was, I booked Abbey Road studios, Studio 2, which is our old studio for a week. I rang up some guys, who I knew, two I didn't know, just, well, just thought who, who would be a good band. I'd asked a few people. Dave Gilmour was interested in doing on guitar, he's an old friend, Dave, I like his playing. Mick Green who I'd worked with before. He used to be in Johnny Kidd and The Pirates, British group. And he's a great rock 'n' roll player. They're both great players but different. I knew I'd be on bass, which is how I used to work. I didn't swap instruments. I just sang and was on bass all week, with the Beatles. So I knew that's what I wanted to do. Rang up Ian Paice, Deep Purple, and stuff and said, you know, do you fancy. He said, yeah. Got in touch with Pete Wingfield who is a really good rock 'n' roll pianist, good keyboard player, and said, you know, you fancy it. Laura Gross: You said, you didn't know Pete, but the rest of the guys were guys you knew. Paul McCartney: I did, I didn't know Pete Wingfield or Ian Paice. I'd never met either of those guys. Pete's the pianist, Ian's the drummer. I didn't actually even speak to Pete, to Pete or Ian before they showed up. Producer rang 'em. But I wanted to do it like that, you know, I thought, if I start talking to them, I start telling them what songs we're gonna do and I give the game away. So I just sort of thought, no, let's just meet up when it's too late. Forward is the only way to go, you know. So I showed up on a Monday morning. I'd got out cassettes of the songs I'd wanted to do. First of all, I just thought, what song do I really love. What songs are fixed in my memory, you know, from when I was a kid. And I would think, oh, I remember being on the fairground and that song was playing. Sort of, got to try that one. Remembered loving that song and that was a B-side. So I got together about 25 songs that I just remembered, we didn't do with the Beatles, but I knew I liked them. An actual fact, a side track, interesting thing with the Beatles was, we would show up at a gig and there'd be like four or five bands on the gig. And we weren't necessarily top of the bill in the early days, but there would be a couple of people on before us, a couple of bands. Now we do like Long Tall Sally, What'd I Say, a couple of songs like Shot Of Rhythm And Blues, couple of songs like that. What would happen is, these other bands would play 'em. We'd be in the dress room, we hear, What'd I Say, you go, oh, there goes one of our big numbers. You hear next song, Long Tall Sally, oh God, there goes another. It'd wipe out your whole act. So you think, we really got to do something about this. So we, we, we took to actually looking for B-sides and actually it's why John and I started writing. No other reason. 'Cause the only way they couldn't access our stuff. It wasn't some great, you know, we must write, we want to be composers. It was like, no, it was like the only way to get original stuff. So we started writing around that time. And a lot of B-sided that I collected for that kind of reason, we didn't actually get round to doing. A lot we did. So I had this whole store of memories of these things. So I, I just got 'em in another envelop, all the words. And I sat at home, exactly as I had done when I was fifteen, and in that case it was a 45 record and a den set, now it was a cassette. But I didn't get any of the sheet music. This is all later. I'd be getting the first line down, stop the cassette, write it down, play the next line, write it down. And I thought, I haven't done this since I was fifteen. It was a great feeling. It was like, wow, I love this. And what I did on this Monday morning, was say hello to people, got in tune, made sure everything was working. 10:30 I just, would look through the little envelop. I just would find the first song that I really fancied, one or two, maybe do that later. Go, ooh, fancy this one. Pull it out, say to everyone, now, does anyone know No Other Baby. And they all go, no. 'Cause, you know, some of these are quite obscure. So they say, no. I said, well, ok, here's how it goes. Exactly as we used to. It only took fifteen minutes to show them the song. But these guys are such a good musicians, that then we just split to our various instruments, we just try it. We're gonna listen to it once, go down and do a couple of takes, get a good take, and it was like, ok, next song. Ching. And that was it. We raced through them. At the end of the week we'd done like nineteen songs, you know. And I think we've really all, I know, we've really all enjoyed doing it. Somebody said to me, didn't you have any ego problems with all the band, you know. I said, there wasn't time. There's no time. It was like, next song. Ching. Lunch. Ching, you know, run over, stick a soup on, do a salad, ching, back to the, you know, it was, it was great. It was really quite hard work, but very satisfying. So at the end, and at 5:30 in the evening, we just say, right, going home, 'night. Which is unheard of, now, I mean, that's like an office job, you know. But it worked. And it was really great, very satisfying. And we often came out of each day with about four songs. So it was very fresh, very, about as fresh as you can get. Pretty live sounding. Laura Gross: Were you doing it in this way in songs from your past, you know, songs that you love to ?...?, it's a location from your past, Studio 2. Paul McCartney: Yeah. Laura Gross: Ok, so it's a style from the past, you know. Did you have a sense at all of kind of stepping back slightly in time. Paul McCartney: Oh, yeah, a lot. Actually all of us did. 'Cause the thing about working in Studio 2 in Abbey Road is, they haven't changed it since before we worked there. And the idea is that there's so many great records coming out there, not just the Beatles, there's a lot of other good people, that, why change it. I mean, you might mess it up. So it's one studio in the world, they've got all other studios here, but that's the one they don't change. So when you go back in it or see footage from it, it already looks like the past, 'cause the location is the past. I think for all the guys in the band it was kind of nostalgic, really. I mean, Dave Gilmour's worked there a lot with the Floyd. So he, he knows the studio well. But it's got, it's a great studio, it's a great room. Stuff sounds good in it. And you've got to take the formula. If it sounded good when we just thought up something really quickly with the Beatles, it ought to sound good now. You know and it smells, Studio 2 smells. And people who'd come along who don't know that smell, to me it's like a very homey smell like, wooh, yeah, you know, I'm back. Laura Gross: Do you think you sing better if you think you have to sing good. 'Cause you sound so great. Paul McCartney: You know, the truth about the singing was that since Linda died, for a year I haven't really sung. There's no opportunity to or no need to or whatever, you just don't get round to it. Only things I've done, I've been writing little bits. And you use your little writing voice. It's a little voice really. And then you learn how to ?...? make the record or whatever. That's the way I do it, anyway. So I didn't actually know about, 'cause the thing is, I had a bad moment that Sunday evening, before the Monday morning. I thought, wait a minute. Not only do I not know if I can still sing ok, after a year of not really singing. I also don't know the bass parts for these numbers. And I've never done it before. Oh, great formula. But then I thought, wait a minute. The only thing is the other guys don't know them either. That was the saving grace. I thought, well, that's ok. And that's what we did. I made up the bass part instantly, sang it while I was playing like, and again, I thought, well, if there's one thing I've had practice at, it's playing the bass and singing at the same time. You think about it, that's my whole career with the Beatles and beyond. So, you know, I'm probably one of the most practiced in the world at that thing. And the guys would say, that's a nice feel you've got on guitar. Do you want to put guitar on. I said, no, I'm the bass player, you know. So we did it like that all week. Laura Gross: So you didn't do any clean ups either. Paul McCartney: No. Bass only. Laura Gross: You know, just listening to it generally, I mean, there's a few really sad moments in it, but generally it just feels like a celebration. Very upbeat. Was that the spirit you were looking for. Is that just happening. Paul McCartney: Oh, no, that just happens because in rock 'n' roll that tends to be the spirit. Rock 'n' roll tends not to be very sad. It tends to be very joyous, you know. Saturday night I just got paid, fool about the money, don't try to save. Heart says go go, have a time, Saturday night baby I feel fine, you know. That's the gist of most of your rock 'n' roll lyrics. And I love that about it. But then there's songs that I remembered like Lonesome Town, which was a Ricky Nelson song and I was quite a big fan of his. And that's a sad song. 'Cause now for me, it's more meaningful. It's, you know, when I'm singin it now, it means more than I ever meant before. Just 'cause it, it just does, you know. But it was good to do, you know, it was good to do those songs. Just kind of little bit of, like therapy in a way, you know. Working with a band like that is a bit, you get it off your chest. So, yeah, there were one or two sad songs but mainly it's very upbeat, very energetic. Enjoyed doing it. Laura Gross: You said, it was like therapy and I wondered. Paul McCartney: Yeah. Laura Gross: How you meant that, like, did you mean, sometimes just, you know, when life is really hard, burying yourself in your work is the best thing to do. Paul McCartney: Yeah. But, you know, people have said to me, one of the things to get over a kind of tragedy is to stay really busy, really busy. But I thought, no. I'm not gonna do that. I see that one. It's just too easy. It's a bit like denial. So I thought, well, for at least a year, I'm not gonna do that. And so I didn't, you know, just did whatever came along, whatever I felt good about. But I thought, well, after, maybe after the end of a year, I will start to think of what I want to do. And the immediate project that I, that I'd been talking to Linda about was the rock 'n' roll album. So I thought, well, that'll be good. I'll pick that up. It's simple. It's not too much thinking, you know, it's nice and basic, rock 'n' roll. And I'm, I might enjoy doing it. That's exactly what happened, you know. And working with the guys. We did get busy. In fact we got very busy. That week was just like madness. But I think we all enjoyed it, 'cause it, it, it demanded of us that, the fact that we played well quickly. And no one was allowed to say, uhuh, I need an hour for a vocal warm up. It was like, sorry love. We haven't got an hour to do the song. Never mind a vocal warm up, you know. And so it was great. Once we all understood what was going on everyone rose to the occasion. And I know from just chatting to the guys that we had a ball. Laura Gross: Do you think that that kind of discipline and that sense of that work ethic, how is that mured in the music. Paul McCartney: Because you haven't got really long to think. It's like you've been given the decision in life, you got two road to go down and one of them is, you know, a rocky road or whatever, and you just got to, you know, when you can't think you got to do right, I'm going down that one, you just have to quickly decide. And I think there's a spirit in people that often makes that quite a good decision. It's often the first, Allen Ginsberg, he said to me, first thought best thought, you know, when you're writing a poem or something. The first thing that comes in your mind is often the best one. It's not always true but often good. So I just thought, that's how we'll do it. And I think, in fact, one of the catchphrases we had during the week would be, no thinking. 'Cause what happened, well, the drummer might sort of say, now, what if I use brushes and don't use the hi-hat. What if I come in on the second chorus. You go, you're thinking. And he go, oh, yeah, I'm sorry. And it's was like that was the worst thing you could do all week, you know, say, what if we take that and do special. And I could this. No thinking. So it was like outlawed, you know, we, we banned thinking from the week. And I think that shows, you know, in a positive way. Rock 'n' roll, you know, you either just do it or you don't. I knew I just had to get out there. I had these guys playing. And I've got to sing it. They're looking to me to sing it. I always had Mick Green looking at me through the screens. And Mick, I mean, he was laughing most of the time. He was getting me laughing. It was good, it was a real good ?...? between us all. 'Cause we had no time to think and also didn't want to think, I think you've got a kind of instant thing in the tracks. The singing echoes it, 'cause it's like you better get it right. 'Cause we're going home in a minute. And so you got to call on your instincts. You got to call on all your musicianship suddenly. You don't get to pace it out over a week, you know. Well, I'm good at that. Good at that, it's like, no, you better be good at singing and playing bass and he better get the drums right all together, 'cause this is our, this is our chance at it. Laura Gross: And then is it live takes. I mean, are the takes that we here the actual. Paul McCartney: Yeah, all, all the takes from the thing are just actual live takes. There wasn't actually much fixing required. But we made just, you know, in the mixing we might just sort of fix that a little bit or a little bit there. But it was mainly just the straight takes. Very spontaneous. We edited it a little bit around, 'cause we're making it up sometimes when we're on a bit too long. So we just chop a verse out or something. But that's really all we did. It's basically, what you hear is what happened, you know, in that week. Laura Gross: I love that spirit. You said you chose the songs that you really liked, that brought back great memories. Paul McCartney: Yeah, yeah. Laura Gross: But then there's the three tracks that you wrote. When did you come to that decision that I am gonna add some of my own compositions. Paul McCartney: Yeah. While I was getting the lyrics and thinking about what songs I was gonna do, I was writing at the same time. So rather than write a ballad, I thought, well, since I'm gonna do a rock 'n' roll album, I might as well write a couple of rockers. That might come in handy. We might not have enough stuff. And also I liked doing that. I liked trying to do it. They're actually very hard to write, rock 'n' roll. It's, it's, you talk to most songwriters, they say, it's easier to write a ballad, although they perhaps sometimes seem harder to write. It's difficult to get things sounding genuine in rock 'n' roll. 'Cause you're not black, you don't live in the South, you're not some poor guy on a terrace with an old blues guitar, you know, you, so, that's the difficulty, you know. You're not experiencing all this stuff that it came from, you know. But, you know, I love it so much that I can, I can try in my own way to recreate those of when I was a kid, and my admiration for these blues, rock 'n' people, you know. So I think it all started with one of the songs called What It Is, that I was just starting on piano. I was just writing a song anyway, with half an idea that I might be doing this rock 'n' roll album in the back of my mind. And I actually wrote that when Lin was still alive. So it was a nice song to sing to her. You are what it is. So that had kind of, you know, sentimental attachments to me on that. That's really the only story about that song. I wrote it for her. And then I thought, well, you know, I keep going, you know, and see if anything else comes. I was actually in Atlanta and my son James wanted to go around, down to the funky area, you know. He wants to always go to the funky area of town. Me too. Just walking round the block and people said, yo, Paul, alright, man, yeah. And it was nice, you know, good friendly atmosphere, nice and low-key. So I'm enjoying it. Nice afternoon. We came across this shop, which is like one of these sort of voodoo shops, where you get cures for everything. All your ailments, you know. Being in the South, I think they're a bit more prevalent than up in the North. Anyway, I was looking in the window and there's these fascinating things in the window. There's like bath salts that you put in your bath and it gets rid of all your demons. And there's like incense that you can burn to get rid, you know, it's that, this whole shop was dedicated to that kind of thing. So I was looking into the shop window, I saw this bottle of bath salts called Run Devil Run. I thought, oh, wow, I thought, and I realized what it was, that's a good title. That's a title for a song Run Devil Run, you know. So I was actually going back on holiday after that. So while I was on holiday I started thinking of the words for Run Devil Run. And it came quite easy, you know. I thought, well, working backwards, Run devil run, the angel's having fun, making winners out of sinners, better leave before he's done. When he gets through he'll be coming after you, so listen what I'm telling you. Run devil run, you know. So it came quite easy, the chorus. Then I was actually out sailing. And I did the verses out sailing. Which is nothing to do with sailing. It's all about a swamp in Alabama. But, you know, your imagination's free to roll when you're on holiday like that. Laura Gross: I thought it sounded a little like Linda doing it. Paul McCartney: You know, that's amazing. Yeah, I thought that. A few of the harmonies on the album, 'cause she didn't record on it, as it was done more recently, there's this spooky thing. It's like she's singing on it. Yoohh. Well, I have no problem with that. It just must be something about my voice and her voice and how it used to match and living so close together, I think, you know, you grow into to each other a bit, you know. So I thought that, just recently, I said, God, she's singing backing. Yeah. Magic. And then I did one more. 'Cause the producer, Chris Thomas, said to me, ah, I really like this. This could be good, you know. You should, good to have a couple of originals. So then I said, oh, you like it. Ok, and I come up with a song called Try Not To Cry, which is kind of slightly more pop. It's still sort of R&B based. Those three all made it to the final album. Laura Gross: They fit in so well. Paul McCartney: That's really what I was worried about. 'Cause I know that most of the stuff, well all the other stuff's retro. Although we were trying to get quite a modern sound. And so it's like a band now playing old songs. We were a little bit worried that the new songs might not fit in to this thing. But it was kind of cool, because one day, I think one of the roadies, the guy said, who did this one. And it was one of the new ones. I thought, oh, we're cracking it here. Laura Gross: You said, they're retro songs, but they're not retro sounds. Paul McCartney: Yeah. Laura Gross: Could you kind of explain what that means. Paul McCartney: Yeah, you know, sometimes if you listen to the radio, you'll hear a modern song and then, if it's a kind of liberal enough station, you might hear an old rock 'n' roll song. Sometimes the sound is just woollier. And it's just a little bit more old fashioned. It's not as crisp, not as clear as a modern recording just 'cause that's what's improved, you know. Some people don't like that improvement but people are used to it now. You listen on the radio, there's kind of standard of sound that if you don't get in that ball park one way or another, they won't play it. And so, you know, that's not what you want. So me and Chris, the producer, talked and I said, you know, it'd be really good if, if our stuff, even though the songs are retro could live alongside normal stuff that's being played on the radio. Not old fashioned stuff. Modern stuff. So that was our policy, was to do that, so we, we talked to Geoff the engineer, and said, ok, we want it to kind of be, you know, modern sounding, but the songs themselves obviously are gonna be old songs, except the new ones, which will be new. But there were a couple of songs that, really, I just wanted to kind of be faithful to the originals. Just 'cause the memory was just so clear. Blue Jean Bop was off an album that we had in Liverpool of Gene Vincent's with the big hit was Be-Bop-A-Lula. Blue Jean Bop wasn't quite such a big hit but it was one we loved. And it's got this nice intro which, you know, Bluejean baby with your big blue eyes. Duh, duh, duh, duhoah. I can't keep still so baby let's dance. Well, the blue, and then it goes like a lot of rock 'n' roll songs just do that, you know. And it's got this echo wah, wah, wah, really poppin'. And in actual fact, having done a bit of that in the week, I realized that they actually used to write for the echo. Well it's the bop, bop, bop, that's bop, delay echo. That ?...?. So, if you go, lovely day today, all languid things, it doesn't work. You've got to pop the echo, you know, I'm a poppin' you, beat, bop, boppin' you, baby bop. So you realize that's why all the songs were written like that, you know. So it's great just sort of rediscovering all this stuff kind of new. And on Blue Jean Bop I thought, no, I just want that echo, over the top echo sound. So we used it there. But on a lot of the other songs. There's kind of a more modern sound on them. But the songs themselves are like old fashioned. We just, you know, messed them around. I mean, I love the lyrics of this album. They're really nice. Blue Jean Bop's got, you know, I can't keep still so baby let's dance. Dip your hip, free your knee, you know. I like this stuff, it's kind of good, good words, I think. Some of them are really brilliant, clever lyrics. Laura Gross: Free your knee. Paul McCartney: Free your knee. What free your knee is. A line out of Blue Jean Bop. And it's actually a dance instruction. When you say to someone, you know, free your knee, they think, what. You think about it, it's like, you know, dip your hip, free your knee, wiggle on your baby, 1, 2, 3. It's, it's like shake it baby or something, you know, free your mind, free your knee. Free yourself. So that's why I like it. It's a nice little phrase. Laura Gross: She Said Yeah, which I thought is a very sexy song. Paul McCartney: Yeah. Sexy song. Yeah, man. She Said Yeah was a Larry Williams song. And it was really one of my favourites of his. In fact it was my favourite of Larry's. He did some other good songs like Bony Moronie and stuff, which were big hits. But it was always a song I loved. And always wanted to get round to doing. In actual fact, I think, I remember turning Mick Jagger on to it. Remember distinctively having him up in to a little music room and the bit I love dum, dum, tiddely dum, baah. ?...? I was dancing away, showing Mick and he loved it. So, yeah, my main recollection of She Said Yeah is just as it being really one of my favourite Larry Williams tracks. And he's just a great vocalist, Larry, you know, it's a storming track, the original. So that's kind of faithful to, we messed around with it a little bit, but that's sort of like my memory of the original. Laura Gross: All Sh, um, um, um. Paul McCartney: All Shook Up. Laura Gross: All Shook Up. Paul McCartney: Oh yeah. I tell you why I have the loveliest memory of All Shook Up. I mean, we were, we were mad Elvis fans before he went in the army. We kind of thought that made too much of a change. 'Cause we were kids and he was a little bit more grown up than we were. But we still identified to the kind of youthfulness of him. So we just loved him. He could do nothing wrong. We just thought he was fantastic. I had a mate of mine, who I still know, he's called Ian James, and he was my best mate. So we used to wander round like these fairgrounds, you know, hoping, thinking the girls would come flooding to us, 'cause they never took any notice of us. I remember feeling bad one day, me and Ian, it's like, you know, it's teenage blues, it's like, what're we gonna do, man. It was like, so he said, we'll go back to his place. And he lived in the Dingle, where round by, where Ringo lived. This little terrace house, his granny's house. And we went in there and he had All Shook Up, Elvis. He said, just put that on. Well, after we put that on, I swear, the blues had gone, the headache had gone, we were like new people. And, so, you know, I just love that song so much for being able to do that. Loved the pop, which is like the snare. It's like, pop, I'm all shook up. There's a little, pop, but it's not a snare. Often it was just a cardboard box or something they hit. Later, with the Beatles, we would often do that, you know. Use that, that's as good as a snare, you know. On the record, we often just, hit on knees and stuff. And that's all, came out of that. So I remember All Shook Up for that little snare beat. But mainly just for the joy it brought, these two teenage lads, you know, turned our day around. I just thought, wow, that's gonna be a good song. And then when we recorded it, me and Dave Gilmour, doing the backing harmonies, again, no time, five minutes, let's do it, guys. We don't know how the harmonies go. Sure you do. You got five minutes, starting now. So we went down there and the bit I loved, we're having a lot of fun, just working together, you just do the end of the line, ta-da-da-da-la-da, and the line is, ta-da-da a volcano when it's hot, 'cause you can't, you just got to sing, 'cano when it's hot. Which is lovely, you know, very surreal little lyric. 'Cano when it's hot. We're looking at each other, giggling, you know, so, you know. There're just good little moments like that, very reminiscent of the kind of moments you had when you were just starting a band. It's all sudden, it's all suddenly upon you. Laura Gross: No Other Baby. Paul McCartney: No Other Baby was a strange track, because I didn't have a record of it. I didn't know who'd recorded it or who'd written it. But I knew I loved the song from late '50's. And so that was one I pulled out my envelop, say, anyone know this. They said, no. They had really no idea. I'd barely knew it. But I just remembered it, and remembered the verses. It's just a simple song. And I always wanted to do it. We used to do it at soundchecks actually on the, on the, on the tour we used to do it. I found out lately that it was recorded by an English group who were like a skiffle group. Was before rock 'n' roll for us here. And they were called the Vipers. They were like a favourite little skiffle group of ours. Funny though, I was talking to George Martin on the phone the other day and I said, I was telling him about No Other Baby, I said, do you know who this song is by. He said, I doubt we even did it. I've since found out, it was by the Vipers, you know. And I suddenly realized while I was talking to George, wait a minute George, you recorded the Vipers. He said, yes, I did. I said, well, this song's called No Other Baby, how does it go. He said, I said, I don't want no other, he said, oh yes, I remember it. So it turned out we talked about, coming full circle. George actually recorded the original thing. Laura Gross: I knew I knew that song. And I couldn't think from where. Paul McCartney: Yeah, I think. Laura Gross: And how did you know the words if you couldn't get them. Paul McCartney: I just remembered them, you know. I don't want no other baby but you. That's easy. There's only two and a couple of verses. I just happened to remember them. Laura Gross: And then how did you find out then, who had done it. Paul McCartney: After we recorded it, you got to register them. 'Cause other people wrote them and they want the money, you know. So I'm very happy to. I always love that thought. 'Cause what happened with the Beatles, we do songs on our early albums, they were like Chains, Boys, and She's Got The Devil In Her Heart and stuff like this. And these would be like B-sides, lesser known tracks, because of the reasons I was telling you before. So that suddenly, some little song writer in the South of America, who had written for the Shirelles, a B-side, and who had never seen a cheque ever, the Beatles had suddenly done it. Ringo had done Boys, you know. So this guy suddenly, and he used to write letters, well, thanks guys, you know, I ain't seen a cheque on that one for years. So I, we used to love that thought. I still do. So I hope that one does well, because I know the guy who wrote it, a guy called Dickie Bishop. Laura Gross: Lonesome Town is so sad. Paul McCartney: Well, it's, it's got to be a bit sad Lonesome Town because of my kind of circumstances now, you know. When I first heard it, it was just a nice ballad, you know. It was just a ballad for lonesome people, you know. And that was ok. Ricky Nelson did it. So I always liked the song and I always thought, one of these days I might do that. Might get, try to get round to doing that. Actually it's funny, what happened was, got into the studio fully intending to do it like Ricky Nelson. But then I thought, you know, his version is so good. And if I do, There's a place where lovers go, which is how he did it, I thought, well, it's just gonna be a complete remake. In certain cases I don't mind a remake. But in this one, I thought, no. So I thought, what I'll do is I, I'll take it higher. There's a place where lo, more my kind of, you know, higher voice. So I thought, well, I use that. Everything was going great. I said, anyone know this one. Couple of guys, yeah, couple of guys, no. So I said, here's how it goes. But it all worked out. And we got to the middle, 'cause I was taking it so high, I was going, And they call it lonesome town. And then it goes, Take me down to, ridiculous. It was like, you know, Micky Mouse something, Take me down, or then, if I, said, no I can't go up, I'll go down. It was like Take me down and it suddenly goes, in an ordinary voice. So I didn't know which way to go. I said, uh, I'm going, like, spoil the mood. So then, in two seconds flat, it was like, ah, I know. Dave, will you sing the tune Take me down to lonesome. And I'll stay above it. Take me down to lonesome town. I'll sing a harmony above it. So it's good, you know. And that's exactly how we used to work with the Beatles. An idea would come up. Someone would go, that's good. And it, you know, it didn't take weeks to go through the bureaucracy of, is it a good idea, will we use it. No time, you go, we better ?...?, we're running out of time. So we did, and I think that worked out great. The fact that, you know, just a little idea like that. Laura Gross: Now this one is yours, Try Not To Cry. Paul McCartney: Yeah. Some songs come from, like, an idea. And this one came from a very specific idea. When you're mixing a record, it's really good if you can get like, let's say, a lot of bass drums come through. And sometimes the words go over the bass drum. So you got to favour the words. So you don't get enough bass drum. So I thought, ah, I know, just as a little exercise, I'll work, I'll work out a song, was actually not the bass drum, was the snare drum, I'll work out a song that avoids the off beat. So it was like, Sometimes, I'm right, sometimes, I'm wrong. Put the song in the gaps. Yeah, so that was like the whole idea of the song and I put some words, you know, filled out all the words. And the chorus didn't bother with that, the chorus just went to a chorus. But that was the whole idea. So consequently, when I came in, all I could tell the guys was, well, it goes like this, you know, you got, I said, I'm sitting there, you know, supposed to be a good song writer, and I'm saying, I've got this song, guys. And I'm thinking, God, they're just gonna laugh at me. It goes like this, Somet, Sometimes I'm right, sometimes I'm wrong, how can, I do it, if I don't know, the song, all day, I try. And I'm looking at them and they're going, uhuhm. They're trying to look interested, you know. This is, this is good, Paul. I think, they're thinking, oooh, tilt, you know, something, ba, drastically wrong has happened here. Sometimes I'm right, ponk. But, and then, it worked out, you know. And then, and they all saw what I was trying to do. And they fell in with it and so they laid it with the off beat. Peh, peh. So it worked out fine, but it was, was kind of like a little formula. But they, it worked out nice, I'm really pleased with it, actually. Laura Gross: Movie Magg, very country and western. Paul McCartney: Movie Magg is a Carl Perkins song. And as you may know, the Beatles were like really major fans of Carl. And we had a lot of his records, really, in our formative years. And it was another artist who we'd sit around playing. And we did a lot of his songs, actually. And Movie Magg was one I always liked. It's a crazy little song. When I got to know Carl later on, I asked him about that. I said, what is that song about then. And Carl was such a country dude that he actually picked cotton when he was a kid, you know. He is from a very poor family. So he'll tell you stories and actually this story is about him gonna take this girl Maggie to the movies and he stood, he wants to take her on his horse of his called Becky. And it turns out it's a mule. And it's a real horse. He said, well, Paul, you know, when I was a kid, we had a mule called Becky. And it turns out this is like his, this is a real story. He had a girl friend called Maggie and he did polish up old Becky and they rode on Becky's back to the movies. So I just thought, that is just so great. So wild. I mean, I loved Carl telling me stories. He had some, he had a wealth of great stories he'd tell. And they just go back, just that bit further than I go back. I mean, they go back into the cottonfields, my dad was a cotton salesman. But we didn't go back to the fields, you know, that's, that's, so I love that song just because of it. Just 'cause it, there was such a close connection with Carl. And when we came to do it, we had the full band in. Then it was like, maybe we don't need piano. So then Pete went off. And then it was like maybe we don't need all the guitars. So I think Dave went off. And it was like, maybe we don't need any guitars. So then, I tell a lie, the only time I got off bass was to play acoustic guitar on that track. That's actually the only time. So that's what happened. The whole band, we were starting calling ourselves the Dwindlers, 'cause we were like dwindling away. It was just me, and the drummer left, you know. Funnily enough it sounds the most instant, but it was probably the most worked on that. But I wanted to do it, 'cause it's kind of a homage to Carl. And I love the song. Laura Gross: And it's. Oh, yeah. Paul McCartney: And it's funny, Mick, who is a London boy, you know, Mick Green, what's all this then, Becky's bike. Climb upon ol' Becky's bike. No, I said, Becky's back. So what is this, taking her to the pictures on a bike. I said, no, a mule. Oh, we had some fun. Laura Gross: So, we have that very handsome Brown Eyed Handsome Man, right now. Paul McCartney: Yeah, this is just a real nice song that Chuck Berry wrote. And we used to know Buddy's version of it. I think John used to do it a bit, when we were looking for songs. It was one of John's. I always liked it, it's a mouthful. Woh-he-got-ta-da-da-da-da-T-W-A-saw-a-man, very Chuck, you know. American life. Flying across the desert in a TWA, I saw a woman walking 'cross the sand. She'd been walking fifty miles en route to Bombay. Where's that, where's that come from, you know. But I just love it. It just pulls it up. To meet the brown eyed handsome man. It's good, good lyrics in there. As I told you, Milo de Venus was a beautiful girl, she had the world in the palm of her hands. She lost both her arms in a wrestling match to find the brown eyed handsome man, you know. There's a great humour in that. And it scans great and it sings great. That's the stuff about that, that's the secret about this stuff. You can write the cleverest lyrics that don't sing good. But I liked a lot of Chuck's things. And so like Back In The U.S.A. was the catalyst for me writing Back In The U.S.S.R. Was like a spoof on Chuck's stuff. So I, I, I respect him a lot as a songwriter. Laura Gross: Coquette. Paul McCartney: Coquette was a B-side of Fats Domino's, that, I always liked the tune. Hear me, why you been fooling, little Coquette. It's just a charming little song and I always loved it, you know. And it was just one of mine that I always meant to do one of these days, either with the Beatles or, it never came up. So, I just remembered it. I thought, right, got to do that one. So that's one, that's got a bit of a retro sound. It's, it's really me doing Fats, you know. I love it so much that I couldn't do it any other way. Laura Gross: And it gets really cool. And I Got Stung. Paul McCartney: I Got Stung. After Elvis got out of the army I Got Stung was one of the ones he did then. And I remember us not being too keen on it. But recently I just sort of remembered the opening. Holy smoke landsakes alive, I never thought this could happen to me. A-ha-ha. Doov, doov, doov, doov. I just loved that intro. So I thought, got to do it, you know. Just 'cause of that intro. So I take it down, got the words. I couldn't get most of them off the record. I finally actually got a lyric sheet on that one. So I did it. And we just did more of a shouty version than Elvis's version. Laura Gross: Honey, what. Paul McCartney: Honey Hush. Honey Hush is a song that really has very, very early memories for me. I remembered John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe had an art school flat, an apartment in a place called Gambier Terrace that looks out on to Liverpool Cathedral, amazing place. And it was just a bare flat with a mattress on the floor, you know. Art school kind of thing, you know, a little ashtray, that was it. And I, it was one of the first times, 'cause I was a bit younger than John and Stu, one of the first times I ever stayed over, stayed out all night, me and George. George was even younger than me. So, and he still is. He keeps telling me that. He writes that on all my birthday cards. And you're still nine months older than me. It's, so it was really great experience for us kids who were there to stay over in someone's flat, man, you know, instead of sleeping home. I remember waking up in the morning, ooh, God, you know, after having virtually no sleep, but it didn't matter, it was so cool. And like in this cold little apartment in Liverpool. And there was just a ?...? set, record player on the floor, besides the mattress. And the first thing he put on was this Johnny Burnette record. And it was Honey Hush. And I loved it so much. Come into this house, stop all that yakety yak. Dun-duh-du. And his brother Dorsey Burnette does a great solo, you know. So Mick Green really knew this song and really was up for doing it. I think it was one morning when I was a little bit tired and confused. And he said, what are we gonna do now then. I said, got, got to be Honey Hush. So we, we, blew the cobwebs away with that one. And this was one of the ones, so I hadn't been able to get one of the lines, one of the lyrics. But I thought while I was writing it down, well, I just write it down phonetically and probably I'll find the lyric sheet or something. Well, I never did. So I'd, I, I pulled it out, was gonna do it, thought, oh, I never found out the real words. I thought, well, I, I'll sing it phonetically then. So there's one of the lines, and he's saying, you can lea'me this way, I ain't coming back no more. And I, I mean, I'm thinking, it's something, I sound like I'm singing something like, I'm living, you've been living in Spain, or, be leaving this space or something, I don't know, and I ain't coming back no more. So I don't know what we do about that. The lyr, real lyrics is nothing like it. It's, it's completely different. But it, it was actually great fun. In the spirit of the album to just not even care what the lyric was. You can lea'me this way, I ain't coming back. Mumble baby. Laura Gross: Shake A Hand. Paul McCartney: There was one jukebox in Hamburg, when we were working in Hamburg with the Beatles, that a few of the guys used to go to. This pool hall, I think it was, a pool table there. And there was one jukebox there, that had a couple of records there the other jukeboxes didn't have. So you'd visit that jukebox. There was one where we never went, but it had Now Or Never by Elvis. So you had to visit. You couldn't buy the records. You had to go to the jukebox and get the words. Sitting there and putting it on in, in a bar, you know. So there was this one and it had Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by the Platters, which was gorgeous, love that, but my favourite on that jukebox was Shake A Hand by Little Richard. And I never had the record, I haven't to this day, I haven't got the record. But I remembered it. And I just thought, I love that so much, I love to do that one. So we did it, and it's kind of, it's like a gospelly song. So I did that pretty much like Richard did it. He taught me everything I knew. Paul, you know I taught you everything. It's true, it's true, Richard. Laura Gross: Let's Have A Party. Paul McCartney: Let's Have A Party was from, Elvis did it, I think in Loving You, the second movie. And it's just a great song. And there were words again, as kids we could never quite get the words. And there was no authority you could consult. It was just us, thankfully. It was kind of nice it was just us. But, there was, I never kissed a bear. And we always used to think it was I never kissed a goo. We didn't know what a goo was, but that's what it sounded like. So we were always doing, never kissed a bear, never kissed a goo, like a chicken-chicken in the middle of the room, let's have a party. So when it came to it, I was, I kept singing, never kissed a goo. And all the guys went, what is that. We looked it up and it said, never kissed a goon, which I don't think is a whole lot more sensible, either. I never kissed a bear, I never kissed a goon. Well, I'm not sure about the story, the derivation of that. Again, some great archivists will be able to tell us what happened there. But I just like the madness of the words, you know. Laura Gross: Did you keep the goo? Paul McCartney: No it's, came out goon. Never kissed a bear and that is true. I've never kissed a goon, that was equally as true. So what more do you want. In a way though, I am glad with this rock 'n' roll album. That I have got back to my roots, so it is, it will reassure anyone who thinks, oh, he's gone all classical now. That, that's not the case, you know. It's just another of the things I do. I still love my kind of rock 'n' roll music.

    Guitar Player Interview

    July 1990, By Tom Mulhern During each two-and-a-half-hour show on Paul McCartney's first tour since 1976, his warmth and natural showmanship-a blend of personality, 25 years of hit songs, and musicianship-convert the sell-out arena crowd from an expectant but "show me" audience to a frenzied throng. That should inspire confidence in anyone. That's onstage. But when it comes to write and record a new song, there's always that uncertainty factor: After so many years of turning out a stream of catchy tunes and creating some of the most influential bass lines in pop music, is there still magic waiting to be brought forth? Every time he sits down to write, and every time he plugs in the bass, it's back to square one. Yeah, he was a Beatle. Yeah, he's incredibly famous. And, yeah, he's likely more successful than any player in history. But above all else, he's a musician, and like any of his peers-famous or not-past accomplishments are no guarantee of future success. Paul's had ups and downs, and to most people it would seem that being in the world's biggest band would be a virtually impossible act to follow. When the Beatles broke up, he could have walked away from the music business, and who would have blamed him? There's just one catch. The man loves music. At 48, he's leading his latest band with the enthusiasm characteristic of players half his age. From the minute he hits the stage for an afternoon soundcheck until the last note of the evening's encore, he's into it. Before he had money or fame, or even a decent guitar, Paul McCartney was digging Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Fats Domino, tapping into rock and roll to inspire his budding writing, singing, and playing abilities. Those influences are a strong part of early Beatles music, the propulsive force behind the Fab Four-Paul, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr-But as time passed, Paul's songwriting and playing evolved dramatically, becoming practically a genre unto themselves, almost as far removed from Chuck Berry as from Beethoven or Bach. Despite decades of evolution, McCartney never lost touch with his roots. He returned to them for Back In The U.S.S.R., a 1988 album on which he covered '50s gems by his early heroes (the album was originally released only in the U.S.S.R.). During the jams that culminated in the LP Paul also started playing guitar in a band, something he hasn't done since long before the Beatles conquered the world. Of course, he hadn't given up for all those years: He picked guitar in the studio with the Beatles and Wings, as well as on solo recordings. However, he had almost always appeared onstage with his violin-shaped Hofner or his Rickenbacker 4001 bass. Besides picking up the guitar again, Paul-at the insistence of new songwriting partner Elvis Costello-dusted off the old Hofner that had been in hibernation since the Beatles did "Get Back" on Apple Studios' rooftop for Let It Be in 1969. He applied it to Costello's "Veronica" on 1988's Spike. For 1989's Flowers In The Dirt, McCartney used a variety of guitars and basses, including his old Hofner friend and his new 5-string Wal. Partly as a result of the Flowers sessions, partly as fallout from the U.S.S.R. album, and partly as an outgrowth of weekly jam sessions, a new band evolved, featuring McCartney on bass, guitar, piano, and vocals, his wife Linda on keyboards and backing vocals, Chris Whitten on drums, Hamish Stuart on guitar, bass, and backing vocals, Robbie McIntosh on guitar and vocals, and Paul Wickens (a.k.a. Wix) on keyboards. Since last year, McCartney and band have played to packed stadiums all over the world (including a 150,000-person venue in Rio de Janeiro). Over the years, Paul has participated in charitable events, including Live Aid and the Prince's Trust concerts. He is currently promoting Friends Of The Earth, an environmental group. For musicians, though, few projects that he has lent his name to can equal his participation in Standing In The Shadows Of Motown: The Life And Music Of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson [Hal Leonard]. Acting as emcee to the accompanying cassettes, the English bassist had a rare opportunity to pay tribute to one of his contemporaries-and influences-from the '60s, a man who, like Paul McCartney, played a major role in shaping rock bass. Q. You contributed to the book on James Jamerson. When did you first hear about him? A. Well, I didn't realize who I was hearing for all those years-like a lot of people on the Motown stuff. I was always attracted to the bass lines. They had their own guys in Motown and their regular house band. Q. You knew who the fronting artist was, but not the support players. A. Exactly. It was just an artist on Motown. And we loved all those backing tracks and all those sort of "Heard It Through The Grapevine" songs. They were huge pieces of music for us. Just the backing tracks-never mind the great vocals in front of them. When they used to ask me who my favorite bass player was, I would say, "That Motown guy. The guy who plays in the band." But I never really knew who he was. Then James Jamerson, Jr. wrote and said, "I'm doing this big project to kind of get my dad's name known a bit more." I didn't even know who he was. So I did that, and it was very nice. I was happy to be of some use. Q. By the time you first heard James Jamerson, you'd formed your own style. But was there anything that made you say, "Oh, I'll take a little of this or a little of that"? A. Oh, sure. I'm always taking a little of this and a little of that. It's called being influenced. It's either called that or stealing. And what do they say? A good artist borrows; a great artist steals-or something like that. That makes us great artists then, because we stole a lot of stuff. If anyone ever said to us, "Wow! Where's that from?" we'd say, "Well, Chuck Berry," or that the "I Saw Her Standing There" riff is from [Berry's] "I'm Talking About You." We took a lot of stuff, but in blues, anyway, you do: People lift licks. It's part of the fun of being alive, too. You hear somebody's incredible riff and you go "Oooh." You hear a new chord somewhere and you go, "Oh, my God, that's it!" We used to travel miles for a new chord-literally-in Liverpool. We used to take bus rides for hours to go visit the guy who reputedly knew B7. None of us knew how to finger it. He was like the guru. We went to his house, and we sat there, and he played it a few times. Then we all said, "Brilliant, thanks," and we went home and practiced it. Yeah, we lifed a lot of stuff from Motown, but quite unashamedly. I'm happy to have done it. Q. Listening to the "I'm Talking About You" bass line, it's easy to see where the line to "I Saw Her Standing There" came from. A. Actually, I admitted it about 20 years ago. I admitted it more recently, too, and in an article it said something like, "He admits *perhaps unwisely.*" I said, "Come on, guys. I'm not going to tell you I wrote the bloody thing when Chuck Berry's bass player did." Actually, it's a guitar part. It's such a great riff. And most of the people we played for didn't know the song, so we were pretty safe. Q. It was reasonably obscure. A. Yeah, we worked on obscure songs with the Beatles. There was a good reason, too: All the other bands knew the hits; everybody knew "Ain't That A Shame." Everybody knew Bo Diddley's "Bo Diddley." But not everybody knew [Bo Diddley's] "Crackin' Up." Hardly anybody knows "Crackin' Up" to this day-it was just one of his B sides that I loved. I don't know how dynamite it is, but I like it. We used to look for B sides-a good, smart move, too!-and obscure album tracks, because if we were turned on by them enough to bring something special to them just by being in love with them, you sing them good. John, for instance, used to sing "Anna" on the first Beatles album. And that was a really obscure record that we'd just found, and guys would play in the clubs. We'd take the record home and learn it. We learned a lot of songs like that:"Three Cool Cats," "Anna," "Thumbin' A Ride"-millions of great songs. And still to this day, I keep them filed in the back of my head in case I'm ever producing a young act, and they say, "We haven't got a song." I can go, "Wait a minute! Try this one. It's an old rock and roll thing, but it's got something." Q. Assumedly, you started out left-handed. A. Yeah, I'm left-handed. Q. Some right-handed people actually play lefty. A. I know! We were just in Japan, and there was a little kid there who had a Hofner bass, so I tried to be the older-brother guy. I said, "Hey, do you know this one?" I played the "I Saw Her Standing There" riff. I expected him just to say, "Oh, no, but wow, thanks for teaching me." But he said, "Sure," and he turned the bass wrong way around. They explained that he's really right-handed, but he just plays it left-handed because I do. And he went [imitates bass] do do do do do do do do-totally on top of it. His brother then picked up his Rickenbacker guitar and goes [imitates rhythm guitar] mmm Gah! mmm Gah!, and kicks in John's rhythm part. They had it word-perfect. But I'm actually left-handed. You know, Jimi Hendrix was left-handed, but played a right-handed guitar. Q. Did anyone try to talk you out of playing left-handed? A. No, I was lucky. In school, I was allowed to be a left-handed writer, although Hamish [who plays right-handed] apparently started off as a left-handed writer, because his school was more strict up in Scotland. A little bit more dour up there. But I was okay; they let me do that. And so when I came to play guitar, I bought a right-handed guitar, a Zenith, an old acoustic which I've still got. I sat down at home with a little chord book and started trying to work it out. It didn't feel good at all; it felt very awkward. It felt very awkward. It felt nothing natural about it. It was only when I saw a picture of Slim Whitman in a magazine, and I saw he was left-handed and was holding it all the "wrong" way, that I thought, "Oh, he must have turned his strings around, then." So I started on that problem, which is always the nut: I could never change the nut. I had the strings changed around, but the thick bass string never fit in the little first-string slot in the nut. So I had to gouge that out, which I could do reasonably successfully. But then I always had my little thin string in this whacking great cavern of a hole originally cut for the bass string. So I used to actually take matchsticks and build up the bass nut that way. It was only later that I was able to buy a left-handed guitar. Q. You used a Hofner, even though most bassists in the U.S. had Fenders. A. Yeah, most of the players were using Fenders in England, too. They still are better instruments. But, for me, it was a matter of expense. That's all it was. Q. Really? Hofners aren't cheap basses in the States. A. Yeah, but I was in Germany, where they're made, and I think they were about 30 quid, which is about $70. I wasn't earning that much. And the thing is, the way I'd been brough up, my dad had always hammered into us to never get in debt, because we weren't that rich. I think he'd got in debt when he was a bit younger in the marriage. He used to bet on the horses a bit; he was a bit of a naughty boy-in a very small way, but he got embarrassed at his finances. So John and George got a Club 40, and George had a Futurama-which is like a Fender copy-and then, later, Gretsches. Then John got the Rickenbackers. They were prepared to go into hock and use what we call hire/purchase credit. But it has been so battered into me not to do that, I wouldn't risk it. I thought the world would cave in if I did that. So I bought a cheap guitar. And the other thing was that the Hofner was violin-shaped and symmetrical, so being left-handed didn't look so stupid. And once I bought it, I fell in love with it. That's why I'm using it again now. For a light, dinky little bass, it has a very rich bass sound. Q. You did switch to a Rickenbacker eventually. A. Well, it was when Mr. Rickenbacker gave me one, when we were in L.A. I'm a cheap sort, I am. I had always wanted to get a Fender-I've got a Fender now, which I sometimes record with-but funnily enough, it never was my thing to get a Fender. It wasn't always the expense, because later I could afford it, but by then I'd kind of made the Hofner my trademark. And really, it was only when Mr. Rickenbacker said to me, "This will record better than what you've got." It looked nice, and I said, "We'll see." And obviously, a free guitar was a pretty hefty thing. You know, I'm still impressed by stuff like that. People expect you not to be impressed when you get a bit of money, but I'm still impressed by that. And the guys used to do anything for guitars they'd sell their souls [laughs] to get a free guitar [shouts] "Yeah! Yeah! We'll do it, whatever it is. Can I have it now? Can I take it home?" It was just like sweets to a baby, just to see new guitars in their cases. Well, you know-readers of the magazine know what that one's like. If you're a guitar fan, it means more than getting a new car, just opening that new case and seeing it and smelling it. Q. Well, a car is just a car. A. A car is only a car, but you can't play a car! Q. If you went to a party and saw a guitar standing in the corner, it wasn't likely to be a left-handed model. Didn't that frustrate you? A. I had to learn backwards. I can play right-handed guitar a bit, just enough for at parties. Hopefully, by that point everyone is drunk when I pick it up, because otherwise they're going to catch me. But I could do that, and the guys obviously wouldn't let me restring it. Certainly, they wouldn't let me gouge out their nuts. And at a party, you only want to play it for 15 or 30 minutes or so, and by the time you've goofed up their guitar and you hand it back to them, they've got to string it back again, and it's silly. So I had to learn upside down. It's funny: John learned upside down, too, because of me-because mine was the only other guitar around for him, if he broke a string or didn't have his. That's more unusual; left-handed guys can nearly always play a straight guitar. Actually, Robbie is very accomplished that way. He can do both. He can actually play pretty well: [in a stage voice] Dirty swine! The rest of us can just play passably, but he's actually pretty good the wrong way around. Q. How did the Rickenbacker change your approach? Did you have to really labor with it? A. No, the Rickenbacker was very nice. They were right: It recorded better. it had sort of a fatter neck, and it was much more stable-didn't go out of tune as easily. Also, it stayed in tune right up the neck; the Hofner had problems when you got right up near the top. So I hardly ever went up there-although some of that stuff in "Paperback Writer" is Hofner, so it did actually stay in tune for that. But it was a little more difficult to work with, being a cheaper instrument. I guess you pay for that precision. Q. By the time you got the Rickenbacker, recording technology was starting to catch up to what you and George Martin were trying to accomplish, too. A. That's true. On the early stuff, the drums and bass were really mixed towards the back of the records. Q. Not by the time of "Rain" or "Paperback Writer." A. Well, it started to move forward, and we noticed it was moving forward. There was also the kind of thing you get in groups: John would have his volume on 8, and George would have his volume on 7. The next time you looked, George would be on 8, too. You hadn't noticed him doing it. So John would casually go to 9. That happened on the recording desk, too. We each had a fader, and you'd say *[slyly]* "Oh, I think the bass ought to be a little louder there." Techniques gradually improved. The other thing was that records originally couldn't actually take that amount of bass. Q. You obviously didn't abandon guitar altogether, but did you ever feel that you had hopelessly locked yourself into the role of the bassist? A. It's funny, actually. I have problems with one of the books that's been written about us, because the guy obviously didn't like me. That's fair enough. But this guy started to make up a whole story of how I was so keen to be the bass player that I really did a number on Stuart Sutcliffe, the original bass player. He made it sound as if I had planned this whole thing to become the Beatles' bass player. I remember ringing George up shortly after this book came out, and I asked him, "Do you remember me really going hard to chuck Stu out of the group and be a bass player?" And he said, "No, you got lumbered with bass, man. None of us would do it." I said, "Well, that's how I remembered it." Because it's true: We all wanted to be guitar players. Q. Sure. Bass players were never frontmen. A. The fat boy in the back was the bass player, and who wanted to be him? So I really wasn't too keen to do it, but I'd had a real bad guitar-because of my fear of getting in debt. When I went to Hamburg, I had a thing called the Rosetti Lucky 7, which is a really terrible British guitar with terrible action. It just fell apart on me-you know, just the heat in the club and the sweat made it fall apart. Eventually, I sort of busted it-early rumblings of the Who! In a drunken moment it was busted somewhere, and it had to go. So I ended up with my back to the audience, playing piano, which was then the only thing I could do unless I could get a new guitar. So, yeah, I did pretty much get lumbered into playing bass. I didn't really want to do it, but then I started to see interesting things in it. One of the very earliest was in "Michelle." There's that descending chord thing that goes [sings bass notes] "do do do do words I know do do do do do my Michelle"-you know, the little descending minor thing. And I found that if I played a C, and then went to a G, and then to C, it really turned that phrase around. It gave it a musicality that the descending chords just hadn't got. It was lovely. And it was one of my first sort of awakenings: "Ooh, ooh, bass can really change a track!" you know, if you put the bass on the root note, you've got a kind of straight track. But later I learned how to make other notes work for me, as Brian Wilson was to prove on the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, a big influential album for me. If you're in C, and you put it on something that's not the root note-it creates a little tension. It's great. It just *[takes a long, expectant, gasping breath]* holds the track, and so by the time you go to C, its like "Oh, thank God he went to C!" And you can create tension with it. I didn't know that's what I was doing; it just sounded nice. And that started to get me much more interested in bass. It was no longer a matter of just being this low note in the back of it. Also, once I got into it, this engineer in Hamburg named Adrian made me a great bass amp that he called the coffin. It was a quad amp with big, round knobs-just bass and treble. No sophisticated graphics. He had these two 15" speakers in a big black box that looked a lot like a coffin. And, man! Suddenly that was a total other world. That was bass as we know it now. And, in fact, they wouldn't let me record with that. They were too frightened. It was like reggae bass: It was just too right there. It was great live. Q. So the recording engineers wanted you to tone it down? A. Yeah. They said, "Look, the other groups use a Fender Showman or Bassman amp. We've got one here. Wouldn't you like to try it? Oh, that sounds much better." So I got persuaded out of that. It probably fell apart, as well. I started to get into bass more, although I never put down the guitar. Obviously, you can't write on a bass. Q. You can come up with a groove, though. A. You come up with a groove, but when you're writing, you need the guitar or a piano. So I would always remember that first and foremost I started off as a guitar player. That's one of the reasons I'm playing guitar on this tour. Q. But you're also playing bass. A. Oh, I'm playing a lot of bass still, yeah. Mainly, I play bass-and piano and acoustic guitar-but for the first time on tour I'm playing electric lead. Q. During your soundcheck, you were playing your Les Paul on a bluesy number, and it had a terrific tone. A. Yeah, I got a nice tone on my bass pickup on that guitar. I had it on the bass pickup through a distortion unit. It sounds really good, like an Isley Brothers thing. It gets that lovely sort of fuzz sustain. So I guess I think of myself as a guitar player, really. Mainly acoustic-that's my main instrument, I suppose. If I couldn't have any other instrument, I would have to have an acoustic guitar. I always take one on holiday, and most times I have one in the dressing room. Q. Do you have any favorite guitar parts that you played with the Beatles? A. I liked "Taxman" just because of what it was. I was very inspired by Jimi Hendrix. It was really my first voyage into feedback. I had this friend in London, John Mayall of the Bluesbreakers, who used to play me a lot of records late at night-he was a kind of DJ-type guy. You'd go back to his place, and he'd sit you down, give you a drink, and say, "Just check this out." He'd go over to his deck, and for hours he'd blast you with B.B. King, Eric Clapton-he was sort of showing me where all of Eric's stuff was from, you know. He gave me a little evening's education in that. I was turned on after that, and I went and bought an Epiphone. So then I could wind up with the Vox amp and get some nice feedback. It was just before George was into that. In fact, I don't really think George did get too heavily into that kind of thing. George was generally a little more restrained in his guitar playing. He wasn't into heavy feedback. Q. So even hearing Jimi Hendrix and John Mayall's records didn't make you think that you should give up bass to pursue guitar? A. Not really, no. I'd always felt that the bass thing was really it, because we had to have a bass player. At the very beginning, I did think, "Well, that's put shot to any plans I had of being a guitar player." But I got interested in bass as a lead instrument. I think around about the time of Sgt. Pepper's-"With A Little Help From My Friends" and "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"-there were some pretty good bass lines. Like Motown. Like Brian Wilson's lines in the Beach Boys. So, it was okay by the time I came to do that. But with "Taxman," I got the guitar and was playing around in the studio with the feedback and stuff, and I said to George, "Maybe you could play it like this." I can't quite remember how it happened that I played it, but it was probably one of those times when somebody says, "Well, why don't *you* do it then?" Q. Rather than spend the time teaching someone else? A. Rather than spending the time to get the idea over. And I don't think George was too miffed. But when people say, "Great solo on 'Taxman,'" I don't think he's too pleased to have to say, "Well, that was Paul, actually." I didn't really do much like that-just once or twice. I also liked the part I did on "Blackbird" on acoustic; that was one of my favorites. Q. How did you react when, in the late '60s, a new breed of lead bassists such as Jack Bruce and John Entwistle emerged? A. I thought it was quite interesting. To me, it depends who you're talking about, and what record, but often I thought it was too busy. I often felt it was like the bass as lead guitar, and I don't think it makes as nice a noise as a lead guitar. It's sort of like speed merchants. I've never been one. I remember reading where somebody said that someone's the fastest bass player ever, and I thought, "Big deal." You know, there used to be a guy in Britain-I think he's still around-called Bert Weedon, who used to come onto the children's TV programs. He used to say, "I'm now going to play 1,000 notes in a minute." And then he'd get one string and go dididididid and play up and down, hitting it very, very fast. It was quite funny, actually. It's one thing to be fast, but that's short-lived. I think I'd rather be melodic, or I'd rather have content than just speed. Q. Any favorite bass players or guitarists today? A. I like Stanley Clarke. We only really met once, and just had a bit of fun in Montserrat. And he played on a couple of tracks. I admitted to him, "Hey, I'm trying to steal your licks, man!" He said, "Oh, you've got licks of your own." So we just had a bit of fun. I decided not to steal his licks after all; he was right. He's got his style; I've got my style. And he's a great guy. I like Eddie Van Halen as a player. He gets it right quite often. I like a lot of heavy metal guys because they wind it up. What I usually like in a heavy metal band is the guitar player. But when it's just miles of scales, I lose interest. I like some of the hot sounds. And I also like David Gilmour. I think Clapton is real good, particularly these days. But I still like Hendrix the best. Q. Have you ever had any doubts about your playing? A. Definitely. Often. Probably every time I've done a bass part. I have some self-doubts because I think, "Oh, my God; I've made so many records. How am I going to make this sound fresh?" But if you're lucky, you just get a little thing, like, you know, in "Rain," where there's this sort of high stuff. Then you go, "Ooh, I've got it!" And the rest of the part flows because you've got something to feel special about. "Paperback Writer"-there's something. Or the lines that I discovered in "With A Little Help From My Friends." And what gets rid of the self-doubts is just plugging at it, keeping at it, and finding something to sort of release myself with. Q. On guitar, do you mostly fingerpick or flatpick? A. I normally use a flatpick. John learned-I think I read recently he'd learned off Donovan or one of Donovan's friends, who were more into the folk thing, so they would fingerpick in the proper way, first string, third string, and all that. The proper thing, I got my own little sort of cheating way of doing it, so on "Blackbird" I'm actually sort of pulling two strings all the time. But then, when it gets to the little fingerpicking sort of thing, it's not real. I figured anyway that everyone else was doing that correct stuff, so it wouldn't hurt. Q. It certainly doesn't sound like strum, strum, strum. A. No, it's more like fingerpicking. I kind of liked it. I was trying to emulate those folk players. John was the only one who actually stuck at it and learned it. If you listen to "Julia," he's playing properly with fingerpicking on that. I was always quite proud of the lad. I think he just had a friend who showed him, and so that's really a nice part on "Julia." But I could never be bothered, really, learning things. You know, I'm a great learner. I always sort of figure something out. Like, I've never had guitar lessons, bass lessons, piano lessons, music-writing lessons, songwriting lessons, or horse-riding lessons, for that matter, or painting-I do some of that. I always jump into things, and so by the time I'm ready for my first lesson, I'm beyond it. I always did try to have music lessons. I always tried to have someone teach me how to notate music, because I still don't know to this day. Q. You're doing okay. A. But I figure I'm doing okay, yeah [laughs]. I tried when I was a kid, and I couldn't get it-it just didn't seem like nice fun to me. It seemed like hard work. I tried piano lessons when I was 16, but then I'd already written "When I'm 64"-the melody of it, anyway. And so the guy taking me back to five-finger exercises was really just hell; it was torturing me. I'd been plunking around on little chords, and I had a little bass line. So I never got on with that. And it was the same with everything-like I say, fingerpicking or anything else. I've always just sort of busked it and learned, and I enjoyed the accident. Q. You used fuzz bass very early. Was it a sort of substitute for playing guitar? A. I love fuzz bass. Yeah, it helps you be a bit more lyrical because it makes the notes linger, gives you a bit more sustain. That used to really turn the whole thing around. Q. The Rickenbacker bass seemed to do that without fuzz. A. Well...the thing now is, the new fuzzes are not quite as good as the old fuzzes were. The technology's changed. And there were a lot of primitive things that we used to use in the Beatles, prehistoric machines. One of my theories about sound nowadays is that the machines back then were more fuck-uppable. I'm not sure if that's in the dictionary. But they were more destructible. You could actually make a desk [recording console] overload, whereas now they're all made so that no matter what idiot gets on them, they won't overload. Most of the old equipment we used, you could get to really surprise you. Now a brand-new desk is built for idiots like us to trample on. We used to do a great trick with acoustic guitars like on "Ob La Di, Ob La Da." I played acoustic on that, an octave above the bass line. It gave a great sound-like when you have two singers singing in octaves, it really reinforces the bass line. We got them to record the acoustic guitars in the red. The recording engineers said, "Oh, my God! This is going to be terrible!" We said, "Well, just try it." We had heard mistakes that happened before that and said, "We love that sound. What's happening?" And they said, "That's because it's in the red." So we recorded slammin' it in the red. And these old boards would distort just enough and compress and suck. So instead of going [imitates staccato "Ob La Di" riff] dink dink dink dink, it just flowed. So, a new fuzz box just won't go as crazy as an old one would. And it does make it all a little bit cleaner, which I'm not wild on, actually, because I'm a big fan of blues records and stuff, where there's never a clean moment. Nothing was ever clean. It was always one old, ropey mike stuck somewhere near the guitar player, and you could hear his foot more than some things. Q. Do you ever just sit around at home and tweak your amp to explore new sounds? A. I do that mainly in the studio, which is almost like home. I can go in and just goof, and sometimes I just work on guitar sounds. I can get a nice clean sound fairly easily. It's the pumped-up sounds that I like to experiment with. I've got one of the old Vox AC-30s that Jeff Beck used to call "the old Beatle bashers." I once asked him if he used them, and he said, "What? Those old Beatle bashers?" Then he realized what he'd said [laughs] But I love the sound of them; I actually love the *straight* sound. It's pokey. It's not too clean. I'm not a big fan of clean in rock and roll. It's funny in a way, because I guess I've got a reputation for being a fairly clean rock and roller. But my taste doesn't extend that way. Q. If you really want a clean sound, you can always go to acoustic. A. Yeah. Or *[whispers]* you can just turn down. That's the perfect way to get clean. But that's no fun at all! That is *Back To The Future,* guys. You want a whole wall of this stuff. So, yeah. I sit around and experiment with pedals, too. Q. Have you ever gone on an equipment-buying spree? A. Very occasionally. My first Epiphone was one of them, where I just went down to a guitar shop after having heard B.B. King, Eric Clapton, and Jimi Hendrix, and I wanted something that fed back. He said, "This Epiphone will do it, because it's semi-acoustic." And he was right. The only reason I don't use it onstage is because it's a little too hot. It's great in the studio. You've got to stand in the right position for it not to feed back-I always had to do that in the studio, but nowadays guitars don't do this. Q. That's a right-handed guitar, isn't it? A. Yeah, it's right-handed, but I play it left, and I had the nut changed. Q. Do you run your picking arm into the knobs all the time? A. Yeah, but that's all I know. It was only much later in my career when I got the luxury of having it my way 'round. You know, I'm kind of used to playing what we call in Liverpool cac-handed. Spell that as you will; nobody's done it yet. Or *gammy*-handed, which is what they also call left-handed people. Q. When did you get a 5-string bass? A. I was doing some jams in London that eventually turned into the Russian album, and one of the people who kind of volunteered to come along was Trevor Horn, the producer. I didn't know it, but it turned out that he'd been a bass player; I just knew his work as a producer. So he showed up with a Wal 5-string, and I just loved the extra string, the extra depth I'd been noticing on some records. I went to see Peter Gabriel, and there was always that [makes a low growling sound] somewhere in the show, and I was wondering where they were getting it from. Half the time it was the synths. But I noticed bass players getting that noise, and when Trevor showed up with the Wal, I said, "Oh, I like those." In fact, Linda bought it for me for my birthday. Q. Did you use it on "Figure Of Eight"? A. Yeah. And there's a real low bass on "Rough Ride." It's doubled with synth. "We Got Married" is nice and low, too, and in the show it kind of shakes your booty. Q. What about "My Brave Face"? A. That's the Hofner. Q. How does it feel to switch back to the Hofner after playing the Wal? A. I think it's great. I was working with Elvis Costello, and when he was doing his album [Spike], he asked me if I'd guest on it. And he asked me to bring the Rickenbacker and the Hofner, because he's sort of a fan of older instruments. He often uses Hofner guitars because they've got a real honky sound that he likes. It's a period sound. During the work on Flowers In The Dirt, he said "Why don't you try the Hofner?" It was a little bit like pulling it out of mothballs. I had resigned myself to not working with it again because it's not very precise, but he said, "Oh, I love the sound, and you must be able to get it in tune." So we fiddled around, and we did a bit of work on it. We just about got it so it was in tune everywhere on the neck, so that was great after all these years. You've got to have the bridge at a very acute angle to get it to work. But anyway, it started to sound really good and he was very happy with it. He asked me to play it on "Veronica." So it reawoke my interest in it. And the other thing is, I saw a little bit of the Let It Be film of the Beatles on the roof doing "Get Back," and I realized that the way I was holding the Hofner was not like you hold a big, heavy thing that weighs you down and you sort of become a part of it. It's as if it were just a little jacket or something; it's so light, it's like a little piece of balsa wood. Q. The Wals are considerably heavier. A. Yeah, and the Rickenbacker's in between. So when I saw this Let It Be footage, I noticed how easy it looked to play. And because it's so light, you play guitary stuff on it; you play quite fast stuff. It just kind of flows more naturally than if you're on a physically heavy bass. Q. The bass line to "Ebony And Ivory" is very tasty, but the melody and harmonies are so strong that many people probably don't even notice it. A. Yeah, that's right. Q. How do you feel about it after doing so much work? A. Oh, I don't mind. I sing it, too, so if they notice the singing, that's great. I wrote it, and if they notice the writing, that's great, too. I don't mind; you can't have everything. The thing about that song, working with Stevie Wonder-Stevie is such a *consummate* musician-working with someone that good really keeps you on your toes. He did the drumming on that, but we started off with a rhythm box, one of the first Linn drum machines. He brought it to Montserrat, and as you know, he's blind. He kept opening the top and fiddling in it, sticking his hand in it. The guys would say, "Stevie, watch out, man, it's switched on; it's live." And he'd say, "Yeah, I know." Bloody hell! I'd never stick my fingers in there. I'm not mechanical, you know. Stevie just knows what he's doing. So while he's sticking his fingers in there and adjusting stuff, I'm saying, "I hope he doesn't hit a live wire in there." After we put a track down with that, Stevie did the drums, and then we did the vocals. So then I figured I had to put down a good bass part. I sat around and tried to work out something that would sympathize with the record; I was quite pleased with it. Q. Do you every splice bass parts together, or create a line by punching it in bit by bit? A. I like to be more intuitive. It depends if I'm in good form or bad form. If I'm in bad form, I go on forever and I don't really find anything. And that's very frustrating. But we all have those days, right? But if I'm in good form, I'll goof around with it a few times and find some really good ideas that I'll then solidify and pull into an actual part as if it was written, and then just be free in certain little bits, but mainly put in what I think is a bass part that kind of sympathizes with the song. I don't really like to come too "out of the song" with a bass. Because in my view, it's kind of like film music: You shouldn't really notice it. You should be watching the acting. You shouldn't ever hear the beautiful theme from Dr. Zhivago, because it means they're not acting that good. They should be acting so good, you should just feel the music. And in bass, I like to do a similar thing. If you're a bass player, I like to have something there for you to check out. But I don't necessarily want the bass to stick out more than anything else on the record. I want it to be probably about third on the record: Voices should be first; guitars and drums should be second; and then you should kind of get a feel of the bass. Q. But on a number like "Silly Love Songs," the bass is louder than anything. A. Now, that is the opposite of what I just said, because that is the bass in your face. And that was really just because we were making a dance record on purpose. I had been accused around that time of singing too much about love. I said, "Hey, wait a minute! It's the best thing!" Love definitely beats hate, and it's definitely kind of cool, at least in my book. But it can be perceived as sort of soppy. So I wrote this song, and asked, "What's wrong with silly love songs?" I wrote it out on holiday in Hawaii; I just had piano and chords, and I then wanted to have a melody on bass. We really pushed the bass and drums right out front. But it drove the song along quite nicely. Pushed it hard. We wanted to make something you could dance to, so you had to. Q. Do you generally mike your bass in the studio, or go direct? A. All my career, I've miked it. But these days I do both. I have the option. I run out a lead into the studio. I've always worked in the studio, but the tendency these days is to go into the control room and plug straight into the board. I've always liked the liveliness of an amp. By doing a split, they can get me live or clean-direct through to the board-or put a mike on the amp. We can mix the two, or go for one or the other, depending on what we want in the end. Q. Does it make it easier to get the sound you want when you work with Geoff Emerick or George Martin, who've been engineering or producing for you on so many projects, including the Beatles recordings? A. Yeah. Geoff Emerick's very good. He reads me. He's really good to work with. Geoff is a very deep engineer. He knows what he's doing, he's emotionally involved, and he has all the chops. And having known him for that amount of time, he knows what I've done. He keeps you on your toes. If an engineer doesn't really know your work, you think, "Oh, I can get away with that stuff." I don't mind trying to get away with stuff, actually, because in the early days of the Beatles, with George Martin, you used to do a take and you'd think, "I hope that's right." And if George said it was okay, I'd say to the other guys, [whispers] "Listen. I played a mistake in the middle." And they'd say, [whispers]  "If he doesn't notice it, don't tell him." The bass was a lot further back, back then. And a lot of Beatles records have what I thought were mistakes. So it was cool if it got through: Hmm,  passed the exam! I won't complain. We always thought we'd left school, and we were always so glad to see the back of school, but then, when we came into life, all the people from school came into life, too! They fooled us, man; they all came! So all the school sneaks became the bad reporters, and all the teachers became the judges, and all that. Q. How did you get this band together? A. We started during the making of Flowers In The Dirt. First of all, I wanted to play live, because I was in the studio every day doing bits and pieces. And the easiest thing to do was to have a jam once a week-invite a few people, see who shows up. The original idea was to have a kind of thing where anyone who wanted showed up. But that started to get a little too inexact, because one week you might have no one show up, or you might have 50 people show up. So we invited people to a Friday evening jam, and each week was a different lineup of people. Basically, when I'm jamming, I just run through all the old rock and roll numbers that I know. So that's songs like "Lucille," "Matchbox," "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," "Bring It On Home"-you know, all those kinds of standards. And the drummer who impressed me, among others who also stood out, was Chris. He wasn't too set in his ways. Q. And? A. *[Laughs.]* Well, we're talking *drummers* here, and if you get a drummer who's absolutely set in his ways, sometimes you'll get one who'll say, "I can't play to that." So you need someone who's a little bit flexible. He's young enough not to be set in his ways, and good enough to hold a good, strict tempo. Younger guys normally have trouble with things like shuffles. They're not from those times. People like Ringo have an automatic shuffle-it's just part of his repertoire. It's like a gear he can go into. And I know from the little bit of drumming that I do that a shuffle is pretty hard to do-to get a nice loose shuffle. Apparently, Chris was nervous as all hell, and it was the worst day of his life. But he played great anyway, so we invited him back, and he became a regular. I decided to do some recordings from those, because the jams were feeling good and we were building up a loose repertoire. So we did what became the album that was released exclusively in Russia. Q. Are you as concerned about the quality of the guitar player? A. I'm very fussy about guitar players. I go back too far to be satisfied easily. I knew Jimi Hendrix when he was playing in London, and I was a major, major fan. In fact, he still is my favorite guitar player-just through his whole attitude and his playing. I mean, I like attitude, but it's no good unless you can play. And in fact, some of the attitude kinds of things, like picking with his teeth, Jimi didn't really want to do. It was just show, and he got fed up with that very quickly because he was a real proper guitar player. He played lovely acoustic, too. He was the first guy to really wind it up, to get into heavy feedback. I caught his first gig in London, and I used to follow him around London like a fan. It's a very small area, and people would ring me up and say that Jimi's playing at Blazes tonight, or at the Bag O' Nails. And I was there. One of my greatest memories was that we released Sgt. Pepper's on Friday night, and on Sunday night Jimi was playing at the Savile Theatre, which Brian Epstein used to run, just for something to do on a Sunday night. There was never any entertainment on for Sunday night, so Brian began to book people in, like Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. And we could go into a little special box, and not be bothered, and we could watch all these great acts. So Jimi came on, and he opened up with Sgt. Pepper's, which had only been released on Friday. That was a great, great memory. Since then, I've seen people like Clapton, who I admire a lot, and David Gilmour. And there's just something there about what I'd call a real guitar player. They hold the instrument right, they play it right. They have the right attitude about it, and they've got something individual that each one of them that's special brings to it. In the jams, I suppose I was mildly disappointed that I never really found the guitarist who really blew me off my feet-although there were some really good players. Johnny Marr showed up, and we had a great time. The kind of guy I was looking for was more of a Hendrixy type, where Johnny's more of what I'd consider a rhythm guitarist cum lead. All these guys were brilliant. Q. This is the first permanent band you've had since Wings disbanded. A. It's the first sort of definite band, yeah. You know, after the Beatles, anyone could be forgiven for saying, "Well, that's it. I've *been* in a band." I heard Brian May of Queen say, "You're only ever in one great band." I kind of know what he means, spiritually, but I think I've been really lucky. The '76 lineup was real good-with little Jimmy McCulloch. Strange little lineup, but a magic one. I'm very excited about this band, because it's pretty musical. We can sort of go anywhere with it, which is very interesting, and a little bit daunting, because if you can go anywhere, where do you go? It's like going on holiday: If you've got the power to go anywhere, you're really stuck for choices. But I'm not really worried about that, because I've got a pretty firm direction of where I want to go with the next stuff, so I'll try that out and see what comes of it. Q. Do you like having someone full-time who can pick up, say, bass, if you want to play guitar? A. Yeah. That was one of the big attractions of Hamish. He's interested in bass-not just as a minor instrument; he's quite into it. I started on acoustic guitar, and I played Hamburg on guitar, and all. As I said, when it got busted I had to switch to piano. Which was quite good, because I'd had a piano at home. My dad was a good pianist, but not trained. Like I've picked it up, he picked it up; he learned by ear. I used to say to him, "Teach me some of your stuff." And he said, "No. You've got to learn properly." He felt he wasn't good enough to teach me, which was okay, actually, I just did what he did; I emulated him and just picked things up that I heard off records. We all sort of started with middle C, found the chord of C, found F and found G, and then we found Am, and then the rest of it-got into all the augmented and that sort of stuff as we went along. So, I never really got to go back to guitar, except for the odd solo with the Beatles, where I'd do odd little things, like "Taxman," "Tomorrow Never Knows," I played some stuff there. "Paperback Writer," I played the riff on that. Then there were the acoustic things like "Yesterday" and "Blackbird." Q. You played with Carl Perkins on "Get It." How did you two get together? A. I rang him up, and he was in the States playing clubs. We met him in the very early days with the Beatles, and he was a good old friend, such a down-home boy. I love Carl-he's so great. I'll tell you a story about Carl; I don't think he'd mind me telling this. We were recording in Montserrat, and a musician friend was sailing around the world on a yacht-a bit of a tax dodge, I think [laughs], and he sailed into Montserrat and came to see us. He invited us to his boat. There was this British naval crew piping us aboard this spotless yacht. Carl was really impressed with the buffet and the champagne, and the way it was all laid out. He came over to me and said. "Paul, where I come from they call this shittin' in high cotton." It's one of my favorite expressions. After that, we recorded "Get It," and at the end both of us are laughing, and that's the joke we're laughing at. We had to cut it, because otherwise we'd have never gotten it played on the radio. Q. Did you both play guitar on it? A. Yeah. I just played a little bit, and Carl did a rhythm part. The fun tended to come when we had a free moment, so he and I sat on the floor of the studio and we were talking and there was a mike on. I was just telling him about some of his old songs we loved, like "Lend Me Your Comb" and "Your True Love." I told him we were very big fans of his and we used to do "Your True Love." And then we'd sing together. Then we'd stop, and he'd say, "Well, you know, Paul, I used to do this," and he'd show me some fingerpicking things he used to do. Q. Back in the early days of the Beatles, you did "Matchbox" and other songs by Carl Perkins. Were you awed to meet someone who, to you, was a legend? A. Absolutely. Anyone who was a legend in our formative years is still a legend. I haven't grown out of that. Carl is still the guy who wrote "Blue Suede Shoes," and he can never do any wrong. It only took one guy to do that, and he did it. Elvis recorded it and beat his version, but still Carl wrote it. There's some magic stuff. We used to love those early albums-very primitive, very simple, but just such soul. Carl has lovely stories about how he was taught by an old black gentleman [John Westbrook], and he speaks of him with great reverence. It's very nice to hear. He said, "You know, Paul, I used to pick cotton in the field, and when we had a break, we'd sit down and this old black gentleman would show me some of his licks." It was very exciting for us kids. We'd grown up in a kind of urban world, and we didn't really know about that stuff. He's still an idol. Little Richard was another idol. And in the same way, the magic didn't fade any when we met him. He's great-wacky. He always gives me a bit of fun: Whenever he does an interview, he looks into the camera and says "Now Paul, you know I taught you how to do that woooooooo." It's true; he did! He says it like I don't admit it, but I admit it quite happily. In fact, the first thing I ever did showbiz-wise was at the end of term, when on the last day of school you'd have a bit of a blowout. All the kids would party around and there wasn't a lot of work, and the teachers were too busy cleaning the desks and getting out of there. I remember standing on a desk in Cliff Edge's room; his real name was W. Edge, the history master, and we used to like him because he was a bit looser than some of the other teachers. We called him Cliff Edge. I was standing on the desk-it was like a scene out of an old rock and roll movie-and I was clapping and singing "Tutti Frutti" like Little Richard, and all the guys in the class were going, "Yeah!" and rockin' around. I still owe a great debt to Little Richard and a lot of those guys, just because they turned us on. It's something when people turn you on, something I don't think you ever forget. It's so deep when you're young, too. The turn-on, when you're younger, is so intense. It burns itself into your soul, hearing "That'll Be The Day" and "Heartbreak Hotel" and "What'd I Say?" They burned themselves into my being. Q. And you can't get them out. A. I wouldn't want to get them out, ever. That's something I'm really proud to have burned into my soul, branded in me.

    McCartneys still making sweet music

    By Edna Gundersen / USA TODAY, 1998     When Linda McCartney died April 17 after battling breast cancer for two years, she left behind a musical self-portrait and a mourning widower.     For Paul McCartney, Linda's posthumous solo album has been a lifeline. Completing it was bittersweet labor, and bringing her legacy to the public gave him new purpose.     Wide Prairie, released Oct. 27, captures Linda's personality in 16 simple and charming tunes quietly recorded over the past 25 years. It was incomplete when she died, but her husband felt a duty to finish it.     "I had to wait a couple of months before I could face it," McCartney, 56, says from his London office. "Then I got together with my engineer for what we called 'the tears and laughter sessions.'     "It was hard hearing her voice at first, but when you listen to what she sang, it was so crazy and upbeat that you had to laugh. Her spirit shone through even in the darkest times."

        Linda wrote five songs, co-wrote seven (including six with her husband) and covered oldies "Poison Ivy," "Mr. Sandman" and "Sugartime." Her love for animals shines in "Cow," which traces an animal's death march to the slaughterhouse, and "White Coated Man," about a puppy in a vivisection lab. "I Got Up" reveals her resilience. "Love's Full Glory" spotlights her relationship with Paul.     "It's very uplifting," McCartney says. "Obviously, for those of us close to her, there's always a little tear or two when we first hear her voice."     McCartney ducked the public eye for months to grieve privately with his children, Heather, Mary, Stella and James, in Sussex, England. He shelved professional commitments and has no recording or performing plans, though he says he hopes to attend his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame March 15 in New York.     Intent on promoting Wide Prairie, which has sold just under 6,000 copies to date, he recently emerged to chat about the life and work of a woman affectionately known as Mac the Wife.     McCartney spoke candidly about his life with Linda and his labor of love on the album: Question: Linda's death seemed to rattle the public because everyone assumed such an epic love story could never end. Was it a fairytale marriage? Paul McCartney: That is the beautiful thing. We were so bloody tight with each other. I lost my parents, and I loved them dearly, but losing both wasn't as difficult as losing Linda. I was unloading to a friend this morning about how difficult it was. This friend said, "Yeah, but it was so beautiful. You've got to remember that." It's true. Shoot, we didn't screw up in a major fashion, and we did love each other immensely. Question: Is it hard promoting this album without Linda? Paul McCartney: We had planned to promote it together. Sadly, it wasn't to be. It is a labor of love. Linda didn't want to be the world's greatest musician, but she loved her music so dearly. This is a sum of everything she did in a musical direction since we met. Question: The pop-reggae tune "Seaside Woman," Linda's first song, was released. Why did no other songs surface over the years? Paul McCartney: When Linda hooked up with me, she came in for a lot of criticism from people saying, "What's he got her up on stage for?" Our reasoning was that we loved being together. There have been stranger reasons for people being in bands together. I was happy to have her on stage to share the experience. But she was obviously in my shadow, and both of us were in the Beatles' shadow, so she took the easier option of recording stuff just for her own fun. She was not that keen to release it. She thought, "Why invite the criticism?" Question: What changed her mind? Paul McCartney: In later years, people started looking at what she'd achieved and how cool she was, and it gave her a little more courage. It was also a question of her thinking, "Who cares what people think?" Question: Are there more of Linda's songs hidden away? Paul McCartney: There's only one other, a little tune we didn't get around to recording. But I know the melody in my head, and I've got the lyric sheet. So I must actually demo it soon. Question: In "The Light Comes From Within," Linda slams her critics: You say I'm simple/You say I'm a hick/You're f------ no one/You stupid d----. That vitriol seems out of character. Paul McCartney: It was out of her public character. Let's face it, unless you go on Jerry Springer's show, most people are quite private and you see only the public face. In Linda's case, she could let fly, but you can't go around doing that all the time. The perception of her was a wife, mom and photographer. She had millions of sides to her personality and had very strong opinions. If she felt someone was mean-spirited, she might not attack that person in public, but you better believe she did in private. Question: Did her views shape yours? Paul McCartney: Very much so. I used to worry what people thought of me. Going through the whole Beatle breakup, there were and still are a lot of strange perceptions. I used to say, "Oh gosh, maybe I should do this so people won't think that." And her view was, to put it bluntly, "Screw 'em. Who cares what they think? This is our life." It was great to have that kind of tough cookie around. Question: Which of her songs impress you most? Paul McCartney: "Love's Full Glory" has a very lovely, very romantic melody. That and "Endless Days" are quite sentimental, but I like that. People will be surprised to find she could write tunes like that. It's not easy. Question: I'm sure skeptics will assume you had a hand in those. Paul McCartney: That's a good point. There are a few co-written pieces I had a hand in, but a lot of this stuff is just Linda's ability. She wrote it; she sang it. Question: Do you think Wide Prairie will upgrade opinions of her musical abilities? Paul McCartney: Yeah. When she played a mini-Moog, people laughed and said, "Look at the one-fingered pianist." They were actually the fools. You can only play that instrument with one finger. The perception stuck. People were annoyed that she was a novice. Anyone on the Wings '76 tour, where she'd had the proper amount of time to learn, realized how much she'd flowered. She was playing all the keyboards. That involved quite complex parts, like orchestral parts in "Live or Let Die." Neil Sedaka and Carole King came backstage and said, "I don't believe what they're saying. You were perfectly in tune, darling. Your playing was beautiful." Question: The most bitter attacks focused on her voice. Paul McCartney: You listen to records now, it's not like people are singing in tune. We're not talking opera here. There's a lot of what you'd called personality voices arising out of the punk scene. It has more to do with feel. She had feel. She was original. Question: Did she do "Cow" and "White Coated Man" to further the animal-rights cause? Paul McCartney: It's unusual to have songs with animal-welfare sentiments, but she figured if someone put together an album for an animal charity, she could contribute. She didn't look down on any species, except perhaps a mosquito that had just bitten her. OK, then she'd swat him. "He attacks me; I attack him." Question: There's a childlike sense of humor in her exaggerated twang on the title track. Paul McCartney: She loved a joke and loved laughter. She surprised us the last couple of years by how upbeat she was. She kept our spirits up, and it was supposed to be the other way around. She'd say we were a great support team, and we'd say, "But you're doing it. You're leading this team." She had that innocent American humor formed in high school. If you inadvertently spit while you were talking, she'd say, "Say it, don't spray it." Question: When she was recording "Appaloosa" in March, did she know how ill she was? Paul McCartney: Not really. We always kept hopeful that there was another treatment around the corner. While we knew things were tough, we managed to keep a positive spin on it. Even though she was a little tired, we were putting that down to the treatment (chemotherapy), which is known to be tiring. Question: When we last spoke a year ago, you sounded optimistic about her health. Did you think she'd beaten it? Paul McCartney: We did toward the end of last year. It's difficult to ever say you've beaten something like cancer. It's an insidious beast, and it doesn't just go away. But we thought we were doing really well. Then we got some bad news just before we were due to come to America. We thought, maybe there's a treatment for this, too, and we just soldiered on. Right up until a couple days before she died, we were out horse riding. On our last horse ride, a whacking great rattlesnake came across our trail. It was majestic, and it was symbolic. Question: She didn't suffer long? Paul McCartney: That was the blessing. The last day was just a day of being too tired to get up, basically. Then she slipped into a coma and died. Not much fun. Question: How have you coped since her death? Paul McCartney: We're putting one foot in front of the other, the whole family. We're getting on, but missing her. It would be great if I could be resilient, but I've got to play it one day at a time. I've heard people use that expression, and I always wondered what they were talking about. Now I know. I play a lot of things by ear, but this year especially. If I've got to cry, I cry. If I've got to be strong, I pull myself together. Question: You lost your mother to breast cancer and now Linda. Do you foresee a role in promoting cancer research? Paul McCartney: It's too difficult to see the future. (Her death) is too close to me and too painful still. I'm not making any plans to be a cheerleader or the sad clown. I'm just getting on. I'm promoting the album. I just want people to know it's out there. To do something for Linda is good therapy for me. Question: British tabloids said you may never perform again. Paul McCartney: I suspect I will, but this year makes all those decisions very difficult. There's no pressure on me to make decisions. There's nobody standing above me with a big whip. I'll just see how I feel. I still love my music. But the main impetus now is for Linda. She has a new cookbook coming out, and a photography book next year. We're fulfilling her dreams. Question: Are you finding any time to devote to your own music? Paul McCartney: I'm still writing songs. Some of them are a little sad, but not all of them. And I'm making rough plans. I'm sure I'll eventually break into a trot.

    Get Back (from McCartney by Chris Stanford, 2006)


    Every culture creates psychopaths in its own image: it's difficult to imagine transferring the typical British madman to America. Likewise, the 'lone nut with a gun' seems oddly indigenous to the US. While the two boyhood friends continued to circle one another, just such a character, a twenty-five-year-old flop named Mark David Chapman, working as a part-time security guard in Hawaii, began to entertain thoughts of murder. By early October, Chapman was reading everything he could get his hands on about the newly public John Lennon. At least one such profile, in Esquire, would speak of this 'conscience of his generation' re-emerging as 'a forty-year-old businessman worth 8150 million.' There were other pieces extolling the percipience of John and Yoko's investments, the commercial boon of the whole comeback, and the goldmine of the Beatles back catalogue. Chapman began to denounce his one-time hero, complaining that he was a phony. When he left work for the last time on 23 October he signed the employees' log as 'John Lennon', before violently stabbing the name out.

    Four days later in London, McCartney began cutting the soundtrack for a projected film about the beloved Daily Express children's character Rupert Bear, to which he owned the rights. Among the tunes recorded were Rupert Song (Parts 1 and 2), Tippi Tippi Toes and The Casde Of The King Of The Birds. A thirty-eight-piece orchestra and a boys' choir joined Paul to lay down both vocal and humming versions of the rousing We All Stand Together, which would be a British hit some four years later.

    McCartney was sipping a Scotch and Coke when the young choristers filed out, in a reflective mood; the song had moved him. Around midnight, a Cinderella moment in the empty studio when the gear was being stowed, he turned to Linda and one or two friends and told them that it reminded him of the famously trippy session for All You Need Is Love. 'It was that same vibe. I just looked around, and there were all these flowers and happy faces smiling up at me.' Another sip or two, and he began murmuring huskily, 'John ... John ..And Paul bent over chuckling, as though it had been yesterday rather than thirteen years before. At about that same moment Mark Chapman was in the J&S gunshop in Honolulu, where, for the equivalent of £65, he quickly concluded the purchase of a Charter Arms .38 calibre revolver.

    On 4 November, a Tuesday, Ronald Reagan was elected the fortieth president of the US. John Lennon continued his now full-pelt media campaign prior to the release of his and Yoko's album Double Fantasy. And McCartney made his third and last attempt of the year to reach his former partner by phone. By then Paul, too, was back in New York, overseeing the final edits of his concert film Rockshow, which would premier on 26 November. An employee at Lennon's home took the call and assured McCartney, 'OK, he'll get back to you.'

    Five weeks passed. Then one day in December, McCartney was at AIR Studios in London, the phone rang and it was Lennon's people getting back to him. They wanted Paul to co-sign the deposition against the producers of the Beatlemania stage show, alleging that its sole purpose had been to commercially exploit the band even as its four members planned a major comeback concert. (This came as news to George and Ringo.) The lawyers were polite enough, and said that their client felt it might be a good idea for the Beatles' two 'capital generators' to present a united front on the issue, but John himself - already back at work on a new record, even as Chapman stalked him - never rang to discuss it.

    Instead, in the early hours of Tuesday 9 December, Yoko phoned Paul's office, who in turn found him, with the unthinkable. John's assassination by Chapman would become the major news headline and talking point throughout the world for that week. The press immediately descended on McCartney's farm, cornering him among the sheep and goats, and got the shot everyone wanted, the News splashing it all over page two. And next day there he was, the so-called cute one, grizzled, puffy-eyed and surrounded by hairy animals. 'I can't take it in,' Paul announced. 'John was a great man who'll be remembered for his unique contributions to art, music and peace. He's going to be missed by [everyone]… He belongs to the world.'

    The press thought both Lennon and McCartney still belonged to them, and in the hours and days ahead they doorstepped Paul wherever he went. (Many of these same papers who gave over entire editions to their editors' unbearable expressions of grief had ignored or panned Double Fantasy just three weeks earlier.) Around seven that Tuesday night, ducking out of the side door of AIR Studios towards his car, Paul was swarmed by a small mob of fans, reporters and TV cameramen. Amid the riot of upside-down faces mouthing 'How do you feel?' questions through his windscreen, he turned round and said, 'It's a drag, innit?' McCartney would come to rue the exact choice of words, which many in the media considered glib.

    The cheeky Beatle became heartless. He 'shrugged off the news' one American music weekly wrote, 'as though bemoaning a light rain shower.' Actually McCartney was shaken to his core, and genuinely sad at how things had been left between the two of them. On the morning of 10 December, just twenty-four hours after hearing the news, Paul asked to meet Andy Peebles, the BBC DJ who interviewed Lennon the weekend before his death. Peebles went to AIR, where he found McCartney 'absolutely gutted . . . and like anyone in shock, totally fixated on a single issue. In this case, what had John said about him? How'd he really felt?'

    McCartney's official statement on the tragedy, issued later that day, hinted at some of the same concerns:

    I've hidden myself in my work, but it keeps flashing into my mind. I feel shattered, angry and very sad. It's just ridiculous. [Lennon] was pretty rude about me sometimes, but I secretly admired him for it, and I always managed to stay in touch with him. There was no question that we weren't friends - I really loved the guy. John often looked a loony to many people. He had enemies, but he was fantastic ... He made a lot of sense.

    McCartney had suffered one other significant loss, when his mother Mary succumbed to breast cancer on 31 October 1956. For twenty-three years she'd been a hardworking maternity nurse, and for the last ten, on and off, the family's main breadwinner. Her husband Jim had come back from the hospital that dark Wednesday night and broken the news to his two bewildered sons. After a long silence, Paul had said, 'What are we going to do without her dosh?' Fourteen years old. He'd had no real idea of how to cope and would soon turn to music as a release. Paul's 'It's a drag' observation of twenty-four years later may well have been fuelled by the fact that, as a child, he'd learnt to keep certain things to himself. So, too, his teenage concern about 'dosh' in time led to the shrewd, hard-headed businessman worth some £780 million. *

    It's somehow fitting, even if the facts are appalling, that McCartney should have survived Lennon. He was always the long-distance runner of the Beatles, an unabashed lover of his grannie's music, for whom aging gracefully was in the game plan all along. Unlike John, Paul's also enjoyed the ability to strike a sympathetic chord with a huge, worldwide public which feels him to be, at heart, 'just like us.' Of course, it's not true, but it's a rare gift that people should think it so. Like a Reagan or a Princess Diana, to name two, McCartney has gradually acquired special status as a much beloved Great Communicator.

    The story that's led up to this began on that bleak Halloween in 1956, when overnight Paul became obsessive about playing music. Stewing over the awkwardness of the wake and the weeks that followed, he took refuge in his first guitar. In the fifty years since, he's done the following: become the most successful pop composer and recording artist in history, selling more than 140 million singles and roughly the same number of albums; scored at least eighty gold discs; acquired the copyright to over 1,000 other songs, including the works of Buddy Holly, Marvin Hamlisch, Sammy Cahn and Ira Gershwin, as well as the soundtracks to Annie, Grease and A Chorus Line (the list isn't exhaustive); collected an MBE, a knighthood and much else in-between, from Chile's Order of Merit to a fellowship of the Royal College of Music; been involved in at least four drugs busts; caused Billy Graham to fall to his knees to pray for his soul; flirted with various alternative lifestyles; had smash hits as a solo artist and also as a member of a duo, trio, quartet, quintet and sextet; casually written the most popular song of all time, Yesterday, since jazzed up, slowed down or otherwise mangled by 2,400 other artists, ranging from Elvis to Frank Sinatra. As a result, McCartney has enjoyed a virtual season ticket to the Novellos and the Grammys, and in 1992 was the first ever recipient of Sweden's Polar Music Award, sometimes known as the Nobel prize for the arts.

    He's given his name to everything from a planet to a groundbreaking punk group (the Ramones, who were all big fans, especially of McCartney's old stage moniker, Paul Ramon). Snapped up the rights to such standards as Chopsticks, Sentimental Journey - and Happy Birthday. Written a chart-topping James Bond theme. Dabbled in, among other forms, electronica, classical, swing, ragtime, soul and disco. Compared himself to Bach. Starred in one of the best musical films of all time, and also in one of the worst. Published poetry and exhibited a painting called The Queen After Her First Cigarette. Graced the Guinness Book of Records for having played to the largest stadium audience in history, as well as for the fastest ticket sale in history. Generally soared far above the level of other Sixties pop stars with their vaudeville routines for the curious and the disturbed. Enjoyed the distinction of seeing a school in Cracow, Poland, teach eight-to-twelve-year-olds to speak English purely by studying his lyrics.

    There are plenty of other prolific tunesmiths around, but none have touched McCartney at his peak. It'd be going too far to call him, as John Lennon once did, a ditty factory; going too far, but not going in totally the wrong direction. He was staggeringly productive. Whereas even Lennon would take two or three days to write a three-minute song, back then Paul actually took three minutes to write a three-minute song. He dreamt up hits-in-waiting while out walking his dog or sitting in the back of taxis. The melody of his most famous song came to him fully formed in his sleep. McCartney was totally musical; when not busy with his own career he found time to write for or produce everyone from Cilia Black to the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band to the Everlys. Somewhere along the way, he became known, to Lennon and to millions of others, as the doe-eyed softy and perky melodist of breezy, lightweight fare like Hello, Goodbye, not to mention The Frog Chorus.

    But like a stagnant pond, apparently calm to the naked eye, McCartney has always teemed with furious, invisible activity. As well as the Uncle Albert-style froth he's also been responsible for some of rock's more thrilling innovations. He was the first of the Beatles, and about the first pop star anywhere, to buck the old Tin Pan Alley convention of what a 'proper song' should sound like. That would have been legacy enough. But along with all the heady pranks involving wrong keys and tape loops and unsynchronised orchestras, McCartney was also restlessly shuffling styles and idioms right from the start. By the late Sixties he was regularly mixing old-fashioned showbiz 'oomph' with startling little novelties - for instance, the swampy bass lick, beloved of rap artists, he improvised on Come Together. He was 'into' Indian music before either Lennon or Harrison, and reggae fully a decade before chancers like the Police. Just turn on the radio. Every song harmonising in fourths and fifths rather than conventional thirds, that's McCartney. Every giddily vertical melody, that's McCartney. Jumping bass lines, wild octave leaps and yeah-yeah choruses - McCartney. Even in later years he never failed to take risks, whether pioneering the use of found sound or forgoing his brand name to trade under the aliases 'Thrills' Thrillington, the Fireman or plain Wacca, host of 1995's seminal Oobu Joobu radio show. No wonder his company logo shows a juggler keeping various planets aloft. McCartney himself often cites astrology when attempting to rationalise how an inveterate hoofer like him can also be an avant-gardist. 'I'm a Gemini, and we're supposed to be like this and that. We're quite schizo.'


    Some, but not all of the McCartney story has grown threadbare through constant retelling. PhD theses about him have been accumulating for years, and there are whole books devoted to curating the exact dates and details of every song their subject ever recorded, and what he was wearing when he did so. Relatively few of them have challenged the McCartney stereotype: a happy-go-lucky, sweater-clad sort of bloke, more tuneful but not that much more hip than Val Doonican. That's the myth.

    After finishing work in the studio shortly after John Lennon's death in December 1980, Paul and his family went back to the farm in Sussex. They'd remain in seclusion there, under armed guard, for the rest of the winter. He chose his occasional guests with care, refusing all interview requests and, not surprisingly, further enhancing security. One of his few visitors in the week before Christmas was an old Liverpool friend who remembers 'Paul talk[ing] a lot about the Fabs, and how John had always been the one of them to wear his heart on his sleeve.' Late one evening over a bottle of wine, McCartney said something that would stick in his friend's mind. It was something that might also have surprised the many fans who for twenty years had read about him in print or listened intently to his music, but it cut to the core of the man. What Paul said that night was, 'Nobody knows me, do they?'

    Tears and laughter

    USA Weekend, 1998

    This week, singing backup on a new CD, Paul McCartney lends voice to his late wife's songs. In an exclusive interview for USA WEEKEND, he talks for the first time about how Linda died - and how she lived.

    First he was one of the Fab Four. Then, for the next 30 years, Paul McCartney was always with his wife, Linda. Now Paul, 56, is alone for the first time, without his "mate," as he refers to Linda. People who know McCartney would add "soul" to that. Since Linda's death in April at 56, of breast cancer, a devastated McCartney has kept close to home and family in Sussex, England, saying little publicly. But a few weeks ago, he broke his silence to talk with Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, a family friend, for USA WEEKEND. For the first time, McCartney discusses his relationship with his American wife, how they raised their children, the agonizing two years after Linda was diagnosed, and why they made Wide Prairie, a posthumous album of Linda's, out this week. In his London office, McCartney was upbeat for most of the conversation, until he started recalling Linda's last days. "He started to get choked up,'' Hynde says. "The legacy of Paul's music in the Beatles is one thing, but I think his real legacy is this love story he had with Linda."

    Here is the interview edited for publication.

    Chrissie Hynde: You and Linda were married for 30 years but you never spent one night apart -- not counting the famous Japanese marijuana bust incident. Most couples, whatever their lifestyle, have to, or want to, have a little space on their own. Was that some kind of pact you made with her?

    Paul McCartney: No, it just happened that way. I always think of Linda still as my girlfriend. That's how we started out in the '60s, just as friends. Whenever I was working late somewhere, I just never fancied it. I thought: Well, I could stay overnight in this posh hotel, or I could go home to Linda. And it was always the brighter of the two options: Yeah, go home to Linda. It was just I liked being with her, quite frankly. I think that's the most difficult thing about losing her, just how much I enjoyed being with her.


    CH: With your money and prestige you could have sent your children to any school in the world. And yet you'd drop them off and pick them up every day at the same local school -- what the Americans would call the public school -- along with the local shopkeepers, farmers, and the other people in your village. Why?

    PM: We'd seen a lot of people go through the expensive schooling route with their kids, and we understood why they did it, because they wanted the best for their children -- that's normally the reason people say. But we'd seen a lot of heartache happen, when the kids would be devastated to leave, for instance, Mummy at the age of eight. Whenever we saw anything like that, Linda and I instinctively would look at each other and register the fact that that wasn't how we were going to do it.

    The other thing was nannies -- and [what] put us off that was when one of our friends' kids ran to the nanny and said, "Mummy!" The kid had forgotten who the mummy was, and it shocked us. So we decided not to go that route. The nice thing was that because Linda was from money, she knew that it wasn't the be-all and end-all. She used to talk to me about a lot of loneliness she'd seen in a lot of these big houses and a lot of unpleasantness in families, because they weren't close, they weren't truthful, they weren't honest, because they didn't spend much time together.

    So even though people would say, "You've got to send your son to Eton," we just said, "No way, they'll end up being like a different race from us, and we won't just won't relate to them." We decided that even if we were going on tour we'd take them with us. People thought we were mad, they used to be after us about "dragging our children around the world." But we said, "Well, they are close to us and if ever they get the flu, then we're not in Australia and they're not in England, desperately worrying." Instead, Linda would be there, with the medicine. Or I would be there to tuck them into bed. We just decided that that was more important to us.

    Neither of us had a brilliant education; I got into music and she got into photography. Even though we had good educations, we never really did the heavy university trip -- so it wasn't that important to us. We always said that as long as the kids have good hearts, that was our big emphasis.

    So we didn't send them to the paying schools, we did send them to the little local school. We'd moved out of London because London was getting a bit too much the fast lane. If the kids were going to a club, it tended to be a big London night club and it was very much the fast lane; a lot of drugs and stuff knocking around. We worried for their safety, so we moved out to the country and our kids went to the local school, with just 75 kids in the school. They really enjoyed it and the local community accepted us just as if we were the same as them, which in our minds we were.

    Little things would crop up, like the school would be fundraising for a new computer, let's say. They'd mention it to us and instead of saying, "Sure we'll buy you ten," which we had the capacity to do, we'd say, "Tell you what, take a collection amongst all the other parents and when you get up to about 50 pounds or something, give us a shout and we'll put the other 100 pounds or something, but we don't want to appear flash. We want to just be ordinary people to give our kids as near to a normal upbringing as we can do." I must say that is one of the things that Linda and I always said: Our greatest achievement is our kids. People say that they are really good people.

    CH: Well you know, you've been a huge inspiration to the way I look after my kids?

    PM: That's true. I remember you and Alan and you were kind of a Pretender, and moody. But then after meeting Linda a couple of weeks later you were like much more a mom, much more interesting. And that was the effect she had on people.

    CH: Well you know how I met you, because Linda sent me a present for my first daughter and I opened the card and it said:'Paul and Linda and kids.' I was just beside myself. I said, "I don't even know the McCartneys." I saw you walking through the studio a couple of weeks later and I walked up and said, "Thanks for the baby clothes." You looked a little embarrassed and said, "Oh, my wife. She's always doing stuff like that."

    Many people since have said that their introduction to her was some good will message or gift before they actually met. She first found people that she...

    PM: Liked.

    CH: Liked. That was very much how people seemed to get to know you both sometimes. Next, I was going to ask about the nannies.

    PM: Well, we didn't like the idea of the children relating more importantly to someone else rather than us, we never did. Similarly, most people in our position have got a cook. Linda didn't like cleaning so we got cleaners. But cooking, she would do it all, looking after the kids. We were there every night to put them to bed, there in the mornings to wake them up. So you know, as far as they're concerned, even though we were some famous couple, to them we're just mom and dad. I think that's what's important. We made that important for us, that was our priority. And it worked.

    CH: Even my kids didn't know you were a famous couple until one day, we were coming home from your house on the train. As you always seem to do behind my back, you slipped them both a 10-pound note and said, "Go buy something for yourself." They looked up and said, "Wouldn't that be great if he was our dad."

    PM: I know Linda and I are both very proud of the effect she as a mother had on you because, hey that's a huge thing.

    CH: And I am glad to say that I took the opportunity many times while she was around to tell her that. It's not something I'm just saying now.

    PM: No, no, she knew that.

    CH: Did you ever take a vacation together without the kids? Most couples, they want to get away and have a little second honeymoon. Did you ever go off on your own without them?

    PM: No, we even took Heather [Linda's daughter from her first marriage] on our honeymoon. People are little surprised at that. We've met people who say, "Oh I like children, but I only like them when they get to be about three years old, when you can talk to them." Linda and I would look at each other and say, '"But don't you like them when they're little babies?" And they just gasp a little bit. I think it was just always such a mystery to us. I [come] from a very strong Liverpool family. And when Linda and I met, she was a single parent happening to get on with her life. So we just kind of pulled it together between us and just said, "Well you know, we'll just do it in a certain way." And we stuck to it. Just kept it very simple. We looked at issues and saw what seemed to be our instinctive reactions. Sometimes it can be against the grain. People will say, "No, you mustn't do that or no you can't do that." We said, "Well we're gonna do that and we hope we're right." And I think using our instincts like that, instead of what other people told us, was good because no one can tell you how to raise your kids. They are your kids. And this idea that babies are only good when they're three -- when James was really little I remember sitting on the sofa with him. He's just a baby and he was sitting with me like we were grown-ups and he was just sort of gaggling and going, "Ah goo, ah goo." So I just said, "Ah goo." Like agreeing with him in his language. He looked at me like, "You speak this language?" We're sitting there for hours just "ah goo." I just mimicked him because kids mimic their parents -- but its actually a lot of fun the other way around. Then I said, "Pa, Pa, Pa," and he'd just go, "Um, hum, Pa, Pa, Pa." They see you like using their words and it's oddly so exciting. From the second they were born to this day, I think you learn so much off kids -- if you're willing to be open and you don't close your mind and say, "Oh, I know how to be a parent." I always said to Lin that being a parent is the greatest ad-lib you're ever involved in. You make it up as you go along, you have no idea what the script is, you have no idea how these kids are going to turn out but if you're just with them a bit and listen to them a bit and let them talk to you instead of talking to them all the time, then natural things occur a bit more easily. We don't give them anything near the amount of credit they should have. They teach you in the end. This beautiful, innocent wisdom tends to erode as we get older, but they bring it back -- which is magic.

    CH: I think they are going to try to elect you president of the United States after that.

    PM: Yeah, this is what I'm running for.

    CH: No one says this, nobody talks about this stuff.

    PM: This is what Linda and I were; this is why we were so close and this is why this year has been so devastating for me -- because she was the only person I ever talked to like this in my whole life. I never talked like this to my mum and dad, even though I was very close to them. You don't talk about this stuff, people just get on with it and nobody actually ever stops and thinks about it. Linda and I always used to remind each other that that was sort of what The Beatles were about, that honesty. I remember when we first came to America and all the publicists said, '"Don't mention the Vietnam War." So of course, the first question we got, we mentioned it: "We don't think it's a good war, it's unfair, what are you doing over there?" Everyone was having fits about us saying that, but we couldn't not say it. That was the great strength that people recognized in The Beatles, that these guys were telling the truth. Until then, showbiz had been, "Oh, I'm so pleased to be working this room...." With us in The Beatles, it was, "We're so pleased to be in this life with you."


    CH: Linda was a successful and respected photographer -- nothing to do with the Eastman-Kodak family, as was rumored at the time -- before she met you. Neil Young, at the memorial service in New York, praised her work as among the best of her generation. How did marrying you affect her career?

    PM: I used to joke that I ruined her career when we got married, because she became perceived as Mrs. McCartney, "the Eastman-Kodak heiress" Paul had married. A lot of newspaper stories just get changed because they are better stories when you lie a little. Of course, it still has to sacrifice the truth. So I used to make that joke. But to some degree I think it was true, because if she had a book of her photography, for instance, instead of people thinking she was worthy of a book, the thought was, "Oh, Paul probably arranged for her to have a book."

    CH: Oh, I'm sure. I don't think it was a joke.

    PM: No, no it wasn't actually such a joke because in fact, in later years, I must admit, I was starting to talk to her about maybe she should use the Linda Eastman name for photography or at least Linda Eastman McCartney because some of these people would say, "Oh I didn't realize that she was Linda Eastman." But the great thing is that she kept taking photos and whether people understood it or not, the body of work is there.

    CH: I never saw her without a camera.

    PM: I did. In bed. But one of the many things I loved about her was the way she held a camera. To me, having been photographed so many times, you can tell by the way that the photographer holds a camera, the way they wield their instrument, you just know, "Wow, this one's good."

    CH: You took a picture I've seen a few times of her, she's sort of looking at you from the side and holding her camera, and it's so delicate the way she has her hands, it's very beautiful.

    PM: She had these long fingers, these beautiful long fingers, and it was one of the things that first struck me when I met her. Having had my photo taken by Life magazine, and by Avedon and all these people, I remember thinking: "God, she really holds that camera gracefully." And I think that probably is one of the signs of a great photographer, because you ought to hold the instrument of your profession well. And she certainly did that. And the other thing was that she knew when to click, which is the other essence of a great photographer. I was once talking to a good friend of mine about photography and saying it's about just a few little things -- you've got to be in the right place at the right time. All the great photos you can think of, had the person been next door while that was going on they'd have missed it. A great photographer always knows to be there -- and that was one of Linda's great skills. The other thing, the next thing is where to point the camera. Because they can point it at your feet, upon your face or your whole body or a close-up. So I think that's crucial. And then the final thing, in those three little steps, I think is when to click. Bringing you into a click, she'd wait and then you'd think, "I must be looking horrible." But you weren't. There was just nothing happening, that's all. And she'd just wait until you said the end of your joke and you're free to laugh and she'd go bang. She only ever got those moments. Sometimes it was a little scary because you'd think, "What is it? Is she looking at my hair falling?" But it wasn't, she was just waiting for that moment.

    The other thing -- sometimes she'd take a photo of something, and most professional photographers would take the rest of the roll, just in case, and I would sometimes say to her as an amateur, "Maybe you ought to take a couple more, just to be sure." And she'd say, "Nope, I got it." That takes an awful lot of confidence. She just knew that the moment had happened, and she had clicked. And please God it came back from the chemist, as we say over here -- what we call the developer, the chemist. But she knew as long as it came back from the printer OK that she had that moment. Again, that took huge confidence and huge belief in your ability. I probably am heavily biased, well I am definitely heavily biased, but I seriously do believe that she is one of the best photographers that I've ever seen. I'd put her right up there with [Henri] Cartier-Bresson and Ansel Adams and some of our favorite photographers and I think that it will be discovered more and more as time goes on, because she'll be seen as a photographer and not just as some sort of appendage to me.


    CH: Whose idea was it for Linda to sing and play keyboards in your band, Wings?

    PM: It was kind of both of us. We used to do a lot of late-night planning in bed, we'd go to bed and sit around watching TV, take some food to bed. At that time, The Beatles had broken up, so I had to make a decision. To forget music and think, "Oh I've done it all with The Beatles after all, you can't get any higher and it would be very, very difficult to top an act like The Beatles" -- everyone in the world is always trying and no one really succeeds, to my mind. So suddenly, for me to be in that position of trying to follow The Beatles was, like, nerve-wracking, to say the least. The whole circumstances of life had changed. Now Linda and I were it -- I was on my own now, except for Linda and our babies.

    So I was sitting up in bed one night, and we were chatting about whether we would do anything, whether I would do anything, and I thought that I could form a new group. It'd be really difficult, but I always wanted The Beatles to go back to square one and just play as a band; to forget all the highfalluting stuff and just learn to be a little band together, which is what we were always the best at. But because it couldn't happen with The Beatles, I started talking about this and then I said, "Imagine yourself behind a curtain. You're in the band and the curtain opens, and there's an audience there and you're playing in this band -- could you handle that? Do you think you could possibly enjoy that? Because I'd love to have you up on stage with me." Because of the same reason I always wanted to sleep with her. We're just friends and it seems that if that were an option all the time -- to be without her or to be with her -- I'd always choose to be with her. And so she said, "Yeah, I think I could get into that, that sounds quite fun." And that was it. We just decided to form a band.

    She had just had our baby Stella, and it had been a very difficult birth. There had been a thing called a placenta previa, which in the old days was life threatening. Before modern medicine, it was life threatening for the mother and the baby -- both of them would have died giving birth. Anyway, so she had the operation, she had a Caesarean and it was a very difficult time. But during the recovery time from that we spent a lot of time together just sitting around chatting and stuff. And while she was in the hospital, this idea came to me for Wings. I just thought it was kind of slightly angelic and nice after The Beatles. It seemed right. It seemed like a good name for a band. So we started talking about how we might do it. Always at the beginning it was only ever going to be, "Who might join me and her on stage." It was never like it was a band and would she join it. It was going to be me and her, and then we'll get some other people. That was kind of how it always was, really. She and I were always the regulars, and other people kind of came and went. And then keyboard: when she was a kid -- like a bunch of people -- she had taken a few piano lessons, and had liked it. She had been in a local glee club in high school, and she would tell me how she'd go to the bell towers with the local girls and sing harmony. She was like that. A deep love of it, but no training whatsoever. So I kind of started her on the piano and just showed her where middle C was. I said, "This is the chord, and this is how you make a chord of C." Showed her the three notes. And then I said, '"You mess around." That was all we ever said, and she picked the rest of it up herself. People used to joke that she was sort of a "one finger player." But that was because they were ignorant of the fact that the instrument she was playing was a Moog synthesizer, a mini Moog, which is monophonic. You cannot play more than one note at a time. Actually, they didn't realize what they were seeing: they're seeing her play this Moog, which was an instrument she loved. It's on a lot of Wings records. And they'd see it and they'd go, "Oh look at her playing with one finger." If they only had the wisdom to realize that you can't play those instruments with more than one finger. Well, you can play with as many fingers as you like, but only one will register. So she was actually good. As time progressed, I don't think anyone realized that she became the keyboard player on pieces like Live And Let Die, which has got really difficult stuff in the middle. She was synthesizing a whole orchestra on the tour, and that's really difficult to do. But she learned it all, and she did it all and she took it kind of seriously. And, for me, there she was. If ever I looked around, there was a friend; it wasn't a new face, it was my mate.


    CH: Most of my conversations over the years with Linda end up centering around animal issues and how we wanted to convert the whole world to vegetarians. Linda never sought public acclaim, and constantly avoided the media. She obviously disliked any intrusion into her privacy, but she was always ready to use her voice -- loudly in restaurants if I recall correctly -- if it meant saving animals. What were her involvements? Some Americans don't even know, right from the bottom up, her whole intention and what she wanted.

    PM: From a very early age, Linda had been a serious nature-lover. One of the great things for us was that I was too when I was young. And, when we started talking -- and this was now after The Beatles when we got together -- the more in depth we'd get and talk about our past; she'd tell me about going to a little vacant lot where she lived in Scarsdale, near New York, and there was a little spot she always used to go to, with a little stream that no one ever went to because it wasn't on the social calendar. And, like, she'd go, and there's this little stream running through it. She'd spend hours there just sitting alone, watching nature. She was always very good at that, just sitting on her own. She was one of the most complete people for that. I'm too antsy. I can do it for a little while but then I want to do something else. But Linda could just sit forever -- and nature would come to her. Of course the quieter you are, the more it comes to you. So she used to tell me about lifting up rocks and finding salamanders and I'd say I used to lift up rocks and find newts, which is the British equivalent. And, I used to wander around in a little brook doing bird-spotting. Identifying birds: I loved it. So, when we compared notes later, it turned out that both of us were loners as kids, and both of us were going out into nature and that was one of our great joys. She'd always felt that way. So when we got together we'd talk about that. Then years later, we were on our farm watching some newborn lambs gambolling around outside while we were eating leg of lamb as a traditional Sunday dinner. Linda very gracefully credited me with saying -- and I can't remember actually, it could as easily have been Linda, she might have just been being nice -- anyway, Linda credited me with saying, "Look at that, beautiful lambs gambolling but we're eating one of the legs that's gambolling; maybe we should quit eating meat and find a better way." This was now over 25 years ago. But at that moment, we thought we'd try it. It was very difficult at first, because there's always what you called "the hole in the plate" -- where the meat would have been. That's what you do when you eat meat, you build a meal around the meat.

    I remember, my Dad would come to The Cavern in his lunch break when I was in The Beatles; he'd come with a pound of sausages and give them to me and I'd have to go home and cook them and think of something to put with them. Because that's traditionally the way you do it. You don't make potatoes and peas and then think of the meat. It always revolves around the meat. So it was difficult for about a year while Linda started to get ideas of what new to cook. And anyway, she did and she filled that hole in the plate amazingly, with pastas and beautiful sort of food. All sorts of stuff; as we went on through the years it just continued to develop. We ate lustily, it was never what people call rabbit food, we ate big steaming meals. That developed over the years and then she got into vegetarian food over here, which is the most successful vegetarian food line going, and ended up having her own special factory to produce it all. The animal rights thing came along with that because the more we realized that we were helping by not eating them, that brought into focus other issues of cruelty to animals. So it just came naturally. And Linda, being a mother, felt for all of that deeply. I think that the fact that women give birth gives them a better connection to the universe than men. God bless them, men are lovely and you can't make babies without them, I'm proud to be one -- but I admire women perhaps more. They've got a rough deal -- they go through the pain of birth.

    I used to joke with Linda, I'd say, "I've had four babies and it didn't hurt a bit." I'd have to duck quickly before she'd throw something at me. But that's a bit of the male attitude: hey, we just give out cigars, it's great! Whereas women are going through all this pain and anguish. Anyway, I think being a mother gave Linda a deep connection with animals. She could relate to a mother sheep giving birth and a lamb, just getting used to the beautiful Spring sunshine and bingo -- it's off the slaughterhouse to be spring lamb. All of these things started to make a lot of sense. So we started supporting many, many animal rights groups, like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. We became patrons of the British Vegetarian Society, and helped animals where and when we could by giving donations, or, for instance, Linda taking photographic campaigns against fur. She did a great campaign against wearing fox fur. She took a picture of a woman wearing a fox coat, and the caption was "Rich Bitch." And then you'd see a dead female fox, and blood coming out of her, and the caption said, "Poor Bitch." She took the photos for those and she always loved doing that. One of the great things about Linda was that everything she did, to my mind anyhow -- I always say I probably exaggerate a little being the proud husband -- but it was meaningful. Everything she did had to have a meaning. She'd do things for a laugh but there was always some connection with something very meaningful. All of her animal activities, all her vegetarian stuff...often her photography would be to show you how beautiful a leaf is or how beautiful mist is or how beautiful a child is. I remember when we went to Knopf, which is a big New York publisher, with her first book. The guy was leafing through her stuff going, "Tots, horses, flowers, more tots," and I was getting angrier by the second. This guy diminishing my wife's fantastic work to tots. What you mean is, "That's a fine portrait of a beautiful child." Don't give me this "tot" nonsense. But anyway, that was it. We got very involved in the animal issues. I still am involved. When she died, I felt that many people around the world would feel that we have lost -- as we have -- a fantastic, strong voice for animals. But she and I were a partnership. She never did anything on her own because we were together so much. She and I would talk everything through. She did stuff on her own, of course, I'd go out to work and she'd chat to her friends, and she'd chat to you. But generally when I came home she'd tell me all about it, so I was always in on it all.

    CH:I did feel when I talked to her that you were her confidante. Unlike other girlfriends who might take the opportunity while the old guy's out of the house to really lay in, I always felt like Linda never broke rank. She would never say anything to me that she would not have said to you if you weren't there. I had a very strong sense of that, very unique.

    PM: I think that's true except I think she would a little.

    CH: Well once in a while she'd say, "Oh, Northern Men." And that would be all.

    PM: She'd never be a good traitor. But there would be a little bit of fun. She and I liked to take the "mickey" out of each other and I liked that she was strong enough to take the "mickey" out of me. I was telling someone the other day one of the greatest things for me, strangely enough -- it seems a bit perverse but it's true -- was being told off by Linda. And it didn't happen many times, but the first year we got together, somebody had said something about her that wasn't amazingly complementary. I can't remember what it was, but we were walking down Park Avenue in New York and it was late, late at night, early in the morning,. We'd been to see probably her dad or something. We were strolling arm-in-arm, and I mentioned this thing; I said, "Oh so-and-so said so-and-so." Well, she stopped in the middle of the street. Luckily, there was no traffic. She put her hands on her hips and she just colored-up, not a kind of beet root color, more a sort of light strawberry, and she just looked me right in the eye. She said:"If you ever say that again or even suggest it," and she just tore a strip off me. I never forgot it. But you know what, I loved it. I just thought, God, this is her. She's being herself. She's not frightened. She's not the intimidated woman. And I love to see her like that. Fondly enough, because I think many men would think, "Ooh, how dare you go on like that?" and we'd have a raging argument. But I just said, "OK, I know that what you just said is absolute, a thousand percent true." And, apologize. You knew about it when she tore a strip off you. It's actually one of my most fondest memories.


    CH: Was Linda a good businesswoman?

    PM: Yeah, but she was the least likely person to ever get into business. When we first married, she would avoid any business stuff like the plague -- and the only reason she ever got into business was the animals. I remember sitting chatting with her one day, in our early years of vegetarianism, and starting to realize as we did that animals are our fellow creatures, that's how we see them. Fellow creatures that we happen to be in the same time frame, on the same planet, as. Now I'm not going to down them, they're in my time frame.

    The first move it seems might be to learn about them, then kill them if they're a predator. So we gained more and more sympathy for this idea. We were chatting about this one day, talking about ways to help animals, and wouldn't the world be a better place, dreaming about it. And it was if I saw a light bulb go off over her head. We were talking about vegetarian food, and how great it would be if you could get it ready-made in shops -- because you couldn't at that point -- and it was like seeing a light bulb going off above her head. Ding! Linda said, "Oh, I could do that." From that second she started thinking about it, and started to work out how to do it. She did that even though she hated business, because she hated having to do anything. She was such a free spirit -- she'd much rather say, "No, sorry, I can't be there for a meeting. I'm going to sit in the garden." Or ride on her horse, which is all she really ever wanted to do, actually. Anyway, this light bulb went off. The next thing was that this cousin of mine, cousin Kate, was coming down from Liverpool to live in London. We were talking to her about her going vegetarian and my cousin said, 'I wouldn't know how.' And another light bulb went off in Linda and she decided she should write a vegetarian cookbook, just to give it to my cousin so she could check it out how to go veggie. That was the single reason Linda wrote that book -- it wasn't for money; she certainly didn't need the money. And it wasn't for money why she started up her ready-made vegetarian meals. She said, "If I could save one animal then I'll be happy." Well, to date she must have saved millions of animals, after what she has done with her vegetarian food.

    I think that single-handedly she has got to get the credit for the vegetarian revolution that has happened here in Britain. Because now, it's a mainstream thing. It's not a cranky thing. In America, it's still less popular, but I think in time America will realize it. I still have a lot of faith in the young people. That's who will change the world. Economically, I think the world has to change. Because if it's true -- as it is -- that you can feed 10 times the amount of people by eating vegetarian instead of processing it through an animal and then eating the animal, which is wasteful and not economic, and really bad for the environment because we've got too many animals around. The fresh water tables in America have gone down severely, and it's going to cause really severe problems. Just because of our insistence on eating meat all the time.

    There's a very good book by Jeremy Rifkin called "Beyond Beef" for people who are interested to check out. Our obsession with beef is wild, there's no reason for us to have it. But we've been conned into it and it's wild. I finally realized that over here in England, we have a thing called the Milk Marketing Board, and you better believe they market this stuff the same as the meat people do. They're training us to want more and more. But it could cause serious problems for this planet in the future. It has already.

    CH: Talking about Linda, that's all we talked about. We would always at the end of the discussion just [sigh], "But why am I telling you?"

    PM: Well because, the thing is, you need reinforcement. It's tough to be any kind of activist. As a lot of people know. And you guys reinforced yourselves.

    CH: In fact, I hadn't spoken to her for three years, and she called me out of the blue one day to say, "hello." ... She's the least pretentious person I've ever met, and I said, "You know, McCartney, when are you gonna get off your high horse and do something about this vegetarian business?" That took her by surprise; she said, "Well..." I said, "There's a whole thing going on here, there's a revolution." And she said, "But no one wants to hear what I have to say, they just want me to stand next to Paul accepting awards and stuff." I said, "Hey, you got a voice. You can use it for whatever you want." And that's when I saw the light bulb above her pop on.

    PM: To take your point, the question was, what are you going to do and that is why she got into food. Because she said, "No use telling people to go vegetarian and there's nothing in the shops for them to eat." She said, "My role will be to provide something for them to eat." That became her main role.

    CH: She was like the type of person who did it and didn't talk about it.

    PM: Yeah, I always talked. She sang about it.


    CH: The Americans of course probably don't know this: You were knighted by the Queen for your contributions to the culture and your services to music. You then became Sir Paul, and I technically should be addressing you as Sir Paul.

    PM: I notice you're not, Chrissie. What is this familiarity?

    CH: And as you became Sir Paul, Linda became Lady Linda. What did she feel about her new, and what most people would consider coveted, title?

    PM: She was sweetly offhand about it. That kind of grandeur was nothing that she actually went for. She came from a strata of society which was really probably American aristocracy and she never really valued it. She thought it had a lot of false values, that there was a lot of social climbing and she never wanted that. She wanted honesty, she wanted reality. So she was much happier with me, just hanging out, just going to bed early with a meal, than going out to huge functions and social climbing. I think the truth of the matter is that Linda wanted the knighthood for me more than she wanted it for herself because, being British, it sort of mattered a bit more to me anyway. Once or twice we would sit around and I would joke and nudge her and say, "Eh, Lady McCartney..." and she would smile sweetly and kind of enjoy it -- just as long as it was low-key like that and just between the two of us she could kind of quietly enjoy it. But somebody said to her once, "Do people call you Lady McCartney?" and Linda said, "I think someone did, once." Now, you name me the women who can have that sort of attitude.

    CH: Are you kidding? Most women would have their credit cards changed at once and get new letterheads.

    PM: Actually Linda got me the new letterhead. She didn't want it for herself but she thought I might want it. In actual fact I've never used it. I've still got it at home but it kind of embarrasses me to do that stuff because we like to be down to earth. That's not because we want to slum it and look lower than we are in order to get some street credit, it's a genuine love of people. I've met Prime Ministers and lords and ladies but I always say that the people I'm from, the ordinary working class Liverpool people, are generally more intelligent, much more fun to be with and, for sure, much more honest than most of those highfaluting people I've met. Linda and I always looked at things straight on and if the truth was that the people lower down the ladder were more honest and more fun to be with than that's what we went with. In the '60s, I had a chauffeur for a while -- because, being young, you've got to try it -- but after a while I realized that I hated being driven around and I wanted to drive myself. And Linda loved me driving.

    She hated anyone else driving, but it was fun for us just to take off in the car, just the two of us, and because she was this totally lovable nutcase she'd say, "Try and get lost." I'd say, "Darling, you know, when you're driving you don't try to get lost, that's the last thing you want to do. You have to navigate." She'd say, "No, no, try and get lost -- turn off here." I'd be saying, "But I've no idea where that leads to." She'd say, "Do it." OK, so I'd turn off and we'd be in magic land -- we'd be somewhere we'd never been before, a little shop we'd never seen before, we'd see all these wonderful little villages that we didn't know existed. So, sure enough, Linda was right -- you could get lost in all this magic and, as she knew, soon enough there would be a big sign saying "West End, London, This Way." She was right, you couldn't get lost. It was such a beautiful idea, this idea of wanting to get lost. I loved it; she changed my way of thinking forever on that. In The Beatles, we were always trying to find the gig, getting lost was the last thing you wanted to do. But the freedom of actually not minding, or even liking getting off the beaten track, was a blessing in my life. I see it now as a great offbeat wisdom. She was so right: the things we found by going off the motorway were amazing. We found her first horse, her Appaloosa. We were in America, travelling from Dallas to Fort Worth on the motorway. Linda spotted this beautiful little Appaloosa and said, "Turn off at the next exit." I said, "I can't! We're going to rehearsal." She said, "It doesn't matter. Fifteen minutes, what the hell, turn off." So I turned off and we found the father of all our horses which we brought back to England -- he sired all of our beautiful Appaloosas.

    CH: Probably the only Appaloosa horses in England?

    PM: Well, there were others. They're the only American bred foundation. They have them in England but they are derived from Dutch horses which are not as cool, I'm afraid. The American Indian-bred is the Appaloosa breed, and she was keen on what they call the foundation stock. She found him just by looking out on the motorway. Being a photographer, she was an incredible observer, she would see stuff that I wouldn't even be looking at. She'd say, "Look at that," and I'd say, "What are you looking at?" "That!" And I'd say, "Which bit of that are we supposed to be looking at?" and she would point out something that would make you go, "Oh my God, how did you spot that?" She was such an incredible observer.


    CH: Linda never talked to me about religion but she did have a very deep connection to nature which I would describe as spiritual. She went to school in Arizona, she took you and the family to Arizona a lot and she died in Arizona. Was Arizona a kind of spiritual home to her?

    PM: Arizona was her favorite state in America. She went to the University of Arizona and she didn't really get to know the place while she was at school, because she was mainly on campus and American campuses are very self-contained.

    However, she stayed on there for a while and rode a lot, and she told me it was like being born again. She was able to throw off a lot of the shackles of her upbringing, the social etiquette that she never really liked. She was able to hang out with ordinary people, neighbors who would offer to babysit for Heather because she was a single parent by then.

    She rode a lot. When I met her she'd come back from spending a year in Arizona and when I asked her what she'd done she said it was mainly riding; riding all day -- that was her dream. She just loved it, she loved the desert. She loved the animals. She was very at home with it. And that added to what we were talking about before of how she'd go to this vacant lot as a child and look for salamanders. It was the next big kick. So, when she took me there, I as this British guy -- and we had kids by then -- I would say, "I'm a little bit worried about the rattlesnakes, I hear they're deadly." She'd say, "Yeah, but you don't want to worry about them, you'll never see one, you're lucky if you see one and if you do they won't come to you." I'm a British bloke, and I am bringing children here. I've got to know what's going on. I'm the safety man, and I've got to run the safety thing here. And she says, "Don't worry about it." We've seen millions of rattlers since. And I love them. I really love to see them, I've been honored. In fact, two days before she died we were really honored to have this huge big rattler come across our trail as we were riding. It was as a final vision of her riding. It was just waiting for us to cross the past. We were just so proud to be near what in the past would be in a Disney film or a David Attenborough movie or something. But here it was; we were seeing it live. We never got over the feel of that. Arizona really awakened something deep in her, and I used to love to see that peace it brought her.

    Towards the end, when we knew it was getting serious, that was one of the things I said to her: "You know, we are in your favorite place on Earth." She was comforted by that. Talking about her observational skills, she would notice a horned toad in the desert. They're very hard to spot because they are very much like chameleons; they change to the color so they're the exact color of the sand. I wouldn't even see it. And she would pick it up. Something I would never do and many women would never do -- pick up a horned toad in the desert. But she knew they were harmless. She'd pick it up and it would pee on her like all of these reptiles do. She never minded. She would actually hold it away knowing it was going to pee. She was very skillful with animals. It was like she had been handling animals in a zoo all of her life. She hadn't. It was just this natural rapport.

    Anytime you ever see pictures of her with animals, look at the animal. It's very comfortable. She'd pick up this horny toad, and I say, "Is is alright to pick that up?" The chicken British guy. And she would say, "It's fine, here." And she would encourage me to hold it, and I'd hold it and it would pee on me. I gradually learned to be honored to be this close to these animals instead of, like a girl, go "eek" and jump on a chair: "Ooh, it's an animal." She was very much the opposite. I have a photo at home of her holding a frog to her mouth. She's hamming it up and almost kissing the frog, like the prince in the story. But the frog, I swear to God, has got its hand on her lips. And she's not freaking. She's just continuing to look at the camera. She was just unbelievable in that respect. It just allowed her freedom. I think the one word would be freedom. And she loved freedom. In her songs, "Oppression won't win, the light comes from within." She hated oppression. That's why she hated the slaughterhouse. That's why she hated the fate that many animals suffer. She thought, "It's not right. We should not be doing this to them. It's not natural, it's not right. There is a better way."

    CH: So that's what you're describing basically as Linda's brand of spirituality?

    PM: Her spirituality was nature. We used to talk about it and say, "Can you picture God?" She'd say no. I can't either. I've often said that to people who are religious. I'd say, "What's your vision?" And they'd sort of sheepishly say, "It's an old man with a beard." And then I'd say, "Do you really believe that?" And they'll say,"Well, 'I'm not sure." You know it's very difficult, and I sympathize with them.

    But Linda was spiritual and we never called it religious, because over here in England there's been so much trouble with religion. My mom was Catholic and my dad was Protestant, which is the Irish problem. There are so many wars created -- Jew, Arab -- that are still going on. It's all still going on. It's in the name of God and it's still going on. We never liked that, that whole idea of "my God's better than yours." We thought, "Why don't they all come together and all worship God and not bother each other?" Because all religions are the same basically, and it's so strange that people would be warring. You know, the British go over to Beirut in crusades telling everyone, "You've got to be a Christian," when they've got a perfectly good religion of their own. But we impose it. Let's face it, all we're trying to do is steal the world. It's kind of clear now. And we did. At one point Britain owned two-thirds of the world. The word "religion" was the problem. Everything else was great. We loved what most religions say, particularly when they're talking about good values -- love, respect, peace -- which most of them are, but because they are political institutions they get messed up.

    Power corrupts. ...

    What we felt was more important was the message behind a religion, rather than the front man. Often I think what puts people off is they encounter the front man. You can encounter Jimmy Swaggert, and when you find out what he did you say, "Well, I can't have religion," and it ruins your faith. We never got into that. We just had and have some sort of mysterious deep faith in the sort of OK-ness of it all, we didn't really get much more specific than that. I always said that God is the word 'good' with the 'o' taken out, and that the Devil is the word 'evil' with a 'd' added. I think in history it got personified. In other words, Linda and I were interested more in the values and the ethics of religion; but because religion caused so many wars, we didn't ever subscribe to any particular one.

    CH: This is what the Yanks want to know. They want to know all this stuff -- all the family values -- it's important to them.

    PM: Another thing is, unlike some people in power -- we don't really need to name -- Linda and I got all of our wild oats out of the way before we met. We were very fortunate. I know a lot of girls.

    CH: Linda less than you did?

    PM: No. Well, maybe.

    CH: You were in sort of an advantageous position.

    PM: Yeah. Well, OK. I don't mind that, because that's probably true. But hey, look, we both played the field quite widely. The good thing is when we got married, we told each other. That was a big decision. I thought, "Should I just kind of not say anything, and she not say anything?" But, we thought, "No. We are going to really have a relationship here. We've got to clear this up." I said, "I've got to tell you all this stuff. I hope you really can handle this." It was good, because she told me all of her stuff. We really did tell all of the stuff. We were painfully open about it. But it got it out the way. And it's like, "Now we can maybe have a marriage. Maybe we now don't need to be unfaithful." And that was the case, which is beautiful. But I think that it was that we got it out the way. So many people marry young, and wonder what it's like the rest of their life. So they've almost got to have affairs just to see what it's like. Luckily we got all of that out of the way before we got married, which I think was another great blessing.


    CH: Well, I have to ask you something now that you may not want to talk about.

    PM: Try me.

    CH: Your mother died of breast cancer. When Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer, how scared were you and how scared was Linda?

    PM: We were totally scared. She'd had a lump under her arm, which she'd gone and seen our local doctor about, and he'd given her some antibiotics and told her, "Don't worry about it, it's nothing." But she talked to a couple of women friends and they said she should get it checked out. So she did and I was out of the house one day, and she rang me.

    She said, "I've got the results of the tests back." And she said, "I've got breast cancer." Our lives just turned round at that second. She said, "You better come home." I said, "Don't worry, I'm on my way." So I just ran home. We immediately got into the car and drove up to London to try get some facts, because we were two hours away from any sort of medical help. And we then just embarked on a two-and-a-half year program of trying everything we possibly could to turn it round. As anyone who knows anything about breast cancer knows, if you're unlucky it will travel from the breast and go to your nodes, which are like your safety valves under your arm. Depending on how many nodes are infected that's generally the seriousness of your illness. So we didn't really want to know. But she'd met some friends who were good supporters and who had had it; they'd sort of say, "It had gone into three of my nodes," and stuff.

    We sort of knew it was a little more than that -- but to tell you the truth we'd try to block it out, trying to keep positive. But I talked to the doctor later, after Linda died, and he was saying that the amount of nodes involved was scary. He said it wasn't just three, it was in tens. Luckily though, the medical evidence wasn't totally conclusive and you could read it two ways, so we always took the most optimistic reading. The word you were always scared to hear was "aggressive," that it was an aggressive cancer. But thank God we never heard that. I only heard that after she died. I was always waiting to hear that, as she was. But we thought, "Well, we haven't heard that word yet, so we're still OK." So we knew it was difficult and we knew we had a battle on and so we tried everything. You know, the biggest difficulty is miracle cures coming out of the woodwork.

    Everyone's got a miracle cure. And some of them say what you really don't want to do is to go the traditional medical route. I hate to tell you, I still don't know the answer. For instance, when Stella was born we had to go the traditional medical route, as there were complications at the birth. If we hadn't, both Linda and the baby would have died. So we'd learned that there were times when you needed traditional modern medical science and we opted for that route. We found really good people, who were the best, who knew the most about her condition and who knew the very best treatments. And the truth of the matter is, she tried them all. She had her first bout of treatment, and she tried that. And the sad thing is, she coped with it so well because she was such an up person, I remember somebody ringing me up once and saying, "How's her appetite?" I said "Fine."

    She hardly ever lost her appetite, and you're really supposed to lose your appetite on these things. But Linda was such a sort of lusty person, "Right, what are having for dinner?" She never went like an ill person. People around her would be dropping and she'd be saying, "No, don't worry, we're going to lick this thing." She really stayed so positive. But then she had a second bout of it. We were in New York, having tests; they took a routine mammogram of her other breast and something was discovered there. So, holy cow, we had it all over again to deal with. And she had to lose her hair, which was the kind of thing she hated. I think women are particularly vulnerable when that happens, because you can't ignore it. Men, OK, go bald and so it's maybe a little less scary. But for a woman -- and a beautiful woman, with the most beautiful hair, strawberry blonde; natural too, it wasn't out of a bottle -- it was terrible tragedy for her to lose that. But she was so courageous. She said, "Right, let's cut it off."

    She had a Marine crew. It looked great actually, because she had a beautiful bone structure and a beautiful neck. She looked gorgeous. And eventually, when she realized that even her little crew cut was going to go, she shaved it all off. She looked like a Buddhist monk, very sort of holy. And then unfortunately this year, the worst news, the worst possible scenario, just when we thought we'd got it licked, actually. We'd come back off holiday and her hair was growing back -- each time they said it'll grow back dark and curly, and I must say she didn't really fancy that, having been straight and blonde -- but it grew back beautifully, it was slightly darker but still blonde. But she was so brave with all of that. And so it was almost going OK.

    We got back off holiday and she didn't feel too well. We went to see a doctor and he said, "You've got an enlarged liver and unfortunately with your history it's most likely to be cancer." We were just dumbstruck. Horrified. But, again, we said, "Is there anything we can do? Do people ever come back from this?" Yes. Sure. There's statistics which show that people have licked this, which is true -- so we always went with that side of it. Linda never said, "Oh, I'm going to be a bad statistic." I think that's what sustained us. She'd say to us, "You're the best support group a girl could ever have," and we'd say, "We couldn't do it without you, babe." She had such courage. We just couldn't have done it. It's true. We would have fallen apart. But she was just so on the ball. We could be strong because she was. I don't even think that until the last week she even knew. I think the last week, you know, things were going so badly -- but we were riding horses. I said "Tell you what, babe, I'll get the horses ready, you don't have to even do anything. I'll tack them up, get them all ready, get a little bale of hay and you can hop off of it." That was always one of our horrors, of being eighty and you can't ride. We'd joke that we'd design a special crane and have you lifted up. Because that was the horror of her life, that she couldn't ride. Thank God that she was able to, two days before she died. And, as I said, the crowning moment was this big rattler stretched across the track. We just looked at it and felt awed. Like it was some sort of magic sign. I bet it is in Indian folklore.


    So, thank the Lord, she went into a coma as they had predicted. Which wasn't the worst of all scenarios, as it happened. She just felt tired, and I said, "Would you like to sit by the pool?" She said, "No. I don't really fancy it today." I thought I'd try her in about an hour's time. I tried her in about an hour's time, she still felt tired. I joked, "Well you just fancy a lie-in, don't you?" She said, "Yeah." The next day she died. She was just in a coma for one day. It was as if she was so smart that something in her said, "We can't lick this one. Let's get the hell out of here, quick." And she didn't hang about. As I say, she'd spent that day in bed, the previous day she'd got up, she spent that one day in bed, I went to bed that night with her figuring, "God, things are getting desperate but we'll just keep hoping." I went to bed and she got restless in the middle of the night, as they'd warned me they might. So I called the nurse about 3 in the morning and at 5 she died. She didn't hang about. In her last sort of moments she got very peaceful. As she died something told me to just say something to her -- and I said what I'd say when she'd be going into anaesthetic when she'd had a couple of operations in previous years. I'd used this sort of trick of saying, "You're on the beach, it's a beautiful day, the water's laughing, we're walking along the beach hand in hand," or, "You're up on your beautiful horse," -- just to give her a beautiful peaceful moment and she'd drift off into the anaesthetic beautifully and peacefully. In fact the doctors used to say, "We've never had such a quiet patient." One of the doctors said that after her first operation she woke up, looked around at us all and said, "Hello." He said, "Boy, we've never had that before." So it suddenly came to me at the moment when she was just about to die. I have no idea why, I just thought, "I've just got to say this." It was as if I was guided and I said, "You're up on your beautiful Appaloosa stallion; it's a fine spring day, we're riding through the woods. The bluebells are all out, and the sky is clear blue." And she just drifted off. So, a terrible tragedy. But I don't think it could have happened in a better way in a better place.


    CH: Linda disliked high society types and any kind of social climbing and was the least pretentious person I'd ever met. But she had a great many close friends and indeed her memorial services were packed with them. She kept up regular correspondences, remembered birthdays and Christmas cards and was as thoughtful and generous a friend as I've ever had. Was Yoko Ono a friend of hers?

    PM: No, not really.

    CH: So would there have been any reason for Yoko to have attended Linda's memorial service?

    PM: The thing we decided on the memorial services was instead of inviting people who we maybe ought to have invited out of duty, that we would stay true to Linda's spirit and only invite her nearest and dearest friends. Seeing as Yoko wasn't one of those, we didn't invite her.

    CH: I only asked because there was a lot of publicity about the fact that she wasn't invited in America. Many people were curious about it.

    PM: No that's true. As you know she had many friends who she was quite tuned into and whom she kept close contact with. In fact, there were quite a number of other people who weren't invited. People would say to me, "Oh this person knew Linda before you knew her." I'd say, "You mean from thirty years ago?" They'd say, "Yeah." I'd say, "Well, OK, but I'll tell you something -- that person hasn't sent us a postcard or phoned us in 30 years, so how well did they like each other?" So we kept it to real friends who we knew that Linda loved. And that meant that people who were maybe doing it out of duty weren't asked.

    CH: So there was no intentional snub of Yoko Ono?

    PM: No. It's funny, we had helicopter pilots who'd helped us in New York when Linda was travelling a lot for treatments. They became good friends and I said to one of them that I'd like them to come to the memorial, and he was shocked. He said, "Oh, I don't want to get in the way of all the various dignitaries." I said, "Don't worry, there won't be any, this isn't that kind of thing. This is for people who Linda genuinely loved and who genuinely loved Linda." Those were the only people invited. I'm really glad that we did do it like that because everyone who went remarked that there were so many friends there and it was such a warm atmosphere and everyone who spoke spoke from the heart, genuinely. Linda would have hated anything else. There were some very nice people. For instance, Senator Ted Kennedy sent a really nice condolence letter to me. It was very thoughtful of him. But I knew that she wasn't a friend of his so he didn't get invited, either.


    CH: How have you dealt with your bereavement?

    PM: The main answer is my kids. I don't know what I would have done without them. Being such a close family, it hit us pretty much equally. They lost their best friend as well as their mum. It hit us all hard, but they have been very strong and very helpful. We've cried a lot together. None of us has held that back. We pretty much still cry, daily. Because Linda was so important, so much the center of everything in our lives. So it was mainly the kids. But I did get a counselor, realizing that I would need some sort of help. And although it's not much of a British tradition to do that, I was married to an American so I know quite a lot of people who have no problem with psychiatrists and counselors. Funnily enough, Linda used to know psychiatrists when when was young; she'd say, '"I used to sort out all their problems for them." And you know that's true. So I knew a particular one, who I talked to. He was a good help. It was mainly to get rid of some of my guilt. When anyone you love this much dies, one of the first things is that you wish you could have been perfect -- every minute of every day. But nobody's like that. I would say to Linda if we were arguing, "Look, I'm not Jesus Christ. I'm not a saint. I'm just some normal man. I'll try to do something about it but that's who I am, that's who you're married to." So I had quite a bit of guilt and probably still have. You remember arguments. When you're married you don't remember them so much, you just get on the next day and as long as you don't have too many and they're not too bad you figure it evens itself out. But when someone dies, you remember only the arguments in the first couple of weeks and the moments when I wasn't as nice as I would have wanted to be. So I need counseling with that. I found that really helpful.

    Friends have been very supportive, we've got a lot of lovely sincere friends who, because of the nature of Linda and I, unless they're sincere they're not our friends anyway, and they've been very helpful. And funnily enough, and something that I didn't expect, the public at large have been a huge help. I thought that if you didn't know Linda, you might not get it. But I was wrong. So many of the thousands of letters that I got said, "Although we never met Linda, you could tell that she was a great woman." For some of them, it was because of her attitude to animals. A lot of others said it was because of the way that she brought up our kids. Yet they wouldn't even know that we had kids, you hardly ever saw their pictures in the paper, we guarded their privacy in case when they grew up they wanted it. We figured you couldn't rob them of that. The public said, a lot of them said, "It was just the way that she brought the family up," and I realized that so many people did get what Linda was about. From one little fragment, you could tell. It still shone through. The public sent very uplifting quotes and prayers. A lot of them had been through a similar grief. They'd write and say how they'd lost their wife and this little poem they'd enclose had sustained them. A lot of people sent me a lot of good stuff that helped me. But it was mainly the kids.

    Now, when I get sad, I do pretty often; like if I go for a ride she's not with me -- I find myself going down, I let myself go down for a moment, just because I have to. And then I try to counterbalance it and think that Linda's life was very upbeat. She wasn't a downbeat kind of person, so she wouldn't like it now if I went downbeat. She was always the one for the joke. If you spat inadvertently while you were talking to her, she'd say, "Do you serve towels with your showers?" She just had a line for everything. If you looked a little inattentive while she's talking she'd say, "What, am I boring you?" She was a really funny lady, very witty. A delicious sense of humour. She was happy. So I use that now. I balance every sad moment with a happy moment. That kind of helps day to day. It helps me get through.


    CH: How did this new solo album of Linda's, Wide Prairie, come about?

    PM: A couple of years ago, Linda got a letter from a girl who said she had really liked hearing one of Linda's songs, "Seaside Woman," and she asked if she had any other songs. Well through the years, from the early '70s, Linda had been writing and recording her own songs. But because of being in the shadow of The Beatles or of me and being so much in the public eye, she always felt very nervous -- because it wasn't her main career she was reluctant; like she was on a hiding to nothing and people would be bound to criticize her. So she was shy to release it all. But this letter from this fan made her think that maybe she should put an album together. So the last couple of years we spent finding all the old tapes, looking at songs that didn't have lyrics and -- because we often had to make these two-hour trips up to London for her treatment -- we'd use that time. We'd get a cassette of one of the melodies she'd written, and we'd write the words on these trips to London. On such journeys we wrote the words to "Appaloosa," "I Got Up" and "The Light Comes From Within" -- three of the 16 tracks on this album. And that was good, writing like that, we'd have a good laugh and forget that she was going up for treatment. It kept us both positive. Before we went out to Arizona, about a month before she died, we were putting the finishing touches to the album, making a couple of tracks and doing the backing vocals.

    CH: I was there, I walked in.

    PM: Yeah, that's right.

    CH: She did my album cover.

    PM: Which, of course, is a beautiful album cover.

    CH: I kind of saw it as a going away present, to be honest. I didn't ask her initially, because I thought, "I don't know if I want to go with this idea." I called [your daughter] Mary and I said, "You live around the corner, you've been taking some snaps. I just want to see if this will look like anything." She said, "You ought to call my mom." And I said, "Well what if I change my mind, and then she's gone through the trouble." The next day my office called and said, "Did you set up a photo shoot with Linda McCartney?" I called Linda and she said, "I have turned down so much work, nothing excites me. But this is strong and I love strong." Because it was going to be "Viva L'Amour," you know, long live love. And she wanted to do it. Then of course, we were chasing the picture up and saying, "Where's our picture, where's our picture?" Then Yasmine walked downstairs and said, "Linda died." She had been watching television. And the last thing I thought about was the picture, obviously.

    PM: I am so glad she did. She loved doing it. She enjoyed it.

    CH: And you know what? A few days later my office called and said, "You know Linda's photo agent called and said that they had a picture, they had a package to hand deliver to you."' That she wanted hand delivered. And there was the picture.

    PM: She came through. She always did.

    CH: So anyway, her record?

    PM: Yeah, you were there for that. We put the finishing touches to the vocals. There was nothing left to be done. We were going to come back from Arizona, I was going to mix the album. We were going to work on promotion now, this time of the year, and instead of me doing this interview, she was going to be doing it and we were going to release the album for this Christmas. So when she died, I thought: I've just got to fulfill that plan.

    I thought that some people might think that it's a tribute album that we'd rushed out -- but I wanted to make it clear that it is something we were planning anyway. Releasing this album was something that very much Linda wanted. She was very proud of it. We decided the title would be "Wide Prairie." Anyway, after a couple of months after she died I managed to get into the studio. We called those studio sessions Tears & Laughter because the engineer -- my old friend Geoff Emerick, who I've known since Beatle days, he did "Sgt. Pepper," "Band On The Run" and a lot of good work with me -- he lost his wife to cancer, too. So the pair of us were just crying on the console.

    But then we'd listen to Linda's spirit and we'd laugh and remember her. So it was The Tears & Laughter sessions. It was very moving to do it, but it was very uplifting to do it and when we finally got the whole album together we thought she'd be damn proud of this. And she should be too, because her personality comes over. You see that she's a very strong singer, a strong writer. And she got a lot of flack over the years: "Oh, she only plays keyboard with one finger," or, "She can't sing." And people would isolate microphones very cruelly, which devastated her, she hated that stuff as anyone would. I used to say, "If I ever catch up with those DJ's I'll give them a word." And, believe me, that is really difficult.

    Many people were cruel to Linda. But you know, after time you forgive. She didn't hold grudges. She'd just say, "No, let it go. Don't dwell on it." So anyway, we finished up the album and I am really proud of it. There are some really cool songs. A fact that she was delighted about. She said, "If we do an album there are three videos already" -- which were like animated pieces that she'd done to three other tracks -- which is good. So that means that that's all there. And a friend of ours was always going to make a trilogy of the third animation piece, so he's currently making "The Light Comes from Within," where Linda rather shockingly swears on it.

    It's quite funny because some people view of Linda as the sort of dutiful wife. But she really wasn't. I mean she was plenty dutiful but she was something else besides. But there were these words, and it was basically this song, The Light Comes from Within, which is basically her getting back at her critics and the people who had been cruel to her. And even though she didn't hold a grudge, she figured it's a pretty good subject for a song where she could vent her emotions -- you know get it out and let it go. So I looked at the second verse and there's swearing, and I said, "Well, I don't know about this." And she said, "What's wrong with it?" And I said, "Well, it's pretty forthright. You're singing this?" And, she said, "Watch me." She grabbed on the microphone and bang, one take. She sang it beautifully. You know she just had guts, nerves. She just had the nerve to carry that kind of thing off completely. So she did it. It's a beautiful vocal take, very strong. She got all of the work done, got the whole thing done. And she said, "Now I've put the whole thing together, with some sleeve notes giving my recollections of each song." We're releasing it at the end of October. I think it will surprise a lot of people. I think it's a really good album to have. That was her concern: that if you went into a record shop 20 years from now and said could you have a Linda McCartney record they'd have to guide you one of my records, or a Wings record. We thought it would be a bit sad that there wouldn't be a Linda McCartney record -- well now there is. And I'm very proud of it and I know she would have been. I think it shows that there's a lot more to this lady than a lot of people knew.


    CH: In your day-to-day life, you've adopted a very modest lifestyle. You have a large farm [in Sussex, England], horses, and lot of land but your house can hardly be called opulent. Threadbare sofas, put your feet up, which is the first thing Linda said when I told my kids to put their feet down. She said, "No, no, put your feet up it's fine." And, even I was a bit taken aback. When Linda first took me around your room, you weren't there, and I thought that the two of you shared less closet space than the average working girl would insist on having. You designed and built that house. Why is it like that?

    PM: The closet space is probably the design fault of the house. Being British, we don't really have closets. We don't have anything; you're lucky if you've got a wardrobe and a couple of coat hangers. But obviously Americans are used to good closet space. I think that's probably the biggest design flaw. When I started off designing the house, I would quiz Linda all the time over what sort of place she wanted. I started off drawing a pyramid and thought, "Would we want to live in that?" No. Then I did a dome. Would we want to live in that? No. Pencil and paper are cheap so I just went through millions of options to get them out the way. Eventually we went for quite a traditional house for the area we live in, with some additions because the house we'd moved from was a round house and we liked the curves. So I added a few sort of curves that weren't entirely traditional. One of the key questions was, are we talking a big house or a stately home or just a comfortable family house?

    CH: And your room was right next to the kid's room, as opposed to down the hall or on another floor?

    PM: It's a very comfortable house that has five bedrooms; one bedroom each for each of the kids [Heather, 35, Mary, 29, Stella, 27 and James, 21] and one for us, Linda and I. It has limited space but that's how she wanted it and that's how I wanted it too. Because we always hated these stories of people living in these huge stately homes with the children rattling around in the East Wing, and you never see them. You wouldn't believe it but the house we moved from, where we brought the kids up for about seven years, had two bedrooms -- one for four children and one for us -- so we couldn't stay there. That was even more modest. It meant that we were a close family, literally. It meant that there was no getting away from each other, except that I had a little den and Linda had a den, too. They weren't big, none of the rooms in the house are big or opulent, as you say. We didn't like the high-living lifestyle. We are much more comfortable. When friends came around, we'd have tea in the kitchen, mainly sit in the kitchen all the time. We designed something for our lifestyle and for our reasonably simple tastes compared to some other people in our position. It was specially designed to be comfortable -- and it is, people come into our house and say, "Ooh, this house feels lovely," or "This is comfortable." That, to us, was what was important. We'd have some nice things, but there was no point in having them if the kids can't play on them. We really tried to be comfortable, and brought the kids up and tried to give them a comfortable living space -- for us and them.

    CH: How do you sleep at night?

    PM: I was really worried after Linda died that I would not be able to sleep at all. I have had the feeling ever since that she's seen to it that I'm sleeping. That's my theory. I don't know how correct it is. But somehow I manage to sleep OK, and it's really a blessing because I need to. The rest of the day can be pretty traumatic with the memorials and all the stuff you have to do, and just missing her. It's great, I feel like she's blessed me with the ability to get some sleep. It's a blessing.

    CH: You're not taking pills or anything?

    PM: No. Nothing. So, I was very surprised to find that I am sleeping. I expected sort of sleepless nights on top of all my other problems. But it's a blessing that it didn't happen that way. She has seen to it.

    CH: Did Linda smoke pot to alleviate what she was going through?

    PM: Being '60s people we had smoked pot for a long time, and certain of the medical people did suggest that it was a good thing to combat the effects of chemotherapy. And she did for a little while. But then she just gave up completely, just in case it wasn't helping.

    CH: She was actually advised at one point to smoke pot?

    PM: She was advised by the doctors, and they said it kind of sheepishly, "If you've got any of that stuff left over from the '60s, you might smoke a bit." You can get it officially in America for things like glaucoma and things like this. And there are a lot of lobbies here to legalize it for medical treatment. And the doctors certainly thought that it would help. She tried it for a little while, but she decided to give it up in case it was going to be a bad thing generally for her.

    CH: She won't be there when you're 64. How do you see your future?

    PM: Without her...it won't be as much fun as it would have been, that's for sure. I don't need to say anything more than that.

    On Linda

    by Sir Paul McCartney April 6, 2008 The Sunday Times So much of my life with Linda, and our family, was spent just hanging out either at home or on holiday. The picture on this page is just a simple holiday snap. It was just one of those shots, a photograph of me in Jamaica relaxing in the afternoon. As a photographer, Linda had the freedom to take great family snapshots. She had that knack: when she was taking pictures, she managed to get us all to ignore her, totally.

    She could take pictures of pretty much anything and we knew that we could trust her. We knew she’d only take pictures of stuff that she thought was worthy and not too private. We were made to feel at home. I suppose we were, after all. When I first met her, I realised that as a photographer she was very sympathetic. It’s now 10 years since she died and probably 40 years since we first met. I can still recall our first meeting. It was at a London club, the Bag O’ Nails, when Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames were playing one night. Across a crowded room, as they say, our eyes met and the violins started playing – but they were drowned out by, of all people, Georgie Fame. Another northerner. There was an immediate attraction between us. As she was leaving – she was with the group the Animals, whom she’d been photographing – I saw an obvious opportunity. I said: “My name’s Paul. What’s yours?” I think she probably recognised me. It was so corny, but I told the kids later that, had it not been for that moment, none of them would be here. Later that night, we went on together to another club, the Speakeasy. It was our first date and I remember I heard Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale for the first time. It became our song. Although Linda knew lots of top musicians – she’d worked as a photographer on the first issue of Rolling Stone – she was always very down to earth. In the 1960s we often travelled around by Tube. I took a picture of her one early afternoon. The carriage was completely empty and she wanted to shoot pictures of me. She was always very beautiful. That picture of Linda on the Tube shows her perfectly: beautiful hands, absolutely no make-up, just the structure of the face. The argyle socks that everyone used to make fun of. She had two pairs and used to wear a red one with a green one. She was a very natural girl, naturally blonde. It was a very casual look. That’s how the two of us went around in those days – down into the Tube, and I shot a couple of pictures of her and she shot a couple of me. Soon after the Tube picture was taken I broke up with the Beatles, which was a horrendous thing for me. Linda was very matter of fact, very down to earth – two of the attributes I really needed at the time. And also she was a woman. Until then I’d felt I’d been dating girls – well, except maybe one or two. Linda was genuinely a woman. She had a five-year-old child and I was genuinely impressed by the way she handled herself in life. She just knew how to do it. I found that very impressive. It’s funny, but a lot of singers and bands these days are more down to earth than you might think. I actually went to dinner one evening with my daughter Stella and Madonna, who showed up on her own. We offered her a lift home and she said: “No, I want to walk home.” You think people wouldn’t want to do that, but they do. I go shopping, I go to the cinema, I do a lot of things like that because it’s a good balance for me between that and the high-profile stuff. Even at the height of the Beatles era and the screaming fans, I would still go to gigs on the Tube. There was a ring of theatres on the outskirts of London in places like Walthamstow and Finsbury Park and we used to play all of them. I would just take the Tube into the suburbs and walk into the theatre. I remember one night a group of screaming fans recognised me walking along the street on my way to the gig. I always tried to say: “Wait, calm down.” It was a kind of brotherly attitude, like I was their older brother. I’d say: “Hello, girls, what do you want?” I’d just take control. They’d reply: “We want your autograph.” I’d say: “Okay, here’s the deal. If we all walk quietly to the theatre, we’ll chat and I’ll do them. We’ll have a great experience, but if there’s any screaming I won’t.” I cut a deal with them and it worked. Linda didn’t take a lot of pictures of the Beatles, but she made the most of the opportunity when she was in the studio, usually at Abbey Road. She was very sensitive about not interrupting. She had this knack of not getting in the way. She had this great style where she would sit in the corner and just pull out her camera and take a couple of snaps and put it away. What I love about the shot of John and me is that it shows the great working relationship we had. It was a joy to work with John, particularly when we were writing and organising, as we were in this picture. I can’t recall exactly what we were doing – maybe a lyric, maybe a running order, maybe the medley on Abbey Road. At some point we had to organise what song would go where. I just love the joy of that picture – it’s beautifully composed. There were also the difficulties of the period – which show up in the film Let It Be – which I think have overshadowed the truth. It was a very heavy period. But this picture shows it wasn’t all like that. There was some light. And that’s how I remember our working relationship. Even though there were some tough moments, this was a great friendship. Faced with the pressure of being married to a Beatle, Linda often wanted to get out of the city. We would go on visits to places like Cliveden, where Linda photographed me with Heather, Linda’s daughter, who became our daughter. She always called me Dad. It is an interesting shot. I knew Cliveden from making the film Help! – we shot a sequence where we’d used the house, pretending it was Buckingham Palace. I’m not sure the Queen would have allowed that. I’d been out there with the Beatles and we met Lord Astor and he was on his last legs. I remember him offering us all oxygen. He was saying: “Do you want a bit?” I think we did have a quick whiff. I knew that Cliveden would be a nice day out for Linda, Heather and me. When we went for a drive, Linda always wanted to get lost. I had an in-built panic about being lost. I always want to know where London is. I don’t want to get to, say, Staines and not know my way back. We would go down to the most obscure places, have a great time, find a little tearoom or a riverbank. She taught me little things like that, to relax and be down to earth. It was very valuable to me then, a great part of the healing process after the Beatles broke up. She adored the country and loved taking photographs there. The picture on the opening spread was taken in Scotland on our farm, in 1982, when we were spending a lot of time there. That’s my Scottish dressing gown – it was itchy on the skin but it’s the one I wore. My task was to walk from one end of the fence to the other and back, which I did until it got a bit rickety and it became a bit of a health hazard. What I think is fabulous about this picture is that it is one of those moments in time that someone like Cartier-Bresson specialised in. There are famous pictures that Cartier-Bresson took that showed someone jumping over a puddle in the road – it’s that “you’re there!” look. Then you have this lovely figure of Stella just crouching down in the foreground. And then you’ve got the dog perfectly pointing, a little labrador called Poppy, and then you’ve got me balancing. It’s quite amazing. Linda was a very natural woman. She loved the fresh air and the freedom and the privacy of the countryside. During the break-up of the Beatles we spent quite a long time in Scotland – three to four months. Normally it would just be a two-week holiday. We loved it up there. It was the end of nowhere. Our farm is in Campbeltown and I still go there with the family. The men in the picture were known by Linda and me as the Old Biddies. They were retired. They used to hang out in their macs and their Andy Capp caps and sit around and have a chat. Later I think someone put a bench there for them. We used to always see them when we went into town to get some groceries. She’d take snaps and there are quite a lot of photographs that are now quite historical. In 30 years, places change. We’ve got pictures of babies, bonny wee bairns who are now great, grown-up farmers. And the Campbeltown museum has some of Linda’s pictures for that very reason – they’ve become historical. I love the raincoats. Those old guys are all just country types, retired with their sticks. There is some great atmosphere in that photograph. Linda was very fond of the Old Biddies. One great thing about Linda was that she was able to mix with anyone. Her father was a well-known lawyer. He had been to Harvard and had a very successful practice and lived in an apartment in Park Avenue, a very posh address, with a stunning art collection. She could live in that world, she was very at ease there. But also she could communicate very easily with people on the street. She had a very easy manner. In the 1960s and 70s the press over here didn’t get it – simply because she’d become my girlfriend and then my wife. She didn’t go on TV and say “This is who I am – hello” and try to ingratiate herself. We didn’t need to do that – it was our life, not theirs. We were too busy living it. When anybody came to the house and met her, they thought she was fantastic. She was just a great person to hang out with: very funny, very smart and very talented. She could just as easily talk to a local postman as a New York art dealer. It takes time for people to get to know you, especially if you don’t work at it – and she didn’t work at it. Time is the essential factor. People would come round to dinner with us, people like Twiggy and Joanna Lumley. Linda would occasionally do interviews and people would gradually get to know her. The word just got out that she was just a really cool lady. People would say about her: “She’s nothing like the image.” Her priorities were private rather than public, and that’s why it took a bit of time. For me, probably the saddest and most haunting photograph in this collection is the self-portrait she took in 1997, not long before she died in 1998, in Francis Bacon’s studio in South Kensington. Linda was a great art lover. She had studied art at college in Arizona and her father had a phenomenal collection. So she’d grown up with great art. She admired Francis Bacon greatly and had an opportunity through a friend to photograph his studio after he died. We knew the people who looked after his studio. It was going – the entire contents – to Dublin. She went along and took some pictures. This one is a classic. With the cracked mirror it’s particularly eerie. It is a very strange but powerful picture. I’m not sure, but that looks like somebody’s death mask on the right of the picture.

    At the time, she knew she was ill, but she’d had chemo and her hair was growing back. I thought at the time it was a very chic look. She didn’t know she was dying. I’m not actually sure she ever knew she was dying. You have a decision to make as a family as to whether you tell someone and the doctors leave it to you, the immediate family. I talked it over with the doctor and he said: “I don’t think she would want to know. She is such a strong, forward-thinking lady and such a positive girl that I don’t think it would do any good.” She was fighting right up to the end. Even on the day before she died, she was out on horseback. She loved riding so much. Sometimes she’d get up on her a horse and I’d say: “You don’t want to get down, do you?” She preferred it up there than on the ground.

    Bass Player Magazine, 1995

    "I'm one of the least technical people you're likely to meet," says Paul McCartney. There we are, chatting in Paul's studio in Sussex, southereast England, and to be honest this admission of non- technicality comes as a bit of blow. We have set up this interview to talk about Paul's place in the history of bass guitars and bass playing, to help the research that Barry Moorhouse and I were doing for the Bass Book [Miller Freeman], and we were hoping Paul would give us the lowdown on just what basses he used when and why-the technical stuff. As it turned out, though, we had a much more interesting chat on how he felt about playing bass in the most amous band in the world, and we talked about events from the early days of the fledgling Beatles right through to current projects, including the new Beatles "reunion" tracks. Tell Me Why Deep in the Sussex countryside, a few hours' drive out of London, your car eventually noses up the correct secluded drive to the McCartney studio, a converted mill that has a warm, friendly atmosphere. When we met, Paul was working on a big orchestral piece for EMI's 100th anniversary in 1997. As you wait for McCartney to arrive, you can't help but notice the clear ambience of the studio's owner and his impressive history at every step: here an aging map of Liverpool on the wall, there a yellow sticky with a note to call George Martin, over in the corner a big old acoustic bass propped against the wall. Paul arrives. As he walks in I suddenly become aware of wearing a big, inane grin. This is Paul McCartney! screams one half of my brain. Stop grinning like an idiot and say something, insists the other. McCartney has encountered this many, many times, of course. He ignores the inane grin, shakes my hand, grins himself so I don't feel alone, and steers me to a seat. Within seconds he has picked up the upright, which I now notice is painted gold, and announces that "my wife, Linda" bought it as a present, and that it used to belong to Elvis Presley's original bassman, Bill Black. Paul sings two verses of "Heartbreak Hotel" by way of getting acquainted. So how un-technical are you, then, Paul? He's still singing. "Down at the end of lonely street, er ... I went into a guitar shop in America a few years ago," he replies, putting down the big bass, "and some guy said, 'What kind of bass strings do you use, Paul?' I said, 'Long shiny ones.' "I don't know the model names of basses," he laughs, "I don't know about amps, I don't know about serial numbers. People say to me [adopts haughty voice]: 'I've got a fantastic L35.' I say, 'Oh ... yeah?' It could be a motorbike for all I know. I'm just not like that, you know? With us it was always just Vox, Hofner-I never really got into the analytical end of it." This, I have to tell you, appears in my experience to be a common feeling among Famous Musicians. There is this sneaking suspicion that if you analyze it, well ... you just might destroy whatever it is that enables you to do the fantastic things you do. So I'm not about to press the great man too much on his self- analysis. But you started out as a guitarist, Paul, didn't you? "I would have been about 15 or something, and me Dad bought me a trumpet," he says, "because a trumpet was kind of a heroic instrument at that time, [due to the movie] The Man with the Golden Arm and all that. Me dad had been a trumpet player?, so he showed me a bit. But I realized I couldn't sing with the trumpet, and I wanted to sing as well, so I asked him if he wouldn't mind if I traded it in for a guitar." So the young McCartney picked up a Zenith acoustic and started to learn to play guitar. But he soon realized that something was wrong. The guitar was right-handed; Paul was left-handed. "I didn't know what you did about that," he recalls. "Nobody talked about being left-handed. So I tried it right-handed, and I couldn't get any rhythm because it was the wrong hand doing it. Then I saw a picture of [singer/guitarist] Slim Whitman in one of the music papers,' and I noticed-hang on, he's got the guitar on the wrong way 'round. I found out he was left-handed so I thought, That's good, you can have it the other way 'round. Then I changed the strings around. So that was the first thing. "I met John and George about the same time George used to get on the same bus; we got to chatting because he had an interest in guitars and music like I did, and we kind of hung out and became good friends. Meanwhile I'd met John through another friend of mine, and he'd asked me to join the Quarrymen, which was my very first group. I went in as lead guitarist, really because I wasn't bad on guitar. When I wasn't onstage I was even better-but when I got up onstage my fingers all went very stiff and found themselves underneath the strings instead of on top of them. So I vowed that first night that that was the end of my career as the lead guitar player. "Then we went to play in Hamburg, Germany, and I'd bought a Rosetti Solid Seven electric guitar in Liverpool before we went. It was a terrible guitar. It was really just a good-looking piece of wood. It had a nice paint job, but it was a disastrous, cheap guitar. It fell apart when I got to Hamburg-the sweat and the damp and the getting knocked around, falling over and stuff. So in Hamburg, with my guitar bust, I turned to the piano. "Stu Sutcliffe was a friend of John Lennon's- they were at art school together-and Stu had won a painting competition. The prize was 75 quid [about $150].We said to him, 'That's exactly the price of a Hofner bass!' He said, 'It's supposed to be for painting materials,' but we managed to persuade him over a cappuccino." Sutcliffe became the Beatles' bass player after his prize money had been handed over the counter at Hessy's music shop in Liverpool for a lovely new Homer 500/5 bass, a fillsize hollowbody model. "It kind of dwarfed him a bit," says Paul. "He was a smallish guy, but it looked kind of heroic. He stood a certain way, he had shades, he looked the part-but he wasn't that good a player. He hadn't played anything up to buying that bass. Any of our mates could look at the group and spot it; any of the guys who were in groups like us - King Size Taylor & the Dominoes, the Big Three - they would just spot it, and they'd say: 'Lousy bass player, man.'" Sometimes they'd even find themselves telling the hapless Stu to turn away if there was someone taking photos, because they didn't want the more sharp-eyed to notice that Sutcliffe might very well be playing in the Wrong key. A bit paranoid? Well, Paul remembers that the first thing they'd do when they saw a photo of a band in action was to check out the fingering on the guitars. "We always used to look for that, and I still do," he laughs. "You know: to see if Elvis could play guitar, in [the movie] The Girl Can't Help It or whatever it was. He's doing a D and ... McCartney twists his head to look at an imaginary picture, "... yes, it's all right. Whereas with some people you could tell they couldn't play; it was just a prop. That was one of the things we used to love about guys in the audience: the girls would look at us; the guys would look at the chords. We'd nudge each other, 'Look, look, this guy down here.' he'd be looking deadly serious at you, and you could see him copping all the chords." Ticket To Ride And so in our chronology of the early Beatles, Stu Sutcliffe is now the bass player - like it or not. "None of us wanted to be the bass player," admits Paul. "It wasn't the #1 job: we wanted to be up front. In our minds, it was the fat guy in the group who nearly always played the bass, and he stood at the back. None of us wanted that; we wanted to be up front singing, looking good, to pull the birds." The Beatles played a second grueling season of gigs in Hamburg in mid-1961. "Stu said he was going to stay in Hamburg. He'd met a girl and was going to stay there with her and paint," Paul remembers. So it was like, Uh-oh, we haven't got a bass player. And evreone sort of turned 'round and looked at me. I was a bit lumbered with it, realy it was like, 'Well ... it'd better be you then.'I dont think you would have caught John doing it; he would have said: 'No, you're kidding. I've got a nice new Rickenbacker!' I was playing piano and didn't even have a guitar at the time, so I couldn't really say that I wanted to be a guitarist." You may have seen the Beatles' Hamburg period portrayed in the movie Backbeat, and in one scene McCartney/s character picks up Sutcliffe's right-handed bass and plays it left-handed and upside down. Did you really do that, Paul? "I did, yes. I had to! Guys wouldn't let you change their strings around," he laughs. "When John wasn't there, I'd pick up his guitar and play it upside down. John did that [with my guitar] as well - he got pretty good playing upside down because of me. "I haven't seen Backbeat, but I did see a clip where John's character sings 'Long Tall Sally,' which is a piss-off for me because that's a bit of my history. I was the guy who did 'Long Tall Sally,' and there was no reason why the John character should have sung that - he had plenty of raunchy, rocking songs that they could have had him sing. It'd be like having Elvis sing 'Anyone Who Had a Heart.' What's that all about? And Dionne Warwick doesn't do 'Heartbreak Hotel.' Paul had to find a bass guitar of his own, so one day in 1961 he went shopping in Hamburg. "Eventually I found a little shop in the center of town, and I saw this violin-shaped bass guitar in the window." This was the famous "violin bass", a Hofner 500/1, made in Germany and similar in shape to Gibson's early electric Bass model. McCartney recalls buying his first violin bass for the equivalent of about $45, and he insists it was a right-handed model that he turned upside down, although all the photographic evidence of the band in those early years shows him with a production left-hander. McCartney has had a number of different versions of the Hofner 500/1 over the years, but he stuck to the model as his sole Beatles live performance bass as well as the principal bass for the group's recordings until late in the '60s. Paul still owns a Hofner from the Beatles days (see photos), and he still uses it for touring. He had it repaired recently by Mandolin Bros. in New York. "They put it in tune for the first time in life," he says proudly. "My man John [Hammel] took it over. Before, the [open] E could be in tune but the 3rd-fret G on that string was always all the bit sharp, so as soon as you'd gone to the 3 fret you were out. I was using it on a big tour, it was a bit embarrassing. I hadn't used it for long time for that reason, but I got it all sorted out." Paul has noticed in old footage of him playing the Hofner that he tended to use it different- than basses from other makers. "Because the Hofner's so light you play it a bit like a guitar all that sort of high trilling stuff I used to do think, was because of the Hofner. When I play heavier bass like a Fender, it sits me down a bit and I play just bass. But I noticed in the Let It Be film that I play the Hofner right up there in 'Get Back' or something. I think it was just because it was such a light little guitar that it led you to play anywhere on it. Really, it led you to be a bit freer." I wondered if Paul had found that bass line and the bass player's frame of mind came easier[[ when he moved over to bass in the Beatles? Did he listen to other bass players much? "Funnily enough, I'd always liked bass," he says. "As I said me dad was a musician, and I remember him giving me little lessons-not actual sit-down lesson but maybe there'd be something on the radio and he'd say, 'Hear that low stuff? That's the bass.' remember him actually pointing out what bass was, and he'd do little lessons in harmony. So when I came to the Beatles, I had a little bit of musical knowledge through him - very amateur. "Then I started listening to other bass players - mainty Motown. As time went on, James Jamerson became my hero, although I didn't actually know his name until quite recently Jamerson and later Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys were my two biggest influences: James because he was so good and melodic, and Brian because he went to very unusual places. With the Beach Boys, the band might be playing in C, but the bass might stay on the G just to hold it a back. I started to realize the power the bass player had within the band. Not vengeful power - it was just that you could actually control it. So even though the whole band is going along in A, you could stick in E," he says, and sings an insistent repeated bass note. "And they'd say: 'Let us of the hook!' You're actually in control then - an amazing thing. So I sussed that and got particurlarly interested in playing the bass." Eight Days A Week "Interested" is something of an understatement. Gradually, the bass parts became more and more important to the melodic and harmonic development of the Beatles' recorded songs, an McCartney's thoughtful and often uncoventional approach began to liberate the bass from its traditional rote of simply providing unexciting and unchallenging roots beneath the chord progression. Not only that, Paul's engaging bass lines began to be pushed further forward in the mixes, and the band's interest in recording maters became almost as revolutionary as their composing skills. "In the studio," Paul remembers, "it was very much us and them in the beginning. You just entered by the tradesman's entrance, set up your stuff, did your session, and left by the tradesman's entrance. We were hardly ever asked to come up to the control room. Maybe at the end of a session it would be [adopts plummy upper-class British accent): 'Would you like to come up and hear it, boys?' 'Oh could we? Thank you, mister.'" He describes the atmosphere at EMI's recording studio at Abbey Road in north London as very prim and proper in the first years that the Beatles recorded there with producer George Martin: "Engineers had to wear shirts and ties, and all the maintenance men had white coats," Paul remembers. "But it wasn't such a bad thing, in fact. It was organized, and there was no element of laidback about it. "We hardly ever worked in the evening, actually - only later did we get into those evening sessions. We mainly worked the two day-sessions, so it was down to the pub in the evening to talk about our exploits. And when you think about how people drive themselves mad recording now, going crazy, up all night, still up doing funny things at 6 in the morning - for us, it was like ajob." It seems remarkable today when you consider that the recording regime even led the band to record tracks as diverse as tile blasting rocker "I'm Down" and the soothing ballad "Yesterday" during the same day's session. How did they cope with that? "We just had to," McCartney says, shrugging his shoulders. "Just did it. Sing the rocker, that's done; sing the ballad. And we seemed to have plenty of time for it - it's that law that whatever time they give you is enough. We had to be there at 10, ready to go at 10:30. So you'd let yourselves in, test your amps, get yourselves in tune. It didn't take long - as long as we knew you weren't going to fart around, it takes about half an hour to do that. "And then George [Martin] would be there [adopts another plummy voice]: 'Right chaps, what are you going to do?' We'd sit around for about 20 minutes, and John and I normally would just show everyone what the song was. In the early days we all knew, because it was from the stage act. The record with 'Twist and Shout' on it was actually done from 10 in the morning till 10:30 at night. [Ed. Note: This was the first Beatles LP, released in the U.K. as Please Please Me and in the US. as Introducing the Beatles. During the period from 1963 to 1967, the US. Beatles albums were significantly different from the U.K. albums. See - discography, page 34.] We just stayed all day and did the whole album. That was a bit of a stretch, and John's voice ... by the end of 'Twist and Shout,' he couldn't have done another song. You can hear it on the record; it was just ripped. But we liked that. As long as we had a day off after, no problem. Nobody ever took stuff for their throats, or did scales, and we never rehearsed. It was very, very loose, but we'd been playing so much together as a club act that we just sort of knew it. It would bore us to rehearse too much. We knew the songs, so we'd get quite a lot done at those sessions." Listening back to the early Beatles albums now, there are only a few bass parts that stand out, but they clearly foreshadow the emergence of Paul's mature playing style around the time of Rubber Soul, recorded in late 1965. [Ed. Note: For more on the development of McCartney's style, see page 30.] On the early material, the problem is often not so much Paul's playing but the ill defined recorded sound of the bass. Even so, on the songs recorded in the winter of 1962-63, it's hard not to be impressed by the sheer energy of the bass playing on "I Saw Her Standing There", nor can an informed listener fail to notice the growing awareness of light and shade within "Please Please Me" and "A Taste of Honey." By the spring of 1964, there is a new confidence evident in the bass on tracks like "I'm Happy Just To Dance with You," while "When I Get Home" sounds like someone beginning to revel in the sheer sound of his instrument. Getting Better "Unlike people now, we were very keen that every track sounded different," Paul remembers of the Beatles' prime studio days. "We thought in singles, see. People now think in albums; in fact they think in CDs. When John and I wrote, we were always writing singles. So our albums, right up to Sgt. Pepper, were albums of singles. It was like numbers going into a hat, and someone might pull your number out a bit of a lottery really: 'Oh, I'm the single, great.' We thought the Supremes were a bit boring; it always sounded like the same song, or very near. They were trying to keep that Motown-Supremes sound. Well, we weren't trying to keep the Beatles sound; we were always trying to move on. We were always trying to get a new sound on every single thing that we did." A lot of this invention was necessarily spontaneous. In the early sessions, when the band was trying to squeeze out a couple of songs (or more ) in a day, there was no time for philosophizing As Paul puts it, nobody had a cup of tea and sat around thinking about what to do. He consideres for a second and then starts to sing, "If you we red tonight" from "Yes It Is." Paul explains: "You'd immediately walk over to the piano with George Martin, and he'd say 'What was the melody you were singing, Paul?'" I remember that one from 'Yes It Is,' because John would sing the melody and we'd have harmony lines all over the bloody place, but it was great: you each had to learn this new tune. And then George would have another tune. Really quite cool. But we were used to doing it, so the minute we all sang it together it was, 'Oh, oh, that's good'. We'd sometimes stray to each other's lines, but we had enough discipline. It was like, 'Yeah, I can do this."' This ability to think on one's feet and apply discipline (and, of course, just a little talent) began to spill over into their individual instrument contributions. McCartney's bass lines became more exciting, perhaps drawing on that experience of weaving different vocal lines together. "As time went on, I began to realize you didn't have to play just the root notes. If it was C, F, G, the it was normally C, F, G that I played. But I started to realize you could be pulling on the G, or stay on the C when it went into F. And then I took it beyond that. I thought, Well, if you can do that, what else could you do, how much further could you take it. You might even be able to play note that aren't in the chord. I just started to experiment." Those experiments gradually led McCartney to come up with bass line, where he played an independent line against the arrangement. 'Michelle' (recorded November 1965) is often cited as an early example of this trend. "That was actually thought up on that spot," Paul reveals. "I would never have played 'Michelle' on bass until I had to record the bass line. Bass isn't an instrument you sit around and sing to. I don't, anyway. But I remember that opening six-note phrase against the descending chords in 'Michelle'-that was like, oh a great moment in my life. I think I had enough musical experience after year of playing, so it was just in me. I realized I could do that. It's quite a well-known trick-I'm sure jazz players have done that against a descending sequence-but wherever I got it from something in the back of my brain said 'Do that. It's a bit more clever for the arrangement, and it'll really sound good on those descending chords.'" By this time, McCartney had added a left-handed Rickenbacker 400 IS to his trusty Hofner for studio sessions, but he stuck with the Hofner for live work. "I was known for the violin shape," he says. "It's like Charlie Chaplin, you know? The little walking cane, mustache, and a bowler hat, and he's Charlie. If he conies on with a bandanna and he's shaved and he's on a bike, it's like, 'who's that?' So I think there may have been an element of the Hofner being a stage trademark. Also, it was very light and I'd always played it live, so I might have been playing safe a bit, just using the instrument I'd always used." Paul had been given the new Rickenbacker bass on the Beatles' August 1965 U.S. tour, and he started using it in the studio during October and November to record songs for Rubber Soul. From that point on, he would alternate in the studio between the Rickenbacker and the Hofner, although by the time he recorded the superb "lead bass" parts for Sgt. Pepper at the end of 1966 and into 1967, he was using the Rickenbacker as his main studio instrument. Does he remember receiving the Rickenbacker? "Well, once we got to America we were quite famous, and Mr. Rickenbacker arrived and said, 'John, we'd like to give you a presentation Rickenbacker," and, 'Paul, we have a bass.' Oh, great! Freebie. Thank you very much! But it's very difficult to remember much about the Beatles tours, because when you weren't playing you were off, and you were either being whisked around or having a party. Actually, remembering it the morning after was difficult never mind 30 years after!" [EJ Note: "Mr. Rickenbacker" was F. C. Halt, the head of Rickenbacker at the time. According to John C. Hall, F.C.'s son and the current president of the company, the presentations to Lennon and McCartney were actually separate events that took place about a year apart.] Paul says the tong-scale Rickenbacker felt different and stayed in tune better than the Hofner "It sounded a little clearer, too," he adds, "and it seemed a little heavier - not just literally heavier but it played a little more solid than the Hofner." Paul says that from Rubber Soul onwards "it could have easily swung either way" between using the Hofner or the Rickenbacker. I show him a picture from the Rubber Soul sessions where he's clearly using a capo on the Rickenbacker bass. "What am I doing there?" he asks. Um, I rather hoped he'd be able to tell me. "Well," be laughs, "the thing with the bass on a lot of this stuff was that I'd try anything once. So I'll try a capo. I often do that when I'm writing a song - stick a capo on just so it's a different instrument than the one I normally play. Everything goes up a little bit and goes more tingly, and you get a song that reflects that. So it may well have been that we'd written a song on guitars: a certain key, so I only knew it in that key. Or maybe it was to get a higher sound. I often used to tune the strings down a tone, too, so the E would become a D. You'd have to be careful how hard you hit them, but it was kind of interesting. I would just mess around with any experimental effects. I'd try anything!" Day Tripper By the time of Revolver (recorded April-June 1966), McCartney's bass playing had become wonderfully fluent, roaming pretty much when ever he wanted. "Rain", released on a single during that period, is an all-time killer bass track. And, when Sgt. Pepper appeared in 1967, rock bass playing moved up another discernible notch. By that time, McCartney was using the Rickenbacker almost exclusively in the studio, and it directness and clarity aided his new quest distinctive bass lines. "Now I was thinking that maybe I could even run a little tune through the chords that doesn't exist anywhere else," he remembers. "Maybe I can have an independent melody? Sgt. Pepper ended up being my strongest thing on bass that has independent melodies. On 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds', for example, you could easily have had root notes, whereas I was running an independent melody through it, and that became my thing. It is really only a way of getting from C to F or whatever, but you get there in an interesting way. So once I got over the fact that I was lumbered with bass, I did get quite proud to be a bass player. It was all very exciting. "Once you realized the control you had over the band, you were in control. They can't go anywhere, man. Ha! Power! I then started to identify with other bass players and talk bass with the guys in the bands. In fact, when we met Elvis he was trying to learn bass, so I was like, 'You're trying to learn bass are you son? Sit down, let me show you a few things.' So I was very proud of being the bass player. As it went on and got into that melodic thing, that was probably the peak of my interest." I suggest to McCartney that he was probably responsible for more people becoming aware of the power and potential of bass guitar in the mid to-late '60s than anyone else. "I wouldn't personally credit myself but thanks for that," he says. "But part of it, yes. I think Jamerson, him and me, I'd share the credit there. I was nicking a lot off him. That was the thing, though it did become a lot more of a funky instrument. It was becoming almost like a drum, the rhythmic possibilities. It was very exciting, that. And I became very proud to be the bass player in the Beatles" Around the time that the group recorded Magical Mystery Tour (April-December 1967), Paul's Rickenbacker got a psychedelic paint job take a close look in the film and you'll see the hippy-dippy colors. "Yep, I got out the old aerosols, Paul confirms. "We were all doing that: George did his guitar, and we did the cars. If you did the cars, you might as well do your guitars. It looked great. It was just 'cause we were tripping that what it was, man. Look at your guitar and you trip even more. I sort of grew out of that, like most people did. But you know, I'm a bit of visual man. I paint a lot: I've been painting for about the last ten years, and we were always involved in album covers and fashions. John went to art school, Stuart was a painter ." And Ringo "Ringo was a drummer," he laughs, "but he could paint a nice apartment: two coats, one afternoon." Despite McCartney's own estimation that his bass playing reached a creative peak with Sgt. Pepper, the group's last three albums - The Beatles ("The White Album"; recorded May-October 1968), Let It Be (January-May 1969) and Abbey Road (April-August 1969)-are not exactly undistinguished when it comes to bass. My personal favorites include the insistent line underpinning "Dear Prudence" from The Beatles and the swooping, joyous part on "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" from Abbey Road. [Ed. Note: And who could get that fantastic lick from "Come Together"?] Hello, Goodbye As you might imagine, when the Beatles shut the shop in 1970, McCartney felt a huge void in his life. "That was difficult, all the business shit and all that. It was very difficult to suddenly not be in the Beatles, after your whole life except your childhood had been involved with being in this very successful group. I always say I can really identify with unemployed people, because once it was clear we weren't doing the Beatles anymore I go real withdrawals and had serious problems. I just thought, Fuck it, I'm not even getting up, don't even ring, don't set the alarm. I started drinking, not shaving, just didn't care, as if I'd had a major tragedy in my life and was grieving. And I was." Gradually he began to get out of that, greatly helped by the support of his wife. "She'd say 'Come on, this can't go on too long, you know. You're good. You're either going to stop doing music or you'd better get on with it.' So then I started to put little things together, and it sort got me back into being interested in music. It got rid of a bit of the fear of, well, how do you follow the Beatles?" The answer, of course, was Wings. Although McCartney could have assumed any role he wished in that band, he chose to be the bass player. Why? "Because I always approach a tour by thinking as if I'm not there: 'Well, this geezer McCartney's going on tour. What would I like to see him do? Well, I'd like to see him play bass. He's good on that old bass.' So I'd think: I must play bass. The people in the audience would expect me to play bass. And they'd probably want me to do 'Yesterday,' so we'll sling that in somewhere. With early Wings I didn't - I'd had enough of that but now I would do it, because it goes down well. I'm the opposite of Bob Dylan. I know [guitarist] G.E. Smith, who played with him, and apparently they'd say, 'Oh Bob, "Tambourine Man" went down great tonight, fantastic.' And that meant he wouldn't do it- he'd knock it out [of the set] the next night. I think I'm less complex than that. If it went down. well, I leave it in." Paul looks back on his bass playing in the Wings period as less pioneering than the Beatles days. "I think it was okay, but I never quite had the interest I had during that period around Rubber Soul and Sgt. Pepper. I think that was a 'prize period' when I was playing my best bass. I could concentrate everything on writing the song, singing harmony with John, and playing the bass - pretty much my role - or maybe playing a bit of piano or guitar or something. Other than that I really didn't have much to do, so I could put all my energy into that. After that I sidelined the role of bass a bit, in favor of the role of frontman. It was not really my favorite thing to do, but there was nothing else to do. With Wings, I was the band leader, the business manager, the this, the that. We didn't have Apple, we didn't have [Beatles' manager Brian] Epstein, we didn't have anything - it was me doing it all. That was the biggest headache. In the Beatles, I'd been free of all of that; we had a manager, and we had three other great guys. "Now I'm 52 years old, and when we went on this recent tour, we'd be going for two hours. With the Beatles we did about 25 minutes, if you were lucky and I did only about ten minutes, because John would do ten, George would do a bit, Ringo'd do a song, and we'd be off. And we'd do it quicker if we were annoyed we'd be off in 20 minutes. If you think about it, I was 20-odd - then and I was doing maybe 15 minutes. It's incredible that I can even handle two hours. But life goes on there it is. I'm still at it." Get Back Paul has been seen with a variety of basses over those years, including a Jazz Bass and a Yamaha BB- series model, but a more recent newcomer was a Wal 5-string that he seems very pleased with. "We had These jams in Docklands in London that turned into The Russian Album, and Trevor Horn showed up one time. I knew him as a producer, but he told me he used to be a bass player in a ballroom-type show band before [he was in] Buggles. So he showed up, and he had a Wal 5-string bass. I said, 'Oh, that's cool: low B, great.' So I got one too, based on his recommendation, and I really like it. "My favorite thing I've done recently on it was the new Beatles record we've made ['Free Like a Bird'], which is really cool. I don't want to build it up too much because we've got to sit on it for a while, because it's for this big TV series The Beatles Anthology. There's a thing called 'anticipointment' have you heard of that? It's a good word. You build up [a movie like] ET or Four Weddings and a Funeral so much, and then you go to see it and it's like, Well, I didn't think it was that good. It's never quite as good as people say - so I'm keeping a little bit cool. But I think we've done well. "To do this song, we took a cassette of John's, not multitracked, but exactly like that," he says, pointing at my little Sony recorder. "It was him and piano, interlocked. You could pull the fader down and get rid of the piano they're there. And I mean - not being boastful with [producer] Jeff Lynne, we did a really good job. We recorded it here; me, George, and Ringo. I played the Wal, and what I liked was I played very, very normal bass, really out of the way, because I didn't want to 'feature.' There are one or two moments where I break a little bit loose, but mostly I try to anchor the track. There's one lovely moment when it modulates to C, so I was able to use the low C of the 5-string-and that's it, the only time I use the low one, which I like, rather than just bassing out and being low, low, low. I play normal bass, and then there's this low C and the song takes off. It actually takes off anyway because a lot of harmonies come in and stuff, but it's a real cool moment that I'm proud of. That's my Wal moment." Wasn't it strange playing along with John Lennon's cassette? "It was very strange and was very magic; it was very spooky and it was very wonderful. Before the session we were talking about it, and I was trying to help set it because we never even knew if we could be in room together, never mind make music together after all these years. So I was talking to Ringo about how we'd do it, and he said it may even be joyous. And it was-it was really cool. We pulled it off, that's the thing. And I don't care what anyone says. We could work together. We did a bit of technical stuff on the tape, to make it work, and Jeff Lynne was very good. We had Geoff Emerick, our old Beatle engineer; he's solid, really great. He knows how Ringo's snare should sound." No George Martin? "George wasn't involved - no. George doesn't want to produce much anymore 'cause his hearing's not as good as it used to be. He's a very sensible guy, and he says [plummy voice again]: 'Look, Paul, I like to do proper job,' and if he doesn't feel he's up to it he won't do it. It's very noble of him, actually more people would take the money and run. Since this interview was done, the Beatles' reunited again to record two more track although no plans have been announced concerning the release of this new material. Another recent event that's been wide reported in the press was Paul's reconciliation with Yoko Ono and the recording, at Paul's studio, of an Ono piece as performed by the McCartney family (Paul, Linda, and their children Mary, Stella, Heather, and James) alone with Yoko Ono and Sean Ono Lennon. The piece, "Hiroshima Sky Is Always Blue," was recorded in one take, mixed by McCartney and turned over to Yoko. Paul reported played the Bill Black upright bass, and hew quoted in Rolling Stone as saying the proceedings were "quite strange, lovely strange." Paul says that he, Harrison, and Starr had done a lot of interviews together for the Anthology film, with the intention of setting a few myths straight. Although, as he points out, that doesn't always work. "Funniest thing is that we don't always agree on the memories, because it was 30 years ago. It can be hilarious - and it's on camera. There's one bit where Ringo's telling a story, and he says, 'At that point George had a sore throat ... 'and the camera pans to George. George says, 'I thought it was Paul and the camera pans to me, and I say, 'Well I know it was John.' I've worked it out since: if Ringo thought it was George, it wasn't Ringo, if George thought it was me, it wasn't George and if I thought it was John, it wasn't me. It must have been John - he's the only one left! But this is funny, for the definitive bloody thing on the Beatles. You've just got to laugh. It's fucking human, so real. We forget - who cares? We did some great stuff. But exact analysis was never our bag."