Paul McCartney: Ask Me Anything

Written by | December 23, 2020 22:54 pm | No Comments

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Paul McCartney: Ask Me Anything

Paul McCartney: Ask Me Anything

 

Paul McCartney was doing an Ask Me Anything on Reddit this morning and it’s always a privilege to get spontaneous answers from one of the last Beatles. Questions fused from 9 am to 12 pm – the thread has more than 10,000 comments – and it became an impossible task to please everyone. However, Paul answered a significant amount of questions, going in many directions, from songwriting to performing live, to collaborations, to old memories, to family, to surviving 2020 and life in general…

As you know, if you have ever spent a few hours watching him on stage, McCartney is still a very optimistic man, full of energy at 78, remembering the past when asked about it, but living very much in the present. But what do you ask McCartney? A man with such a prolific, long, and successful career who has probably done too many interviews to count. He still gets the trite questions, about favorite songs, performances … and they are always a success.

So which song from the new album is his personal favorite? ‘Always difficult to say as they change, but at the moment it’s Deep Deep Feeling.’

The song in the new album that he had the most fun playing? ‘The Kiss Of Venus,’… ‘because that was a song I had to play straight on acoustic guitar. It was fun to do and I was happy with how it turned out.’

And what’s Nancy’s favorite song on ‘McCartney III?’ ‘The Kiss Of Venus’… again.

His favorite ever song to perform live? ‘It varies. On the last tour, ‘Come On To Me’ and ‘Fuh You’ were my favorites, but ‘Hey Jude’ is always great. It’s great to see the crowd singing altogether with one voice. It’s inspiring.’ As for the new songs, he thinks that ‘Slidin’ could be fun, and ‘Find My Way’ and ‘The Kiss Of Venus.’

Unsurprisingly, we also learned that ‘Here Comes the Sun’ is his favorite George Harrison song. ‘It is a brilliant song and the kind of song that’s really good in times like these.’

His favorite instrument to play? ‘It’s a choice between guitar and piano. Oh, and bass. I don’t really have a favorite instrument, to be honest! I write on whichever is nearest.’

His favorite bass? The Rickenbacker or the Hofner? ‘I mainly use the Hofner these days, but I keep promising myself I’ll get back into the Ricky.’

His favorite Wings story? ‘The most exciting thing, or the most exciting time, was after we’d made ‘Band on the Run’. We played in America in 1976 and after having taken some time to form the band and to get good, this was finally the payoff: a very successful tour of North America!’

But I am particularly fond of his answer regarding his favorite performance, just because I was there: ‘I think the last show we did at Dodger Stadium in LA was great fun, it was a great crowd and things went down very well.’

Paul is the man we imagine, answering ‘music and family’ to the question: ‘What in particular brings you joy in these trying times?’ And he is like the rest of us, locked at home, with simple plans for Christmas: ‘As for Christmas, I’m going to stay at home, and yes I’ll be eating far too much with my family!’ and binging on popular TV shows like ‘Peaky Blinders:’ ‘Everyone told me was great, but I’d never got round to seeing it. So I just binge-watched that. And they were right. It is great!’

The new album, ‘McCartney III,’ received a lot of compliments, love, and praise, and it is comforting to see him still so creative after all these years. How does he manage to keep those creative juices flowing? ‘There’s only one answer and it’s just because I love making music! And on this album, I thought I was just experimenting, but it turns out I was making a record.’ ‘This one is perhaps more pleasing because I wasn’t trying to make an album! It was quite a surprise and so quite a pleasant one,’ he even added while answering a similar question

Even now, positive reception has an impact on the man, Paul McCartney is in a happy place: ‘The whole success of The Beatles had a great effect on Wings and then had a great effect on what I do today, so it’s all had a very good effect on my life and my music,’ he said. ‘I’m really happy about how ‘McCartney III’ has been received because, as I said at the beginning, it jumped out and surprised me. I had no intention of making a third McCartney album, but I was very happy when I realized I had done. And I got to have so much fun making it! It was a perfect way to spend lockdown. It made me do Rockdown!’

Fans noticed a ‘winter theme’ around the album, the song ‘When Winter Comes’ is even a new addition to some Christmas playlists, and they had to ask about the many winter references. ‘I like all four seasons actually! The main reason we get the winter thing on this album is because the song ‘When Winter Comes’ was originally going to be a bonus track on the ‘Flaming Pie’ reissue. But I liked it and thought it deserved a bit more than that, so I ended up making a short animation film with Geoff Dunbar that came out yesterday. Geoff asked me to do a short piece of music for the opening title, and another for the end titles. As I was in lockdown (with nothing better to do!) it gave me a great reason to go to the studio, and that really started the whole project. I did those pieces of film music and then extended the little opening piece, and that became ‘Long Tailed Winter Bird.’ So the whole winter thing just came from ‘When Winter Comes.’ And then ‘the cold days’ just slipped out. I didn’t even mean to write that! But sometimes, stream of consciousness throws up a good idea, so that led me to write ‘we’d better seize the day.’ As for the cute short animation by Geoff Dunbar, it was made by a team of animators, who all happened to be women, and this gave Paul an idea: ‘I pointed this out to him, and he said he wanted an all-girl band! The look of the video was very loosely based on some of Humphrey Ocean’s drawings of birds.’

There were the obligatory questions about his career and old music. Would he ever think of digging more into the vastly underrated Wings and solo catalog and play more from ‘Ram,’ ‘Tug of War,’ ‘Red Rose Speedway’ and ‘Back to the Egg’ at future shows? ‘I always love the idea of doing a deep dive into those songs, but I feel like it’s difficult to do too much for the average audience unless I was to do a special show entitled: Deep Dive.’ As for ‘RAM,’ which approaches its 50th anniversary in May next year, Paul never ‘bothered with it for a few years,’ because ‘the reviews weren’t great.’… until his nephew Jay told him it was his favorite album: ‘Since then I’ve heard that from quite a few people so it’s back in favor! And the only plans I have for May next year are to dance around the May pole.’

The songwriting process is still a huge mystery to me, how did this man produce so many memorable songs? and how long does it usually take for him to write a song? ‘It depends! Sometimes it can be as little as two hours. Or, if you figure out the music first and not the words, that it can be a lengthy process. It can be a month before you get words you’re happy with. So between two hours and a month!’

Does he still have an internal critic after all these years? ‘Oh yeah, I have one. The answer is you have to push on through and finish the song because sometimes you reach a point that lifts the whole thing to a new level. So it’s worth the effort. And then the internal critic is silenced.’

He finds the idea of revamping old songs or making an album with old songs with very different arrangements ‘intriguing,’ although he doesn’t have any plans to do that at the moment. ‘I was thinking about ‘She’s Leaving Home’ this morning, and thinking that’s not a bad song. And it would be interesting to re-do the backing for ‘Waterfalls’ from ‘McCartney II’ because I used a cheap synthesizer and so it could be intriguing to hear it with a really good proper orchestra. But then again, the cheap synthesizer might be the winner. And the truth is I don’t have time to do that, because I’m doing things like going on the internet to talk to you!’

But overall McCartney finds writing ‘fun and surprising:’ ‘Recording this album was liberating and quite experimental. And playing them live is another great thing to do!’

Asked about possible collaborations, he revisits old friends and beyond: ‘There’s an awful lot of them. John Lennon, he’s pretty good. And then there’s George. And Ringo. And then there’s Elvis. And Chuck Berry… It’s impossible to choose, the list goes on and on!’

But he also has in mind somebody who is still alive, ‘I’ve always had a sneaky feeling to collaborate with Bob Dylan, but it’s never happened. It’s intriguing, but….’ As for his collaboration with Dave Grohl? ‘His enthusiasm and exuberance are infectious. When he invited me to his studio and we had no plan in mind, but I had just been given a great cigar box guitar by Johnny Depp, so once that came into the mix and Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear joined in, then the result was pure excitement. It ended up in the song ‘Cut Me Some Slack’ which won a GRAMMY!’

I was certainly curious about the artists he is listening to these days, and if he didn’t answer my question, he gave a close answer elsewhere: ‘I’m lucky, I have a friend who sends me new music which helps me keep in touch with the modern scene. So I listen to people like Dominic Fike, Beck, St Vincent, and Khruangbin. I also listen to a lot of classic oldies coming through, from rock n’ roll to ’60s to soul to R’n’B, with a sprinkling of classical music now and then.’

Paul is still a very loveable guy, happy and excited about Peter Jackson’s upcoming documentary: ‘I think the main thing was that after the release of the ‘Let it Be’ film I was saddened with the break up of the Beatles. And the film always reminded me of that. So I was very happily surprised when Peter Jackson told me he’d been reviewing the unseen 56 hours of footage and he found it to be entertaining and upbeat. Since then I’ve seen clips from it and it’s very joyful. I particularly like me and John jiving together. And also the birth of the song ‘Get Back’. It’s pretty exciting, I must say. Crazy!’

But mostly, he is just being adorable when asked about the desert island question: What single item would he bring? ‘My wife Nancy.’

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