Interview for BBC World Service • Thursday, June 16, 1983

BBC World Service Interview

Interview of Paul McCartney
Published by:
BBC World Service
Timeline More from year 1983

Album This interview has been made to promote the Pipes Of Peace Official album.

Master release

Songs mentioned in this interview

Here Today

Officially appears on Tug Of War

Hey Jude

Officially appears on Hey Jude / Revolution

She Said She Said

Officially appears on Revolver (UK Mono)

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Q:  Is it helpful using a mixture of musicians for the new album?

P:  I think so.  It’s a change really because for ten or so years I worked with the Beatles and then I worked with Wings for another 10 years and now I’m without a group.  I suppose I got to the stage where I thought, ‘Well, what I really want to do is make music,’.  I’m not interested in living with fellers in a van — I’ve got kids and I want to spend my time with them.  So it doesn’t suit me to be in a group at the moment and we’d virtually finished Wings.

Q:  Do you have any time for a domestic life?

P:  I have as much time as most people have really.  Most people work five days a week and take weekends off and mornings or nights off and that’s the same as what I do — and I can even take the odd day off as well.  What happens is I get a project on like this album and you can’t leave it.

Q:  So what are the things you would warn you, children, about of your lie and times and experience?

P:  Everything.

Q:  Would you want them to follow you into entertainment?

P:  Not particularly.  It’s a tough business.  You’ve got to be very good or you die real quick.  Somebody like David Bowie if he fails to have hits for one year he’s in trouble — or me.  No matter how big you get you are still loving yourself all the time.  I happen to have been very lucky and happen to have learnt over the years how to do it.  But kids coming into it — it’s very difficult.  The way we’re playing it as if one of the kids, when they’re 15 or 16, is really keen to get into something like music or stage then we’ll help them.  I don’t think their heads can handle it before that age.

Q:  Do you think you were all the right age as The Beatles?

P:  I think it was roughly right when we started.  We started at about 16 or 17 and so we were looking for something to do.  We wanted out of Liverpool and to see the big world and do something great and earn a lot of money and become famous.

Q:  Thing did happen extremely fast…

P:  We’d been playing in Liverpool for years with a small degree of success.  The first places we played we’d get the normal crowd that any group got, then we started to play at places where we were a little bit more special and they knew us and we’d get a bit more.  Then we’d play another place and get maybe 200 more.  Then to Hamburg where we were back to n nothing again — we had to build it all up again.  By the time you’d heard of us we’d actually been going about four years.

Q:  do you ever get fed up with the stage “Former Beatle”?

P:  No, not really.  That’s what I am.  There was a point when The Beatles had broken up when we thought ‘we want to be individuals now, we’ll just have our names..’ but you realize it’s impossible really.  It’s like George Martin; until the day he died is going to be “ex-Beatles producer.”

Q:  today somewhere in the world someone is going out and buying their first Beatles album.

P:  Yes, it’s funny.  You find a lot of young kids hearing it for the first time and seeing connections with today’s music.  and they see all the connections and buy it as if it’s fresh again.  You get young kids who know more about it than I do.

Q:  Is there a Beatles track which you particularly love?

P:  All of them.  I have those rather strong feelings about.  I’ll pick out “Love Me Do” as the very first one we recorded and I’ll remember how I was scared stiff.  We were standing down in the studio and there was George Martin up on the floor at a big glass window at Abbey Road.  We were in a different world. Nowadays we can go in that big glass control room, but we couldn’t then.  It was like it was Them and Us.  If you happen to play “Love me do” listen for the shakes in the voice — that’s all pure nerves.  Then I can remember “Hey Jude” because that was great fun; “Strawberry Fields” because that was crazy and amazing.  I can remember so many of them.  Some of the tracks I like are the little off beat tracks that nobody has ever heard of.

Q:  Give us an example.

P: Well, not nobody, but a lot of you won’t have heard of a song like “She said She Said”

Q:  Back to “Tug of War”, “Here Today” is an exceptionally beautiful song, were you ‘world’s apart’ as you suggest in it?

P: Oh no, not really.  It’s funny with fellers — unless there’s some kind of gay relationship if you just are two fellers and there wasn’t, by the way, although some recent books have tried to suggest it.  As far as any of us knew there wasn’t any hint of any of that, and pretty much we should have known because we spent nights in hotels and vans and everything.  It’s a very funny thing because there is sort of competition going on no matter how friendly you are.  You’re telling jokes and each is trying to be funnier than the other.  You’re writing songs and he’s trying to get his song better than mine.  So there’s always this huge competitive thing going on which we lived with and it was good actually for us because I’d write a song then he’d say, ‘I’m going to better that.’  Which would be great and he’d better it and I’d think ‘Oh God! He’s bettered it’ and ‘I’d try and better them both.  So it really gave us a lot of incentive.  But because there was the competitive thing, once the Beatles broke up it all got a bit nasty and all the sort of feelings we hadn’t told each other, that we’d submerge just because we were mates, started to come out a bit.  We drifted apart a bit.  Then we had business troubles on top of that.  I would say it was more his fault than mine, but it’s not very clever because he’s not here to answer it, but … he got suspicious of me.  He didn’t believe what Iw as doing and I don’t’ really think I got too suspicious of him.  Ah, I suppose I did. It is cute both ways.  So we did have arguments, particularly when the business thing broke up.  We had some horrendous things. I’d be kind of ringing him and we’d be hanging up on each other and swearing at each other.  Al that wonderful friendship doesn’t necessarily last.  Even within a family, brothers and sisters can get really vicious with each other over an inheritance.  I’m entering that as the ‘world’s apart’ thing.  Then the last phone conversation I had with him was great and we were back to being just talking about our family, talking about friends and enjoying ourselves.  So we didn’t’ end up on a bad note.  That’s something to be thankful for.

Q:  Looking back over the years, is there one hero that’s remained consistent for you?

P:  I suppose John would have been one of the heroes.  Although I never would have told him that, but when somebody dies like that — it’s final enough and you can talk it all then, but that’s what I was saying about two fellers.  I would never have said, “I think you’re great! ” You just don’t.   But he would have to be one of my idols.

Q:  People were quite surprised that John turned out to be quite mellow in songs.

P:  That was only because his image was tough and like all tough images.  It was because he was frightened behind it; he was insecure.   He was as sappy as the next man, but you’d have to get him drunk for him to be sappy.  He was tough as nails except when you started talking to him,  then he was an old sappy. 


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