- Timeline More from year 1984
- Album This interview has been made to promote the Give My Regards To Broad Street (CD version) Official album.
More from year 1984
Songs mentioned in this interview
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Question: How do you feel about all the security that has to surround you wherever you go?
Paul McCartney: I only get this kind of security in these high-profile situations. But I don’t do this often. I normally live quite a normal life. On these occasions it’s okay. It comes with the job. I try not to notice, really. In fact, where are they?
Question: Did you think about asking George to be in the film?
Paul: No. But because Ringo’s in it and I’m in it, it implies that maybe George ought to have been in it, too. The truth is, he’s not a ham. I don’t think he’s got any ambitions in front of the camera. He was the least keen to be acting in A Hard Day’s Night and Help. Before The Complete Beatles, we were going to put our own version together. The definitive story of the Beatles, and George was the least keen to even be involved. He’s more interested in being behind the camera. And he happened to be out of the country anyway.
Question: What did you think about The Complete Beatles ?
Paul: I haven’t seen it.
Question: Do you plan any collaboration with George?
Paul: I don’t rule it out, but it’s nothing that would normally come up. Maybe.
Question: What prompted you to get back into films after such a long absence?
Paul: I like being in movies, the entire ambience, the lifestyle. Even getting up earlier in the morning, it’s just different than how I usually do it. I like being pampered. Some people don’t like getting their hair brushed and don’t like to be touched, but I’m the opposite. Most importantly, I get to be on a creative team, something I really like. The whole idea of everybody pulling together to make something is an exciting thing to be involved in.
Question: The movie is not serious, but are you, in fact, serious about movie making? Is this something you want to do continually, or do you just want to see how this one goes?
Paul: I will probably see how this one goes, but it won’t affect me much if it doesn’t. I’m interested in the whole game of making movies, so I should think I’d still stay interested.
Question: I was surprised by the inclusion of a lot of Beatles songs.
Paul: Either we were going to create a new musical with a whole new score or we were going to think of it as a live show. In which case, you go to see [Mick] Jagger or you want to hear “Satisfaction,” you don’t go to hear an entire evening of new numbers. We chose to take that direction, so most of the songs you’ve heard before. Some of them I haven’t performed anywhere except on record—songs like “For No One”—I thought that was a good enough reason to sing them again.
Question: How possible is it that one of your master tapes could be stolen?
Paul: Actually it almost happened during the filming. I didn’t think it was that plausible. Six guys broke into Abbey Road, where the tapes were stored, overpowered the guard, and spent the whole night looking for my master tape of this picture. They couldn’t find it because it was badly filed.
Question: Where did you find that charming drummer for the film?
Paul: It’s just some bum off the street! Actually, he’s a friend of mine from way back.
Question: I had heard Rupert, your cartoon character bear, would share the bill with Broadstreet.
Paul: In the theaters. Rupert’s a cartoon character from England who’s about sixty years old. He’s a little white bear, he’s about eleven.
Question: What do you consider your finest work?
Paul: There’s this little chicken coop I just built. I find it very difficult to chose from what I’ve done. I can give you an answer but it won’t be very real. “Here There and Everywhere”, “Yesterday”, “Michelle,” “Eleanor Rigby”, “The Long and Winding Road”, “Hey Jude”. I consider a lot of them equally. Those are amongst the best, probably.
Question: Was “Hey Jude” written forJulian Lennon?
Paul: Yes. I happened to be driving out to see Cynthia Lennon and Julian after the divorce. It’s an hour’s drive and cars are good places to get ideas. I just thought, “Hey Jude.” It was originally, “Hey Jules, take a sad song and make it better, take this divorce situation you find yourself in young man and try to stick it out.” Then I changed it to “Hey Jude” and found out it meant “Jew” and some guy got really mad at me because he thought it was anti-Semitic.
Question: Are your children musically inclined?
Paul: Yes, but I don’t really push them. A couple of them take piano lessons. They’ve got great rhythm and sing in tune. When they’re older and want to go into music, I’ll encourage them, but I wouldn’t yet. They’re too young to cope with any fame that might come their way.
Question: When you do go out, do you have to take precautions like disguising yourself?
Paul: No, I never do. There was this guy on MTV the other day who was saying, “You know, you and I, Paul, we just can’t walk down the street.” I said, “I don’t know about you, but I can.” It’s true, I’ve always done that. It’s something I’ve always demanded. I don’t like the quality of life the other way, it’s not living. I may have to do an autograph occasionally, but it’s all right. I was a fan once, myself. I used to wait at stage doors.
Question: For who?
Paul: The Crewcuts. Remember them?
Paul: “Shaboom,” yeah.
Question: Do you think what your songs would have sounded like if you had the technology of the eighties in the sixties?
Paul: More bass drum, probably. I’m not sure there would be any major differences. Probably just the sound would be stereo, plus.
Question: Given that you are so well known and the amount of money you’re said to be worth, why is it you haven’t gotten more involved in more social and political causes, at least visibly involved?
Paul: That’s the keyword, “visibly”. I don’t believe in charity if it’s, “Hey, look at me! I’ve just given money to him.” It really embarrasses me. I couldn’t do that but I do get involved. I’m not really a political animal. If our paratroopers shoot some people in Ireland, I’ll write a song called “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” which will get banned in England but be number one in Ireland and Spain. I do my bit, but it’s not very visible because I’m not that kind of person.
Question: For instance, gun control comes to mind. After John Lennon was shot, a lot of people lent their name and image as well as money to the cause—is that something you’ve thought about doing?
Paul: I did it! The Harry Nilsson thing, I was involved with that.
Question: How far back does your relationship with Michael Jackson go?
Paul: A couple of Christmases ago he rang me and I didn’t believe it was him. I thought it was a girl fan because his voice is so high.
Question: What artists or albums, if any, can you sit down, put their album on, and like it?
Paul: These days I like Michael’s music, the Thompson Twins, the Police, and a lot of reggae. I like Stevie Wonder and Howard Jones. It tends to be the good musicians. I like Prince’s music.
Question: Have you heard Julian Lennon’s album?
Paul: I’ve heard one track. I think it’s great. At first I heard it sounded very much like his dad and tended to think that it might be a cop-out. But when I heard it I was very surprised by the qualities of his voice. He’s got a really good voice. He sounded amazing. His voice was going all sorts of places I didn’t expect it to. The kid’s good!
Question: What effect did Little Richard have on your development in the Beatles?
Paul: Quite a lot. He was one of my first idols. The high-pitched wailing that I did, and do, on records was based on him. It came from the last day of school. At the end of the term, we used to take a guitar, stand on the desks, and entertain each other, and I used to do little Richard.
Question: Ringo said that when he was on stage with the Beatles he of¬ ten wanted to be out in the audience to experience the group.
Paul: It’s always been a fantasy ambition, but it would be nice to have a clone or something to put up there. You’re giving them this great plea¬ sure and they’re going crazy, but you’re not watching it. You’re the only one missing out.
Question: How do you feel about the film now that you’ve seen the final product? Are you happy with it?
Paul: Yeah. It was a big deal for me to write the thing, and I’m rather nervous that most of the people that are going to have a critical opinion on it are writers. That’s a bit intimidating. For what the film is, and it ain’t Shakespeare, being a gentle, light-hearted English picture, I believe we accomplished that. So I’m proud of it to that extent.
Question: What was the most difficult thing for you in making the movie?
Paul: Getting up at 5:00.
Question: I sensed a little note of melancholy in the film, in you particularly.
Paul: You may be right. You may see things I don’t.
Question: A lot of the old Beatle songs you sang in the film you had to license. How much did you have to pay?
Paul: Well, in actual fact, I pointed out it was a bit zany for me to actually ask to sing ‘Yesterday” in a film after all the money I made them. So they charged a token fee. It was a pound or something.
Question: Are you still trying to buy your songs back?
Paul: If the man who owns them is willing to sell them, I’m willing to buy them, but I’m not holding me breath.
Question: Have you, George, and Ringo succeeded in dissolving Apple?
Paul: No, not quite. It’s looking hopeful, but I believe I said that ten years ago. I think it should be done by the end of this year. It’s about time.
Question: Since you seem to feel so bad about having lost the royalties to some of those songs, why do you retain the royalties to so many other people’s songs?
Paul: Who said I feel bad about losing the royalties? I lost my babies, not my royalties. I wrote those little things and it was decided by business managers to sell it all. It was a bad mistake. This is not quite modest, but it’s like Picasso selling all his pictures and not having any left. It’s not the money, it’s just the fact that they’re mine and emotionally they belong to me. If you tell anyone on the street I don’t own “Yesterday”, I don’t think they’d see that as logical. It’s not that I think publishing is a bad business. The reason I’m in the business is because it’s music. I’ve learned that to make money you have to invest it. I used to say to our advisors, “Well, I don’t want to do anything with it. We can just leave it in the bank, can’t we?” It was put to me that I was going to either invest in computers, brush factories, clotheslines, or whatever, and I said, “Couldn’t it be music?” It just happened to work out well. The publishing company I bought has been very successful.
Question: Do you still own the rights to “On Wisconsin”?
Question: Do you make them pay every time the University of Wisconsin plays it?
Paul: Well, that’s the rules of publishing. It’s not this wicked old me walking up saying, ‘You’ll pay!”
Question: If you made a token payment to play ‘Yesterday,” then would you give a token payment to the University of Wisconsin?
Paul: Yeah. Are you their agent?
Question: Do you still keep in touch and jam with the musicians from Wings, like, Denny Laine?
Paul: No, Denny’s living in Spain these days and Joe English has got a gospel group.
Question: Now that John Lennon is dead, do you ever regret you never got together with him again after you split?
Paul: Yes, sure. It’s the same when anyone dies, you wish you could have told them everything you wanted. People just don’t open up. I would have liked to have told him I thought he was okay and straighten things out. The one consolation was that the last phone call we had was a really good, warm call. We didn’t talk about business at all, that was always the problem. Once we began to talk about business we began to suspect each other’s motives. We learned eventually not to talk about business. It became a taboo subject. He was talking about his kids and his cats, it was very nice. So I take that as some kind of consolation.
Question: After five of the nine days you were incarcerated in Japan, did you think, “Wait a minute, this is a lot more serious than I thought it could be?”
Paul: After one minute I thought that! I was looking at seven years’ hard labor, understand?
Question: Was that the most frightening moment of your life?
Paul: One of them. I was more annoyed at myself for being so dumb and involving my family in it. I’m quite an upstanding father normally, it’s just unfortunate that on this issue, I disagree with the law. I’m not sure what the majority view is on all of this. My view is if someone came up to me and asked what drugs I should get involved in, I’d tell them, “None.” But our society is very involved with drugs and happens to think that particular one [marijuana] is one of the less harmful. I believe there is a mistake in the fact that you’d be perfectly all right to take three scotches, three martinis, or a six-pack of beer. I believe it’s more debilitating, all of which is very legal. I don’t want to come out as a preacher for pot, but I’m not sure they’re right when they come out and say, “Seven years’ hard labor”. I have a feeling that’s a bit heavy.
Question: What would you like to say to potential viewers of the film?
Paul: Don’t go in there expecting some kind of huge sci-fi blockbuster or something with incredibly deep meaning. Just go for a pleasant evening out, and I hope you come out of it with a warm glow.