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NME: Were you surprised by the BBC’s ban on ‘Hi, Hi, Hi’?
Paul McCartney: “Not being quite that thick, we all thought, you know, it might be possible. The story is actually only about sex, not drugs. It’s something to sing. I don’t care about the lyrics. Not really.”
NME: In NME recently John is talking about…
Paul McCartney: “John who?”
NME: John Lennon. He’s talking about quite liking the idea of playing with you these days – if you’re interested. How do you feel about it?
Paul McCartney: “The story, in a nutshell, is that The Beatles broke up, but didn’t break up any contracts or anything. So all the Beatle monies still stayed where they all were. “All the Beatle rights were still controlled by (Allen) Klein. So that was the reason I had to kind of stand fast and say, ‘Well, I don’t want him.’ The only alternative for me was to have Klein, and keep on with the whole thing. “So what happened is, we fought the Klein thing, and now I think we stand a chance of him giving all of us – all of us – some kind of release. This means we will all get our own royalties coming to us separately. “That was all I wanted. And now, since that’s beginning to look a bit better, our relations between ourselves are quite cool now. They’re quite good. Once it’s sorted out, I don’t see any reason why we maybe wouldn’t want to play with each other.”
NME: Maybe it’s impractical to think of The Beatles as a working unit. But could you see yourselves musically coming together once in a while?
Paul McCartney: “That kind of thing might happen. But really, all it’s down to is the fact that if you are in a job, and you’re treated wrong by the management or by the government, you can either just go with it and think, ‘Well, this is life,’ or you’ve got to, like, dig your heels in and say, ‘Well, I’m not gonna go.’ This is the case with the Beatles thing. Really, that’s all it’s been down to for us. Once that’s sorted, well, then everything’s cool. There’s no telling what might happen then.”
NME: On the solo albums I felt there was a kind of raggedness and that everything was being tried. You were losing good, solid melodic direction.
Paul McCartney: “That’s true, yes. At the end of The Beatles everything was a bit kind of ragged for me, a bit disheartening. Since that, I think I’m getting more back to what I’m about – melodies, tunes…”
NME: Some people thought you’d become ashamed of your ability to write good melodies.
Paul McCartney: “No matter what you say and cover up and hide and stuff, if you’re with a band – even a remotely successful band for ten years – when you split up there was inevitably a lot of kind of, ‘He’s like bloody Engelbert Humperdinck’ from the other people in the band. I got little remarks like that. “Well, you do think, ‘I’ll bloody show you I’m not, mate – I can rock with the best of them, I’m as complex as any of them.’ And I started, for a period, going away from my normal things. Just simple things… the funny thing is, it’s all coming back to that. Right now.”
NME: Would you regard yourself as an establishment-related artist – as having “sold out your generation to the straights”?
Paul McCartney: “No, that’s rubbish.”
NME: How do you feel about the hostility towards Linda from those who resent her presence in the band?
Paul McCartney: “When The Beatles broke up I just buzzed off with Linda, and we just did what we felt like. We didn’t feel like doing any press, so we didn’t do any. Then people started coming out with all these, you know, ‘he’s a hermit’ kind of things. “Naturally, I could read the papers and I could sit there and think, ‘Well, I’m not a hermit. They’re wrong, obviously. I can tell what I am. I’m not living in London any more – but that doesn’t make me a hermit.’ So I just didn’t feel that I had to answer it. “But I’ll tell you – the people who don’t accept Linda are nearly always the people who’ve never seen the band.”
NME: I once heard you described as the Nina & Frederick of rock…
Paul McCartney: “It’s not that kind of thing. It’s only a small role she plays, you know. It’s not as if she’s playing, like, any huge kind of role. “I mean, the main role Linda is playing is that she happens to be ‘my wife’. I mean, that’s the main kind of role thrust on her. I look on Linda, with regard to the band, just as a piano player. She also takes little bits – a harmony singer. There’s no kind of big deal.”
NME: Does it hurt, these snides against Linda – or don’t you give a damn anyway?
Paul McCartney: “The answer to this question is that it has hurt her in the past – weep, weep. There are things that hurt when someone says them – for instance, when John married Yoko everybody said, ‘Bloody Jap’ and if you think that didn’t hurt them, then you’re daft. “The main thing that’s happened with Linda and me is that, since The Beatles have split, we didn’t explain an awful lot of what we were doing. If we’d been very careful, like about ‘Ram’ or something, and set up some kind of publicity machine before it all and tuned all your minds into it – maybe it would have been different. “But we just bunged it on your desk and said, ‘Look – love us or hate us’ and a lot of people said, ‘Well, we hate you then.’”
NME: Do you now regard Wings as fully “run-in” – and if so, aren’t they long-overdue for British dates?
Paul McCartney: “Well, there’s the British tour in April, and we had our little period of getting it together because you’ve got to have that. “You need to work yourself in. I mean The Beatles had three, four or five years before we made a record… we were together as a band.”
NME: I take it that audiences don’t scream at you any more. Any feelings on this?
Paul McCartney: “I like an audience that raves. We had some goods signs off that European tour. “Listening to tapes, it’s obvious we’re still pretty new as a band. I’m not going to deny that, either, because it’s stupid. There’s nothing wrong with it, nothing to be ashamed of. We are very new. “Actually, I feel that in a way that we’ve got it over people like the Stones… although I don’t think we’re quite as good as them, yet.”
NME: I once read you were very much the kind of person who liked to direct operations.
Paul McCartney: “With Wings I can do anything I like really. They’re good – they would just do anything I wanted. But in fact, we don’t do it like that. We turn up at a session and we all throw ideas in.”
NME: Are you aware you’re the only ex-member of The Beatles still producing his own albums?
Paul McCartney: “I sometimes feel the need for other producers, and sometimes I do use other producers. We used Glyn Johns on a couple of tracks. But we were a bit restricted there.”
NME: Do you think the George Martin days…
Paul McCartney: “We’ve just done something with George – just the other week. We recorded a track for the next James Bond film called ‘Live And Let Die’, which unfortunately will not be released for a long time. It’s a good track.”
NME: What about the album situation?
Paul McCartney: “This next album will be very good, I think. I hate to go talking about this, in case there’s 50 incredible ones out at the same time and ours turns out not so hot. “There’s a lot of good stuff on it, some great tunes. It’s a bit more melodic, but it bops.”
NME: Have you used much added instrumentation?
Paul McCartney: “We have used some added instrumentation, but the best way is obviously for you to hear it. I think it’ll be out in February and I think it’ll be a double. “The idea is just to get working, working, working. So it’s all down to a whole load of work, because I felt like that – doing TV shows, doing work. “I read people knocking Top Of The Pops but I’m telling you, I watch Top Of The Pops just because it’s pop. I’d rather watch that than the news any day.”
NME: Is there a restriction on composing within the band?
Paul McCartney: “Oh no – Denny’s got a great one on the next album. It’s really just that if anyone turns up with a good song, OK. If it’s a lousy song, then we wouldn’t use it. And we’ve got Denny singing one of our songs on the next album. We’re trying to put it around a bit, so it’s a nice kind of unit. “The thing about our band is, everyone likes to be in a band. There’s really not much more to it than that. We’re all from varying parts of globe, and we’re all from varying upbringings. We couldn’t be more different people unless we had a few Chinamen in there. “We’re all pretty different. But whatever we’re doing we’re doing it together now. The thing that’s eventually going to tell, obviously, is the music.”
NME: Do you still travel about a great deal?
Paul McCartney: “Oh yeah, not half. Wouldn’t anyone? We go to the Caribbean whenever we can, because that’s incredible. That is like, you know, paradise. Jamaica, that’s very nice. I like peasants. We’re peasants, too, from all corners of the globe, a gang of peasants who want to be in musical entertainment. “This is the whole idea. It’s like in medieval days. A few people just got together and made some music to make themselves happy, and then to make people happy off it. And that’s really all it is for me. “I occasionally want to make some little political statement, occasionally want to do a kid’s song. The main thing is the music. That comes off. If you like ‘Hi, Hi, Hi’, then you like Wings.”
Last updated on September 1, 2020