Interview for Melody Maker • Saturday, December 2, 1972

‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’ … those lyrics are a heavy trip

Press interview • Interview of Wings
Published by:
Melody Maker
Interview by:
Mark Plummer
Timeline More from year 1972

Album This interview has been made to promote the Hi, Hi, Hi / C Moon 7" Single.

Master release

Other interviews of Wings

Wings: taking off at last?

Jun 16, 1979 • From Melody Maker

Wings 1975 tour book

September 1975

Wings Flying Hi, Hi, Hi!

Dec 02, 1972 • From Record Mirror

Wings First Flight

May / June 1972 ? • From McCartney Productions

Interview for Radio Leeds

Feb 16, 1972 • From Radio Leeds

Paul On The Wing

Feb 12, 1972 • From Disc and Music Echo

Interview with WRKO

Jan 13, 1972 • From WRKO

Interview with WCBS-FM

Dec 15, 1971 • From WCBS-FM

The Heart Of McCartney

Dec 04, 1971 • From Record Mirror

Interviews from the same media

Playing for Paul

May 29, 1971 • From Melody Maker

Produced by George Martin

Aug 21, 1971 • From Melody Maker

Wings Fly

Nov 13, 1971 • From Melody Maker

Why Lennon is uncool

Nov 20, 1971 • From Melody Maker

Paul Adds a Wing

Jan 29, 1972 • From Melody Maker

Paul's Protest

Feb 12, 1972 • From Melody Maker

Bird On The Wings

Feb 26, 1972 • From Melody Maker

Wings And Things

Oct 28, 1972 • From Melody Maker

Onwards and upwards

Dec 01, 1973 • From Melody Maker

Beatles to get back ?

Jan 12, 1974 • From Melody Maker

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Paul banned again!

Paul McCartney – whose “Give Ireland Back To The Irish” was banned by the BBC last February – has again fallen foul of the Beeb. His latest single, out tomorrow (Friday), has been banned by Radios One and Two. Title of the piece, written by Paul and his wife, Linda, is “Hi, Hi, Hi” by Wings.

BBC publicity officer Rodney Collins told the MM: “The ban has nothing to do with drugs. We thought the record unfit for broadcasting because of the lyric. Part of it goes: ‘I want you to lie on the bed and get you ready for my body gun and do it, do it, do it to you’. Another part goes: ‘Like a rabbit I’m going to grab it and do it till the night is done’.

Hi, Hi, Hi” was broadcast by Tony Blackburn once last week, but this was a “mistake” say the BBC.

‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’…those lyrics are a heavy trip. Anyway, it sold as many as Tumbling Dice’, so there!”

PAUL MCCARTNEY and WINGS talk to Mark Plummer

FEW can put over a rocker like Paul McCartney. If “Mary Had A Little Lamb” made you forget that fact, then just remember back to “Long Tall Sally” and catch a listen to Wings latest single “Hi, Hi, Hi”. And if that doesn’t do it to you, flip over, cause you’ve got to be L7.

If you’re not hip to West Indian slang then a little explaining is necessary. “C Moon,” double-A with “Hi, Hi, Hi” is McCartney’s reggae way of dispelling the notion that he and Linda are unhip. It works out into a simple equation L + 7 = □ ; therefore C + crescent moon = O. With that in mind McCartney is about to launch Wings, following their European tour, for real.

McCartney, sitting upstairs at his London office, tidy as always in sailing ship jumper and short-sleeved white shirt, is holding court with the press, in a series of interviews, flanked by his wife Linda and drummer from Wings, Denny Seiwell.

But this is very much Macka’s show. So far Wings have taken a critical knocking and Paul is aware of the reasons and ready to answer his critics but at the same time, he’s trying hard to make Wings less precious in the past.

Rocking again? 

“Right. We did need a rocker. We wrote ‘Hi, Hi, Hi’ purposefully as a nice easy rocker for that very reason. It’s basically a straight rock and roll thing written on the three rock and roll chords to give us something aside from the rest of our material which isn’t necessarily just rock and roll.

“So, we did that when we were on holiday in Spain, rehearsed it and revamped it for the single. That was the one at the end of the evening after we’d given them the whole show.

“Actually we had a lot of ballads that were going down real big or the tour, like a new one ‘My Love,’ ballad that sounds like old ‘Clemantine’ to me. On a couple of nights, it was a standing ovation type of thing. But normally it’s just the rockers that people go for that’s what the people want. A good knees up, y’know.

“’C Moon’, you know what that means, do you? The general reaction is that ‘Hi, Hi, Hi’ is kind of the strong side, but the reason we made it a double A is that ‘C Moon’ is one of those songs that catches up on you after a while. I can hear ‘C Moon’ in a year’s time, people saying ‘yeah, I like that one.’ There’s things to listen to on that one, put it on headphones and it’s quite a trip.

Linda: Especially if you’ve just come home from work, that’s the side to get into.”

Paul: We left all the long little bits in that you’d normally clean up for the record. There’s the intro, the bit is this the intro that was for real. I missed the intro and the song has changed because of it”.

Denny: “Henry’s drumming.

Linda: “Yeah Henry’s playing the drums on that one.”

Paul: “You’ve got Denny playing trumpet on it, who’s a drummer, Henry’s the guitarist playing drums, Denny who’s a guitarist playing bass, and me the bass player on piano.

“It’s true guitarists have a feel for drumming. It’s like we saw John Bonham of Zeppelin, he was down the night we did ‘C Moon’ at Morgan studios, which was a crazy night. He was down there, he brought some things with him, it was a good laff, we had a crazy evening and in fact we did a great jam which we must still check out sometime. Y’know making up the words and the whole bit. But anyway Bonham was saying it’s not the way any drummer would play.”

Denny: “It’s like Paul is one of my favourite drummers. He thinks of things a drummer wouldn’t normally play.”

PAUL: “I must tell you. we picked up some great reggae singles when we were in Jamaica which were just making the radio over there, things I haven’t heard in Britain since. One of the greatest things they do in Jamaica is they have the record, and then on the B side, they have the version. The amazing thing being that the version is the single without the vocal track and possibly another take. But it’s nearly always the same with just the vocals off. Right, the same as we did with ‘Ireland’.

“But the way they hear it there is different. We hung out with this Jamaican guy in Montego Bay, some hustler he was, a great little fella called Amos who kind of approached us and hustled. But we didn’t mind being hustled, he’d take us to all the little bars where the tourists wouldn’t get to. Little places with white rum, a jukebox and fluorescent lights.

“We’d play those versions and I’d say to him but they’ve just taken the vocals off. But he’d say ‘no man, you don’t know man. Look this another song man, this the version!’

“I could see what he meant, you listen to it with his ears and it’s like watching the Black and White Minstrel show with an old person and looking at it through their eyes to see what they’re digging in it.

“You listen to a version through his ears and it’s unbelievable man, to him it’s just the band playing an instrumental, he kind of doesn’t know it’s just the same song.”

Linda: “It’s getting so in now, though, Jamaica.”

Paul: “It’s a whole new cult, wonderful thing.”

Denny: “I just hope they don’t commercialize it too much.”

Paul: “I mean, good on our kids, they were sharp on it.”

Denny: “The American kids don’t know it yet, they only got to hear reggae through Three Dog Night.”

Linda: “I love it so much, it’s like when I used to R&B. Early American spade rock was something else.”

Paul: “See that’s what it was like for us, what happens is that people in our generation tend to think back to the fifties and that was the pure thing. When you heard that for the first time there was some buzz. The thing about reggae is that it’s just like that now. That’s why I love the kids, the skinheads who latched on to it because it’s exactly what we had in the fifties, exactly that simplified thing. But reggae’s that whole beat turned around. That’s what reggae’s all about, they’ve turned the beat over on its back.

“I’ll tell you my theory on that. I don’t know if it’s right, but I feel that when the kids in Jamaica first got to hear Chuck Berry and the rock and rollers, they never had any way of seeing the artists perform because they never went to islands and there was no TV. So the drummers had to make up what they thought the records were doing.

“Now with rock and roll records, the main beat is the offbeat which we do on the snare, which is the loudest thing the kit does.

“I think the first drummer on the island to get a kit from a catalogue is sitting there listening to the thing and they hear this big noise and they know the bass drum is the loudest drum in the kit. 

“Now I think what he’s done is to lay the off heat on his bass drum. So instead of one two three four, he’s got the emphasis on the second beat hence one two three four.

“He’s figured it out that way and ended up like a left-hand drummer or someone who doesn’t technically know. He’s got the same rhythm and the same result, but back to front Actually Linde really wants to get to number one in Jamaica”

Linda: “Or anywhere in the West Indies. It’s the people, they’re so warm.” 

Paul: “I think we must record ‘Seaside Woman’ with that in mind. Reggae for me is like a sort of challenge. If you go to record in Jamaica then you should use Jamaican musicians and you’ll get the gen reggae Sound with just your white vocal on top kind of thing. But for me particularly want to play reggae. I think they do it great and there’s no getting what they get, but for me, there’s enough of a turn-on for it to influence me.

“We play a thing you’d call reggae, but it just turns out as our version of it like if we do Beach Boys thing it’ll never actually sound like them. But sometimes when you make a record it’s good to think of an artist and try to get your record like their’s. IT know at home we used to do a lot of that.”

Linda: “I’d really love to tour Jamaica”

Paul: “Maybe we’ll get a van and some little amps together” 

Linda: “No, I’d like to do it really big, like James Brown.

Paul: “But there’s nowhere big in play.

Linda: “Yes there is, there’s cinemas.”

Danny: “We could do a thing at the drive-in cinemas, just put our gear up on the stage.”

Paul: “Did I tell you we made a film of the European tour? I think it’ll be a TV thing rather than a movie. I like things on TV because everyone can get to see it then.

“WAS I happy with ‘Mary?’ Yeah, you see I was the only one who thought it should have been a single, and in a way, I think we had stronger tracks then that we could have released, but they will be on the album.

“I think I was kinda wrong in a way, but on tour, the audience really picked up on that one and sang the la las. Some of the numbers that would have been better singles didn’t work so well live, so there’s another side to it too.

“I think the records we’re making now are better, but I’m not down on Lamb or Ireland. They were both good trips in their own little way.

“’Mary’ sold many copies as ‘Tumbling Dice’ in England y’know, so there. There was a critical thing about it, but listen, the point is we were all babies and there are still a lot around who like to sing the song.

“For me there were lots of silly little interesting things about the song, like I never knew beyond the first verse before. I knew ‘Mary had a little lamb’ and it’s feet we white as snow, and everywhere that Mary went the lamb was sure to go,’ and knew they sang the la las.

“Then after that, I knew it followed her to school, but never knew the whole story was about the teacher chucking the lamb out of class. I thought it was just a great end where it gets chucked out.

“Everyone’s wondering why this lamb is hanging about ’cause Mary loves the lamb. 

“To me, that’s like a heavy trip those lyrics. It’s very spiritual when someone hangs around because it’s loved. I’m sure no one ever thinks about those kinds of things. 

“You hear crazy stuff about old things about old stuff. Some guy from Joe’s Lights came up to us when we were doing a television clip for ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’ and said “Hey man that’s heavy.’

“We said ‘Yeah that’s great, thanks’. He told us he knew what it was all about, was like yeah, what do you mean?” He told us that Mary Had A Little Lamb were the first words ever recorded by Thomas Edison. He’d read Mary Had A Little Lamb as a poem.

“You can get down on it but it’s all there. So then you get to Give Ireland Back to The Irish, which incidentally was number one in Spain. Maybe people did this that we should have gone to Ireland and played rather than sing about it, but it didn’t happen that’s all.

“It’s like people saying why’d you snub Britain, well that’s the craziest thing ever. I mean come on give us a break, it might come third. 

“Look, about ‘Ireland’, I’m in Britain and I’m British and what I’m complaining about isn’t something I have to go to Ireland to complain about. What I’m complaining about is our government, the government over this room we’re in, did something the day before that I thought totally uncool and showed an utter bungling of a situation. 

“It got so close for me that the actual government of the room I’m in had sent in paratroopers against people. Man, all the history books ever read appeared in front of me. Y’know the Duke of Cumberland leaping up to Scotland and taking them over. Suddenly I thought ‘I’m in that world’.

“All those things you read about entertainers not entering into politics, well I understand Engelbert. It’s cool if you want to keep on with that one. That’s cool, but you don’t have to keep up with your maxims forever, there are some things that happen. 

“Ireland happened and I thought I’m going to say something about that, and the best way for me to say something is via song.” 

Linda: “But it’s such a critical world I’d like to release a record a week just to get tons of music into the world.”

PAUL: “Releasing a week is a nice idea, but there is some sort of time pattern that people need, it’s not cool to break that. Moby Grape tried doing that issuing four or five singles once and it just didn’t happen for them.”

Linda: “But they just should have kept doing it and it would have happened. They did it once and it didn’t work, it’s just a little too precious at the moment.” 

Paul: “Now, hang on. You’re saying at this moment it’s too precious, the thing is it’s about not to get precious. It’s becoming less precious and that’s a nice thing. But didn’t you just smell that coming when you got people writing long in-depth articles on rock and roll. OK as part of the Beatles it was great to hear The Times correspondent, it was a great gimmick, to hear him say aeolian cadences because no one knew what that meant. It was fun but the logical offshoot, and there always has to be one, was that everyone would get into that. It all became so official, but OK we’re unofficial these days. We’re not half as official as that.”

Linda: “It would be great if everyone, even the critics, could have a good time.”

Paul: “Look I think they will, it’s down to the music, it’s a reflection of that. What we’d like now is just a little place somewhere where we could play any night.  We’re itching to play a lot, but with the Beatles thing, it’s hard. That’s the only hang-up with Wings is this Beatle hangover. If we as a band were to turn up at Sam’s in the West End for five nights next week my association with the band would hang it up. I’d like it not to, I’d like people to think they could come along and enjoy themselves.

“It’s funny, I can almost see a time when the audience is going to be as important as the performers. But then I remember when I was audience, all I wanted was to be totally anonymous not to have to shout even and to let them do it for me because I had paid. That’s the one really. You’d like to think the audience would come along. you know it’s the Wings concert tonight so I’ll wear my funny scarf. That’s our feeling, like we’re doing this interview to communicate.

“It’s funny, you’ve got newer acts like the Osmonds getting away from all the seriousness of late and people won’t go along to see them because of all the prejudices. Actually, we attract a funny audience.”

Denny: “From six to sixty. Where was that place where we had all the family sat down the front? “

Paul: “Fella with the cap.” 

Linda: “It’s great to get the little kids, real little like four or five jumping up and down.” 

Paul: “As Denny said there was a family at one of the shows, now to me that is part of our audience. They were funny, weren’t they? There was him, flat hat, wife and kids. Enjoying themselves, but a real stable couple. Linda and I are that way, very much that way with three kids. You get that kind of couple coming with their kids who are more into it as a rock and roll show, while the father and mother are more into it as a family event.

“It’s funny really, that’s why we’ve got to fish around a bit and work out what type of music we’re going to play. We’ve been fishing around a lot, but I think we know now what we’re going to play.”

Linda: “The next album is very songy. It’s not Get Your Thing Together.”

Paul: “And yet you say it’s songy, then think of something like ‘Loup.'” 

Linda: “Oh, I know it’s got everything and that’s the truth.”

Paul: “I love Loup, although it’s really not a commercial track at all. It’s called ‘Loup (1st Indian On The Moon)’. It’s sort of an instrumental with some moody sort of singing. It’s just a thing really, hard to explain about the first Red Indian on the moon called Loup. It’s just a story but you can see through his eyes. It’s a spacey track, but the album’s not like that. See that’s the thing, we’ve done that and a couple more and a couple of instrumentals, but you can’t put your finger on it really.”

Linda: “Really we’re still finding Wings, but I still feel we will do better and better.”

Denny: “This next year is really going to be exciting for Wings. A lot of amazing stuff is bound to happen.”

Paul: “It has already. Talk about ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’ and ‘Ireland’ and you’re talking almost like it didn’t happen.”

Last updated on August 29, 2023


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