Interview for SmartLess • Monday, November 23, 2020

Interview for SmartLess podcast

Interview of Paul McCartney

Album This interview has been made to promote the McCartney III Official album.

Master release

Songs mentioned in this interview


Officially appears on The Beatles (Mono)

Eleanor Rigby

Officially appears on Revolver (UK Mono)

What'd I Say

Unreleased song


Officially appears on Help! (Mono)

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From SmartLess (

“SmartLess” with Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, & Will Arnett is a podcast that connects and unites people from all walks of life to learn about shared experiences through thoughtful dialogue and organic hilarity. A nice surprise: in each episode of SmartLess, one of the hosts reveals his mystery guest to the other two. What ensues is a genuinely improvised and authentic conversation filled with laughter and newfound knowledge to feed the SmartLess mind.

SmartLess: What a special episode. This is our guest today happens to have an album coming out December 18. I’ve listened to it over and over again. I love every track on it. I can’t wait to talk about it. The name of the album is “McCartney III”. The name of the guy is Paul McCartney. Paul McCartney!

Paul McCartney: Hello

SmartLess: You look so much like Paul McCartney!

Paul McCartney: I know. I get told that all the time.

SmartLess: He sounds like him as well !!! Sir, what an honor. I am just so humbled that you said yes to this.

Paul McCartney: I like people to be humbled and a little bit frightened.

SmartLess: It is a tremendous honor to have you here. You probably don’t remember. But we met briefly a couple of times, very briefly, years ago.

Paul McCartney: I’ve met everyone briefly.

SmartLess: Exactly. Paul, we’re so flattered. You’re here today. And thank you. It’s really kind of surreal to be looking at you and talking to you because I’ve been a fan like the rest of the entire world forever. But there’s a billion questions I want to ask you, but there’s one I’ve always wanted to ask you for a very, very, very long time. I’ll just start right out. How are you so fit?

Paul McCartney: Am I so fit? I don’t think I am.

SmartLess: You look better than I did, 20 years ago. You look great. You’ve always look great.

Paul McCartney: This is a nice show. I like you boys

SmartLess: You work out every day?

Paul McCartney: A little bit. Yeah, but I’m vegetarian, so maybe that’s got something to do with that.

SmartLess: Vegetarian, you can get sneaky fat. Having a bunch of a bunch of pasta and a bunch of rice.

Paul McCartney: That is true. Yeah, cheese.

SmartLess: You say you do a little bit of workout. What? What is that? Is that a cardio thing? Do you push wages…

Paul McCartney: I do. I have a very definite routine. I don’t have a trainer. It’s just me. I get on the mat. And I do a bunch of stuff. They’re like, leggy, so yeah. Rolling on the thing on the river. You know, rolling on a roller, I do a bit of that. And then I do a bit of legs akimbo. And then I move on to a cross-trainer. Elliptical. And then I do… I mean, you know, I’m doing like five or 10 minutes of these. This is not a huge workout. But it’s good. I like it, and then a dribble of running. And then I end with my favourite bit, particularly if I’m in a gym because sometimes it’s just like a home gym. But if I’m in a gym, and all the big guys have got big weights on doing all the big stuff. In the end, I do a headstand. And they come over here. “Very impressive, man”. I go. “Thank you”.

SmartLess: Paul, where are you right now?

Paul McCartney: I’m in New York.

SmartLess: And you’re in your place in New York?

Paul McCartney: I’m actually in my office in New York.

SmartLess: Do you spend most of your time in New York?

Paul McCartney: No, I’m between America and England. Pretty much.

SmartLess: Do you have a preference? Careful here?

Paul McCartney: England. Yeah, I don’t care. I’m English. But the thing is that I’m married to an American Girl, Nancy. And so people say, you know, “how much time do you spend in the country?” So you say half and half. And I say half and half (taking the american accent).

SmartLess: Well done. I read that you spend most of your quarantine time writing more music. I saw you saying Stephen Colbert once that you separate your fame from you, that you then in your head, you’re just, “I just go work out and I’m nobody” but then there’s this famous person that you remove yourself from. And that, that you kind of like, “Oh, I kind of like that, that guy’s music. Kind of interesting”. And it’s you!

Paul McCartney: It’s true. It is weird. You know, I think it’s a safety measure. I know I’m very famous but I don’t want to walk around like I’m very famous. I don’t like to take pictures when people say, ‘Can I have a picture?’. So I say, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t do pictures.’ This line I got from watching Alec Baldwin once. We have this little thing with Alec and a couple of mates. And it’s called the yoga boys. Um, we do yoga together. Like, we’re terrible. Anyway, so yeah, we’re sitting around afterwards talking and we’re having a bite. Someone comes up to Alex “could I have your autograph”. And Alec, with the right look, “I’m sorry, I don’t do pictures”. He held it, and I just thought “that’s the line”. I sort of feel like I have to say, “look, you know, I’m happy to talk to you, sit down. We can talk because I like that, because I’m still me”. Right? And then I put my arm around you, you put your arm around me. I feel like the monkey in Saint-Tropez.  ‘Come and have a picture taken with the monkey’. And I don’t like that. It puts me off.

SmartLess: I love that you talk about this so openly, this idea of you being this person that you are. There’s a sort of humility to that. You attribute that to where you grew up in Liverpool and your family and those kind of ideas that you’ve had from a young age, that you’ve never let go of, in a way.

Paul McCartney: Yeah, I think so. You know, I was very lucky with my family, uncles and aunties, cousins and all of that. There were like millions of them. My dad had seven in his family. My mom had two brothers and stuff. So anyway, the minute they all start reproducing, it produced a big, big family. And it was great. They were so wonderful, and wise, and funny, and optimistic. I really don’t remember anything bad about it. So I grew up thinking, that’s how everyone’s life is. We’ve all got lovely uncles. And you know, there when I met John, it turned out not to be true. He had a terrible upbringing, his dad left home, when he was three, his mother got run over and killed outside his aunt’s place, it’s a terrible story. But yeah, so I do attribute that to my family upbringing. And it is something I want to hold on to.

SmartLess: And that instinct to hold on to that connection, that real human quality that we are all sort of want and it seems like you’ve got a real sort of love of people. Do your level of fame and notoriety… does it sometimes sadden you that other people who are just meeting you for the first time might have trouble or difficulty connecting with you on that level? And you then take it upon yourself to sort of try to put them at ease. You can have that kind of “please see me as Paul and not as Paul McCartney. Let’s talk. Let’s connect”.

Paul McCartney: That’s right. Yeah, I do, I do that, you know, because I can’t really sort of sit down and go “listen to… Let It Be!”. We can’t do that.

SmartLess: Well, you can…

Paul McCartney: I can, I suppose. But people are very interested. Yeah, people are really interested. And, you know, you ask them a question that you might think it’s quite boring. But sometimes they’ve got quite amazing stories. And I like that, I was always very curious about that. Because a kid I used to take a bus and just go for a few stops, and get off and sit on a bench and just watch people and talk to people…

SmartLess: On the subject of fame, you made me think of something… Do you ever find yourself measuring time and your life by certain milestones or events such as like, the release of albums or concerts or whatever? And then therefore, does that make the past feel like it’s not that far away?

Paul McCartney: Yeah, to some extent, you know, I think so. Yeah. I know, Sgt Pepper was 1967. Whereas most dates, I don’t remember, but I just happen to know what went on that year. And so yeah, I would do that. But I’m the world’s worst remember of Beatle history. There’s always going to be someone who knows. So I’ll just ask someone. “What year was it when we came to America”

SmartLess: What’s incredible about that is that you could ask anybody… If you went into a restaurant, you could tap someone on the shoulder, and they could probably tell you that day. And that’s what’s so incredible. Like the size and the weight of that legacy. Does it ever feel really heavy in that way? Does it feel like a burden?

Paul McCartney: It doesn’t actually cuz this phenomenon happened a long time ago. This isn’t new for me. Talking about the 60s even, this was going on. I just remember thinking “Okay, now you’re becoming very famous, so if you don’t want the trappings of that, you should stop now and just say, thanks guys, enough”. But to do that, I would have kind of had to get out of music, and I love that too much. So I carried on and so you get more and more famous, etc. I do however, sometimes, just when I be me, the person I grew up with, because this is still the same guy, so you know, it’s still the same body. I do sometimes think “wow, God, bloody hell, I’m a singer, songwriter, how did that happen?”

SmartLess: But it makes sense. Because you started… I mean, I read somewhere that you wrote “When I’m Sixty-Four” well before you met John, is that true?

Paul McCartney: yeah, when I was 16.

SmartLess: You were 16!!! Oh, by the way, who was the 64 year old you were writing about?

Paul McCartney: Everyone, a year before their retirement. 65 was when you retire. So 64 was everyone.

SmartLess: So you’ve been writing about… you’ve been a singer songwriter your whole life? Not your whole career. Your whole life! Like even before you probably knew you were gonna do it. You’ve been this.

Paul McCartney: Well, my dad was the family pianist. So you know, I was reading like about people like Gershwin and how long and and they said every house had a piano. That was the way things were those days are my dad. We had a piano and he played, he played great.

SmartLess: Did you ever study classical music?

Paul McCartney: I didn’t, no. And I’d ask him to teach me. He said “No, you’ve got to learn properly”. But I didn’t like the little smelly old lady.

SmartLess: So Sir Paul, one more question about your emotional and mental health that seems so so clear to me. Was it always that way? In the sense that with all the incredible fortune and success and assumed happiness throughout your life, all these incredible stages up to an including today… Do you feel that you are always in the right condition, mentally, emotionally, to appreciate all of that? You seem like the kind of guy that keeps your room clean upstairs so that you can appreciate the fame, money… All the complications that might come with that if you don’t have your room tidy, it can be somewhat destructive. And a lot of people don’t handle that well, but it seems like you’re an incredibly healthy man emotionally, spiritually, mentally… Have you been able to enjoy all this incredible life you seem to have had?

Paul McCartney: Yeah, I think, by and large. And I tell you, this family of mine, I really do a tribute to them. My uncle Jack. “Alright, son. Yeah, son, you know, come on. Have you heard the one about…” Uncle Joe singing all the time… You know, there’s just so many of these characters, and they’d all just come out of World War Two. You know, I was born in 1942, it actually was in that war. And they all come out of it. And they were all so lovely and positive that I always just thought “well, that’s the way you should be”. So you know, that’s my kind of guiding thought: “it’s okay, really, we get fitty (?) moments, but basically, it’s okay, futures gonna be good”. You know, it’s not always easy to think that, particularly these days, but, COVID, I was talking to someone about this the other day and saying it is like the war for my parents. But my parents go and have me in a war when it was raining bombs on Liverpool. And they couldn’t have been too optimistic that they were going to win. You know, cuz it wasn’t. But yeah, I just think this is another war. This is something instead of like HIV, or SARS, or avian flu, that tended to happen to other people, we are all going through this one together, which equates to my mind to war.

SmartLess: And I would say that you this idea that you’ve made it this far and kept it so straight upstairs, and you attribute it to your family… I think that we can relate to that, the three of us have very close relationships to our families as well. It’s something that we, I think that we share in in this COVID time. I agree with you, this is now more than ever, we really need each other, not just our families, but our friends, it’s so important. Because it can be so isolating. And that can be devastating. And to keep the positivity going during quarantine and isolation is rough. But you know, creative types, find a way and you found a way, just like the rest of us are doing a podcast, you wrote an album, like normal people do, I guess? I don’t know. But to you. I mean, you’ve written – it has to be over 1000 songs, probably more. Do you even know how many you’ve written?

Paul McCartney: I don’t count. No, it’s like “what year it was? Or how many there were?” I’ve been told that I wrote just short of 300 with John.

SmartLess: Do you ever get out on stages performing one of your 1000 songs and they get lost? Because you’re thinking of the other 900? I mean, like do lyrics ever get crossed?

Paul McCartney: Oh, yeah, I do, that’s why I have a teleprompter.

SmartLess: Oh, you could probably just ask the audience to help you with the line.

Paul McCartney: Yeah, that’s right. No, I do that kind of thing. Sometimes I’ll be doing a song, like Eleanor Rigby or something, and I’m on autopilot. And I’m starting to think, ‘Oh, what am I gonna have for dinner? Maybe you won’t have the soup but maybe you’ll just go for the main course’. Then I go ‘Stop!’, because I’m singing Eleanor Rigby! I’ve separated myself not only from Paul and fame, but a couple of bits in my head are going in different places. Sometimes that breaks down and I forget the song. But I remember the soup.

SmartLess: But those 1000 songs… do you still have that fire in your belly to keep writing and keep creating these great iconic songs that just seem endless inside of you? Or do you feel pressure to keep doing that?

Paul McCartney: It’s like a hobby. I’m very lucky. So you know, I’ll go home and pick up my guitar while I’m watching TV, and just tinker around to suit something. You know. It really is something that still entrenches me. That’s what I say before. I’m a singer, songwriter. I’m seriously amazed by that.

SmartLess: Maybe I’m amazed. I don’t know.

Paul McCartney: Maybe I’m immune. Did you see the James Corden movie? I love James. He’s a good singer. He sings ti better than me. I rang him up. I said, “James, listen, that’s great. I’d be so jealous if I hadn’t written it.”

SmartLess: Did you do something with James? Am I misremembering, where you went to Liverpool?

Paul McCartney: Yeah, we did Carpool Karaoke. You know, the worst thing about all of that was I didn’t want to do it. Because they’d said, “be great, James wants you to do carpool”. And I just thought “No, no, Adele’s done it. Stevie Wonder’s done it, it was so good. I’m gonna go and do it and be crap”. So I just sort of said “No, guys, listen, thanks. But I don’t think I’ll do it”. And right up till the minute we got in the car, I was still pitching, which isn’t like me. But I was still sort of “Oh, God”. In fact, I sent to James, when he was taking a bit of makeup on. And I said, “James, you know, one of the great things about being in the Beatles was at this kind of moment, George would probably look at everyone – what the fuck are we doing this for”. I said, I missed that. And his producer Ben, very funny, “That’s funny. That’s funny. Get in the car” And so we got in. But yeah, I really enjoyed it. And I’d never been in my old house since I left.

SmartLess: By the way, who’s that woman in there? In the house?

Paul McCartney: She’s the keeper of the house. Not a housekeeper. It’s a National Trust thing, so it’s like a museum. She’s like the museum curator.

SmartLess: It must have blown her mind to meet you.

Paul McCartney: Well, I think it pretty much did. But the thing was… She charged us! True! James wanted to slip. And she said “that’s five pounds each”. I said “no, that’s my house.”

SmartLess: And then the whole thing ended with you in that bar, surprising everybody when the curtains open. And everybody’s like “holy shit, that’s Paul McCartney”. And then you just started playing. Everybody was like floored. What an incredible treat for everybody there. That was incredible.

Paul McCartney: It was great. They say it was great for us to… Because that pub we were, in where we did that stunt, is one I’ve stood with my family with these uncles with a pint. And I had all that history with it. So it was pretty amazing just wandering around Liverpool. Because I was now the tour guide. We did this. We did that. But I do that anyway, when I go back to Liverpool. I do that anyway, whether they like it or not. I go past this old house I used to live in, but I never used to go in, cause you think it’s going to be so disappointing. It’s going to be scary or something. I do “just leave it, don’t go in”. That’s easy. So I would sit outside the house when my guest whoever it was, “that’s the house, see that little window. Well, that was my bedroom. And this is the way you get through”.

SmartLess: You’re obviously so iconic. And so many people have done impressions of you over the years, including our good friend Peter Serafinowicz, who’s from Liverpool originally. He has done an impression of you for years, he is a very funny guy. He lives in London now. Very funny comedian. First of all, what is that like, throughout for the last years and years and years, people have done impressions of you – is that annoying? And was there anyone who did it and you went like “yeah, that was pretty good”? Was there one that stuck out?

Paul McCartney: It’s not annoying. Because, you know, they’re talking about me. And that’s okay. So that’s not annoying. That’s good. But I don’t think they quite get it. Jimmy Fallon’s pretty good. Yeah, he does a pretty good one. But generally, it’s not quite, you know, for my voice has changed. I look at old interviews with the Beatles, I was much more Liverpool. But now I’ve lived out of Liverpool much more than I ever lived in Liverpool. So you voice changes.

SmartLess: I have a quick question about touring. When you tour it as much as you have for as long as you have, have you ever miss that kind of home base feeling? Do you ever get depressed, living out of hotels and never feeling settled? And all that like constantly touring all these years?

Paul McCartney: I’m actually no too bad with that. You meet a lot of people who don’t like it, I actually quite like it. Because I’ve been doing it forever. And instead of me making me jaded, it’s just something I do. And I’m kind of used to. I like the room service. I was walking down the corridor in the Four Seasons in LA. And I got this feeling like, “I like this. I like this”.

SmartLess: What do you do about getting to sleep with all the different time zones? You have a trick for adapting to different times?

Paul McCartney: Actually, I’m very lucky in that respect. I just get tired during the day. I meet people, you know, in the evening. They say “Oh, god, I’m really tired”. I say, “Great. Keep it up. And go to bed”. So I get tired, especially after the show. And we do have to have a sort of warm down period.

SmartLess: But wait, what about your ears? What about touring with all that loud music just constantly over the decades in your art? Is it done anything?

Paul McCartney: What have you said? No, that’s the only problem. It does go for your hearing, unfortunately. But I love it. I love it. When I was a kid in Liverpool, the idea of taking a electric guitar and plugging it in was like… It was kind of thrilling, you know? And I still get that through. And I’m surprised because I should be jaded. It should have worn off. But it doesn’t, you know, I love going my studio and making this album you’re talking about. And I plug in the guitar. And I’m still trying to learn how to play. Although I’m getting better.

SmartLess: How many weeks a year would you ideally be on the road nowadays?

Paul McCartney: This year, I was supposed to be doing about 12 gigs in Europe. And then Glastonbury Festival. So I’ve kind of looking forward to that. And I suppose I then would have gone out this time, possibly somewhere with better weather. You go down to South America or somewhere. And I quite like it.

SmartLess: So like a third of the year, half of the year on average?

Paul McCartney: Yeah, it might be something like that, it’s pretty quite good. But there’s certain periods when I want to be home. But you know, I’ve been doing it long enough to be able to say to my promoter, “okay, end of April. First couple of weeks in May. Got to be in England. Cuz that’s when the blue belts come out”.

SmartLess: What about the holidays? You’d like to be home around the holidays? Or just spring is the part that you really protect?

Paul McCartney: No, Christmas, we’re always home. Love to do that. Thanksgiving now that I’ve married an American, we do that.

SmartLess: What’s the family look like nowadays? How wide is it? How many? What’s the family gathering? Usually number out to nowadays?

Paul McCartney: I’ve got eight grandkids. So hopefully, I would be with them, their moms and husbands, the rest of my kids and my wife.

SmartLess: Do you enjoy providing that kind of same guidance that you got from your family when you were a young kid? Nowadays, I would imagine it’s almost more complicated than it was back then, given technology and culture and all that stuff. Do you like playing that role, passing on that sanity?

Paul McCartney: Yeah, I kind of do, but it’s not super proactive. I leave that to their parents. Because you get the granddad interrupting. And, you know, that’s okay, “You know, leave this to us”. And I know, that’s my cue.

SmartLess: Sir Paul, let me take you back to you.

Paul McCartney: You’re being very reverential.

SmartLess: You’re supposed to say, sir, aren’t you?

Paul McCartney: You don’t have to.

SmartLess: Okay. All right.

Paul McCartney: Emperor? King?

SmartLess: Boy, he dropped that pretty quick. Let’s go back to you grabbing the guitar, you’re watching television and you’re starting to figure out a new song or the lyrics. Do you have someone or some group in mind when you write a song? And if so, does that change? Or are you writing for you, most of the time?

Paul McCartney: Well, I’m writing for me. But you’re right. I often have someone in my mind, who I’m kind of imitating, whose style I’m imitating. And it’s a great trick because it never turns out like them. I could be doing Big Bill Broonzy and it’s nothing like him. Believe me. On this album. I’ve got a track which was inspired… I was reading a book on Big Bill Broonzy. And I started noodling on a piano and it sounded just like him. But I didn’t. Yeah, I do use that as a trick. I like to do that. When I was writing “The Long And Winding Road”, I thought I was Ray Charles. But I wasn’t. And he later recorded some songs of mine. And he was Ray Charles.

SmartLess: That must have been a thrill, in a way.

Paul McCartney: Yeah, man, yeah. We grew up with these guys. And we’re totally in all. A record like “What’d I say”, we always want to raise first things. I used to do that in Hamburg. That was one of our big numbers. “What’d I say, what’d I say…” I would end up onto the table.

SmartLess: You went to Hamburg, of course. And that was kind of the last step before… You’d already had some success in Liverpool, of course, then you went to Hamburg. And then right after that, you really broke on the international stage and became the Beatles that we know today. Was there a moment, once you look back, in that next year, after you’d really broken through… Did you have a moment or many moments where you guys looked at each other and said “Wow, can you fucking believe what’s going on?”

Paul McCartney: Yeah, I remember most of it, because we’d been completely anonymous. And we went to Hamburg, where we’re still anonymous, but we cannot learn how to build a crowd. We were stuck in this bar, called the Indra, which is German for India. And nobody ever came in there. And so we were just on the stage singing, and then you’d see a couple of students would look in, and they may think they’d look at the beer price. And then they’d leave. Because they thought it was too expensive. So we had to learn to pull them in. And it was a great lesson. And then gradually, I must say, boasting, that place filled up. And a word of mouth got around. We were quite a good little group. And you know, this going back so far. And we used to say to each other, “do you know how long ago it was? The war? It was like, 15 years ago. And we’re over there like playing?”… You know, and we play Germany now and amazed at the kids how cool they are… But yeah, then we would be interrupted at 10 o’clock. And policemen would come on the stage. And we thought we were being arrested, you know. They’d go to the mic. (imitating German speaking) “It’s 10 o’clock, if you haven’t got your passport with you, and you’re under 18, get out”. I was kind of used to a different world. We were kids, we were 18.

SmartLess: You learn German back then, and you remember?

Paul McCartney: I know a bit of German. I screwed it up there but I do know a bit of German. I did it in school, me and George were the only two who learned it in school.

SmartLess: Is there an artist, an art figure either alive, or maybe even dead before you were even born, that you are so sort of in awe of, humbled by, enamoured by that, that you assume, or hope perhaps, would have the same effect over you that you assume you have over others. If that makes any sense.

Paul McCartney: Elvis? I love Elvis. And he really was huge for us. And we ended up meeting him, that’s a zany moment, because I do have to kind of think “did I really beat him? Yeah, you did”. Crazy cool. Yeah, he was really cool. And he lived up to all our expectations, you know.

SmartLess: Where you guys had a level of fame where he was sort of talking to you as a pear or as a colleague, or were you guys still just coming up at that point?

Paul McCartney: We were the kids on the block who were gonna wipe him off the block. Yeah, which was kind of very embarrassing, because we didn’t want to do that. We loved him so much. So he would be the one… Dylan I love. And I love him, you know.

SmartLess: What about today? Like, there’s so many pop acts these days, you know, with an emphasis on the package, rather than the quality of the music and the musicianship, almost kind of trying to manufacture what the Beatles were authentically. So do you listen to anybody today? Is there an actual artist or like a boy band or group that you listened to? Because of that? True artistry.

Paul McCartney: For me, it’s not really because of the music like it is for the fans. I’ve just seen some young kids go through what we went through. BTS. Korean guys. I like watching them, seeing what’s going on. I think it’s good. I can say I couldn’t sing one of their songs. But I like that. And there is some people who are not just manufactured, like Taylor Swift.

SmartLess: She’s a true singer, songwriter.

Paul McCartney: She’s like, pretty cool. I met up with her recently. A lot of fun.

SmartLess: I have a question about songwriting. If I can like geek out for a second. Did you ever study music theory, by the way?

Paul McCartney: No. And this is the whole thing about all the groups in Liverpool. Not one of them. Well, unless you were a sax player, then you had to learn a bit of music. But none of us knew anything. You know, all the guys in the groups… I was talking to Jeff Lynne about it. He said “we just made it all up, didn’t we?” And that’s what it was. We just told each other chords. None of us studied.

SmartLess: And they didn’t need to go to school. Like some music nerd. They had it in there. You can’t manufacture it from a book. When writing a song, does the music come first, or the lyrics?

Paul McCartney: The best is when you get the two together. Mm hmm. And you just discovered your melody, and you’ve got some words, and you just follow that trail. And you just carry on with a thought. And then you subvert it, maybe for the middle, whatever. I mean, I’ve got tricks, but they’re not musically notated. I wouldn’t know about that. But I know we were good at it.

SmartLess: Yeah, nobody was doing it. You would have like crazy… like the song would just change like in Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen had sections. You guys invented that.

Paul McCartney: Yes. It’s a great thing. And I think, you know, I’m very proud that knowing nothing other than… I mean, I have got a little bit of a theory, but I never want to put people off who learn. But you know, the thing is when you just thinking it, instead of reading it, there’s something very good about that. It’s just in you. And you’re not taking it off a page. It just feels like… Yeah, this is good. This sounds okay. And so you just sort of keep going till you’ve got it. And then you try and remember it.

SmartLess: You say that writing music is considered somewhat of a hobby. Aside from that, what is your current hobby? Do you fill your day doing anything that people would be surprised to learn, a sort of gardening, or golf, or driving fast and breaking laws?

Paul McCartney: Horse riding. Yeah, I like the horse. And again, I never had a lesson. Linda was a very good horse rider. And so when we married, she’d never had her own horse. So I was able to get her a horse. And, you know, so she just would show me and I would fall off a lot. But I was younger then. So I just developed a love of it. And, you know, kind of things she’d say to kind of help me with it would be “it’s just a great big puppy” that allows you to sit on his back. Once you think of a horse like that, it’s much better.

SmartLess: Speaking of better things, “McCartney III”, you say? Three, right. That’s your new album, and I listened to every track way more than once. I absolutely love it. I love all of them, but some of my favorite tracks are “Seize The Day”, “The Kiss Of Venus” and “Winter Bird” is probably my favorite one. Okay, you know, the super somber kind of reminds me of, you know, older Paul McCartney songs. But it’s just beautiful. And I can’t believe you just spit these songs out, like it’s nothing, during quarantine. It’s crazy. You had a bunch of these songs. I heard you say that you had been working on them for a while or they’ve been kind of in your head for a while. Is that right?

Paul McCartney: Yeah. I’ve got a studio 20 minutes away from where I live. So I like to drive over and go to work. Some people have the studio at home, but I’m not that keen on that. Because you never go to work or never come home. And some days, I’ll just say “okay, let’s make something up”. And that freedom is very nice. So I’ll make something up. And then sometimes they don’t get finished by the end of the day. And then maybe the next day, I’ve got to do something else. So there were a couple of tracks like that. And there were a couple of tracks that I’d written fully. So I finished the ones that were unfinished, and then started and finished the next one, and just went through them all. This is good, this is like spring cleaning. No, this is nice, I got them all, they’re all gonna be finished now. That’ll be nice. But like after about 10 of them that I’d finished, I thought it’s probably an album. And it was.

SmartLess: I love it. I absolutely love them. And just to remind you guys, the album comes out December 18. And it’s called “McCartney III”. I’m gonna let you go because we’ve taken way too much of your time.

Paul McCartney: No, I want to stay!

SmartLess: Come over. But wait, I want to know if you had to pick your favorite song you’ve ever written?

Paul McCartney: That’s always a very difficult question. And I always answer “Yesterday”, but it’s a very difficult question, because then the next minute are go “The Long And Winding Road”. And then actually the other one I enter “Here, There And Everywhere”. Yeah, I’ll say that. “Blackbird”… you know it changes. And you know, really, I often say to people “look, I can’t choose because it’s like choosing one of my babies”.

SmartLess: Yeah. You write a lot of songs with the word “Bird” in them. Like “Blackbird”, “Winter Bird”…

Paul McCartney: Yeah, I do a lot of bird stuff. I’m an ornithologist.

SmartLess: It just occurs to me as you sort of start to list off all your songs and it reminds me of… I think everybody has very vivid memories of the first time they heard a Beatle song and and who it was who introduced them to your music and I remember it was an old tape that my parents had. And I remember my parents playing the Beatles for me the first time in just those when I think about it, and sometimes when I listen to a Beatle song, it reminds me of memories of my parents. And Ricky Gervais always says “I don’t know why you bother working out, nobody ever sees you”. But – and he’s not wrong – But this connection, your music and how it connects us to the people who are important in our lives. And I realized how much that is. I’m one of billions of people who have had that experience. What an incredible thing to be part of people’s emotional connections to the people in their lives… I guess it’s not even a question, it’s more of a thank you. And how incredibly profound that is, you know.

Paul McCartney: It is something I really appreciate. Because, being a family man, I see that in my audience. I remember doing a thing in South America, a big audience. But near the front, there was this very good looking man with a beard, dark haired man. And he had his arm round this beautiful girl, long dark hair. And I was doing “Let It Be”, which is kind of emotional for me because it was to do with my mother and stuff. And I just see her looking up at her dad. And it was like, “Oh my god”, it shocked me. It’s difficult to get through the song. Because there’s suddenly the significance of that, that my little song that I’d never even studied for, you know, it’s just come out of the blue. And my God, it’s had this effect. And they’re having this really bonding moment. So it is something I’m very proud of, and appreciate that that happens with people. I do have to pinch myself though. Because it’s like, “Are you really that guy?” That just because I’m so busy trying to keep myself separate from him.

SmartLess: So if I can be normal, you have shared that part of you with us for this hour. Thank you and our listeners for that and all the music through your life with all the millions and millions of people that have found connection with it. So I just can’t thank you enough for all of that. I’m truly, truly humbled to have spent this time with you. Thank you very, very much.

Paul McCartney: Thanks guys. I’ve really enjoyed this. You know, this is a fun hour for me. So thanks very much for the compliments.

Last updated on January 3, 2021


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