Interview for Sounds • Saturday, November 20, 1971

Trying to keep things loose

Press interview • Interview of Paul McCartney
Published by:
Interview by:
Steve Peacock
Timeline More from year 1971

Album This interview has been made to promote the Wild Life LP.

Master release

Songs mentioned in this interview

Dear Friend

Officially appears on Wild Life


Unreleased song

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Interview reproduced from My Things – Music history for those who are able to read. (

Paul McCartney talks to Steve Peacock

Paul McCartney, sitting on the control desk in EMI`s number 2 studio at Abbey Road – “I went to New York looking for the best studio in the world, but I prefer it here,” – was talking, not unnaturally, about his new band, Wings.

“The night before John said he was leaving the group and all that, we were at home and it suddenly dawned on me “If everyone else doesn`t want to do it, I’ll get my own band, even if it’s just a little country and western thing or something like Johnny Cash, just so I can get in there and have a sing.” Because that`s all I wanted, just to play.


Everyone did really, everyone was trying to play, but no one wanted to do it with the Beatles.”

It’s been a long time since then, and Paul’s the only one who hasn’t yet got out on the road. John’s done it – Cambridge, Toronto, Fillmore East – George has done it – with Delaney and Bonnie, and with Ringo and all the others at Madison Square Garden. But Paul’s been hiding away. There’ve been two albums which haven’t had very good reviews, and which personally I’ve found rather lifeless, plus the odd single.


But now there’s Wings – a band. There are no firm plans for going on the road, though at the moment they’d like to do it, but there’s an album. We listened to it at the studio – McCartney jiggling about in his seat to it, obviously delighted – and certainly to me it sounded as if after years of reaching out for handholds, McCartney had found out how to do it again.

One side rocks hard and loud, the other side moves more slowly – just like the old records, one side for jiving, the other for smooching. That’s the way he planned it. “Mumbo” is the first track, and maybe THE track. “Bip Bop” sounds a bit like the Stones’ “Stray Cat Blues”.

“Love Is Strange” is the old rocker’s words set to a reggae beat, and it works, “Wild Life” is the title track, with a strong vocal, a nice guitar solo, and a sound that isn’t far away from the first Moody Blues album. Good old Denny Laine.

Side two has an overall sound that’s pretty close to the Beatles when they were close – ooh-aah backing vocals, rhythm guitars, short solos. It ends with “Dear Friend” – very slow, piano, strings.

“That’s the only one that’s at all about the Beatles situation,” he says. “Throw the wine – shut up, stop messing about.”

But on “Wild Life” there’s a line that refers to “a lot of political nonsense in the air.”

Later, he was talking about political nonsense, all the trouble between him and the others, between the McCartney’s and Linda’s father, John Eastman, and Allan Klein. Politics, Paul called it, and he didn’t like it. All he wanted was to be out of the whole thing, to own the copyright to his own songs, forget the Beatles, sign a piece of paper saying we’ve split up, everything’s going to be shared by four.


“And John said, “Yeah, but that’s like asking us to stop the bombing in Vietnam.” We eventually decided that we were all Vietnamese, so that’s all right…

“But I keep wanting to send him postcards saying ‘The war’s over if you want it’ – tell him what he’s saying. It’s just crazy, I’m sure the truth’s a whole lot more simple than it’s made out.”

Talking about John:

“John’s John. John wants to wipe everything away and start again, but in doing so he never wipes anything away. He wants it to be him and Yoko against the world, or whatever, but he`s still in with all the others, in with all the contracts and going into the meetings and everything.

“He’s getting pissed off with it though – I sense it. I’ve had a couple of good conversations recently with just John, and I’ve felt a lot of common ground with him. And I watched him on the Parkinson show, and really a lot of the things he’s into, we’re into as well.”


Did he like John’s albums?

“I liked ‘Imagine’, I didn’t like the others much. But really, there’s so much political shit on at the moment that I tend to play them through once to see if there’s anything I can pinch.”

And how does he sleep?

“I think it’s silly. If he was going to do me he could have done me, but he didn’t. That didn’t phase me one bit. ‘You live with straights’. Yeah, so what? Half the f-king world’s straight; I don`t wanna be surrounded by hobnailed boots. I quite like some straight people, I’ve got straight babies. ‘The only thing you did was Yesterday’. That doesn’t bother me. Even if that was the only thing I did, that’s not bad, that’ll do me. But it isn’t, and he bloody knows it isn’t because he’s sat in this very room and watched me do tapes, and he’s dug it.”

But back to Wings. There’s Paul, and there’s Linda, and Denny Laine, and drummer Denny Seiwell who Paul found in New York before he did “Ram”. He was auditioning drummers in a dark basement, and he asked for rock and roll beat. Denny went straight to his tom toms – all the others went to the high hat. Denny got the gig.

I play all the lead guitar on the album,” said Paul, “except for a few places where Denny (Laine) and I play in harmony. I fancy myself as a guitarist, see. He did have a solo but I took it off him.” Denny smiled.


Linda sings, writes with Paul, and plays a lot of keyboards.

“I like what she does. Her style isn’t like that old, hard pro thing that’s got all the technique, but it’s like children’s drawings. That’s not a very good simile, but it’s got what children’s drawings have got… innocence.”

The album was recorded with very little rehearsal, and a lot of the basic tracks were done live in the studio – a far cry from the painstaking technical methods of something like “Ram”. Why hadn’t he done something like this before?

“Well in a way I did, but it was me playing all the instruments, and you can’t get into it in the same way. ‘McCartney’ was more or less me testing out the studio in the house – the kids in the back, Linda cooking dinner, and me sitting down and having a play. That was just that album, and then ‘Ram’ was just the next album. But whereas with ‘Ram’ I tried so hard that I really wanted people to like it, with this one I don`t care so much because I like it.”

How important was it to him that people like reviewers liked his work generally?

“It was a little too important to me, but obviously I hope people will like what I do, so it gets to me. With this one, it might get to me a bit if it gets shitty reviews but I don’t think it’ll get to me so much. I had to rationalise things after ‘Ram’.”

Wings have made an album, but the idea has been to form a group – a group that won’t just make records but that’ll play together a lot, and go on the road.

“We don’t know exactly how we’re going to do that yet, except that we know we’re going to do it quietly until the band’s got the confidence to know we can play anywhere. But I don’t want to start with a big ‘Wings at the Albert Hall!’ thing, with all the Press and business people there. The basic idea is for us to turn up at a place that we just fancy visiting at the time, and try to arrange a little gig. Do it under another name or something. If we do it the other way, then we’ve got to be THEM, and do the whole bit, and when it comes to the night we just might not fancy playing anyway.

“My best playing days were at the Cavern, lunchtime sessions, when you’d just go on stage with a cheese roll and a coke and a ciggie, and people would give you a few requests, and you’d sing them in between eating your cheese roll. That was great to me, I think we got something great going in those days – we really got a rapport there, which we never got again with an audience. And if an amp blew up or something, it didn’t matter, because we’d just pick up an acoustic and sing the Sunblest commercial or something – and they’d all join in.


We used to do skits and things too – I used to do one on Jet Harris, stagger around looking moody and a bit drunk, playing “Diamonds”. He’d been to the Cavern once and fallen off the stage.

“That was the stage with the Beatles I thought was best, and that’s the way I’d like to be able to play again – if a few people happen to turn up to a gig then it’s usually great, but if you’re all sitting there like penguins waiting to judge me, then I’m going to be nervous, and I’m not going to enjoy it. I’m not like John, who swallows his nerves in Toronto and be sick just before he goes on – that I’m not going to go through thank you. It’s not necessary, and if it’s not necessary, I’m not going to do it.

“With this band, we play good together live because nobody’s too hung up about what he’s playing. We’ll go round to Denny’s house and just sit there playing songs that we half-know. It’s good.

“We don’t want to be a media group – we don’t want to go everywhere and plug everything and have knickers with our name on them and all that. That won’t work for me now – it’s all done. It was great while it lasted but it’s over now.”


Did he really enjoy all that while it was happening?

“Yeah, it was great, obviously, and I did enjoy it, loved it, but it got to be a bit tight at the end. It was when we got to be Beatles with a big B that things began to be difficult because even if we wanted to go out and play, how the hell could we do it? We’d have had to have done a big million seater thing, and that’s why I was suggesting them that we all just go away somewhere and play, like I want to do with Wings. Ricky and the Redstreaks at Slough Town Hall or something – and everyone turns up for the Saturday night dance and finds it’s us.

“We’re all musicians, and the fun of being a musician is being able to play live to people. For us, it might be a year, it might be two years, or it might be next week. We don’t know, we might not even fancy going live in the end, and if that happens it’s all right too.

“I’m just trying to keep things loose, because life itself is loose. I don’t want to have to say ‘I’ll be in Slough tomorrow’ on the way I feel today, because tomorrow I might not feel like it, and it’s great to be able to give yourself the evening off. Everybody talks about freedom and all that, but all you’ve got to do to have it is just to take it. You don’t have to do a Santana and tour the world or something – I’d rather have a few people annoyed that we didn’t turn up, or rather that Ricky and the Redstreaks didn’t turn up, than go through all that again. And as long as we keep that basic freedom, I don’t think we`ll go far wrong.”

Last updated on May 1, 2022


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