Interview for BBC Radio 2 • Monday, December 21, 2020

Interview for The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show

Radio interview • Interview of Paul McCartney
Published by:
BBC Radio 2
Interview by:
Zoe Ball
Read interview on BBC Radio 2
Timeline More from year 2020

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

Master release

Songs mentioned in this interview

Deep Deep Feeling

Officially appears on McCartney III

Find My Way

Officially appears on McCartney III

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Zoe Ball: So Paul McCartney. Good morning.

Paul McCartney: Good morning, Zoe. How are you doing?

Zoe Ball: I’m okay. Actually very excited to speak to you. Do we find you in fine form,Paul?

Paul McCartney: Yeah, pretty good. Actually.

Zoe Ball: Excellent stuff. And this new album, absolutely fabulous, but take me back – paint the picture for us. You know, earlier on in the year, you’re down on the lovely farm in Sussex, we all go into lockdown, you are with Mary and the kids and were you planning on making an album at that point?

Paul McCartney: No. I have to do something for a film that I was involved in and this means I have to go into the studio and the government had said “go to work only if you can’t do it from home”. So, because this was filmed music out to be certain quality. So yeah, I got into the studio and started with that piece of music, which ended up as the opening track on the album.

Zoe Ball: Ah, “Long Tail Winter Bird”.

Paul McCartney: That’s what all that’s about. Yeah. You know, but I was having so much fun with it that I thought, well, I’ll just make a piece of music for my own enjoyment. The next day I was in, just checking on it. And I said to my engineer, I said, “what about that song I started last year? What happened to that?” He said, “well, you never finished it”. So okay, let’s have a look. And so we pulled it out, looked at it and I finished it on. In the end I had about 10 or 11 tracks or something else. So what am I going to do with these? You know, nobody thinks I’ve got an album, the record company be extremely surprised to hear me knocking on the door, “Hey lads”. You know, so anyway, but then I suddenly thought “Oh, cause I played everything on McCartney I. And on McCartney II. This is McCartney III”. So all fell into place.

Zoe Ball: It just fell beautifully into place. You’re playing everything here. There you are in the studio. If you dusted off some old favorites, I know you love your guitars, which guitars get outings on some of these records here, Paul?

Paul McCartney: That was one of the things, I got to kind of look up my guitar collection and I’ve got a lovely old Telecaster, which is beautiful old, 1954. It is left-handed so quite, quite rare, that was a great thing. You know, I was able to pull out these guitars I hadn’t used for a while. “Wait a minute, I’ve never used this one in years, let’s get it out”.

Zoe Ball: Fantastic. Also because you’re with the family there, were you able to sort of come back from the studio and say, “Hey gang, do you wanna have a little listen to what I’ve been making today?” I mean, that’s the thing with family. Family could be very honest.

Paul McCartney: It’s true. Yeah. No, I was locked down with my daughter, Mary and her kids and her husband. And she’s a great cook. So I would come back from the studio, looking forward to dinner and we’d have a drink or something before dinner. And luckily they might say, “Oh, what did you do in the studio?” And so I chose to have it on my phone. So I pulled up my little speaker on my phone and set it up and then played them while they’re doing it. So they got a kind of blow by blow account of the album, you know, each day. “What did you do? Oh, that’s a nice one. I don’t know”. So yeah, and they were very kind.

Zoe Ball: That’s good to know, probably because it’s brilliant, Paul, I would say. Amazing feel through. The album is quite bluesy. It’s psychedelic at times, all the emotions you go through, we’re going to play “Find My Way”. It’s the second track on the album. What can you tell us about this?

Paul McCartney: This is one that I had written, and I wasn’t in any hurry to record. And it’s about me feeling confident, but I can “find my way on, on my left from right”. You know, then the middle goes on to sort of say to someone, a fictitious person, but someone who’s anxious because you know, there were some people who just breezed through lockdown. A lot of creative people found time to do stuff. You know? I talked to Taylor Swift. She did exactly that with her Folklore album, but obviously you didn’t want to go on about having a good time. Cause there were so many people who were having a very bad time. And there were people who were very worried. So in the middle of the song, it goes into, “you never used to be afraid of days like these, but now you’re overwhelmed by your anxieties”. It took the other point of view. So that’s basically what it’s about.

Zoe Ball: I love that your grandson was a big fan of Deep Deep Feeling. That’s the eight minute masterpiece in the mid point of the album, the piano and drums. It’s the kind of track that sounds almost like, you know, you’re listening to it live. I imagine listening to that, you playing outside live. It would be phenomenal.

Paul McCartney: This was one of those tracks that I certainly didn’t think was going to go on an album. So I was just making it for myself and my youngest grandson… It’s so repetitive that he couldn’t help but learn it. You know? So me and him used to sing it.

Zoe Ball: Oh, fantastic. That is beautiful. Another lovely thing: obviously your Linda took the photos of you on “McCartney I” back in 1970 and there is Mary wrapped in your coat. And of course she edited the pictures for “McCartney III”. And now, Mary’s taking fantastic pictures of you. There’s a great spread in GQ magazine earlier on in the year. An amazing picture of you on a horse. I believe in the times recently, she’s obviously a fantastic artist. It’s in the genes and you are looking good, Paul.

Paul McCartney: The thing is that I don’t look like that all the time, but, you know, it was great. It is great to be photographed by Mary because she’s my daughter. As a photographer, she’s very like a mum was. As much as she puts people at ease, when she’s taking your picture, she bosses you around whenever you… But you kind of like it. Go go. She took pictures of me and sort of “go over there, do this”. And the funny thing was that a horse I hadn’t been riding long… So I was a bit nervous that this wasn’t going to work. You know, she was gonna get fed up with the photo shoot and misbehave or whatever, you know, anyway, but she was brilliant. It was like, I’m thinking of hiring her out as a film horse.

Zoe Ball: Honestly, they’ll all be on the phone, the phone won’t stop ringing! Let’s talk about something very exciting. Peter Jackson currently working on the movie, “the Beatles – Get Back” – about the final year you spent together as a band, he sent you some footage. How is it to look back at that footage of what was an incredible time? And does it make you feel differently about that moment when you look at that?

Paul McCartney: Yeah. You know, roundabout that time, when the original film was “Let It Be”, right about that time, The Beatles were breaking up. So, we were having fun, we were making good music, but I think we were just getting fed up with each other. It was just, and John was getting ready to sort of get off with Yoko. So it was a kind of tense time. So I didn’t have that great memories of the film, “Let It Be”. So it wasn’t one that I was sort of eager to watch again. So I was a little bit worried when I heard Peter was looking at this stuff. So he had something like 56 hours of unseen material. So I said to him, “Oh, was it all kind of gloomy with the band breaking up?” And he got back to me. He said, “no, I’ve looked at a lot”. He said, “you’re all having a laugh”. So he sent me some and it really made me feel good. Cause you know, I sort of bought into the idea that this was a very sad time and we weren’t enjoying ourselves. But some of the stuff we get up to in the studio is just… Silly. I mean, there’s a bit he sent me – just me and John singing one of our songs that were rehearsing and we both decide to do it like… You know, it was fun. And so that was lovely for me because it just reminded me of what great mates we were and you know, you are like a family. Yeah. You’re going to have your arguments and stuff from time to time. But it was lovely seeing this.

Zoe Ball: Can’t wait to see it, to see four boys who’ve changed, really changed people’s lives. That’s going to be gold when it comes out. Do you know how long we’re going to have to wait for that? We think next year, maybe the year after pulled in.

Paul McCartney: Well, I don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows when it’s going to be open enough for things like movie theaters to actually open and an audience actually sit there and enjoy it. And I have a feeling they kind of try to hold out until you can actually show it to an audience in a cinema.

Zoe Ball: Absolutely. And it’ll be well worth the wait as well. You’ve been talking to Idris Elba for a documentary for BBC One, which is also going to go on BBC Radio Two on the 23rd of December. Is it good to talk to Idris? You find gentlemen together.

Paul McCartney: He’s a lovely guy. Yeah. He came to one of our shows at the O2. He came with his lovely wife. Yeah. It was great. It was sort of when I met him and we had a great chat there and you know, so lovely during the interview with him too.

Zoe Ball: Look forward to seeing that. Obviously family has always been center of your life. Paul, Christmas time… Is Mary going to be cooking? Will you get involved? Will you be making McCartney’s Margaritas?

Paul McCartney: Oh yeah. That’s given, you know, I just have a special way of making them… They’re too moreish, that’s the only problem, you know, you have one and you want another, and then there comes a point. You go, now I should stop or I’m going to fall over. But yeah, no, I’ll make a couple of drinks for everyone just before the meal. Yeah. And then luckily we have the family together, but that’s great because it means I’ve got four grandkids. So that’s always lovely pleasure.

Zoe Ball: Yeah, absolutely. It’s tough, isn’t it? Because it’s difficult for whole families to be together. So whoever can get together at Christmas, that will be very, very special. Indeed. The album is absolutely fabulous. Uh, “The Kiss Of Venus”, “Seize The Day”, “Lavatory Lil'”… there’s so many incredible moments, “Deep Down”, love that one as well. I could talk to you all day to be honest. But we really do wish you and your family, a peaceful and wonderful Christmas time. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.

Paul McCartney: Yeah. All right. Same from me to you, your family and all the listeners and their families. Let’s just have a great one this year. We deserve it.

Last updated on December 31, 2020


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