Interview for David Frost At The Phonograph • Saturday, August 6, 1966

Interview with David Frost

Radio interview • Interview of Paul McCartney • Recorded Aug 01, 1966
David Frost At The Phonograph
Published by:
BBC Light Programme
Interview by:
David Frost
Timeline More from year 1966

Songs mentioned in this interview

Don't Be Cruel

Unreleased song

Eleanor Rigby

Officially appears on Revolver (UK Mono)

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May 20, 1967 • From BBC Light Programme

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Jul 01, 1967 • From BBC Light Programme

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On August 1, 1966, Paul McCartney went to the BBC Broadcasting House and was interviewed by David Frost for his radio series “David Frost at the Phonograph.”

During the interview, Paul mentioned that he was never entirely satisfied with the Beatles’ records once they were
completed. Additionally, he expressed some mild disapproval of America’s culture, just a few days prior to embarking on the final Beatles tour in the US.

The episode aired from 12:00 to 1:30 pm on August 6, on the BBC Light Programme.

That’s the trouble. Immediately we’ve done an LP, we want to do a new one, because we’re a bit fed up. And the time it takes a record company to get it out, by the time it’s out, we really hate most of the tracks. That’s the way it is.

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney: Hello, Mr. Frost.

David Frost: How are you Mr. McCartney?

Paul McCartney: Okay thanks, fine, this afternoon.

David Frost: It’s a lovely afternoon.

Paul McCartney: Wonderful. Dark out, but wonderful.

David Frost: It is alleged by certain people in your organisation that you’re very soon off to America. Does that fill you with delight?

Paul McCartney: Yeah, it’s good. You know, I enjoy it in America. I think I like England much better as a place.

David Frost: Why?

Paul McCartney: Well, I don’t know. It’s the attitude of the people generally in America that makes it not as good a place to be in as England.

David Frost: What do you mean? Sort of just more intolerant or more?

Paul McCartney: Well, I don’t know really. The kind of people we meet in America tend to be, you know, heads of corporations and publicity men and things. So I know we don’t get a good view of American life, but they all seem to believe that it is about money. Which is true to an extent, but not all the time. You know, they believe in it all the time.

David Frost: Yeah, well, they’ve carried it all much further than we have. They’re much more efficient about it and much more frightening about it, aren’t they?

Paul McCartney: Much more frightening.

David Frost: Let’s play an American record before we carry on. Here with a semi-jazz, semi-folk, semi-documentary tune is Samy Davis […] Eleanor Rigby, which I think is brilliant, isn’t it?

Paul McCartney:
Well, I don’t think it’s brilliant, but it’s nice of you to say that, David.

David Frost: No, Paul, seriously. It’s just the greatest thrill for me to be able to say this. But why isn’t it brilliant? Well, Paul, why is it only fairly brilliant?

Paul McCartney: I’m talking about the arrangement. See, when I first did the arrangement, I’ve hardly ever done arrangements like this before. And I do it with George Martin because I can’t read or write music, viewers. And so I thought, you know, I thought, well, I’ll have an attempt at something I think is sort of real in a way, the sort of real arrangement of a thing rather than just repeating things all the time. And I had a go at it and was pleased with it, and I liked it when the session men did it. But when I heard it a bit later, somebody said something like “I like the Walt Disney send-up arrangement at the end.” You know, and I certainly heard it as that because that’s what the end of it is particularly. But it’s a bit like that. It sounds to me now a bit like a send-up arrangement. But I didn’t mean it to be. It just shows me that, you know, I’m a younger arranger.

David Frost: Looking back on the thing a few weeks later, are you ever completely satisfied by a record?

Paul McCartney: No. Now, that’s the trouble, you see. Immediately we’ve done an LP, we want to do a new one because we’re a bit fed up. And the time it takes a record company to get it out, by the time it’s out, you know, we really hate most of the tracks. That’s the way it is.

David Frost: Dirk Bogard, I’m sure would love it. Have you heard any Dirk Bogard records before?

Paul McCartney: Well, yes, he did a great one in 32. One of his best albums.

David Frost: Oh, it’s one of his 32rpm. And here is a record, a 32rpm by Dirk Bogard. It’s an extraordinary talking record called The Way You Look Tonight. […] Can you think of any record that’s still…

Paul McCartney: Not really, I suppose.

David Frost: You’ve moved on all the time, so none of them really satisfy you.

Paul McCartney: Records of ours? No, I, you know, go off record because of that, because when you… If we’re developing, which I suppose we are, and we must be, you know, because we’ve changed from about two or three years ago, then the stages of the development, you know, seem a bit cornier, sort of two or three years ago than they are now. And I don’t know, for that reason I suppose I go off records a bit quicker than anyone else would.

David Frost: You go off other people’s records as quickly?

Paul McCartney: No, no, I don’t, you know. I mean, I’ve heard records, like old Elvis records, that I still like. Because it reminds me of what I thought then about them. I mean, they sound completely different now, if you know how things are recorded and how, sort of, you get tones on guitars. But then it was like, it was all magic, you know. So hearing that kind of record now, it’s just great for the nostalgic thing.

David Frost: So you still like what Elvis is, sort of, old things like?

Paul McCartney: Oh, you know, Don’t Be Cruel, all the old corny ones. But I think they’re great, you know, because they’re like, they remind me of sort of fairgrounds and things.

David Frost: Yeah, if Roy Plomley was carrying you off to his desert island, would you take one or two old Presley’s with you?

Paul McCartney: No, I don’t think, I don’t know, really. I ain’t going to just take enough equipment to sort of get a boat back, you know. I wouldn’t bother with records.

David Frost: I assume, of course, you also have a gramophone. This is a record by Chris Montez called Fly Me to the Moon. [… ] Do you have ideas for the future?

Paul McCartney: Um, you know, this is, I don’t know, people, lots of people sort of ask this question, you know, because I think people think. I’m sure you’ve got a set answer. No, not really. The set answer is just as vague as most answers. But the idea is that there are lots of things that I want to do. Um, I’m not sure what they all are yet. So I think I’ll try and spread myself thin for a bit and then choose something, but something completely different, you know. Just to try.

David Frost: Getting a bit of the relaxing, as well?

Paul McCartney: Well, I don’t know, yeah, in a way, but also trying things at the same time.

David Frost: I always get the impression that even compared with the other Beatles, in fact, there are more things you really want to do, aren’t there, than the other Beatles? I mean, there are lots of fields that you…

Paul McCartney: Well, I don’t know, really, you know, I mean, I’ve talked to the others and they all want to do probably as many things in their own ways. You know, obviously we don’t all want to do the same kind of thing because we’re not all the same kind of people, you know, exactly. But, for instance, George loves Indian music, you know, and he really wants to find out about it. So that would be good, you know, because, I mean, we can’t be about 40 and still going on there, can we?

David Frost: You can make great return appearances like Gracie Fields. Who you’ve modelled your career on…

Paul McCartney: Of course, Gracie Fields. Well, she was one of the influences at the beginning, I must admit (laugh).

David Frost: This is a record by Carol Ventura called Day by Day. […] Do you cherish, as I do, assorted strange press cuttings about things? I remember one that came from a Scottish paper that I’ve still got that says… They were trying to say David Frost is only 27 but he looks much older and the figures got transposed and it came out as, David Frost is only 72 but he looks much older, which is basically true, as you can see, but no television make-up on or anything. But similar ones happened to you?

Paul McCartney: Well, yeah, somewhat similar. When we were in the States the first time, you know, we got a big publicity build-up of things and everybody was running around and writing stories and things. When we went back the second time, we came in on the other side of America, we came in San Francisco and things, so there were quite a few articles over there but a lot of the news can’t have reached them, you know, at the time because there was a sports writer in San Francisco, a chronicler or something, who wrote this article about our arrival, you know, and he was sort of tying it up as a sort of, I don’t know, with his lead story and introducing that whole thing. He said that, today there was a lot of screeching and screaming and all the office girls ran over to the window and then I knew it was, of course, John, Paul, George and Harold, the famous four. And he meant it, you know. [Laughs]

David Frost: I often think Harold would rather be one of the famous four in the economic pickle he’s in today, but do you remember, listeners at home, before we continue, this song? It’s a new record, just out. But do you remember this song? […] Well, I’d have said that your discjoking days are a long, long way in the future. I’ve never done a record show before but I’ve always liked doing your different things. What would you say is a must to include in programs like this?

Paul McCartney: Well, all those sort of little commercials for the program, definitely, you know.

David Frost: What do you mean?

Paul McCartney: Well, you know, sort of where the trumpet’s sort of going, da-dun, D, da-dun, A, you know, and spell your name out. And then sort of, you know, sort of like an epic, so it’s like a bit of an epic show. I can get a few of those listening fingers back, you know, after those other people.

David Frost: Those other people who should be nameless and indeed shameless. And there’s a familiarity about them. Oh, it’s very sad, really. There’s a marvelous ad in one of the magazines which says that one of them gets the sort of attention that some advertising director needs but it’s going to be in detention very soon. Well, we’ll start an epic… we’ll have an epic opening for you next week, in fact.

Paul McCartney: Yes, with trumpets and things.

David Frost: Trumpets and fanfares. And the initials spelt out, yes. You know, exciting.

Paul McCartney: Exciting. The old commercial feel.

David Frost: In a purely non-commercial and completely non-profit-making way, we could bring in the BBC motto, nation shall speak, peace unto nation, too.

Paul McCartney: Well, the NDO could do the arrangements.

David Frost: Excellent idea. And we could even play songs like this next one. Now, that’s a good disc jockey link, isn’t it?

Paul McCartney: Yes, that’s very good.

David Frost: And talking of songs, what better song than this version of one of those songs. Libby Morris usually sings it. This is the original of it. Girls of the Folly. Come to the end of the program, Paul. Have you some message for the people of the world?

Paul McCartney: Well, not really, David. I’d just like to say thank you for being on a wonderful program. And I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.

David Frost: That’s beautiful. And it wasn’t scripted. It was very wonderful to have you on this wonderful program.

Last updated on November 8, 2023

Going further

If we like to think, in all modesty, that the Paul McCartney Project is the best online ressource for everything Paul McCartney, The Beatles Bible is for sure the definitive online site focused on the Beatles. There are obviously some overlap in terms of content between the two sites, but also some major differences in terms of approach.

Read more on The Beatles Bible


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