- Album This interview has been made to promote the McCartney III Official album.
Songs mentioned in this interview
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An interview to promote the upcoming “McCartney III” album but focused on the Beatles, with few discussions related to “McCartney III“, which Stern hadn’t received before the interview.
About “McCartney III”
Howard Stern: The album is called “McCartney III”. I think it’s called “McCartney III” because when you go and you record every instrument. That’s why you’re calling it “McCartney III”, am I correct on that?
Paul McCartney: Yeah I did make “McCartney I”, “McCartney II” and this is “McCartney III”. I was sitting around with these tracks thinking “what am I gonna do with this”, and then a little light bulb went off. I thought “you’ve played all the instruments, this is McCartney III”. I seriously didn’t know I was making an album, so there’s a whole different feel. One of the tracks on the album you’ll hear is called Deep Deep Feeling, it’s like eight minutes long and I’m listening to it. This is just for my phone, so yeah, it can be eight minutes, great. More to listen to when I get home. But when it starts to sort of get near to this is going to be an album, I started thinking “well I should probably edit it down”. So I said “well, listen, let me just play it for me one more time”. So I got the headphones on and I thought “No, I’m not chopping this works”.
Howard Stern: Is this a nice point in your life to be releasing an album? I mean the pressure is not the same, it’s not like you have anything to prove.
Paul McCartney: Yeah it is a nice point because you know I’m happily married to Nancy and we have a great time together.
Howard Stern: How is Nancy?
Paul McCartney: She’s lovely.
Howard Stern: Does she say to you “Paul, where are the songs about me” ? Did you write songs about Nancy specifically on this album?
Paul McCartney: I said they’re all about you, love.
Howard Stern: Is that what you do? He’s a smart man
About joining the Quarry Men
Howard Stern: I think for you music comes so easily. Is it true that you wrote “When I’m Sixty-Four” when you were 15 years old on a piano?
Paul McCartney: Yeah we had a piano in the house so I wrote the tune, I didn’t write the words, those came later.
Howard Stern: Were you considered a prodigy?
Paul McCartney: No, no way. Nobody was remotely interested in this idea of I wrote songs until I met John. I said I’ve written a few songs and he said “oh so have I” so it was like someone was interested at last. And I’d seen him around Liverpool, he’d got on a bus once and I said “whoa look at this guy at the big side boards”. You know, the hair swept back. I thought “he’s got something going”. So when I met him, it was great, I was looking up to him, I wasn’t that impressed because he smelled of beer, and I was a little bit younger and I wasn’t too keen on this big smelly breath leaning over me. But we got together and they wanted me in the band. so I said “well let me think about it, I’ll get back to you on that”. I didn’t immediately just go “yeah really yeah”. I was on my bike, I was cycling along up near John’s area, and his friend Pete came down and he said “hey wait a minute, wait a minute”. He said “they want you to join the band, can I tell them yeah?”. I said “well I don’t know, let me think about it”. I’m busy doing nothing right so I took about a week and then got back to them, I said “yeah okay I’ll do that”
Howard Stern: What was your hesitation, why wouldn’t you join the Quarry Men?
Paul McCartney: You know, I’m like that, I don’t rush into things, I think I’m allowed to have a minute to think about it, because – wait a minute – I want to be in a band, I’d never been in a band, do I want to be in this band, and then I decided yeah, we could do something with this band.
About John Lennon
Howard Stern: John’s background was so screwed up, between not getting to live with his mother or father, what was that like?
Paul McCartney: I knew his father had left John and his mother when John was three, and I knew that was a huge pain for John growing up. And John went to live with his uncle and auntie, and then the uncle died. And so john confided in me he said “you know I think it could be a jinx against the male lion” and I had to sort of talk him down off the edge. I said “no you’re not, that’s stupid, it wasn’t your fault your bloody father left”. John did not have a great life in that family department, so even after his dad’s left, his mother got killed in front of the house he’s now staying out, run over by a car and then all those years later, his dad now shows up and wants money. And I think that led to a lot of John’s angst. When he and I were together, there wasn’t a lot of that because we were just friends and we were doing stuff and we were being creative. I mean a song like “Help!”, I remember sitting down and writing this with John and he’d come up with “When I was younger, so much younger”. And I suddenly realized “okay well we’re talking about an insecurity thing but this is great, it’s a song”. But once we’ve finished it, we’re very happy with it, but it was only later when I thought “wow that was a real cry for help, he really meant it”. And there was so many things like that about John’s life that I could sympathize with. If John had a moment of insecurity like we all do, I would be able to kind of talk to him about it. I remember him saying “what am I going to be thought of after I’ve died, what was people going to think about me”. And he was worried about it and I said “you are kidding me, you’re a legend already, never mind when you die”. And I had to reassure him.
About the release schedule with Taylor Swift’s album “Evermore”, released on December 10, 2020
Howard Stern: You’ve written hit songs for other people. You gave the Rolling Stones their first hit song. You’re a generous human being…
Paul McCartney: The thing is the scene was generous. We were all so excited that we were down in London, and we were all getting recording contracts, you know, so it wasn’t like any animosity. There is a rivalry but it’s not a bad one. It’s creative, it’s a good thing, I think. We would ring up the Stones and say “when’s your single coming out”. Say June 30th, okay “well we’ll put us July 30th”. It’s funny, I did the Rolling Stone cover with Taylor Swift and she just emailed me recently and she said, ‘I wasn’t telling anyone, but I’ve got another album… I was going to put it out on my birthday’ – which I think was the 10th. And then she said, ‘But I found out that you were going to put it (McCartney III) out on the 10th so I moved to the 18th.’ And then she found out we were coming out on the 18th, so she moved back to the 10th. So, you know, people do keep out of each other’s way. It’s a nice thing to do.
Howard Stern: Have you ever written songs for people and not taken any credit? In other words, would we be shocked to learn today that you wrote a song for such and such, and it actually became a hit, and you never ever even mentioned that you helped out on that or wrote it?
Paul McCartney: I used the pseudonym Bernard Webb so I wrote a song for Peter and Gordon. And I’ve used a couple of pseudonyms but it becomes known, it gets out. You know, they had a hit with it and they said “oh it was just Bernard Webb” and it kind of leaked out that it was me.
About being the cute Beatle
Howard Stern: You had this branding of being the cute Beatle which I imagine you didn’t like, because, in a way, being cute means “oh I’m not a serious musician”.
Paul McCartney: I hated that. I mean that’s what happens — just, ‘He’s the cute one.’ I’d go, ‘No, I’m not! Don’t call me that. I hate that! But once it’s said, it kind of sticks… I just can’t help being cute, Howard. They had to just say “he’s the cute one”, “he’s the quiet one”, “he’s the witty one” and he’s the drummer.
Howard Stern: You know the other day we were discussing on the air “who is the greatest drummer you know in rock and roll history”. Someone said Neil Peart from Rush. I said Bonzo Bonham from Led Zeppelin is the greatest rock drummer to me.
Paul McCartney: I’d go Ringo [Starr] top — he’s something else. Second, I’d go Bonzo [Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham]. And third, [the Who’s] Keith Moon. That’s mine. I’m going from that generation. Those are pretty good drummers, those boys.
About the origins of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Paul McCartney: I was listening to a lot of kind of offbeat music … crazy stuff like John Cage. […] I was coming on the plane with our roadie … he said, ‘Pass the salt and pepper’ and I thought he said Sergeant Pepper. The whole concept was for us to pretend to be someone else so that’s why the uniforms … it was just a way to remove ourselves from just being Beatles and not be fed up with being musicians. […] It allowed us to do crazier things than we might otherwise have done. I wasn’t me. I was this guy in this other group – it was freeing.
About wearing masks
Paul McCartney: I walked into work today wearing a mask, you know, looking at everyone. Looking them right in the eye. ‘Hello. You don’t know who this is. Do you know who I think I am? Even though it’s been probably the most frightening year of our lives … ’cause you know, when there were other big crises like AIDS, the bird flu or SARS or whatever, they tended to happen to other people, but this thing’s happening to us, no matter who you are or what you’ve been doing. In this most frightening year of our lives, I think we’ve got to kind of take some lessons from it, like, it’s quite good to slow down, it’s very good to be with your family, have time for people instead of just rushing around, and to me that was the silver lining. It’s not over but it’s something that’s brought a lot of people together, so I hope that we’ve learned something from it.
Paul McCartney Plays the Song He Recorded on His iPhone About John Lennon
Howard Stern: Do you play every day?
Paul McCartney: Often and then, with the Iphone of course, it’s instant recording.
Howard Stern: What’s on your Iphone, do you have about a billion different little snippets of songs that you hear in your head? Is that how you write now?
Paul McCartney: I have an Iphone full – too full – of little fragments like… So i’m looking, here’s what I’ve got… “piano guitar harmonium”. Next one, “Home Fire”, 5th of november. Next one, “Autumnal”. Next one, “John’s Boots”
Howard Stern: Let’s hear “John’s Boots”, what does that mean?
Paul McCartney: “John’s Boots”, man. [Music]. “What would you do in John’s boots”.
Howard Stern: Are we talking about The John or a different John.
Paul McCartney: Yeah now we’re talking about The John, Johnny.
Howard Stern: Because of the technology back in the day, do you think there were songs that you thought of, that might have been absolutely brilliant that you actually forgot because you had to go somewhere and find, I guess, a piece of paper or a something to record your ideas into… You must have lost a million songs that way.
Paul McCartney: No, you have to remember everything, a great training. I thought “well if I forget it he’ll remember it”. It turns out he thought “well if he forgets it I’ll remember”. We used to say “look if we can’t remember it, how’s the people gonna remember it so we have to write memorable songs”.
Last updated on April 10, 2021