Interview for Melody Maker • Saturday, October 4, 1975

Just an ordinary superstar

Press interview • Interview of Paul McCartney
Published by:
Melody Maker
Interview by:
Chris Welch
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It’s hard to imagine Paul McCartney so urbane, gifted and confident being assailed by doubts, And yet beneath the facade of the man who seems to have everything, he would quite like to shift the burden of fame and dump it by the roadside, once in a while be accepted as an ordinary mortal. 

Paul is ready to talk, and accepts that people want to know about Wings, about Linda, about songwriting, about yea, even the Beatles. He’s proud of past achievements and knows he has much more to say and do. He’s happy with the way Wings have developed into a polished, professional hand, capable of expressing both McCartney’s music and putting their own personal stamp on proceedings.

He is in control of his business environment, and has a work schedule that is comfortable and ingeniously arranged. Recording sessions take place in pleasant climates and exotic locations. And if there is a tour of the cities of Britain to fulfil, well, they take it easy, with a few drinks and few movie shows along the way.

Bands on the road can endure miseries of privation, or go to another extreme and indulge in an orgy of excess. Wings grooved on their just-completed British peregrinations, and, as Billy Fury might have said in 1961, “played it cool.”

And yet the slings and penetrate even the McCartney defences. While he accepts criticism with philosophical calm, there is undoubtedly a certain amount of concern that bubbles to the surface in conversation, and as we talked on our recent bus ride across England with Wings, he admitted he worrier, whose confidence could be as sand, as happened in the aftermath of a McCartney TV spectacular, when it was feared by me that Paul had been lost to showbiz.

But music, whether writing, paying or just listening, is the driving force and the aspect, apart from family life, that gives Paul most satisfaction.

And whether writing a song like “Picasso’ Last Words” at Dustin Hoffman’s home, just to explain how he goes about the process of composing or slogging round the cinemas and dusty dressing rooms of Britain in his rule as McCartney devotes himself with enterprise and energy to a career that many thought had reached peak, and yet is probably only just beginning.

Paul remembered the pasting he got when he danced on the TV spectacular he did a couple of years ago.

“They just said to me ‘Oh you can dance, right’ and they got a choreographer in, and it was all sort of old fashioned choreography.

“What I should have said is: ‘I can leap’. Or I should have told them they’d have drunk.’ Generally speaking it didn’t down a bomb. Audience ratings weren’t totally brilliant, nor was critical acclaim. 

“But to me the fact remains that we did a TV special, and right there is an advantage. It’s a weird kind of thing. People might say, why do something that’s not too good? But I don’t agree with that. In real life, it often works just to try and do something no matter how it comes off. And the funny thing was, only the hip people didn’t like it.

“It wasn’t a hip show at all. In fact, I couldn’t watch it. I saw it recently on video, and I couldn’t watch it. I’ve got a video cassette at home and played it one night when there was nothing on telly. Linda and I were just sitting there, cringing. It was one of THOSE, folks. But y’know what the hell?

“So it wasn’t a good show. What do you want from a real, live person? God? But we got millions of letters from mid-America saying they loved the show. It was your big sophisticated New York boys who didn’t like it. I didn’t like it, and I’m a big sophisticated boy top, BUT – the fact remains, the people who aren’t sophisticated liked it.

“We gave a guy lift in Jamaica, some ex-Vietnam guy who had been invalided out, who’s now a hippie and is wandering around Jamaica. He said: “Oh yeah, man, I saw that show. Really warm’. So right there, you have one person who thought It was warm. And when I met the Osmonds they said: ‘Really dug your Special’ so the fact remains, not everyone’s hip.”

Paul obviously had a much wider audience than most people working in rock could enjoy. 

“Yeah. I’ve gotta remind myself that the main thing is to enjoy myself. ‘Cos you can get easily wound up in the superhip world of ‘that was wrong’ or that’s outa tune man, I can’t stand it. Sometimes I feel like saying: “Oh f___ off you stupid, hip s___ What is all this f___ stuff.”” 

“Sometimes you feel as if you have ten-ton weight on your shoulders. And you can’t entertain so well, unless the weight is off your shoulders. There’s many a person has committed suicide over the fact that his Special wasn’t so good. But I wouldn’t give a сrар.

WOULD he do another?

“Yeah, definitely and hope to get it better. That’s all. It’s one of the biggest factors in life. I’ve come home from some rehearsals with Wings and just got the terrible feeling: ‘It’s not right. God, we could do so much more. We’ve got to get a producer.”

“But I just have to say to myself: Get a grip on yourself, son: Don’t think THAT. You’re doing okay And then you meet someone the next day who says: Oh gee, never heard you sing so good. And then you’re saved, you’re bloody well saved from the jaws of death.

“I find I’m so susceptible to that. But on this tour, I’m keeping cool. I’m surprised at myself. When I go out there on stage, if I saw anyone walk out, or light a cigarette, I’d think: ‘Oh God, I’ve lost ’em. You see, I must misread situations so badly, all the time.

“Obviously I can’t be doing too badly, badly, ‘Cos I’m all right. Not as bad as the fellow who had to commit suicide last week because he read the situation so badly. But silly things affect me, and that’s why I keep demanding that I’m ordinary, because I am so ordinary it’s annoying. 

“Oh no yer: there’s none of yer: ‘I am now Paul McCartney, rich and famous and this is it.’ When interviewers say, “What else can you do? What else is to try and get myself together at some point!

“If I do see someone leaving the theatre while I’m singing I’ve got to remind myself they might be going to the bog. It REALLY could be that. But instinctively, I just go: “Oh no, they hate me, they hate! I’m no good.

“I’m just a born worrier. Which is not a good thing. My dad’s occasionally a bit like that. He’ll get down about something, when really everything is on a huge up. If only he could train himself to see how up it is.

“It’s like the old Indian saying, I walk down the street and I’m crying because I have no shoes, and then I see a man with no feet. I must try and remind myself that I’ve got feet.

Continued on p 56

Last updated on August 6, 2023


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