- Album This interview has been made to promote the New Official album.
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PAUL McCARTNEY: Out on Long Island, the lad himself opens a bottle of wine, and speaks to Pat Gilbert about his remarkable new album plus the vivid highs and “crappy” lows of an extraordinary life.
One song, Early Days, refers pointedly to those who “weren’t there” and their wayward takes on his history. “It’s a constant niggle,” he tells MOJO’s Pat Gilbert. “The fact is there’s only a given body of people who really know inside out what goes on, and other people analyse it and that’s fine. But when they get it wrong, you just have to live with it.”
Water off a duck’s back by now, you’d have thought, after 50 years of larger-than-life representations of his life and works. But living a mindf**king dual existence as flesh-and-blood human being and Stellar Music Legend is clearly not as easy as the nonchalant McCartney tends to make it look.
“Someone said it to me the other day and it was kind of horrifying, ‘Well, John was the clever one, you were the cute one, Ringo was the funny one and George was the spiritual one.’ And I’m like, (sighs incredulously) ‘Yeeeah, that’s it.’”
The flood of fanciful Beatle biopics has hardly helped. In MOJO’s exclusive interview, McCartney recounts his conversations with photographer and family friend Sam Taylor-Wood in the pre-production phase of her 2009 Young Lennon biopic, Nowhere Boy.
“[Sam] came around to my house with the script of Nowhere Boy and was talking to me about it,” recalls McCartney. “I’m saying, ‘OK, cool, tell me about it.’ John cruel, wicked… and I was, ‘Woah, woah wait a minute! That’s not what I saw! The guy who wrote this wasn’t there, so this is based on legend and hearsay…’”
Although some of the script’s more imaginative detours never made the final film, it appears that others survived.
“In the film, again, John and his mates jump on the top of a bus and he never did that. Sam said, ‘Ah yes but it’s a great scene,’ so I have to go, ‘You know what Sam? Let’s get an agreement. It’s a film. This is not a life, it’s a film. This is not the reality, it’s a film of the reality.’” […]
“I think it’s good when you’re in a dark period, the good is [the song’s] your psychiatrist, it’s your therapy,” McCartney tells MOJO’s Pat Gilbert. “Going away when you’re really upset about something and putting it in your song – you come out of that cupboard, toilet or basement and go, ‘I really feel better.’ You’ve actually exorcised the demon.”
McCartney cites the Flaming Pie album’s Little Willow – written after the 1994 death of Maureen Starkey – as one of his more cathartic songs. Then there’s The Beatles’ Yesterday.
“With Yesterday, singing it now, I think without realising it I was singing about my mum,” says McCartney. “Because I think now, ‘Why she had to go, I don’t know, she wouldn’t say, I said something wrong…’ I think the psychiatrist would have a field day with that one…”
Macca’s dark days tend to be brushed off, not least by Macca himself. But the loss of Linda in 1998 thrust him into a highly public mourning, while the drug bust, the paternity suit filed by Bettina Krischbin (the daughter of Hamburg-era girlfriend Erika Hübers) and Lennon’s murder came in short order at the turn of the ’80s. A rough ride in anyone’s estimation.
“I think my [robust] personality got me through it,” says McCartney. “It goes back to my family and upbringing in Liverpool, which taught you no matter how shitty it is, get on with it and try and have a good time… With that paternity suit, the most difficult thing was my kids, saying to them, ‘Look, you’re going to go to school today and the kids have probably seen this front page thing about my secret love child, you’re just going to have to deal with it. It’s not true…’”
Last updated on February 7, 2021