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At the dawn of the Beatles’ dissolution, Paul McCartney and his wife, Linda, started to spend an increasing amount of time in the Scottish countryside. Sequestered at their farm near the Mull of Kintyre, McCartney found refuge in his family, his animals, and in fixing up their homestead. The ease and charm of country living was documented in “When Winter Comes” from 2020’s McCartney III. And in 1977 his ode to life on the family farm, “Mull of Kintyre,” became a massive hit for Wings despite the hold disco and soft rock had on the charts and the ascendance of punk and new wave.
“McCartney: A Life in Lyrics” is a co-production between iHeart Media, MPL and Pushkin Industries.
The series was produced by Pejk Malinovski and Sara McCrea; written by Sara McCrea; edited by Dan O’Donnell and Sophie Crane; mastered by Jason Gambrell with sound design by Pejk Malinovski. The series is executive produced by Leital Molad, Justin Richmond, Lee Eastman and Scott Rodger.
Thanks to Lee Eastman, Richard Ewbank, Scott Rodger, Aoife Corbett and Steve Ithell.
And thank you to Ally the Piper for her rendition of “Mull of Kintyre,” “inchadney” for their composition, “Bagpipes in Pitlochery” and Ross Fleming for voicing the 1966 news item.
Based on the given transcript of the podcast featuring a dialogue between Paul McCartney and Paul Muldoon, the conversation has been organized into a Questions and Answers format below with the speakers’ names indicated:
When we first got money and we’re in a meeting with my accountant, he said, now you’ve got to invest in stuff, and I said, don’t worry about it, just putting the back leave it. I do so, no, no, no no, you can’t do that. For some reason I believed in and so what I advise you to do is to buy something. Like we said, there’s this little farm that’s come up in Scotland. I ended up taking advice and bought it a bit grungily that you little beatle. Paul McCartney has bought a hill farm on the remote Mull of Kintyre in the west of Scotland. Farmer Brown said, last night I recognized mister McCartney immediately. We showed them through the farmhouse and they said they were delighted with it, but it was it’s falling apart, you know, there was nothing great about it. So I kind of left it and didn’t really bother. But then when I met Lando, she just said, you know, you got fun up in Scotland. I said, yeah, but I’m not sure you’ll like it. She laughed. We could fix it up. I’m Paul Muldo and I’ve been fortunate to spend time with one of the greatest songwriters of our era. And will you look at me, I’m going on to I’m actually a performer, that is Sir Paul McCartney. We work together on a book looking at the lyrics of more than one hundred and fifty of his songs, and we recorded many hours of our conversations. Actual, I’m a songwriter. My God will have that crypta homie. This is McCartney, a life in lyrics, a masterclass, a memoir, and an improvised journey with one of the most iconic figures in popular music. In this episode, when Winter Comes and Mull of Kintar Well, Winter comes Ascuss one or two twouesday, and just a couple of years ago, after we’d already been having our conversations for some time Paul McCartney was preparing for a reissue of his nineteen ninety seven album Flaming Pie, his archivists had sent him some options for bonus extras, songs which would have been recorded at the time of the original album but had yet to be released. But they just sent me some tracks for consideration as bonus extras. And I’m listening to this one later. Gosh, I mean, it’s it’s good. I am actually thinking of releasing it. It’s sorry sort of hippie. Almost relates to living on the farm. When summer’s garden, We’re gonna fly away When Winter Camas was recorded in nineteen ninety two with George Martin at the mixing desk. It’s a sweet, simple song HARKing back to the time McCartney spent living on his farm in Scotland. Nestled in the heart of the Kintire Peninsula just thirty miles from the coast of Ireland is High Park Farm, the one hundred and eighty three acre property McCartney purchased in nineteen sixty six. I was greeted by our next door neighbor, Ian McDougall, who’s very old doll Scots carry spoke in Gallac and was very old farmer in a Really it’s a total stereotype, he admitted to me as he walked over the grounds that he had no knowledge of farming, although he wanted to keep it as a farm. I told him that it would be all right if he put a reliable man in, and he seemed to agree. He has seemed a very sensible sort of chap, he said, you’ll be the new layered what. I could never understand him, but I’ve worked out the system of hanging on to the last word in the sentence he said, queep, I go hi the sheep, I find hi the clipping iret. When McCartney bought the property, the old wooden farmhouse was falling apart, the fences crumbling. I will find it out this hastop, this place. I really didn’t like it. He had no idea that years later it would become a cherished setting for his life with Linda Eastman, or such a whale of inspiration for his songwriting Sweet Dude, Duggy Gay. We’re only really up there because of Linda’s love of it. And we went up to she said, oh, this is fantastic. I love it, so she made me love it through her eyes. I went, oh, well that is a fine mountain. Gosh, he’s covered in the health. That’s very beautiful, you know. And so we brought up the kids there Bury in the early nineteen seventies, with the help of Linda, McCartney came to see the lush rolling highlands as romantic and the dilapidated farm property as full of potential. After all, the thing beyond repair in his life at the time was not the Barns but the Beatles, who were mired in business disputes back down in London. I was getting called into meetings in London in our office in sabil Row. Well, you would have to sit there and listen to an accountant or the manager and talk about this boring or that even more boring. And it was nothing that we did. There’s nothing that we liked. We liked playing music, we like making music like and this was suddenly a deadly period we actually actually think about money and stuff that we’d not really given much thought to. So I was going under kind a bit depressed the whole thing, and suddenly Linda and I just said, don’t know, we just sort of said, well, let’s let’s go to Scotland well, literally taking ourselves out of the situation. So anyone needed me they had to ring me come into the meeting today. Sorry I call them in Scotland. And so that freedom was just it’s great away from the dreary business meetings and the crumbling band. Paul, Linda, their two children, and their English sheep dog Martha, started living a more simple pastoral life on the farm. They were inspired to eat more vegetarian food. Paul patched up the fences and planted trees which could grow even in the harshest of Scottish winters. It allowed me to be a man. If a picture needed hanging, I’m your boy. If somebody needed doing on the farm, I’ll do it. And so it was very nice. It was quite a difficult period because it was to do with the Beatles break up and everything. But it allowed me to see another side of myself because I’d grown up in Liverpool, not very much the handyman. I’d gone on the road with the Beatles round the world and round again, and now here I was just on a farm in the middle of nowhere. It was sensational in contrast to their busy life in London. The highlands permitted the McCartneys to live at a slower pace. There wasn’t a bath, for instance, in this little farmhouse, but there was a big steel tob that they cleaned the milking equipment. In bloody cold in the winter. We’d run in and we’d jump in this bath, which was not easy to get in, but we were young in Vieryle and we’d jump in this path and have this fantastic for a Japanese style bath. So those are the kind of things we’re doing that I’d never done ever in my life, and it was it was liberating. So I would fix fences, I would take a drain. I would keep some chickens. I would plant a vegetable garden. Must fix the fence by the acre plot. Two young foxes have been nosing around lambs, and the chickens will feel safe until it’s done. I musty a drain by the carrot patch. The whole clap spiles if it gets too down. And where will we be in an empty store when winter comes. I think a lot of young people dream about that today. Still I sense a lot of people want that freedom. Escaping the rat race. Escaping the rat race entailed a great deal of manual labor, but the McCartneys began to relish the simplicity of their life on the farm. I would get tradesmen from the village who would put the roof on and then then I painted. I talked to them about how you paint the roof. It’s all you needed under so I get the system. But we listened to tight up records the two volumes. So it was reggae and Freedom and you know, Linda cooking, planting a little vege garden. I was just pretty amazing. It was fuck us and it was just what the boy was wanting. Instead of wrangling crowds of Beatles fans, McCartney found himself wrangling sheep with the help of a shepherd, Duncan Kerns, who would look after the property when the family was away. I said, I learned to share the sheep with hand clippers. No one does. That’s hard to do. It is quite hard. I did about fourteen to twenty in a day, and Duncan would do like a hundred. Oh you know, just getting a sheep on its back is cool. And that ended up as a cover of ramp right, But that was real cheering time. And we did crazy things, like Linda to a portrait of every one of our flock. So we have this, let’s make it into something one day. It’s it’s huge, it’s just all all these different sheep. But we’re doing stuff like that, you know, because because we want to. It’s genuine, you know. This is how we were living when winter comes. Chronicles the mundane chores of farm life. Fixing the fence, digging a drain. These little actions express attention and care, both for the speaker’s family and for the natural world at large. So this is it’s someone like me upon a farm somewhere and he’s looking after things. So I must fix a fence by the acre plot. Two young foxes have been nosing around the lambs, and the chickens won’t feel safe until it’s done. I must dig a drain by the carrot patch. Whole crop spoils if it gets too damp, and where will we be with an empty store and winter comes? So these are things I learned. You’ve got to put a fence up or the fox will have your chickens. And you’ve got to dig a drain because patch gets too wet, nothing will grow there. So this was me remembering that when summers gone, we’re gotta fly away fine the sun when when it goes. I really like this song. I don’t want to diminish it by saying it’s a series of thumbnail sketches. That’s right. I think you’re right. I mean, I don’t think it diminishes it at all. I think it’s it’s memories of actual, actual things, and each one makes up a nice little scene. Fixing the fence for foxes that are are excellent, digging a trench a little at a planting trees. I must find the time to plant some trees in the manner where the river flows in time to come down, make good shade for some poor soul. In the meadow where the river flows in time to come they’ll make good shade for some poor soul. That was a sort of rather wistful image that I liked. I’d never planted trees before. In fact, after that, I was remembering that time and talking to my roady, my long time roady, and I sort of said about a tree. You know, I said, well, you know, you could buy a tree, and what you said, you can buy trees, And the concept of buying a tree was fabulous just to see his his mind be blown by the idea because he thought, no, trees are just trees and they just grow. And by this time in my life, when I’m writing this song, I knew that these little little one foot things I’d planted in Scotland, and I planted them very badly. I just lifted a sod stock him underneath it and plunked the sod back down. By now they were bloody thirty foot giants. I fell into the trap that most people fall into. If you’re going to buy a plant a tree, it’s gotta be a good six foot. But then you start talking to our boialists and you start talking to tree people and they will say it’s best to plant them little. But to me it was like, I’ll never see it grow, but of course you do. Do you still have the house in Scotland? Yeah? Oh you still have it? I do? Yeah, Robert Kara, Yeah. Mull of gins amstrong in from Percy b. Desizwais of Gains. As McCartney was renovating his Scottish property throughout the nineteen seventies, he was also renovating his songwriting, with Linda by his side, working with their band Wings. He often drew inspiration from the Highlands, as in Mull of Kintire, a surprise hit on the peak of the punk era. Mull of Kintar was one of the UK’s best selling singles of all time. Yeah, I was in Scotland a lot, and it just suddenly occurred to me that there were no new Scottish songs. There were, there were lots of great old songs that the bagpipe fans played, but there was nothing new. So I thought, that’s an opportunity to see if I fancy it or if I can, and then it would be ganonize because the new Scottish song would have been written by assassinak, I thought that that would be fun. So long story short, I had the local pipe major come up with his pipes to the house, to the house, which was a very little house, and he played and it was so loud that we I said, let’s go out into the garden, which again was a very little garden, and we just sort of he played, and I got some ideas. I got what chords would work with what he was playing, what key he was in, because they can’t change key. So yeah, so I made the song and enjoyed it, and they had a session up there and it was funny evening and they loved it. Oh it’s a number one here, you know. And the big memory for me that was so cool was talking about sophistication and this love of non sophistication was if you were in an orchestral session, the musicians will count one, two, three, two to three three to the count and the bars, but the Scottish pipelin doesn’t. It goes one two, three, four five six. Then they let twelve three four twenty. As I mentioned, mull offkin Tarm was released during the punk era, when a rising Scottish melody might have seemed an unlikely hit, a significant departure from the convention of the day. On the other hand, what is more punk than departing from convention. There’s this little story where Lindr and I were in traffic in London, in the West End somewhere, and there’s a big gang of punks look very aggressive, you know, the look was a grosser and they comes sort of stomping through in the sort of bobber boots and they come with the car and we’re kind of crouching a little bit trying to not get noticed, thinking Jesus, what they’re going to do. You know, they’re going to think we’re the enemy kind of thing. And then they noticed. One of them comes to the college. I wound down the window a little bit. He goes, I go pull pull that malarching Gard fucking right. Oh. Through these songs, Hyde Park took on a sort of mythic quality in the public imagination, but for the most part, the farm itself remained for the McCartneys alone, allowing them to get away from public life. Do people follow you there? Remote? Nobody. A couple of people did, and people would just shot out of the blue. They probably came to Campbelltown and asked, and someone would tell them up that road. But it was really hard. It wasn’t just easy yet to go up that road, of that road, then of that track, and then over that track. It was very remote. And then the photographer from Life magazine found us, and I think I threw a bucket of water on him, and then he said he was going to use that photo, so fuck. So I sort of followed him out in my land road and said, look, we’ll do a posed one. So we did a post one that got on the cover of Life. I think yes, but we loved it because we were totally making it up. And you think about it. We had a young baby, there were doctors in the town, so we were ten minutes from a doctor, but as far as we were concerning, we could be completely if we all and it was pretty cool. Well, Winter consiscuss We’ll wanta two. Paul McCartney reworked When Winter Comes in twenty twenty, twenty eight years after it was originally recorded. It was a time when most of the world was cut off from public life in a very different way at the beginning of the COVID nineteen pandemic, When his archivists brought him the song as a possible bonus extra for the reissue of Flaming Pie. The sentiment of the song reconnecting with the natural world hunkering down for a season of isolation resonated enough with McCartney that he decided to unabashedly release it on his next original solo album, To Staindos where Summer’s Gone. We’re gonna fly away and find the sun when winters are gone, and find the sun when winds are coune. When Winter Comes from McCartney three, released in twenty twenty and Mull of Kintyre, released in nineteen seventy eight. In the next episode, Under Milk would by Dylan Thomas. Behind the Shelter and the pul listening to the radio taught young McCartney the art of creating sound images. Penny Lean next time on McCartney A Life in Lyrics. McCartney A Life in Lyrics is a co production between iHeartMedia NPL and Pushkin Industries.