Interview for CNN • Tuesday, June 12, 2001

Paul McCartney Discusses 'Blackbird Singing'

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LARRY KING, HOST: What a pleasure to have as our special guest tonight on LARRY KING LIVE Sir Paul McCartney. If I have to tell you who he is, we all have a major problem. His new book is “Blackbird Singing”: The Poems and Lyrics From 1965 to 1999.

Why — why — you don’t normally do things like this, publish your own lyrics…


KING: … in a book.


KING: Are you a poet?

MCCARTNEY: Well, I mean, I tried when I was a kid to write some poetry, but got rejected from the school magazine, so I became a songwriter to get my own back. Did OK at that. 

KING: Not bad.

MCCARTNEY: And then what happened was a friend of mine died prematurely of Parkinson’s in his early 30s, and we were really close. He was the guy who introduced me to John Lennon, and he was such a sweet guy. And his passing made me want to write a poem rather than write a song. I don’t know why. And since then, I’ve sort of written poems.

KING: Are they — the great Alan Jay Lerner told me that songwriting is not poetry. It’s a different craft. Do you agree?

MCCARTNEY: Yeah. I do agree. Yeah, I was persuaded with this book to put lyrics in because the guy who was editing it said some of these lyrics are poems, kind of the other way around, and I met Allen Ginsberg, the great American poet …

KING: I know him well.

MCCARTNEY: Who he said — you know him? He said that Eleanor Rigby is a hell of a poem. So I thought, well, you know, he should know, so I was kind of persuaded to do it. But I do think they’re different personally, you know.

KING: He called lyric writing a kind of a special craft. 

MCCARTNEY: Well, if I’d be talking to Allen about poetry, he’d correct me when it was kind of a poem. Oh, I wouldn’t listen to him, of course, but he’d try and correct my poetry. But if it was a song, he’d say, I won’t try and touch that, and he wouldn’t dare get involved with the songs.

KING: What is it like to be a “Sir”? 

MCCARTNEY: It’s interesting. As my dad would have said, is that spelled cur?


KING: Do they dub you? Do they take a little sword and put it on you…

MCCARTNEY: Yeah, that’s probably the best thing.

KING: … and put it on your shoulder?

MCCARTNEY: You know what it is? It’s like winning a grade- school prize that you didn’t go in for, and they sort of suddenly say, he’s OK, they give you this prize. And you go to the palace, and Her Majesty, the Queen of England, you’ve got to kneel down on a little red stool for your knee, which is good because my knee was giving me a bit of jip (ph) that day. 


So I kneeled down, and she takes Edward the Confessor’s sword…

KING: Ah-hah.

MCCARTNEY: Come on, Larry. Voom-voom. I, you know, arise Sir Paul.

KING: I dub thee…


KING: … Sir Paul.


KING: And yet, though, when I said, “Do you want to be called Sir Paul?” you said no.

MCCARTNEY: Well, you know, I mean, I love the honor, but my worry about accepting it is that people would now think I changed, and I was like, whoa. The guys on my farm said, “What do we call you now?” You know, it was like “I insist you call me Sir, Lordship.”

KING: You are a Sir. Before we — before we went on, we were talking about growing up, and I was talking about growing up in Brooklyn and you in Liverpool. But you — you never forget where you’re from, right?

MCCARTNEY: I don’t. Some people do. 

KING: You carry Liverpool with you.

MCCARTNEY: Yeah, I love it. I go back quite frequently. I’ve got millions of family there. 

KING: Friends, too?

MCCARTNEY: Friends too, but a lot of family, which is breeding as we speak. 


I mean, they just keep on going. They just — and to them, I’m just our Paul. 

KING: Yeah, so you’re not Sir…


KING: … and you’re not the Beatles and you’re not the Wings. You’re…

MCCARTNEY: I have a hard time impressing them. I said…

KING: Is that good for you? 

MCCARTNEY: … look, well, I’m famous in the world. Yeah, I love it. Of course I do.

KING: What do you do when you’re this — do you pinch yourself saying how did all this happen to me? Do you…

MCCARTNEY: Of course, Larry.

KING: Do you accept it? I mean…


KING: There’s no one who doesn’t know you. So what’s life like? 

MCCARTNEY: Well, you know, it’s great. Life’s great because this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to achieve, like you. You know, you’re out of Brooklyn. You wanted to, you know, to get famous and make money and all that stuff everyone wants to do. So I did that. So I — I’m not ever going to try and say I didn’t — I don’t want to be here. 

But I think what I do — I don’t know if you do it — but I separate the famous me from like the private me. And I — which is fine. That works great, because it’s sort of he that goes on stage and gets knighted, and he’s great, you know. And then there’s me that was like 5 years old and I remember it. And that’s sort of the one I am. And the awkward thing is I go in Central Park and I’m being this one and they think I’m that one.

KING: Yeah, that’s the rub, right?

MCCARTNEY: That’s the rub. 

KING: And how do you deal with that?

MCCARTNEY: Not very well.


I don’t like it at all. I said, “Can’t you see I’m being this one?” “Go away!” and other words.

KING: So you’ve paid the price. It’s a price you pay for what you wanted.

MCCARTNEY: Yeah, it’s OK. It’s all right. It’s not too bad at all, you know. I’ve been a — I can think of worse things.

KING: Did you know early on when you were just the Beatles in little clubs you were good?


KING: What did you know?

MCCARTNEY: We were musical. John and I had a little thing that was a little spark of something. The other guys were great musicians. We were a great little unit. 

I think the thing that I always thought about us was that we were kind of a little bit more artsy than the others. So we — you know, John went to art school. I studied literature at school and got (UNINTELLIGIBLE) an A level — called an A level.

So I did Chaucer and Shakespeare. So a little bit slightly more artsy than the other guys in the other bands.

KING: So you knew we can do what we do well?

MCCARTNEY: Yeah, and I thought we had an edge in that artsyness, kind of like studenty and just a bit cool. So…

KING: It kind of worked out.


KING: We’ll be right back with Paulie. Is that OK? 

MCCARTNEY: Sure, Larry.

KING: Just a regular guy. Paulie from the neighborhood. Don’t go away.


KING: All right. There are many stories about why they broke up. Why did…

MCCARTNEY: The Beatles broke up?

KING: Yeah. Why did you break up? The essence.

MCCARTNEY: Essence — I think it was time. I always remember the old song “Wedding bells are breaking up that old gang of mine,” you know. The Army buddies, the band, and you’re going to grow up. You’re going to get married. You’re going to get girlfriends and have babies and things, and you don’t do that in a band.

So I kind of think we — if you look at it, we really came full circle and…

KING: Was it angry?

MCCARTNEY: Yeah, it got a bit bitter towards the end. We had a sort of strange manager guy who came in from New York and that got bitter. It got a bit of a feud thing going. So we started bitching at each other. 

KING: Did you…

MCCARTNEY: And it was time.

KING: Did you record after you knew it was going to end? In other words, was there anything…


KING: … done after you knew this is it?

MCCARTNEY: Yeah. There was a little bit of stuff. Yeah, which wasn’t bad stuff.


MCCARTNEY: Still good stuff, because we were still good musically, you know, we just may be a little tense as friends now. 

KING: That had to be hard, though, to go on stage together or no?

MCCARTNEY: Not on stage, recording. We weren’t on stage by that time. 

KING: When you got enormous, what was that like? I mean, to come to New York…

MCCARTNEY: It was fantastic.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) MCCARTNEY: It was fantastic. Yeah, it was really cool.

KING: What did you make of it though?

MCCARTNEY: Well, I mean we were kids who had looked at America as, you know, they’re a great country, like a lot of the world does, you know, and you’re British kids. Elvis Presley, you know, was from here or Motown, all the black artists that we loved from here. 

So — and we don’t have R&B radio stations like in England. You know, it’s sort of “Good morning, and this is Elvis Presley singing his new, new song.” But here, it’s like “Yeah, (UNINTELLIGIBLE),” you know? And we just loved the radio stations. And it was just fantastic. 

We arrived. We were in America. We were huge. I think we made a really cool move that — I think George Harrison doesn’t remember that we did it, but I remember some time saying to Brian Epstein, our manager, we mustn’t go to America until we’ve got a No. 1 record. 

A lot of British acts came here, and we’re like second on the bill to people like Fabian. And in England, they were like No. 1, and people were going, that’s not too cool. Second on the bill to Elvis maybe, but not Fabian or…

KING: So what was the song that brought to you here?

MCCARTNEY: “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”

KING: It was No. 1 and you came.

MCCARTNEY: No. 1, so we came. So the press said, “Hey, Beatles, (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?” We said we’re No. 1 man and there’s no answering that, you know. 

KING: You mentioned Presley. What was that meeting like?

MCCARTNEY: It was great. I loved it. The thing is…

KING: You met the guy.

MCCARTNEY: … it was so long ago — yeah, we met with him in Los Angeles.

KING: I hear not much was said initially.


KING: True?

MCCARTNEY: My memory was that it was really quite straightforward, that we loved him. We were a little in awe of him.

KING: Really?

MCCARTNEY: Yeah. Well, he was — he was the man, you know. We’d grown up with him. We were just kids. We were just a little bit younger, and we were in awe. But the funny thing is when we got together — me, George and Ringo — for the Beatles anthology, got together to discuss it all, we all had completely different memories. 

I said…

KING: Of that meeting?

MCCARTNEY: Of the meeting. Yeah, which is terrible. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) time…

KING: I heard someone say that you — he was hesitant and then they talked about guitars. 

MCCARTNEY: Yeah, bass — (UNINTELLIGIBLE) John Lennon bass guitar, and me being the base player, I thought this is cool. Let me show you a couple of licks, Elvis.

KING: Hey, Elvis.

MCCARTNEY: No, I said he came and met us at the door, and Ringo sort of said, no, he never stood up all evening. So it was — you know, who’s telling the truth. I am. But…


But I remember him having the first remote control for a TV we’d ever seen. You know…


KING: Really?


KING: That’s a great story.

MCCARTNEY: And he’s just kind of click. (UNINTELLIGIBLE), oh, it’s changing. It seems like ancient history now, but it was very modern then.

KING: So Paul McCartney’s our guest. We’ll be right back.


KING: Later, we’ll do some reading from the book, “Blackbird Singing,” “The John Lennon Death.” Where were you?

MCCARTNEY: I was in England. It was early morning when I heard.

KING: Who told you?

MCCARTNEY: My manager rang me and Linda had just gone to drop the kids at school. It was that kind of time in the morning. So my manager just rang me, and that’s where I was.

KING: And he said right out?

MCCARTNEY: Yeah. He said, “You better sit down, I have some really bad news.” And then Linda came back, and she said, “What’s wrong,” because she could just see I had just gone pale. Yeah, that was — that was some shock.

KING: You had a strange — was strange a good word to describe the relationship you and John, up and down…

MCCARTNEY: Not really, no. Toward the end, when we had these business troubles, it got strange, but it wasn’t strange otherwise. It was very close.

KING: Because you wrote some of the songs. He wrote some of the songs. Right?


KING: You were the writers, the two of you.

MCCARTNEY: The two of us were the main writers. George wrote “Something in the Way She Moves” and…

KING: Not bad.

MCCARTNEY: … “Here goes” — “Here Comes the Sun.” “Something in the Way She Moves” is a Harrison song. Frank Sinatra used to call it his favorite Lennon-McCartney.

KING: He said it right here on this show.


KING: I said not Lennon-McCartney. One of his favorite all-time songs anywhere, “Something in the Way She Moves.”

MCCARTNEY: Yeah. It’s a great song. He’s a great writer. Yeah, but John and I were the main writers.

KING: Do you ever think that he got more credit than you?

MCCARTNEY: No. I — what’s happened since he died is that…

KING: There’s a martyrdom.

KING: … certain — certain people — there’s a martyrdom that I had an interview on the day he died. He said, “The one last thing I want to ever be is a martyr.” Of course, that is what happened.

KING: He died young.

MCCARTNEY: You can’t blame people. You know, there’s a lot of sympathy. It was such a shocking way to go that you want to try and give him everything. But the trouble is there was a little bit of revisionism, where certain people were saying, “Well, Paul, the only thing Paul ever did was” — “The only thing Paul ever did was book the studio.” That kind of thing gets a little bit (UNINTELLIGIBLE)…

KING: That would bug me, because you wrote how many of these?

MCCARTNEY: A bunch of stuff.

KING: Most — a lot of the hits you wrote.

MCCARTNEY: I wrote a bunch of them, yeah. 

KING: So when…

MCCARTNEY: So, you know, John and I wrote a lot together and then we wrote a lot separately. And of the ones I wrote, there’s quite a few of them well-known.

KING: You and Yoko get along?

MCCARTNEY: We don’t not get along. But you know, it’s like some people you may be destined to not become great buddies with. So it’s not that we don’t get along, just we don’t talk much. You know, we talk if we have to. 

KING: So it’s not…

MCCARTNEY: I don’t kind of ring up, “Hey, Yoko, what’s happening, babe?” We don’t do that.

KING: How about Ringo?

MCCARTNEY: Yeah, I love him. He’s my dear friend. I spoke to him, and George. We’re great buddies. We always will be.

KING: How’s George doing with the cancer?

MCCARTNEY: He’s good. He’s excellent.

KING: He did surgery, right?

MCCARTNEY: Yeah. So I understand. I don’t know really much about it. I just know he’s (UNINTELLIGIBLE) well and he had some surgery. But…

KING: Do you talk frequently?

MCCARTNEY: Yeah, I saw him a couple of weeks ago.

KING: You don’t ask about the cancer or anything?

MCCARTNEY: Well, I do, but I let him tell me and then I don’t tell people on nationwide television in case he wants to keep it private.

KING: Is he OK, though?

MCCARTNEY: Yeah. He’s great. He’s gorgeous, yeah.

KING: Did you ever think of doing something, the three of you?

MCCARTNEY: We did the Beatles anthology to kind of wrap it all up.

KING: That makes sense.

MCCARTNEY: Yeah, people would say, “Are you going to reunion?” and do stuff like that. But I certainly — for me, if we were on stage, the three of us, there’d be someone missing. I’d look over there and there’d be someone missing, and that’d be John.

KING: The great…

MCCARTNEY: So I wouldn’t want to do it for that reason.

MCCARTNEY: The great Arthur Fiedler told me once that what you — you broke rules, The Beatles, harmonically, you broke rules with regard to the way you wrote, chord rules you broke, and that you lived for that, and the true music impresario would know that. Were you always musically aware? In other words, are you first a musician?

MCCARTNEY: Yeah, absolutely. My dad was an amateur musician who played piano and trumpet until his teeth gave out. So he was like really good. He played by ear, and he was great. He wrote some stuff. He wrote a little song. I always remember to my childhood this tune: da-da-da-da-dah-da-dah, doo-deedly-bah. You know, real ’20s stuff. He was in a little band called…

KING: You are first a musician?

MCCARTNEY: Yeah, definitely. 

KING: Are you a good guitarist?

MCCARTNEY: I’m great, Larry.

KING: Great guitarist.


KING: I mean, how do you measure yourself?

MCCARTNEY: I’m good, yeah. I’m good.

KING: Because some people say…

MCCARTNEY: I’m modest, too. You know…

KING: That’s Liverpool.

MCCARTNEY: Hey, come on.

KING: We’ll be right back with Paul McCartney. Speaking of that, he wrote a poem dealing with John Lennon’s death. We’re going to do it for you right after this.




KING: We’re back with Paul McCartney. The book is “Blackbird Singing.” We’ve discussed the death of John Lennon. Tell me about this lyric.

MCCARTNEY: This is called “Here Today,” and it was a song I wrote after John died. I was just thinking about him and remembrance of the good times and not so good times. And I was just having an imaginary conversation with him, and so it’s…

KING: Did you record it?

MCCARTNEY: Here you go. Yeah, it’s on my new record. It’s called “Here Today.” It says: “And if I said I really knew you well, what would your answer be if you were here today? Well, knowing you, you’d probably laugh and say that we were worlds apart if you were here today. But as for me, I still remember how it was before, and I’m holding back the tears no more. I love you. What about the time we met? Well, I suppose you could say that we were playing hard to get. Didn’t understand a thing, but we could always sing. What about the night we cried because there wasn’t any reason left to keep it all inside? Never understood a word, but you were always there with a smile. And if I say, ‘I really loved you and was glad you came along,’ then you are here today, for you are in my song.”

KING: Did that go through rewrites?


KING: That came right out?

MCCARTNEY: That was — that just spilled out, yeah.

KING: How long did it take you to write that?

MCCARTNEY: Half an hour, something like that. If you’re really lucky, they just arrive and you kind of just write them down.

KING: By the way, with The Beatles, did usually the music come first then the lyric or the lyric then the music or all together?

MCCARTNEY: All together. All together, yeah. That’s — I only once or twice wrote words and then put a tune to it. That hardly ever happened.

KING: Usually it’s music, right?

MCCARTNEY: Music, yeah. You normally start with a kind of a guitar or something, like dum-dum-dum-dum-dum-dum. Then you go, lub- dee-bah-bah, doe-bee-do-dah-be-doo-dah-doo-be-dah. And you’re this and you kind of go, doe-be-doo-dah-bah. “Picks up the rice in the church.” What am I saying? “Picks up the rice.” Oh, well, well, that’s an old lady.

KING: How did you come up with that name, “Eleanor Rigby”?

MCCARTNEY: I had a friend. We had an actress friend that we worked with in the film “Help,” who was called Eleanor Bron. So I liked the name Eleanor. I was looking for a real second name. Eleanor Williams is OK. Eleanor Hargrey — it had to be two syllables. And I was walking around in Bristol and saw a shop, Rigby. I thought: “You know, that’s kind of a nice name. It’s ordinary, but it’s special.”

KING: Now, we had “Jerk of All Jerks.” This is the poem. Explain how you came up with this.

MCCARTNEY: Well, you know, what happened was — where are we? There. What happened was on the day that John got shot I think like everyone in the world there was this horror that someone we loved could just be mown down. It was like the Kennedy thing, you know, for a lot of people. They all remembered where they were. 

KING: How could one little person do this?

MCCARTNEY: You know, how could this happen? And obviously for me it was just horrifying that that was it. No more John. You know, oh, my God. I wanted to say this to him. I want to ring him. You know, you get that, I think, when you lose very special people. And at the end of the day, after all the tears and all the newscasts and all the pundits, who said, “John Lennon was” — and I’d really said nothing. I couldn’t really say anything. I just spurted out a phrase that was meaningless. The phrase that came to me was “jerk of all jerks.” I just kept thinking the guy who did this is the jerk of all jerks. So I ended up writing a poem about it.

KING: Do a little.

MCCARTNEY: Do you want to do a bit? “Jerk of all Jerks.” “I’m a motorist that quite likes to drive when he drinks, who causes the loss of innocent lives. I’m the guy with the pistol who kills your best friend. You can’t really blame me because I’m round the bend. Hello. How are you? I’m jerk of all jerks. I’m here to undo all your charitable works. I do it quite simply by making mistakes, and one little boo-boo is all that it takes, and you’re at the mercy of jerk of all jerks.”

KING: “I’m the man that disposes of nuclear waste. There’s no need to worry, it’s perfectly safe. In fact, there is now every reason to hope that if anything happens I’ll easily cope. Hello. How are you? I’m jerk of all jerks. I’m the leader who says as he wages his war that the children are not ones that he’s aiming for. Hello. How are you? I’m the jerk of all jerks.”

MCCARTNEY: You know him, don’t you?

KING: Yeah.

MCCARTNEY: You know this guy? KING: Yeah. They executed him yesterday.

MCCARTNEY: There you go.

KING: On Monday. Yeah, yesterday morning, I guess. 

Boy, it — whew. Now…


KING: … poem is — there’s no spare word in a poem, right?.

MCCARTNEY: Hopefully.

KING: The truth of a poem is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) there’s no word that’s wasted. 

MCCARTNEY: Hopefully. Yeah.

KING: Do you enjoy writing as much as you do performing?

MCCARTNEY: Yeah. I think so. Yeah. Two completely different things. Writing, you know, is a cerebral thing. You’re really trying to be economical. You’re trying to get it right. Performing, you’re reaching out to people. You’ve got to look at them and relate to them. I think writing’s more a solitary thing.

KING: Performing brings, though, applause.

MCCARTNEY: Hopefully.

KING: And that’s a kind of love thing, isn’t it?


KING: We love you.


KING: When they applaud.


KING: And you can’t get that anywhere else but on the stage.

MCCARTNEY: Oh, yes, you can, Larry. 

KING: Ah, yes.

MCCARTNEY: You can get…

KING: I love you.

MCCARTNEY: … other places.

KING: We’ll get to that with Sir Paul right after this. Don’t go away.


KING: We’re back with Sir Paul McCartney. The occasion is the publication of “Blackbirds Singing.” And later, an extra added attraction. 

We asked our Internet people to ask questions of Paul McCartney. We’ve picked a few out that — we received thousands. And a lot dealt with Linda, and the question they asked was what was the most important thing you’d like people to know about your late wife.

MCCARTNEY: About Linda? I think they probably would know it anyway: that she was a beautiful, kind woman.

KING: We all knew that from just looking at her.


KING: Listening to her.

MCCARTNEY: Well, I’d like people to remember that, you know…

KING: How do you deal with loss?

MCCARTNEY: I’m taking a picture of you on my camera watch here, Larry. Just a little…

KING: You what?

MCCARTNEY: … just a little modern gimmick I’ve got going here.

KING: That’s a camera watch?

MCCARTNEY: That’s a camera watch — I just took a picture of you. You see that?

KING: Look, he played it. Now, you see this? Can we get a close-up?

KING: There it is.

MCCARTNEY: There it is. Look at that. LARRY KING LIVE.

KING: A camera watch.

MCCARTNEY: Yes, sir. I was doing an interview with some guy and he was playing around with it. And I said, “What is that?” “It’s a camera watch.” I said, “Get me one.” And he did. He knew the people. And so…

KING: And then you can print them out.

MCCARTNEY: And so, sorry. What was your question? I was fooling around here.

KING: Linda. Dealing with loss.

MCCARTNEY: How do you deal with loss?

KING: I mean, this was a someone you were with for how many years? 30 years?

MCCARTNEY: I cried — I — 30 years. I cried a lot.

KING: You knew it was coming.

MCCARTNEY: Yeah, yeah. We knew it was coming, but you — we tried to pretend we didn’t know it was coming. The last couple of weeks, I knew it was coming. I don’t know. It’s just impossible to talk about it.

KING: I don’t want to dwell on it. Do you get angry?

MCCARTNEY: No. No, not really angry. No. I cried a lot. That was the truth of the matter. I just thought — some friends of mine, particularly some of the doctors who were kind of advising, said: “Throw yourself into work. Get busy. Do stuff, do stuff.” And I just couldn’t. So I just thought, “That doesn’t sound right to me.” So I didn’t do anything. I just let it all happen. 

So sometimes I’d be sitting around people and just burst out crying. And instead of doing the manly thing and saying, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t do it.” I would just go, “Oohhh,” and just cried a lot.

KING: In a business where women are at your fingertips, I mean, rock stars — and who’s bigger than the Beatles? — how did your relationship last so long?

MCCARTNEY: We loved each other. Quite simple. I think what the other thing was we’d both sown our wild oats before we got together. So I’d known a lot of girls, she’d known a lot of guys, and I think we were kind of fed up with playing the field by the time we got together. And we loved each other. So we were able to say: “You know what? Let’s knock that stuff on the head and let’s get it on.”

KING: Do you — did you get mad at cancer?


KING: Some people…

MCCARTNEY: Yeah. I still — I still do, you know.


MCCARTNEY: I still do. I think, you know, it’s a terrible thing that — I remember when I was at school, which is, you know, 30 years ago — well, it’s more than 30 years ago — being asked to give a donation for cancer. And here we are. And it still isn’t cured. I think we were looking at it getting cured and all that. And so, it’s scary that it isn’t cured and that — but I don’t know. You just have to hope for the best and hope that it will soon get cured. Get cured with the sort of genetic thing. I don’t know. I mean…

KING: You sort of keep her memory alive, though, don’t you?


KING: I mean, you work at it?

MCCARTNEY: Well, you know, I don’t really have to. She’s all around me, you know. And everybody I know knows her and remembers her. And so I talk a lot about her. She’s in the book. There are poems to her in the book and things, you know.

KING: At the end of the program, we’re going to meet your girlfriend…


KING: … I guess, right? Has she handled this well? Knowing of your feelings for…

MCCARTNEY: Yeah. I think she’s handled it particularly well, because it — it’s, obviously, not easy. 

KING: Obviously.

MCCARTNEY: … when someone’s loved someone for 30 years. I think it’s different if it was a divorce, because you can say: “Ah, the old bird, you know, get rid of her. Come on honey.” But why am I talking American? I don’t know. 


MCCARTNEY: Because I’m on your…

KING: How did Wings get together?

MCCARTNEY: After the Beatles, I had to decide whether I was going to give up the music business, whether I was going to continue with music. And it was an easy decision. I decided I couldn’t. 

So I just was talking to Linda, and I said, you know, “How would you feel if we got a band together and would you be in it with me, because I like need a friend?” She said, “Well, I don’t know how to do anything.” I said, “Yeah, but bands don’t when they start off.” Forgetting the…


MCCARTNEY: Yes. You know, nobody knows how to do it. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, nobody knew how to do it. It’s a couple of guys and three chords. But forgetting that you have a lot of time to make your mistakes in private when you’re a young band, because now I would make these mistakes in public. But we had a lot of fun.

KING: But Wings was not like an ordinary start-up group. I mean… MCCARTNEY: No.

KING: … they got paid attention to.

MCCARTNEY: Well, we got — exactly, yeah. So we got a lot of criticism for any mistakes we made. But we had a lot of fun. We went right back to roots and just did it all again and enjoyed it.

KING: Back with more of Sir Paul McCartney right after this.


KING: By the way, there’s a new two-disk compilation titled “Wingspan.” It comes out next week. Capital Records will announce the album has done double — has gone double platinum in the United States. And a recent “People” magazine says that “Wings brought us the purest pop of pops, purest decade, that brief period after music stopped selling revolution and before it began selling navel rings.” So you’ve — what are you doing now? Do you sing?

MCCARTNEY: I sing. I’m here in Los Angeles to make — to finish up a new record. 

KING: As just Sir Paul McCartney or as a group?

MCCARTNEY: Or as just Sir Paul McCartney, yeah. It’s just — yeah — it’s not a group. It’s just — well, I work with a group, but it goes out under my name.

KING: CD or a single song?

MCCARTNEY: CD. Yeah. CD. New album. 

KING: You wrote them?


KING: Do you ever sing anybody else’s material?

MCCARTNEY: Not on record. Off the record I do.

KING: In concert you will.

MCCARTNEY: I don’t think I do, actually. No, I think it’s nearly always my stuff.

KING: Another Internet…

MCCARTNEY: Sometimes some old rock’n’roll.

KING: Another Internet question. What one song you’ve written has the most personal meaning for you?

MCCARTNEY: There are a few. It’s always difficult to choose one. You know, so “My Love” — “My Love,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” very special, because I wrote them for Linda. So they will always have a special meaning. “Here Today,” because I wrote that for John. 

I think those kinds of songs. There’s a more recent one called “Little Willow” that I wrote. I think songs like that, they — it doesn’t mean they’re any better, but they have more meaning because I wrote them for a reason.

KING: What was the biggest McCartney written hit?

MCCARTNEY: “Yesterday.”

KING: An amazing song. 


KING: Where did that come from?

MCCARTNEY: It came in a dream unto me. I woke up one morning and I had been doing…

KING: And the music too.

MCCARTNEY: Yes, only the music. So I thought, that’s a good tune. I wonder what that is. Da-da-da-da, yes. And I had a piano by my bed, like you do.

KING: Oh, every…

MCCARTNEY: And — most people. And I was sitting at my piano. Anyway, so I said, what is this tune? I blocked it out. Then I went to all my friends, John first, George Martin, our producer. I said, what is this tune, dah-da-dah, dah-da-dah? They said, don’t know, but it’s good. I couldn’t believe I had written it.

KING: What does it mean, like you thought you heard it somewhere?

MCCARTNEY: Yes, I thought I’d heard it. I — it was so complete. And I used to, because I didn’t have any words, I used to sing “Scrambled Eggs.” “Oh, my baby, how I love your legs.” But I thought that cannot stay. We’ve got to look for other lyrics. So over the next couple of weeks I got the real words.

KING: Did “Yesterday” just drop back to you like that?

MCCARTNEY: Yes, yes. The words took a little longer, but the tune itself came just complete. Came just out of a dream. So you’ve got to believe in magic.

KING: Yes.

MCCARTNEY: And the thing about songwriting, it’s quite a mystical thing, how people do it, you know. It sort of just comes to you if you’re lucky.

KING: Ella Gardner told me that “Misty,” he thought someone had written it because he couldn’t read any music, and it was going through his head.

MCCARTNEY: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I can’t read or write music, either.

KING: You can’t read or write music.


KING: So when you think of something, someone has to write it down.

MCCARTNEY: Or I’ve got to remember it. Me and John always used to say, because we — when we first started, it was before anything like tape cassettes, which we later used to just immediately put it down. So OK, we remember it. And we said, “What if we forget it?” We used to say, “Well, you know what, if we forget it, it can’t be much good.”


“How are we going to expect them to remember it if we just wrote it and we forgot it?”

KING: We’ll be right back with Paul McCartney. Don’t go away.



KING: When, Paul, you make it and have it all, what — you’re going to be 59 years old, right? What goals do you now have? I mean, it can’t be financial.


KING: It can’t be. Are there artistic goals left?


KING: Like what?

MCCARTNEY: Well, you know, I’m still looking to write a great song. You always are. You know, you never think, well, that’s enough or that’s good enough.

KING: Sure. Irving Berlin was writing into his 90s.

MCCARTNEY: Exactly. Yes, I mean, how cool was that? And hey, he was — so I would always hope to be able to just write a better song. You know? I’m always looking to do that. But I like a lot of things. I like poetry. I paint. There’s a lot of stuff I do.

KING: Where do you live?

MCCARTNEY: I live in England, two hours south of London.

KING: Do you have high security? MCCARTNEY: Yes.

KING: Based on what happened to John.


KING: What happened to George.


KING: You must worry?

MCCARTNEY: Yes. Well, I don’t worry, you know, because…

KING: You don’t.

MCCARTNEY: No, because the moment the man upstairs wants me I’m his. You know, it’s…

KING: You believe that?

MCCARTNEY: Yes. I know that.

KING: You know that.

MCCARTNEY: Well, I know that at some point I’m going to die, and that’s it, so I don’t worry about it.

KING: But you do have security. I mean…

MCCARTNEY: I try and avoid it, by the way. 


I’m not, you know, I’m not…

KING: Good thinking. But I mean, do you think Linda is somewhere?


KING: Do you feel that…


KING: … that sensitive, that…

MCCARTNEY: Yes, she’s here. Sort of. In a kind of dimensional thing. I don’t know. I don’t — I don’t have any sort of very strong religious beliefs. But I have kind of — I have spiritual feelings about that kind of thing.

KING: What American artists flip you?

MCCARTNEY: Elvis Presley, the king.

KING: The first, right.

MCCARTNEY: Absolutely, yes. Greatest.

KING: Who else out of that rock…

MCCARTNEY: Little Richard, who always says, you know, on TV, “Paul” — you know, he said: “You know, I taught you everything that you know.” I say, “That’s right, Richard, it’s true.” 

Little Richard is fantastic, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent, all of them. And then the next wave was Motown, Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson and all the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of Motown.

KING: What do you like now?

MCCARTNEY: What do I like now? Nat King Cole. I’m going backwards, Larry.

KING: There’s not…

MCCARTNEY: The very thought of you…

KING: Now, he had a voice like no voice.

MCCARTNEY: Really cool.

KING: His daughter ain’t bad either.

MCCARTNEY: I love him. Yes. And I talked to her about it. I told her it’s about my favorite song, me and Heather’s favorite song is…

KING: “Unforgettable”?

MCCARTNEY: No, “The Very Thought of You.”

KING: Oh. And that…

MCCARTNEY: You know that one?


KING: … “the little ordinary things that everyone ought to do.”

MCCARTNEY: Well, exactly.

KING: “I see your face in every flower.”


KING: I know songs.

MCCARTNEY: You do know that one.

KING: Did you like Sinatra? MCCARTNEY: That’s a great song. Written by an Englishman that, too. 

Yes, I did like Sinatra a lot. I didn’t appreciate him when I was younger. I love him now. I think it’s a sort of romance thing, too. That kind of stuff is really romantic music.

KING: Do you like rap?

MCCARTNEY: I like it. I don’t really listen to a lot of it. I like some of the Eminem stuff because it’s kind of clever. I like the rhythm, I like the attitude, and I can imagine if I was a young kid now, I’d like that.

KING: Did you ever hear a song where you say, I wish I wrote that?

MCCARTNEY: One or two, yes.

KING: One or two.

MCCARTNEY: One or two.

KING: Like “The Very Thought of You.”

MCCARTNEY: “The Very Thought of You” would’ve been good to have written, yes.

KING: When we come back, we’ll be joined by Heather Mills. And stay tuned for that, because I think this is going to be a really interesting piece as we wind things up with Sir Paul. Heather will join us. Don’t go away.


KING: Welcome back. We want to thank AOL and for those Internet questions that we gave to Sir Paul earlier. And we are now joined by Heather Mills, the good will ambassador to get rid of land mines, right?


KING: And an activist for the rights of the handicapped as well, a former model. How did you two meet?

MILLS: He heard me speak. I was giving an award to a woman that lost her arms and her legs, who’s a pianist studying biology and got up and got on with her life. And he was very moved by it. But we didn’t speak then.

KING: Why were you there?

MCCARTNEY: I was in the awards ceremony. I was giving an award, too, and Heather was doing her speech.

KING: What did you think when you saw her? MCCARTNEY: I thought, wow, she looks good. It was a — it was a looks thing at first.

KING: How, then, did you get — meet her?

MCCARTNEY: And then I heard her speak, and I thought it’d be good to talk to this woman. So we talked about her charity. We had a couple of meetings, which were all very serious and proper. And then, in the end…

KING: Then what?

MCCARTNEY: Well, in the end, then I sort of — we talked and we went out to dinner.

KING: And?

MILLS: And we went out to dinner. I’m here to talk about “Adopt a Mine Field”…


MILLS: … and plug land mines and talk about…


MILLS: … the work that I do. No, not our love life.

KING: Why did you get so interested in this?

MILLS: I went to live in the former Yugoslavia as a ski instructor in Slovenia before the war in ’91. I became a ski instructor. The war broke out. Twenty-six of my ski instructor friends had to get out of the country because their parents didn’t want them to stay together. Serb, Croat and Slovenian — they were madly in love with each other. 

So I set up a refugee crisis center back in England, and one of them was killed by a grenade. So I went back as the war progressed into Croatia and worked on the front lines for two years.

KING: A grenade they stepped on?

MILLS: Yeah. No, a grenade that was thrown in to a cafe. And then, I worked on the front lines for a few years, then came back to England for a break. And that’s when I had my accident and lost my leg and got more involved in disability.

KING: You lost the leg how?

MILLS: Crossing the street. A police motorcycle was speeding, chopped it off, crushed my pelvis, punctured my lung.

KING: From where down?

MILLS: Below the knee, luckily. So, that was good. But… KING: But you don’t limp.

MILLS: No. I can ski…

MCCARTNEY: She skies.

MILLS: … run, rollerblade.

MCCARTNEY: She skies. We went skiing, and I said, “What kind of speed do you do?” She said, “Ninety-three kilometers an hour.”

KING: Wow.

MCCARTNEY: I said, “Well, you better go ahead.”

KING: Those artificial things work then?

MCCARTNEY: She’s tough.

MILLS: Yeah. I worked and developed them because the whole system in Britain was: “You can’t ski. You can’t do this. You can’t do that. You’re disabled, you know. You must never do that.” And that, “You must realize that, you know, disabled people don’t do all those positive things, and I think it hasn’t sunk in psychologically.” And I looked at this woman. She kept going on for days and days and days. And she said, “You do realize you won’t be as attractive to men as you were before.” And I looked at this woman, who was about 2 foot tall and 10 foot wide, and I said, “I think if I lost my arms and my legs, darling, I’d still be more attractive than you.” So she sort of chucked her textbook down and stormed out of the hospital. 

And that’s what made me realize you’ve got to change people’s attitude about disability. You know, the people that look at people with disabilities to have disadvantages.


MILLS: Yeah.

KING: Did you know Princess Di?

MILLS: I’ve got no comment on that. I knew her as everybody else did.

KING: Because she was very involved in this movement…

MILLS: Yeah, she was fantastic.

KING: As is Queen Noor.

MILLS: Yeah. Queen Noor’s absolutely brilliant. In fact, she was at the luncheon where we were…

KING: Do we know how many land mines there still are in the world?

MILLS: Hundreds of millions. And…

KING: Hundreds of millions?

MILLS: And until you actually get them out of the ground, you don’t know exactly. I mean, there’s 1 million in Croatia at the moment, but their tourism’s (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to go there, so don’t anybody put them off: their only income at the moment.

KING: Paul, had you ever thought of this topic before meeting Heather?

MCCARTNEY: I’d thought of it, like most people, when Princess Diana talked about it. And you know, we all thought, “Wow, you know, that’s interesting and we should do something about it.” But I never really got into it until Heather. 

But as she says, you know, there’s so many of these things. El Alamein from World War II is…

KING: I remember it well.

MCCARTNEY: Remember that. That’s not cleared yet. So you know, there’s a lot of clearance to be done.

KING: El Alamein still has mines?

MCCARTNEY: Still got mines, Larry. Yeah. 

KING: That was 60 years ago.

MILLS: Yeah.

MCCARTNEY: Yeah. Exactly.

MILLS: But the main thing is now is to clear the mine fields and help the survivor assistance. I collected 27,000 secondhand limbs from Britain, which is not what I do now, if kids are going to start sending in their arms and legs to my house again, and now get people to become self-sufficient.

KING: Is any state against this? Any country not for this?

MCCARTNEY: Well, the…

MILLS: 140 countries haven’t signed up.


KING: And their reason is what?

MILLS: They’re saying that they need to use anti-personnel mines to protect their countries, and they don’t basically. And the U.S. is the worst at the moment for it, because…

MCCARTNEY: U.S. hasn’t signed.

MILLS: They still haven’t signed.

KING: Have we asked Colin Powell?

MCCARTNEY: Yeah, we went to ask him.

MILLS: And the excuse is always, “The 38th parallel, we need to use mines along that.”

MCCARTNEY: North Korea.

MILLS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to protect ourselves. So…

KING: That’s a shame.

MILLS: It’s very difficult.

MCCARTNEY: Well, we’re pushing it. You know, and we believe that if you go on shows like this, people start to sort — what I would say to people is that land mines are a cowardly weapon because you leave the war behind you. All the soldiers go home, but you leave the war behind for the civilians, mainly women and children.

KING: Now on June 14, you’re going to have a gala fund-raiser here in Los Angeles. You’re going to honor a land mine survivor, right?

MILLS: Yeah.

KING: And you’re going to sing.

MCCARTNEY: I’m going to sing a bit with young Paul Simon. Yeah.

KING: Really?


MILLS: And, there’s still tickets. We’ve held some back. So if anyone taps into, they can still get tickets.


MILLS: Yeah.


KING: I understand you’re going to sing a different kind of song.

MCCARTNEY: I’m going to sing a couple of songs. Yeah. I’m not exactly sure what yet.

MILLS: It’s a surprise.

MCCARTNEY: But I’m going to…

KING: There will be a surprise? MCCARTNEY: I’m going to have fun.

MCCARTNEY: Yeah, there will be a surprise or two?

KING: Have you every sung with Paul Simon?

MCCARTNEY: I haven’t, no. It’s not a double bill: It’s a double Paul.

KING: Paul and Paul.


KING: Well, how do you — are you more activist than anything else? I mean, it seems…

MILLS: I’ve seen — I mean, I’m — everyone sort of calls me Heather Mills the model, because I modeled for a number of years, but I always had a lot of businesses. But I’ve been involved for 10 years now in the land mine — with the land mine problem. 

But my main thing is fitting up people, amputees with limbs. I’ve got a clinic in Sierra Leone. I’ve just got back from India fitting up all of the earthquake victims over there. And my main thing is to train people that they can fit them up with limbs without spending thousands of dollars. They can fit up a limb in India for $40.

KING: They really can?

MILLS: That can make — that can make a child…

KING: A limb that works?

MILLS: Yeah. And a 100 percent of the money from “Adopt a Mine Field,” which is this charity, goes to land mine clearance and survivor assistance.

KING: That’s The book from Paul McCartney “Poems and Lyrics: Blackbird Singing.” Heather Mills and Sir — do you call him Sir Paul?


MCCARTNEY: No. Are you kidding?

KING: Thank you, Heather.

MILLS: Nice to meet you.

KING: Nice to meet you. What can I say?

MCCARTNEY: Hey, Larry.

KING: Hey. Hey.

MCCARTNEY: Rock’n’roll.

KING: Who loves you, baby? Liverpool and Brooklyn — not far apart.

MCCARTNEY: No, it’s…

KING: So, Paul McCartney. We hope you enjoy this. 

Tomorrow night, the man with the crocodiles. It’s — it’ll be a lot of fun. Steve Irwin. And stay tuned for “CNN TONIGHT.”

For Paul McCartney, Heather Mills, yours truly, Larry King, thanks for joining us. Good night. 

Good night, Eleanor Rigby, wherever you are.



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