Interview for International Musician And Recording World • Thursday, September 1, 1983

Paul McCartney - Exclusive interview

Interview of Paul McCartney
Published by:
International Musician And Recording World
Interview by:
Paul Ashford
Timeline More from year 1983

Album This interview has been made to promote the Pipes Of Peace Official album.

Master release

Songs mentioned in this interview

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“I’m like all people,” declares Paul McCartney in our 50-minute conversation in AIR Studios.  Meanwhile, the cassette recorder is faithfully pirating tracks from the new album which is being mixed down in the next room.  “And the kind of music I like is actually accessible, commercial music.  Often if a song is number one I’ll like it, because people got it to number one and I can see why…

Advance warning had been given that Paul singled out MARW exclusively because he wanted to talk not about sociology, metaphysics, personalities or past history, but about his Green Alpico Amp.

The thing is, ” Paul explains, “in truth, it ends up that most interviews don’t mean anything.  You just talk to everyone on earth about anything — toothpaste, you name it, just blabbing off about anything they want to hear about.  With this magazine I know the musos read it — it’s a bit more satisfying than talking about what soap you use all the time.

I want to talk about what I’m interested in, which is music.  That’s how we started, picking our way from guitars through pianos and basses and various other instruments.  Actually playing the instruments is the important thing and the personality ting is just what happens to come with it if you do your job well.  You never get to like that better than the musician bit.

This week I’ve been using (on the new album) the Elpico, which is the first amp I ever bought.  It’s a valve amp and I like valve amps.  A little green Alpico and it’s brilliant — really good.   We’ve just been using it on one of the tracks and it pokes like mad because it’s an old valve amp.  Great – it’s like an automatic fuzz.  And of course, it’s fun using the first one you ever had again.

I will have one of the old Beatles basses, although I’m not sure whether it’s the first.  An old violin bass and the great thing about it is that it’s still got the running order list taped on with sellotape – it starts off with “Rock and Roll Music” and goes on to “Baby’s in Black.”  You always have it on the guitar to tell you what’s coming next.  I don’t’ play it now; the Rickenbacker gives a better recording sound and I also use a Yamaha“.

Arrangements and embellishments are, by and large, an important facet of the way McCartney thinks about a song.  He’s not the only one who has an ear for good interpretation either.

People notice the arrangement even as something apart from what instruments are playing.  It’s funny.  A little while ago we were invited to a Lennon-McCartney tribute concert at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Birds when they took a lot of our songs and did them with the London Symphony Orchestra.  In the interval, we met the Queen and there was an old fella with her — not the Duke, an older gentleman — and he said, the arrangements are the same.  These are basically the same arrangements off the records.

And I was amazed to hear her say that because it’s true, they were taking all the arrangements and putting them on cellos instead of guitars, just giving all the lines to different elements of the orchestra, and she actually realised that.

Paul has little inclination to change an arrangement of his once it’s been defined.  “I’ve thought about it once or twice — maybe because of Dylan’s new versions.  But I’m never very happy doing it.  I did a funky up-tempo version of “Silly Love Songs” with Porcaro and Steve Luthaker and Louis Johnson of the Johnson Brothers, but normally I’ll stick close to the original“.


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