More from year 2023
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As part of the promotional efforts for his upcoming “Got Back” tour in Brazil, Paul McCartney gave an exclusive interview to o Globo Brazil, where he talked about his contribution to two upcoming tracks for the Rolling Stones, the usage of artificial intelligence on “Now And Then”. He also mentions that he aims to release a new album in 2024.
In an exclusive interview with GLOBO, eternal Beatle talks about anticipation for the new tour in Brazil, the use of the use of artificial intelligence in music and says being on stage is invigorating: ‘If there’s one thing I love is doing shows’
When it comes to Sir James Paul McCartney, the numbers are always staggering: close to 300 million records sold with the Beatles, more than 60 million in solo career, one of the most re-recorded songs of all time (“Yesterday”, with more than 2,200 versions), the record attendance at a concert with tickets (184 thousand people at the Maracanã, in 1990)… But the number that has most impressed the public is a recently conquered one: at the age of 81, he announced yesterday the Brazilian dates of the “Got back” tour, which debuted in the United States in April last year, and in which he continued doing his traditional 2h40 long shows.
At the end of the year, Paul passes through Brasilia (30/11, at the BRB Mané Garrincha Arena), Belo Horizonte (3/12, at the MRV Arena), São Paulo (9/12, at the Allianz Parque), Curitiba (13/12, at the Couto Pereira Stadium) and ends the trip in Rio de Janeiro on 16/12 returning for the first time to the Maracanã where he debuted in Brazilian (and Latin American) lands in 1990. And that’s three weeks after a series of seven shows across Australia and New Zealand. By phone, in an exclusive interview with GLOBO, the legendary musician tried to minimize this feat more – which is, practically, to stop time.
“You know, when we started with the Beatles, we thought we’d spend at most ten years doing that. And suddenly, it was 20 years. It’s been 30, then 40, and now it’s more or less what? Some 60 years! But I still feel pretty good! Since we’ve been doing this for a long time, we kind of know how to do it. I’m talking about me and people like the (Rolling) Stones. And there’s a lot of other older groups that are very good at it, because it’s something they’ve been doing for a long time. This happens even with people younger than us, such as Bruce Springsteen (73, who last June participated in the closing show of the American leg of “Got back” at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey). Bruce does well because he loves it, he loves playing for the audience.
Paul, who since 2021 has released “McCartney III,” a book of lyrics, another of photos (“1964 — The Eyes of the Hurricane”) and a podcast with stories behind the Beatles’ songs, has no time to think about tiredness.
“I’m asked if I don’t wear out with the shows. Not really, they are very invigorating, especially when they are in front of a large audience. And I have a hunch that we’re going to see big audiences in Brazil. Long shows are far from something I hate to do. If I hated it, then yes, I think they’d be tiresome. But if there’s one thing I love, it’s doing shows. Since there are so many songs we want to play, the show ends up being quite long. And after playing, I get kind of energized, and then I have to put the ball down and relax a little bit until I can sleep. But I love it all, it’s not hard for me at all.”
The repertoire of “Got back,” he warns, has no big surprises:
“It will be, basically, the show we toured the U.S. with last year. If you put in a song, you have to take out another one. So, you have to think very carefully. Can you take out “Hey Jude”? No. Or “Let it be”? Not even thinking. So you try to leave your best songs, the ones that the audience likes the most, and put some that you like, just to keep the show more airy. Sometimes I think of my show as if it’s a musical. And you don’t change the repertoire of a musical just because you go from London to New York. You can make some changes, and there will be some in relation to the shows we did last time in Brazil (in 2019)”
Paul McCartney says it was “a lot of fun” to record a cameo, playing bass, on the new Rolling Stones album.
“One day I was having dinner with Ronnie (Wood, guitarist of the Stones), I asked how the recordings were going and he said to me, “Oh, sometimes I have to be the mediator of Mick (Jagger, vocalist) and Keith (Richards, guitarist)…” And then I said I had a guy to help them, Andrew Watt, the producer I was working with. Then we even found out that Mick was already talking to him. And then one day Andrew asked me, ‘Would you like to play bass on some tracks?'”
After recording two Stones songs, Paul came home as a boy:
“I realized that I had known these guys forever, that I had been to their shows, and they were to ours, and that John (Lennon) and I had even done some backing vocals for a song of theirs. But I had never played with them, all together, in the same room. So, I loved it.”
One of the novelties of music in 2023 is the importance that artificial intelligence has conquered – which has not escaped Paul McCartney. On the one hand, he received criticism for using it in order to isolate John Lennon’s voice on an old demo recording, for the production of an unreleased Beatles track, to be released this year. On the other, again and again he comes across things like a recording of “God only knows” (a Beach Boys classic) made by AI, to sound as if it had been interpreted and recorded by the Beatles.
“It’s one thing for you to use artificial intelligence to pretend it’s my voice singing ‘God only knows,’ and there’s a lot of that on the internet. Another is to use it to technically clean up some recordings, and that’s pretty good. The technicians were able to isolate the voice, so it felt like we had gone back to the original recording. It was great, we had John’s voice very clear and beautiful. As for the other case… I hear that “God only knows” and I know it doesn’t sound like me. But five years from now, you’ll be sounding like me. So I think we have to start deciding who owns these recordings. Whether it’s the Beach Boys, the Beatles or whoever created this thing.”
That same technology also meant that the old films with the Beatles’ studio sessions for the album “Let it be” (1970) could be recovered by director Peter Jackson in the documentary “Get back” (2021) — which, Paul says, went a long way toward improving his image among the public.
“After the movie, when I would talk to people about those sessions and ask if they didn’t think I was being too bossy, they would say to me, ‘No, you were just trying to do your job!'” he laughs, who, even with all the activities, didn’t quiet his impetus as a composer. “I have some new songs, which I should release sometime next year. See!“
Brazil, in which Paul McCartney has played 26 shows, from 1990 to 2019 (even in cities that had seen few important international shows, such as Goiânia and Vitória), holds a special place in his heart.
“I really like Rio and, last time, we had a lot of fun in São Paulo. But we almost always try to get out of the cities a little bit and go to rural environments. Wildlife in Brazil is completely diverse, we hear birds and noises that I have never heard here. But for me, the main thing is the people you end up meeting.”
The return to the Maracanã, after 33 years, excites him.
“We have great memories, time has to be a little better this time!”
— he jokes, remembering the storm that led to the postponement, for a day, of what would be his debut show in Brazil.