Interview for New Musical Express • Saturday, November 30, 1968

Paul recalls inspirations of LP

Press interview • Interview of Paul McCartney
Published by:
New Musical Express
Interview by:
Alan Smith
Timeline More from year 1968

Album This interview has been made to promote the The Beatles (Mono) LP.

Master release

Songs mentioned in this interview


Officially appears on The Beatles (Mono)

Helter Skelter

Officially appears on The Beatles (Mono)

Honey Pie

Officially appears on The Beatles (Mono)

I Will

Officially appears on The Beatles (Mono)

Martha My Dear

Officially appears on The Beatles (Mono)

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Officially appears on The Beatles (Mono)

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PAUL McCARTNEY has been talking about “The Beatles” new double-album and he is understandably and humanly chuffed at the cover versions of his songs. He appreciates that “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da” is currently the fave rave, but I’ve a feeling he has reservations about the number of versions and whether this could affect the hit chances of one or the other (And why shouldn’t he worry about things like that; is there a shame in success?)

There is now no secrecy over the real composing credits for various Lennon-McCartney numbers. Paul is obviously “Ob-la-di,” and he also admits to tracks like “Martha My Dear.”

It’s definitely about my dog Martha,” he says, “but that’s only because the thought happened to come into my head when I was writing the song. You see, I never usually write a song and think ‘Right, now this is going to be about something specific.’ It’s just that the words happen. I never try to make any serious social point. Just words to go with the music – and you can read anything you like into it.

Both he and John began work on the songs on the new album in India. “Rocky Racoon,” for instance, was composed on a roof at the Maharishi’s place.

Says Paul “I was with John on this roof, and we were just sitting around playing guitar and we were with Donovan and just enjoying ourselves. I started playing the chords and originally the title was ‘Rocky Sassoon.’ And then the three of us started making up the words and they came very quickly, and eventually, it became ‘Racoon.’ because that was more like a ‘cow-ie’“.

The way the words just come into your head is like John writing his books… I don’t know how he does it, and he doesn’t know how he does it. But he just writes and people who do create and write do it like that. It just flows into their heads and then into their hands“.

Of other of his compositions, or part compositions, he said on Radio Luxembourg last week:

“BLACKBIRD: This is just one of those pick-and-sing songs. It doesn’t need anything else in the backing, because as a song there’s nothing to it. We added a blackbird sound at the end, but that’s all.”

“WHY DON’T WE DO IT IN THE ROAD?: We’ve always been a rock group, the Beatles. It’s just that we’re not completely rock ‘n’ roll. That’s why we do ‘Ob-la-di’ one minute and this the next. When we played in Hamburg we didn’t just play rock ‘n’ roll all evening, because we had these fat old businessmen coming in – and thin old businessmen as well — and saying play us a. mambo or a rumba. So we had to get into this kind of stuff”.

“I WILL: This is pretty smoochy stuff. We have to do it. That’s why there’s a great variety on this LP and in everything we do.”

“We just haven’t got one bag, the Beatles. On one hand you’ll get ‘I Will’ and then you’ll get ‘Why Don’t We Do It In The Road.’ It’s me feeling, both of them, the same feller, and I wrote both of them. I can’t explain it but there we are.”

“BIRTHDAY: ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’ was on television. Fats Domino, Gene Vincent, and Eddie Cochran were in it, and we wanted to see it, so we started recording at 5 o’clock and just did a backing track, a very simple 12 bar blues thing with a few bits here and there. We had no idea what it was going to be. We’d just say 12 bars in A then we’ll change to D then we’ll do a few beats in C. Just like that. We went back to my house and watched the film, and then back to the studio and made up the words. It’s one of my favourites because it was instantaneous. It’s a good one to dance to”.

“HELTER SKELTER: I read a review of a record which said that the group really goes wild with echo and screaming and everything, and I thought ‘That’s a pity, I would have liked to do something like that.’ Then I heard it and it was nothing like, it was straight and sophisticated, so we did this. I like noise”.

“HONEY PIE: My dad’s always played fruity old songs like this, and I like them. I would have like to have been a 1920’s writer because I like that top-hat-and-tails thing.”

From New Musical Express, November 30, 1968

Last updated on October 3, 2021


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