More from year 1967
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“One reason we don’t want to tour anymore is that when we’re on stage nobody can hear us or listen to us,” Paul McCartney told me. He was referring to the screamers who drown out all hope of hearing the Beatles in person.
“And another reason is that our stage act hasn’t improved one bit since we started touring four years ago. The days when three guitarists and a drummer could stand up and sing and do nothing else on stage must be over. Stage performance as an art is going out, anyway. I think the Rolling Stones had a shock when they didn’t do a bomb on their last tour. I think Mick was worried.”
“Many of our tracks nowadays have big backings. We couldn’t produce the sound on stage without an orchestra. And if we were to do ourselves justice on stage now, we’d have to have at least three months to produce a brand new act. And it would probably be very unlike what you’d expect from the Beatles,” he went on. This is Paul’s answer to my query about their future touring. Of their forthcoming recordings, he said, “We feel that only through recordings do people listen to us, so that is the most important form of communication. We have never thought of ourselves as one sound… Merseybeat wasn’t our invention. We have always changed our style as we went along and we’ve never been frightened to develop and change.”
“I think this has been the reason for our continued success. We could have stopped thinking up new things and brought out ‘Son Of Please Please Me’ or ‘The Son Of Love Me Do,’ but that was not on. We work on one song, and record it, and then get tired of it. So we think up something very different. The strength of any act is doing something that you wouldn’t associate with them.”
“For instance, I feel that the Supremes are too alike with most of their discs. If they did something good and you said, ‘Who’s that?’ and were told ‘The Supremes’ and you hadn’t identified it with them, you’d be pleasantly surprised. That would add to the strength of their appeal.”
“So we keep on doing tracks which can be any style at all. We’re not limited that way, or with time anymore. We take as much time as we want on a track until we get it to our satisfaction. Before, we had a set time in the recording studio, and that was that. If it wasn’t exactly what we wanted, that was too bad.”
“Now we take time because we haven’t any pressing engagements like tours to limit us. All we want is to make one track better than the last. We make all ‘A’ sides and never go into the studio thinking ‘This will be our next single.’ We just make tracks, then listen to them and decide from what we have what will be a single, what will go on to an LP.”
Paul went on to give me an insight into their formula for writing hits.
“The words are written down, but the music is never… because we can’t write music. We play it to each other and soon pick it up and fool around with it a bit. George suggests something extra, then John adds a new idea, and so on, until we have the music the way we want it. Then we record. Then we forget about it and get on with the next track.”
On the subject of jealousy within the group, Paul was most emphatic.
“There isn’t any. Jealousy doesn’t exist. When John wanted to do a film on his own, we were all happy for him. Now that he’s done it, he has passed on to us information about all sorts of things he has learned. That is, as Beatles we become richer in experience. George went to India and told us what he had learned. I wrote film music and found out other things, which I’ve passed on.”
“This rumor we were splitting up was rubbish, too. One would think it is the first time any of us had done anything on his own. John wrote books on his own all along, and we all have side-lines we get on with as individuals. Besides, we’re all great friends and we don’t want to split up. There’s never been any talk or sign of it… except in the minds of others.”
Paul also let off some steam about those who think they have gone ‘big time.’
“In ourselves we don’t feel big time at all. It’s only when people keep telling us we are big time that we even think of it. But what angers me is when some journalist says I’ve said something I haven’t and describes me as talking in my ‘natural zany beat style.’ I don’t talk in any ‘zany beat style,’ it’s the writer thinking that I should. They give us images and those images are usually very inaccurate.”
But Paul admitted that they had changed over the years. “We had to. If you’ve got money you don’t buy a $10 camera if you would rather have a $100 one. Our whole outlook on life is changing because our circumstances have changed our surroundings. But this hasn’t done anything to disunite the Beatles. We are going to keep on making better tracks and become better entertainers — as the Beatles.”