- Published by:
- New Musical Express
- Interview by:
- Charles Shaar Murray
- Timeline More from year 1975
- Album This interview has been made to promote the Venus and Mars Official album.
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VENUS AND MARS ARE LATE.
The sandwiches don’t care, though. Even though they’re the same day’s vintage – fresh, soft white bread-triangles housing excerpts from what was once a proud, regal salmon – the effects of being stashed in a direct line with brilliant sunlight has crisped and dried them to the point where this premature ageing process has reduced them to the approximate consistency of the kind of sandwiches that get exhumed from six days’ burial in the less congenial kind of pub.
The wine is warm and overly sweet, but this matters even less to Venus and Mars than the terrifying fate that has befallen the sarnies. After all, Venus and Mars are lunching — not wisely but well — and the state of the nation sandwich-wise is of purely academic importance.
And the sun shines bright on the old Greek Street home of McCartney Productions, and everybody is waiting for Venus and Mars to get back from lunch so that they can Talk About The Album — The Album “Venus And Mars”, the successor to the platinum-plated throne of “Band On The Run”, the most successful and one of the pieces of product to emanate from who used to be in the Beatles.
The result of a sojourn in N’ Orleans recording in the very famous Allen Toussaint’s very famous studio, “Venus And Mars” is…
… a terrible album.
Let’s have a quick wander around the perimeters and check out the architecture while we’re waiting for the deities (in their civilian identities of Paul and Linda McCartney. ordinary every-day popstars-next-door) to choke down their coffee and back to the office.
“McCARTNEY CAN make albums like Band On The Run anytime he wants to,” claims a former of the Wings operation. “‘Venus And Mars’ is what he’s actuallly into, though. He likes writing songs for his kids.“
Up until the arrival of “Band On The Run” in the latter months of 1973, the prevailing assessment of Monsieur McCartney was that he was the possessor of a “basically bourgeois talent” – which meant that he was essentially uncommitted to rock-and-roll, was irremediably cutesy-pie, played and composed music with an unforgivably low cojones quotient, wrote songs that begged for Andy Williams to cover them, wimped around all over the place with a wife who seemed to have even less musical credibility than her fiendship Oriental opposite number, allowed an overwhelming facility for pleasant melody and easy-going charm to degenerate into vacuous glibness, angled his music at the mums and dads, came off poorly in comparison to the gritty honesty and commitment of John Lennon, the uplifting spirituality of George Harrison (or what looked like uplifting spirituality at the time) and the cloddish charm of Ringo Starr (from whom nobody expected anything better than cloddish charm anyway), was a swot and a teacher’s pet and a soppy sneak who didn’t even pretend to relate to a ’70s which had taken him at his word about doing it in the road.
The grouchy spoilsport who’d dragged the hallowed name of the Beatles through the courts…
Paul McCartney was Infra Dig. Paul McCartney was Terminally Uncool. Paul McCartney was Right Out.
“Eastman is an animal! A fucking stupid middle-class pig! I wouldn’t let animals like that near me!” – The Dummy John Lennon. “Magical Misery Tour” (from the National Lampoon’s “Radio Dinner” album).
Yeah. That was the camel that broke the straw’s back.
John Lennon married a Japanese avant-garde artist several years his senior, who was Third World and far out and had credibility even though hardly anybody either liked her work or understood it.
Paul McCartney married a blonde All-American goil from a wealthy family whose papa was popularly supposed to be Eastman of Eastman Kodak even though he was a lawyer whose pre-Deed Poll (or Yank equivalent) name had been… Epstein. Ha ha. Cosmic irony.
Lennon made all the right noises and McCartney made all the wrong ones. John Lennon was Right On and Paul McCartney… well, it was clear that even though he’d been one of the king architects of hippie, the boy was a closet straight who couldn’t wait to kiss the revolution and scuttle back to domesticity.
Still he kept trying.
He put out a pro-I.R.A. single at approximately the right time (i.e. before everybody wised up about the I.R.A), got banned by the BBC to take away the saccharine aftertaste of the miserable string of bubblegum singles that he and Linda were foisting on an admittedly uncomplaining mass market (by far the most embarrassing of which was “Mary Had A Little Lamb”), had the fortune / misfortune to get busted for dope smoking / growing / holding every third week, and finally put together Wings — which was, I’m told, a fairly creditable rock and roll band live.
Their principal exercie was a mammoth tour of Europe (during which Macca got himself — you guessed — well and truly busted because someone had sent him D-O-P-E through the mails) which roughly coincided with the self-immolation of John Lennon’s musical/political credibility via the sublimely fatuous “Some Time In New York City.” At this time, Wings included, alongside Paul ‘n’ Linda, Denny Laine on git-tar, Henry McCullough on another git-tar and a moustachioed Yank drummer Denny Seiwell.
The album that followed in the acks of this epic jaunt was “Red Rose Speedway”, which was judged quite good at the time.
Seiwell and McCullough travel on, and Laine and the McCarneys bop off to Lagos to record their next album. Amidst mucho hi-jinx, “Band On The Run” emerges unto a suitably impressed world, and anti-Macca canards are like wet farts in a strong wind.
“BAND ON The Run”, y’see, is perhaps the ultimate maximisation of McCartney’s post-Beatle potential; which is to say that it exploits to the utmost his gift for melody and his not inconsiderable expertise with sound while minimising his penchant for cheap sentimentally.
Featuring some of the most thoughtful and intelligent synthesiser work within living memory, a succession of melodies, the occasional flash of genuine inspiration and a virtuous production, “Band On The Run” was hailed by myriad writers (including your humble present chronicler) as some kind of kozmik meisterverk. even though in retrospect it seems that it came on that way in contrast to the limp asinity of the all the then-currently new ex-Beatle product (“Mind Games”, “Living In The Material World” and “Ringo”, to be precise).
Still, let us not be uncharitable to “Band On The Run.”
Suddenly Paul McCartney was the golden boy again. Lennon had O.D.’ed on dumb politics and ingrown ego, George Harrison’s prissy holier-than-thou chunderings had gotten righteously on the collective wick, Ringo was solidly into his role as rent-a-looning-companion and all-purpose klutz… and simply bourgeois Macca had pulled an excellent album.
Oh, the weeping and the wailing, the recriminations and the tears! Oi Gevalt
It was an event of almost morality-play proportions, a triumph of decency. After years of taking shit from everybody for being a square and a Blue Meanie, vindication had arrived
with a surprise knockout in the twelfth round. McCartney proved that Nice Guys didn’t have to Finish Last; that you could be a Kleen Kut Kid and a scholar and a gentleman and still make a decent album.
And then he coasted; peeled a couple of tracks off the wad of tunes on “Band On The Run” and slapped them down on the counter reincarnated as hit singles, took life easy, brought in Jeff Britton (karate heavy and ex-member of the Wild Angels) to play drums and Jimmy McCulloch (former boy genius of Thunderclap Newman and Stone The Crows) as lead guitarist, took life easy, made a couple of pleasant but dull singles with his bro’ Mike, took life easy, made a couple of pleasant but dull Wings singles and set off to New Orleans to cut a new album, etc, etc…
… Which is where things start getting heavy.
“Venus And Mars” is not only one of the worst albums I’ve ever heard from a so-called “Major artist”, but it’s almost the most decadent. Sure, it’s got nothing to do with heroin or homosexuality or make-up or any of the other stuff that we used to think of as being “decadent” when we were young(er) and and dumb(er) back in ’72, but it goes much deeper than that.
“Venus And Mars” is a symptom of decadence because it is the product of a considerable talent in an advanced stage of decay. It is totally lacking in either true beauty, true strength or true innocence; offering in the stead of these qualities — qualities which one could quite reasonably demand from the work of an artist of Paul McCartney’s eminence — a vapid, shallow prettiness which is ultimately more saddening than the work of even the dumbest no-hoper.
It’s the whole lilies-that-fester syndrome: basically, nobody gives a shit if someone they’ve never heard of unloads a turkey because it’s just another bad album. For someone of McCartney’s level/status/importance to deliberately trivialise his talent is something of a blow.
THE BAND don’t help much, either. Jimmy McCulloch just keeps his head down and blasts away with some decent guitar whenever he gets a chance; for which he really cannot be blamed. I mean, he’s probably totally overawed by working with P. Mc – and besides, who the hell expects Jimmy McCulloch to have to carry a Paul McCartney album?
Denny Laine remains as self-effacing as usual, Linda is – well, Linda – and Joe Engish just plays drums.
Mostly, it’s gloopy ballads and pop songs slightly below the ingenuity and creativity level of the average Wombles single interspersed with McCartney speciality pieces like “You Gave Me The Answer” which is musichall rooty-toot in the well-worn “When I’m 64” / “Honey Pie” / “Your Mother Should Know” tradition, only less palatable than any of its predecessors.
There’s the incredibly patronising “Rock Show” with its oblique references to dope, Jimmy page, and “long hair at Madison Square”, plus the reactionary nose-upturning at the excesses of ’72 glamrock — and played totally limpwristedly as to turn whatever satirical edge the song may originally have had straight back onto its creator. And this from the man who parodied John Lennon so accurately less than two years ago on “Let Me Roll It”!
The only even remotely acceptable piece on the whole album is “Letting Go,” a lightweight exercise in pop Stevie Wonder. Much has been made of the inclusion of the Crossroads theme, which fits in alarmingly well with the general artistic and intellectual tone of the album. Later on in the proceedings, you’ll hear from P. Mc’s own mobile, well-shaped lips exactly what he thought he was doing by including it, but Clue Number One is that he’s undoubtedly delighted the show has subsequently adopted his version of the tune.
I bet Paul McCartney really likes “Crossroads.”
Understand me: I’m not putting McCartney down for aspiring to lower middle-class ideals either in his life or his music. I’m not putting him for attempting to produce light, innocent pretty music, either.
Demanding absolute purity of attitude and total devotion to duty from musicians is pointless and obtuse, since musicians ain’t no way saints or perfect human beings, and it’s totally useless to castigate McCartney — or anybody else — just for being himself.
There’s nothing wrong with innocence, even though it’s pretty damn scarce these days. A great deal of the most valuable contributions to rock thus far have fallen into precisely that bracket: the innocent celebration of California hedonism and the consumer ethic that made the early work of the Beach Boys so heartbreakingly wonderful, the innocent street macho of Eddie Cochran, the innocent search for good times and political consciousness of the MC5, the innocent frustration of early Who, the innocent goodnatured humour of the Loving’ Spoonful – and especially the innocent joyfulness of classic Beatles.
What I am castigating McCartney for is aiming for the effect of innocence by creating simperingly empty music that substitutes saccharine for honest sweetness, crassness for innocence and prettiness for selling himself short by refusing to extend his talent past the area of glib facility, for taking the easy way out – ultimately for not realizing that, with talent, comes the responsibility of using it to its utmost.
Venus and Mars are all right — Jack.
SO I SIT there in the offices of McCartney Productions watching Denny Laine and Jimmy McCulloch clowning around, and I flip through magazines and about the weather and my phone bill and the goddam sandwiches – everything but what I’m going to say to Venus and Mars when they come back and whether I’m going to tell McCartney right up front how much I hate his album (and by extension him for making it) and if so how.
It ain’t easy, troops, because I’m as full of Beatleawe as the next bozo who was eleven when “Love Me Do” came out and who queued up for two and a half hours to see the very first showing of “A Hard Day’s Night” when it came to town and saved up for two months to buy the albums etcetera etcetera. Fill in your own Beatle memories and dilute to taste.
Meeting Paul McCartney is still a hell of a big deal even though it’s for the second time. The first time was just after “Band On The Run” came out and there was no problem there because I’d liked the album — but now?
These things are sent to try us.
Well, eventually he and Linda arrived and said hello very jolly and amiable, and we retired into the next room to do the interview.
Conspicuous by his absence was NME’s Living Legend Of The Leica, Joe Stevens, who’d been designated to record the occasion on film. It appeared, see, that Linda had taken some very cute shots of the group a few days earlier and had decided that it would be very groovy if all the music papers used them to go along with their interviews.
So she instructed Wings’ publicist, Tony Brainsby, to call all the music paper photographers and tell them not to bother showing up. It apparently never occurred to her simply to send her photographs along and let the various editors decide what they wanted to use in their papers: hers versus the staff photographers’ competing on pure merit. But then it’s much easier to get photos published if you make sure that nobody else has any up-to-date material. Nice one, Linda!
McCartney cuts an almost studiedly inelegant figure in an ensemble of jeans, waistcoat, and white shirt, complete with an artful dusting of stubble. If you saw him in the street you’d think he looked a lot like Paul McCartney, but nahhhh, it couldn’t be him. Could it?
He accepts a cigarette, rips the filter off it and bends into the lighter flame. After he’s done this a few times you automatically tear off the filter before handing him the next cigarette.
THAT WEEK the old Apple building had come down, and for want of anything better I mumbled something about whether he’d had any sentimental about the demolition of that particular symbol of our collective misspent youth.
“Not Apple, really because it went a couple of years really.”
I had to restrain myself from counting the really’s.
“… because it went a couple of years ago really, just hangin’ on with people wondering what to do with it, y’know.”
I decide to switch to the “y’know”‘s.
“This is just the official closing down. It’s just like recording a record, y’know, three years ago and it’s finally released, y’know.”
“No, y’know, it just wasn’t working, y’know, and you can’t keep it goin’ if it’s not happenin’. So… no, I don’t have any pangs. It’s all coo, y’know? The relationship with the others is the only kind of pang I might add, and we’re all cool. We’re all friends and stuff.”
Yeah, well, ex-Beatle relations are much better than they have been.
“No. not really in a way actually as it happens.”
(Note to the more easily confused reader. Mr. McCartney’s initial response to the author’s statement was indeed, “Yeah, sure. No, not really in a way actually as it happens.“).
“… because it never was that bad. Y’know. It’s just that there was a big press skirmish and everyone — particularly John — flung a few words around, and there was a bit of a number, but that’s actually kind of blew over in about a month and we were already kind of speaking to each other and chatting and stuff. Y’know. There you go.”
But surely the dominant impression was that the Fab Four had been at knife-point for two years.
“Yeah, it looked like that. But you see, there was a lot… I mean, I don’t really want to get into it, but there was a lot of sort of business stuff rather than kind of knifepoint between the four of us. There was a lot of knife… knifing y’know. There was a few baddies in there for awhile, y’know, and that’s why it really looked kind of bitter for a while, but it wasn’t that bitter between us, y’know. I say it’s really nice and friendly now. So I say I don’t really want to go with it, because it’s really old news for me…”
THIS CAN’T go on much longer. Sooner or later I’ve got to ask him about the album. I took my mouth in both hands and asked The Question.
“The — uh — logical thing to ask about next is the ‘Venus And Mars’ album.”
“It’s a new record.”
“New LP released soon. What do you want to know about it?”
Box clever. If there’s one thing I’ve told you time and time again, it’s box clever. Watch his left — it s the one he holds the razor in.
“It’s very much lighter and simpler than its predecessor…”
“Is it?” Mein Gott – the Macca shuffle, already.
“It doesn’t have as much attack as ‘Band On The Run'”.
Christ, somewhere in the Grand Interviewer’s Lexicon (or even in the Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred) there must be a diplomatic way of saying “Your album is so awful I wouldn’t use it to line a budgie cage even if I had a budgie“, but I couldn’t think of it.
What can a person such as myself say to a… to a… to an ex-Beatle who’s just made a crappy album?
Luckily, he weighs in with something before I collapse in a mummified heap of sticklike, withered brown limbs on the icy flagstones of the crypt… sorry, on, the lush carpeting of the floor of the warm, sunlit room.
“Oh well, y’know I mean the funny thing about that is it’s that that is so much down to people’s opinions, y’know. I’d take it up to Liverpool, y’know, to play it to a few people up in Liverpool and they said just the opposite.”
Must be something in the drinking water down there.
“They said, ‘Awwwww man I haven’t heard you singing like that for years; it’s got much more attack, much more bite…”
Or maybe it’s industrial pollution in the atmosphere.
“I don’t myself think it’s lighter. It might be… I dunno.”
Yeah, but surely “Band On The Run” made gestures in the direction of being a rock album… whereas this is just an easy listening album?
“Yeah. Some of it is, yeah. I mean, you’ve got a couple of tracks that aren’t. You got… ‘Call Me Back Again’ on the second side isn’t easy listening.”
Damn right it isn’t.
“And you’ve go ‘Letting Go’. And ‘Rock Show’ is kind of… hardish.”
“It sounds like David Essex“, I mutter, temporarily forgetting about my non-aggression policy.
“‘Rock Show’? Geddoudovit. Who has NME sent along, ladies and gentlemen?” he declaims into the microphone of my cassette machine, nesting cosily at his elbow. “He’s been out all night, he’s stoned out of his brain, he doesn’t know what’s go… No, it doesn’t sound like David Essex to me, but thank you for the compliment.“
Whew! A biting attack!
Might as well carry the fight straight to the enemy.
“It sounds to me as if there are a couple of parodies on it. ‘Old Egypt’ had a couple of T. Rex touches in there… thought you might be getting satirical again?'”
“Oh no. I’m not satirical, I’m… er — I wasn’t into that. Y’know what you think an idea’s come from and where it’s come from, it’s never the same thing, y’know. People get the records and read in things and I just think of a few words and a coupe of tunes and go and record ’em, y’know. I definitely didn’t think it’s T. Rex or I’m doing a David Essex or anything. As far as I were concerned, it’s just me doing it and – uh – it might turn out sounding like that. I see your point — almost — but I’m not going to concede the point, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you.”
TRICKY QUESTION time. “Why did you record the ‘Crossroads’ theme?”
“It’s a joke.” Blimey. “It’s after ‘Lonely Old People’, you see, they’re kind of sitting there in the park saying ‘Nobody asked me to play?’ It’s a kind of poignant moment” – he switches into announcerese for the last two words – “and then there’s a little break and then ‘Crossroads’ starts up, and that’s very… it’s lonely old people, y’know, it’s kind of just the kind of thing that lonely old people watch. It could just as easily have been ‘Coronation Street’, but we knew the chords to ‘Crossroads’. No, I just thought that it would be just nice to do it. The thing is that for people who haven’t heard it and don’t know the whole ‘Crossroads’ thing, like Americans, like a fellow who was helping me arrange this stuff, he just thought it was just a lovely tune. He thought I’d written it. He just thought it was a beautiful little tune, and it is. I quite like it as tune, y’know, the ‘Crossroads’ thing. It fitted. Originally it was just a joke, but as it recorded, it ended up as less of a joke.
“And I just wanted to see Tony Hatch after he realised that we’d recorded one of his numbers on our new album. I want to tell him. and there’s a bit about Jimmy Page, and I wanted to tell him before anybody else told him. In ‘Rock Show’ there’s a line about ‘what’s that he’s rolling across the stage/lt looks like the one used by Jimmy Page/Like a relic from a different age’. Personally” — he stomps the first syllable like a bass drum pedal — “I was just thinking of a nice old amp and the people in the audience are saying ‘that’s an AK 300. Wowee, it looks just like the one used by Jimmy Page’. And he was the only guitarist who rhymed with ‘stage’. John Cage? Not the same.”
I FIGURED it was about time to bring up that line about “scoring an ounce. “
“‘Tension mounts/Sometimes you score an ounce.’ You see? The references are always there. Slip ’em in. This is what I feel” (Pythonesque).
Very neat, squire. Very subtle.
‘We-e-e-el,” self-deprecating awshucksing, “I liked it. It is about a rock show. and that is part of it all, so I thought… y’know, I like to slip those in just so that it’s not so… respectable. If you know what I mean.”
Aha. I knew we’d start talking about dope sooner or later.
“Talking of being respectable and not being respectable, do you think there’s any significance in the fact that you’ve been busted a quite inordinate number of times? Do you think Somebody’s Out To Get You?”
“Na-a-a-h. I don’t at all. It’s basically because it’s like we don’t really think it’s a crime. and so we go about it as if it isn’t. Unfortunately, some people think it is and go about it as if it is, so if you’re hauled up by a highway patrolman in LA, and he smells a bit in the car, he doesn’t think that it’s just an innocent little thing that’s not going to harm anyone. He thinks of it as the whole dangerous what-is-this-depravity scene, y’know.
“I think it’s as depraved as booze, which I think is… slightly depraved, but a lot of things are slightly depraved.”
But howcum Certain Bands can go on the road with enough cocaine to fill Brian Wilson’s sandbox, but poor ol’ P.M. gets slugged every time for tame stuff like the killer weed? Isn’t it just a little bit paranoid?
“It’s just one of those things. Just the luck of the draw. I don’t think it mounts up to any kind of conspiracy. I don’t think like that. I don’t believe there’s that. I don’t believe there’s that goes on. Maybe It does, y’know, and if it does it doesn’t matter. As long as I don’t think it does, I’m cool.
“The only really unfortunate thing about it, really, is that it starts to get you a reputation as a kind of druggie. The only thing about is that it is really only a kind of minor offence. It isn’t something we take too seriously, and of course the press image is really far worse.
“‘Linda Gets Busted For Drug Smuggling’, and all it was was that someone was trying to send us stuff through the post as a friendly gesture. It’s not that cool, I know that, but our thing is by no means as bad as it sometimes looks. It doesn’t bother me too much.
“We’re not serious drug addicts or anything. We just try to keep it quiet and not get into it a lot, because even talking about it in this interview is like adding to it. In fact, I don’t take drugs at all. I categorically state — are you getting all this, tape? — that I do not take drugs.
“The fact is that it’s illegal, and if a thing’s illegal you’re liable to get caught doing it and that’s sort of all there is to it really. I don’t really like to go on about it. It’s not important.”
THE CONVERSATION trotted around the room a couple of times. nodded off for a few minutes and surfaced, via an alarmingly devious route, at the prospects of Live Wings Over The White Cliffs Of Dover – a British tour, in fact.
‘”We’re rehearsing at the moment with our new drummer, the fellow who drummed on the album. He’s called Joe English. We’re just rehearsing — or practicing, as Pete Townshend would say — and as soon as we’ve learned enough numbers and get it together, we’ll… tour.
“Hopefully Britain — I’d love to do Britain first, y’know, see how it goes. Everyone’s keen to go and play, everybody feels like it, everyone’s pleased with the LP. We’re just rehearsing, learned a few numbers — learn a few more and then we’ll rock off on tour.”
It’ll be more than two years since the last Wings appearance in Britain
“Something like that. I don’t keep count of things like that. I feel that making a record is almost like playing live, anyway. It’s just going and doing something. Doesn’t really make much difference to me, though I suppose it does to you or the punters.”
S’pose it does at that, Paul.
“… Because it’s the time they get to see you and stuff.”
An associate enters the room to enthuse about the latest bunch of pictures. He reserves particularly warm approval for one set of group shots. “Everyone’s so happy and smiling!” he coos.
They start to discuss which shot should be used for the cover of something or other before McCartney snaps, “Well, we’ll talk about it in a sec, because he’s got his tape running.“
I felt the mantle of Howard Hunt descend about my shoulders.
“Besides, NME must take precedence over such mundane matters.”
He returns to the conversation and we bitch a bit on the disgusting state of British radio, which is the first topic on which he’s felt like expressing a clear-cut opinion. Eventually he decides that though it could be a lot better, it could also be a lot worse.
“The Bay City Rollers I think that’s all good, that stuff. I like those bands for the younger I would want to force on the younger kids good music. It’s like me dad forcing on me good music, y’know; his idea was a tenor, y’know, a beautiful tenor voice but I used to think, ‘No, he sounds like he’s strangled.’
“I’d like to hear Elvis much better, or someone I thought had a good voice, y’know. I don’t feel that you have to tell everyone. ‘This is good and the Bay City Rollers are rubbish.’ I think they’re a good group for what they do, I even like the Osmonds for what they do.
“I mean I know there’s this kind of it’s dreadful like uncool to even kind of… y’know, you wanna laugh at that them sort-of-thing, ’cause you know sort of what it is; it’s a bit teenybop and stuff.
“I think, well great, y’know. It’s only the people of ten years ago laughing at The Beatles when The Beatles first came out, y’know. It doesn’t mean to say that ’cause they hadn’t got brilliant music… but it’s only my opinion or our opinion, because a lot of people think their music is brilliant, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t about saying, ‘No it isn’t, it’s rubbish’.
“I think it’s great. I mean, if that’s what the kids want to listen to and that’s what they want to play and they get it on doing that, well, I say good luck to ’em, y’know.
“They just wanna bop, y’know; good on ’em. Little Mary fell in love with Donny Osmond about a year back when everyone did, and what she liked about him was that when he’d sing a song on television, she’d say ‘He loves me, doesn’t he, daddy?’ She’d have this thing that the feller singing was singing just for her, and all girls — well, little girls — love that.
“That’s always been a big part of music — Elvis, Beatles, y’know. The Stones are still kind of… y’know … it’s the kind of romance thing still. There’s still a kind of playing-to-chicks thing that if you took it away, you’d lose half of the whole music scene, y’know.”
HE GOES ON to state that even though there’s a lot of rubbish in the chart, there’s also a lot of good stuff.
“You always get that — I mean, there was Ken Dodd’s record a few years ago which suddenly got huge and everyone said, ‘Oh blimey’. But good luck to him really, y’know.
“If people like it and they want to go out and buy it, well, that’s it. I’ll tell you when I’d think the charts were in a state: when there was just nothing in the charts.”
Strong measures are clearly called for.
What gets you pissed off these days?
Time comes to a standstill. Caught in a frozen moment, an infinite silence fills the room. P. Mc knits his brow. The receptionist knits half a bedsock. Time passes. Eventually, McCartney delivers judgement.
“I really can’t think of one,” he muses. “I know I’ve got them. Mmmm… I don’t know really. I really can’t think of anything particularly. It’s a good time for me. There’s probably a few somewhere. Something silly like the milkman didn’t arrive for three days…”
Enter, in a clap of thunder, Linda McCartney. McCartney appeals to her to think of a few things that irritate him. “Common Market… very major. British television, British radio, British taxation… another bummer. They’re going to lose all their –“
“Right, we got it,” cuts in McCartney. Linda instantly lapses into respectful silence. He delivers a short set-speech about what lunacy the Common Market is.
“We don’t like the Common Market. I don’t like the Common Market.”
“I don’t like the Common Market,” pipes up Linda.
“Linda doesn’t like it either,” continues McCartney, and carries on with the political science. “On to taxation — very quickly — the British Government are making it very difficult for a lot of kind of big earners for Britain like Elton John, Rod Stewart, myself… Y’know a lot of people… making it very difficult for them to stay in England, because basically you get… if you earn a pound, they get ninety-eight pence of it and you get to keep two. And that’s… And that’s demoralising. You just think, ‘Oh, bloody ‘ell — it’s just too much. Some feller somewhere is takin’ all of that out of my pound.”
“And not giving it back to the people either,” quote Linda. “It’s not like — “
“It doesn’t look like because of it everything’s going much better,” continues McCartney.
He doesn’t seem to have any qualms about interrupting Linda whenever she attempts to say anything, and it doesn’t seem to worry her too much. I mean, none of this new-fangled crap about Women’s Rights here, Fab Readers. Linda knows who the man of the house is.
“So I say they’re starting to force people out, which then gives you the problem that all that money then isn’t coming into England and all the recording studios in England, people can’t use ’em ‘cuz they’ve gotta record out of the country, so it gets… That’s why people record out of the country a lot of the time. So things like that, I think maybe if they were just a little more reasonable on the tax they kind of took something like half of it off you, which is bad enough, then at least people would be able to live with that and would be able to stay and kind of keep the money coming into the country. It just doesn’t seem very wise to me to punish everyone to the extent that they gotta move, ‘cuz then it means that everyone’s moving out. It’s – uh – the blues drain or somethin’.”
Well, now you’ve got an American visa, how about pulling up stakes?
“No. I live in England, and I just like living here. It’s a nice place.”
“I would never move because of money,” interjects Linda. “I would never change my life because of money. Ever. If I like a place — “
“Yeah, well,” declaims Macca, “Y’know, that’s the idea is just that, well, y’know that we like to live here and wouldn’t like to be forced out because of —“.
“BUT!!!“, yells Linda and they attempt to shout each other down for a few seconds before McCartney triumphs and continues.
“But it’d be great if the government… you go to Nashville and there’s a hurricane warning on the telly. Every two hours there’s a big hurricane and you suddenly get the feeling that your roof’s gonna get blown off. You go to Los Angeles and there’s an earthquake warning, and the tremor rate and the… on the…. thing, y’know… the whassitcalled… the Ritter Index or something they got out there: ‘It’s so-and-so today and it looks like we’re gonna explode today, folks,’ and you suddenly think ‘Oh God, at least old Britain doesn’t have hurricanes and earthquakes!”
Ah, so that’s why we shouldn’t have gone into the Common Market.
“… and when we got back here after America, I really felt wow, at least the ground doesn’t move under your feet… I like the British people. I think they’re the salt of the earth. Very good people, y’know. I like American people too” (quick glance at Linda) “but I prefer…”
No holding Linda now, gang. She’s determined to articulate more than seven words this time before Big Mac steamrollers her with any more folk wisdom.
“No, but I know… yeah …” (must run in the family) “but in New Orleans, we met real people…“
That’s as far as she gets. Macca crunches in with:
“Down to earth… hangin’ out, yeah”.
And they croon to each other about real people for awhile before McCartney weighs in with a pronouncement that really sums the whole thing up:
“England is England and Britain is Britain and there’s something special about it for me. There’s just something it has that… I mean, you get a day like today, a lovely day in the city, it’s just good and everyone comes out in their frocks and stuff” — love the tutu, Paul — “and weeeeey and it’s… yeah, it’s that one again and it’s lovely, y’know what I mean? Can’t beat it.”
AT SOME earlier point during the proceedings, McCartney had burbled something about a “hip government.” Where does he think such an implausible beast will come from?
“Well nobody knows, do they?” he says, casually obliterating something that Linda is trying to say at the same time. Howcum she hasn’t bonged him with a tambourine by now?
The end part of her comment emerges, while McCartney is drawing breath, as “… smoking too many cigarettes and doing it like…“
“Like lawyers and solicitors,” McCartney continues smoothly, “and accountants…“
Linda: “Have you seen them?“
“… it’s all like a boardroom, the whole thing.“
Linda: “They’re nothing like ordinary people.“
“You need sort of a man of the people,” quoth Macca sagely. “Y’know, you need like…“
Linda: “Abraham Lin…“
“… one of these backwoodsmen who comes out of the people and says: ‘This is not good enough!’ There’s a lot of common sense, I think…“
Your turn, Linda, he’s pausing for breath again.
“I think that this generation that’s in government now is an older generation, and as it changes because we’re different than the last generation, and finally there’s going to be someone in power from one of the generations who’s kinda loose and who’s thinking more about philosophy of life — “
“Quality of life and how to make people enjoy it,” interprets the modern incarnation of Plato.
“… about living,” declaims his spouse, “I was just saying to Paul — this is funny,” she asides, allowing P Mc to come back with:
“Because that’s the way to get people working: get them to enjoy life.“
“… we should get back to… we should be ripping down the factories employing people to rip down the factories and then employing them to plant food — we’re going to have a food shortage which is ridicule –“
Very sorry, Linda, but your time’s up, and it’s back to Paul now, who’s got something that he’s really aching to get off his chest.
“And the funny thing is that it looks like that may be what everything… I mean, if this goes on like we’re saying it’s going on, it looks like that might be kind of the thing, y’know, that the only way back to kind of away from the kind of crazy 1984 thing would be that that goes so far that the planet can’t support it, and everybody really literally has to start ripping ’em down. I think that there’s kind of enough common sense flying among ordinary people… I think there’s more than there’s ever been, what with television and education and all that stuff. I think there’s an awful lot of common sense… just people.
“l think they’ve got very… I always remember when I was kind of a kid kind of thing, knowing that governments always underestimated people, and people were a lot hipper than governments and things, gave them credit for. I still think it’s there, y’know, and I think the government has to kind of try its way and it’s not gonna work and Harold Wilson’s gonna try and get everyone Socialist and it’s not gonna work but that’s not really quite what Britain wants. Margaret Thatcher’s gonna try and get everyone Tory, but that’s not quite what everyone wants and the Liberals are gonna try and go up the middle…
“There’s a lot of people going back to… there was a thing a few years ago, d’you remember? There was a feller said that in the future in a certain year we were all have just one square yard of land.”
He pauses to let the impact of his words sink in.
“Each. I can’t remember much about it, it was just all about everyone standing around having a square yard of land each. But if you fly over America you see all the towns huddled around a little river or lake. And then you see masses… millions of acres of desert and things and so it doesn’t really seem to me that we’re all going to be huddled on one acre somewhere.
“Maybe the cities are going to get very huddled. In which case they’re going to have to spread out a bit. I don’t know… It’s their problem, anyway.”
“BACK to basics,” says Linda, ever the practical one.
“Yeah, back to ‘Venus And Mars’, lads. Tell us about your album. Oh. all right,” says Paul.
And occasionally New Jersey. (But does any this really matter? —JOHN LENNON)
Last updated on July 30, 2022