Interview for Record Mirror • Saturday, November 26, 1977

Thoughts of Chairman Mac

Press interview • Interview of Paul McCartney
Published by:
Record Mirror
Interview by:
Ray M Bonici
Timeline More from year 1977

Album This interview has been made to promote the Mull Of Kintyre / Girls’ School 7" Single.

Songs mentioned in this interview

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Paul McCartney talks to Ray M Bonici 

“I DON’T want to be some great incredible superstar because you start to believe your own legends. And if you get an album like ‘Wild Life’ which didn’t sell that can really affect you. So I’ll just be myself and not be like Howard Hughes.”

Paul McCartney is in the familiar surroundings of Abbey Road studios. He’s accompanied by his wife Linda and Denny Laine, the two remaining Wings, and he’s here to explain about the new single, the band’s recent visit to the Virgin Islands, their various other commitments and their future as a three-piece.


Paul is still as cheerful as ever. Puffing high-tarred, filterless cigarettes, he explains how he and Denny were inspired to write ‘Mull Of Kintyre’, a traditional Scottish song about a peninsula in the West of Scotland where Paul spends a lot of his time.

“While I was on my farm in Scotland I thought that most Scottish songs you hear nowadays are old tunes that people re-do or comedy songs like ‘Up Your Kilt’. Denny and I decided to get a new tune together and make it sound as trad – Scottish as possible although adding a modern sound to it. Then we called in the local Campbeltown Pipe Band and wrote the tune to their own scale because with bagpipes they can play only certain keys.”

All traditional songs are catchy tunes and ‘Mull Of Kintyre’ is no exception. Does Paul foresee this tune becoming a standard as many of his tunes have become in the past?

“I’ve really given up trying to work out which tunes are gonna become standards next but I suppose there’ll be a few people who’ll choose to sing it.”

Moira Anderson perhaps?


Or Kenneth McKellar,” replies Paul. “I’d like to hear the football crowd at Hampden Park sing it. That’ll cause a roar!

The current single is a double ‘A’ side and ‘Girls’ School’ is a rocking number totally different from ‘Mull Of Kintyre’.

“If people want to dance or leap around they just turn the record over and they’ve got it. And if anyone thought we were into just ballads they’re in for a surprise. I suppose a few people will prefer the more rocking side. You see, ‘B’ sides get swallowed and hardly anybody plays them so this time around we did a double ‘A’ so everyone can hear the varied sides of Wings.” 

A McCartney composition, ‘Girls’ School’ is one of those naughty tunes that makes you think about innocent schoolgirls in uniform. Is Paul referring to a particular school?

“Oh no. After our Australian tour, we were supposed to go to Japan but the Japanese Minister Of Justice decided we couldn’t go in because we’d been a bit naughty. Se we decided to go to Hawaii for a holiday instead and while I was there I looked at the back pages of these American newspapers and in the entertainment section there were all these porn films with titles like ‘School Mistress’, ‘Yuki’, ‘Kid Sister’, ‘Oriental Princess’ and others. I liked the titles so much I wove them into a song. So it’s supposed to be like a pornographic St Trinians.”

So far Wings have cut six albums and nearly everyone was subject to heavy criticism, especially ‘Wild Life’ which was the least satisfactory. How does Paul cope with being a target for critics? 

“Critics didn’t like ‘Wild Life’ when it came out so I started thinking, like them, that it was rubbish. Then when I heard it a couple of years later I really liked it and found it interesting.”


“OK, it didn’t make me the biggest blockbuster around but I don’t think you need them all the time. I like to have a couple of albums like that because it adds to the whole thing really. ‘Wild Life’ was inspired by Dylan because we heard he had been in the studio and done an album in just a week. So we thought of doing it like that, putting down the spontaneous stuff and not being too careful. So it came out a bit like that. But what made ‘Wild Life’ OK for me was when I saw this fella heading for the hills in California holding a copy of ‘Wild Life’. So someone liked it.”

“The same with ‘Wings Over America’. This bloke who works with handicapped children wrote to us saying the album was the one that really lifted the children and he wanted to thank us for that.”

“I never really liked ‘Venus And Mars’ until I heard it at a party one night and saw everybody leaping around. That’s the funny position you’re in and there’s no way you can tell who’s into what. “

“So I ignore all the bloody critics, get on with my stuff and think in the terms that someone somewhere liked it.”

“Let’s face it,” he opines, “critics never liked the big stuff in history. They never liked Van Gogh’s pictures and has he got a name?

“Somebody told me they took a McCartney tape with them to Russia and played it there. All these things tell me I should ignore the negative stuff.”

Paul was once interested in playing in Russia.

“I still am,” he replies, puffing one of those heavy ciggies again. “It would be nice to do it because no one’s done it yet. It’s the same with China.”


“Mind you, if you release a record there it’ll have to be acoustics, all about farms and communes and living together in harmony under the great Chairman Mac. “

This has been a busy year for Wings. There’s the ‘Wings Over America’ TV film which is now in its final stages and should be televised around March.

A lot of film was shot during that tour and Paul hopes to put a documentary concept film together. If the concert stuff looks good there’ll be a film as well for the fans.

It’s been mainly a recording year for Wings because of Linda’s baby. 

“It would have been very hectic if we’d got to leap offstage and say ‘Sorry, folks, we’ve just got to have our baby, excuse us for a minute.’ So instead of having Linda in the middle of all that craziness, we decided to spend the time recording so that when we do go out live, hopefully around spring, we’ll have a new bunch of stuff to play. You need that anyway.”

Wings are in Abbey Road finishing their next album, due out in February. The recordings started originally at Abbey Road before the band chartered a boat to the Virgin Islands where they combined a holiday with work.


“At first we thought we were gonna have problems with salt water going through the machines. And as it was a new studio you have to spend a couple of weeks sorting out the wrinkles. But we were dead lucky and recorded a track on the very first day.”

“During our month’s stay, we cut nine tracks, which is not really fast compared to the first Beatles’ album which was done in one day in 14 hours.”

“In those days it was a whole different kettle of fish because we mainly wanted to put down our live act so it was easier. But today nine tracks in a month isn’t bad. “

Do the songs from the Virgin Islands have a live feel?

“You’ll have to tell me that after you’ve heard the album. But I can imagine us on the boat and the surroundings. A few people who worked on the album say it’s got that feel and that it still sounds as good as a normal recording studio. It lifted us going there and a good job it did ‘cos otherwise the critics. would have said we just went there for the holiday.

“When you’re doing something creative like that and away from all the rain,” laughs Paul, “you’ve got to get into it and the more you do the better the result you get. So I hope we don’t ruin it and dull it down now that we’re back.

Nothing irks Paul more than questions about a Beatles’ reunion. Is it because Paul plays Beatles’ numbers in the live set that people are so insistent on asking about a Beatles’ reunion?

Paul thinks for a while, then calmly replies:

“I was reading one of those books about us and you got quotes from us over various periods of time when each of us was feeling good, saying ‘I don’t see why we shouldn’t record together.’ Then John said ‘We might easily get together again’. So now I think the main basis for reunion rumours is that at any given time one of us will say ‘Yeah, I wouldn’t mind doing it’ and that will start the rumour rolling again. Really, I don’t think it will happen and we always come back to that. So it’s us to blame in a way.

“The Beatles’ situation went full circle and came to an end, so it’s very hard to revive that. It’s like trying to revive a dead person. The Apple thing is very complicated, as it has been for many years. Ringo came to see us when we had the baby and we were chatting and polishing off a bottle of wine. We were having a great time until we started talking about Apple and the minute we did it was like UUUGGGHHH. So we thought ‘Christ, we’d best start talking about the light things again.’

“So this is the situation and as soon as anyone brings up the word Apple, there are these incredible rows. It’s like a divorce: ‘Well, I’m not letting you have that unless you give me this’ and it gets so daft you end up thinking ‘Who needs it? Really, it’s nothing to do with what it was ever to do with.”

What can you do after that except refer back to the present Wings set-up? It seemed that after four years Jimmy McCullough was going to stick, especially when his commitments within the band were getting heavier. Like his guitar work on Wings Over America. Was the situation getting really bad? 

“Jimmy’s story is a long one. You see, I have these weird little influences that I can’t do much about. So it ended up that he wanted to do things differently. So naturally we weren’t fitting and were having a few bad vibes. It was either do another album with arguments which was going to be hard or else none of that. So he left to join the Small Faces. Luckily he’d done all the stuff we wanted him to do on the new album, so it worked out well. And there’s no need really for a new guitarist because we’re not going on the road yet. We’ll think about that later.”

Joe English has now also left Wings. He’d also had four years with the band but decided he wanted to spend more time with his family on his ranch in Georgia, USA.

Once again Paul, Linda and Denny are back to where they were. Does Paul now see Wings just as the three of them with others fitting loosely into the band?

“At the moment that’s the basis and it will be for some time. Denny could be just a sideman if he looked upon himself as that. It’s difficult when you join an established group. You’ve got to fit in and feel you’re part of the band. But we’re getting used to that now and we all know each other well.”

Recently Paul has had hardly any mentions in polls. Is that surprising?

“No, not at all. We didn’t buy enough copies of the papers,” he laughs.

“I keep winning things like Playboy Bass Player Of The Year and I keep writing back to tell them ‘You got it wrong, folks. I’m not the best. You people just put my name on the form because you know I’m a bass player in a band.’

“Lately there was this thing saying ‘I got my name on more hits than any living writer.’ Of course, I love it but I don’t go mad about it. I don’t really bother about polls. All I bother is whether I like the music I put down on record.

What does Paul think of the present musical situation in England? Is it boring or getting better?

“I think it’s healthy. It was always the older established groups while now we’re getting a younger wave of people coming up and that’s good.

“I like punk and I like their attitude and the looks and fashion though I’m not really into it myself. We learn more about what’s happening from our daughter Heather. She’s into punk and plays the stuff all the time.

“For me, it’s just another style. But the overall music situation is much better now. “

Last updated on September 3, 2023


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