Interview for • 2015

You Gave Me The Answer (2015)

Press interview • Interview of Paul McCartney

Songs mentioned in this interview

Ebony And Ivory

Officially appears on Tug Of War

Here Today

Officially appears on Tug Of War

Say Say Say

Officially appears on Pipes Of Peace

What's That You're Doing?

Officially appears on Tug Of War

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What is your favourite piece of classical music and why?

Thank you for your question, Editha. I have many favourite pieces of classical music but one of my favourites is a piece that was written by Benjamin Britten for the Queen’s Coronation and played by the guitarist Julian Bream. The title is ‘Courtly Dances’ from ‘Gloriana’

Will you ever write your autobiography?

My feeling is that there have been enough books on me done already. But from time to time I do think of certain little memories that are not published in any books so, who knows. If I ever find the time it could possibly happen. But I think you can guess from my answer that I’m not in any hurry to be doing it…!

Paul, who is your favourite painter?

Thank you for your question, Jay. I don’t have one, I have a group of people whose pictures I like a lot and that would be Magritte, de Kooning, Rembrandt, and quite a few others. There’s a lot of really great painters, but I’d choose those as some of my favourites.

What is your earliest memory, Paul?

I remember when we were living in Knowsley, Liverpool having my photograph taken with my brother. I think it was probably by a professional photographer for the family album but I remember I was not all that keen on being made to pose. However, it stuck in my memory ever since.

Do you still meditate and do you think it’s had a positive effect on your life?

Yes, I think it’s great! I think it’s always very good to get a sort of still moment in your day. Whenever I have a chance in a busy schedule, I’ll do it, if I’m not rushing out the door with some crazy stuff to do. But yeah, I always like to take a moment and just meditate. It’s a good thing. I do the ‘TM’  [Transcendental Meditation] and I was lucky because I was taught personally by Maharishi. “When you were out in India with The Beatles?”

When we were in India, yes. “Do you still use the same mantra?”

Yeah! You only get one. It’s good! It’s very calming.

What was it like working with Stevie Wonder?

Stevie was great, it was different from working with Michael Jackson. With ‘Ebony and Ivory’, I’d sort of written it with Stevie in mind and I’d written it on my own in Scotland. Then I thought if I do this with anyone, Stevie would be the perfect person. I’m a big fan of his. So I got in touch and said, ‘I’m going to be recording out in Montserrat, are you interested? Would you like to do it?’ So he said yes, and came out to Montserrat.

I must say it was kind of difficult because he was coming, then he wasn’t coming – I think that’s all in the album notes [the Deluxe Edition of Tug of War features an in-depth essay on the recording of the album]. So there was a bit of doubt about whether he was coming and stuff and he did, eventually. It was great fun, we really struck up a great friendship and he suddenly, surprisingly, said he would like to drum! So I said OK, not knowing how good a drummer he was. He’s a great drummer! Once I heard him that was it! So he drummed and it was just a really great experience, putting it together with him, taking a verse each and getting inspired by his interpretation and feeding off each other.

It was great and we ended up having a great time. I got to know him well because we were in a casual situation rather than being backstage at the GRAMMYs or somewhere where there’s not much time. Like we were working all day and we did the other track, ‘What’s That You’re Doing?’, which was more co-written. It was written during the time we had in Montserrat. He was a very funny guy. I heard stories from his childhood and we had a lot of fun together.

What was it like working with Michael Jackson?

Thanks for your question Kayla. I got a phone call from someone who I thought was a girl – a fan – because of the high voice so I was a little bit apprehensive at first about who it was. And then it turned out to be Michael and he said, ‘Do you want to make some hits?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, sure!’ So anyway, we decided that he would come over to England and he hung out with us as a family. It was a lot of fun! The guy who he had as his kind of handler at the time – who looked after him and helped him get from here to there, a guy called Billy – liked seeing how natural Michael got with just hanging out with the family. He said, ‘Oh, you guys are really good for Michael’. So yeah, we had a lot of fun – a really good time. We ended up in my officeand wrote ‘Say Say Say’ there, on the upright piano.

And then that was that, Michael went back to America and demoed it – so he thought – with some LA guys. But when I heard it, I thought it was fantastic. Because the LA session guys are really super, good and funky so that’s pretty much what we used as the backing track. That’s what Michael came back with. So that was great, he was always really good to work with. Then we did the video, which was fun. We did that out in California and yeah, it was really nice – a good time!

In the song ‘Here Today’ you say, ‘What about the night we cried’. Can you tell us anymore about that story?

Thanks for your question, Kate. Well we were in Key West with The Beatles and we had been diverted there because there was a hurricane at Jacksonville, where we were supposed to play. So we had to take a couple of days off while the hurricane passed. We ended up in Key West, which at that time was sort of like the ends of the earth! I understand now it’s all very built up and it’s a bit like Miami. But back then, there were just a couple of huts there – and we were in one of them! We had a drunken night where we sang and talked and cried, at one point. All four of us.

Your given name is James Paul, why did your parents call you Paul rather than James, Jim or Jimmy?

Thanks for your question Jayne. It’s a strange story! I was told that it was because if letters arrived at the house for James McCartney, you wouldn’t know whether it was my Dad – that was James McCartney – or me, James McCartney. So that worked until they called my brother – whose name was Peter Michael McCartney – Michael!? And there was no Peter in the house to confuse him with! So I’ve ended up thinking it was rather Irish! I’ve no idea! My mum was Irish – and I don’t know, maybe there’s just some old thing where they call you by your second name. Nobody ever called me James, it was always Paul!

Last updated on February 25, 2021


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