The Paul McCartney Project

You Gave Me The Answer (2020)

Interview of Paul McCartney • Jan 1st, 2020
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How would you compare the creative process of painting to song writing?

Well, I know how to do songwriting more than I know how to paint. So painting, to me, is more of a free exploration. Like a lot of people, I used to think that if you’re going to make a painting you have to make it very significant and the subject matter has to be very meaningful. And then I met Willem de Kooning, who was an abstract expressionist and he showed me that it’s just about composition and colour. The way he painted was always about composition, colour, freedom. So, I really enjoy that. And it helped me get over the hang-up of : “This is what am I going to paint”.

“When I’m going to paint, it can’t just be some fruit on the table. It’s got to be something meaningful. And that had totally just stopped me. I could never paint. It’s just too daunting. But then, you know, I knew de Kooning a little bit and visited him in his studio and I just saw what he did. And I talked to him about it, and it was obvious that it wasn’t about this “meaningful thing”. It was about the aesthetics. The look of it. The art of it. The colour and the brushstrokes.The minute I realised that, I just loved it. I started to put all sorts of things in. I wasn’t worried about whether they were meaningful or not.

“So then, you know, if I needed an idea, I would just look at some books I had, or look at something else. (I mean, this is when I was painting a lot more than I am now. I don’t have a lot of time now.) I would look at Celtic or ancient art and see the sort of faces that they made. That was lovely. It is very liberating just to put those things in and build a picture around it. So yeah. Here you go!

Do you have a favourite chord?

A favourite chord… That’s a hard question! But I would say E is a pretty big favourite. It’s one of the early chords you learn. And in the early days, we used to play the Buddy Holly songs that we listened to a lot. He used E and A a lot, so we used E and A lot too. It’s a very pure basic chord and on the guitar it rings out beautifully because the bottom string is open. So it has a resonance that some other chords don’t have. But they’re all good. I love them all basically, it’s hard to pick a favourite! But if I have to pick, I’ll go for E.


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