Interview for • Tuesday, January 31, 2023

You Gave Me The Answer (2023)

Interview of Paul McCartney

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Interview What do you consider your ‘role’ as a father and a husband?

Paul: I would say that being a father and being a husband are two completely different things. As far as being a dad is concerned, I’ve always just tried to give my kids a bit of guidance, if they seem to need it – but that was mainly when they were younger. Now that they are older, they’re guiding me! They don’t need so much guidance these days but if there’s ever a problem, I’m very happy to be the guy they come to. So, that’s largely the thing of being a dad. You’re just there to help, and I suppose have fun with – we do have a lot of fun. Now they’re older we can have a drink together, for instance! 

When it comes to being a husband… I see it as just trying to be good to my wife Nancy and trying to be considerate and romantic. I completely overdo Valentine’s Day! I mean, there’s not just one card, there are cards hidden around the room, and sometimes things even spill into the next day – it’s completely silly. If there’s an excuse to have some fun, I overdo it! At Christmas, I go crazy with the tree lights and fairy lights – totally overdo it.

I try to be helpful as a husband too. If there’s a problem, I like to be the guy that will lend some strength to it. I’m always very happy to be the person Nancy relies on, and to be her strength when she goes through tough times. I am very proud, in fact, to be ‘The Guy’ there. And I know she is grateful. So, that’s my role as a husband: it’s to be the strength and the romance at the same time. I don’t think I consciously chose to be that way. It’s just how I do things.

What did you feel was the highest professional risk you took during your long career? I can think of some candidates: leaving The Beatles, forming Wings, McCartney II, Give My Regards to Broad Street, The Fireman… maybe something else? 

I would say all those you mentioned were big risks, yeah – especially forming Wings. 

The main question I had was whether to keep going after The Beatles, because it was a hard act – some might say, an impossible act – to follow. The ingredients in the Beatles were so unique. You had John right there, who could have made any group brilliant. Then you had George’s talent, and Ringo’s, and then me. 

Once that band had finished, I didn’t know what to do with myself, and trying something new was really risky. Then, of course, having Linda in Wings, when she was not a ‘musician’, was a risk too. When the reviews started to come in a lot of them focused on her, asking, ‘What’s she doing in the band?’ And that was hurtful. But I rationalised it by thinking about when we started The Beatles and none of us knew our chords – over time we got better and picked things up. 

In the early days of Wings, we decided to go right back to square one, taking a van up the motorway and playing little spontaneous gigs at universities for students, rather than jumping straight in with big live shows. I’d doubled back to almost being nothing – just some guy in the band – and now I was earning my fame again. By the time the mid-70s came around when we were doing a big American tour, that was the vindication of it. We were so tight and had come up together, as it were. The risk paid off. 

Would you describe yourself as a risk-taker?

Not really, no. I’m quite careful normally. There’s a couple of times in life when you are forced into taking a risk. After The Beatles, this was my situation: ‘Do I keep going with music, or not?’ Well, I want to keep going. So, ‘How am I going to do it? Am I going to have a band, or am I just going to busk outside train stations? How’s it going to work?’

Inherently, I’m not a risk-taker. I weigh things up and try to be pretty careful. I was the polar opposite to John. If there was a cliff to be jumped off, John would jump! He would just dive into things, and I would sometimes have to rescue him and say, ‘Hey man, you shouldn’t be doing that!’ Or, he sometimes wouldn’t pay his taxes, for example, and so I said, ‘You’re going to have to, or you’re going to jail!’ But then it was very exciting to be around someone with such a different personality. That was part of the fun and attraction. 

Obviously, I’m not completely square. I do a lot of zany stuff! That’s in my character too, but I
don’t live my life as a risk-taker. I try and work it out to some extent. 

Last updated on March 24, 2023


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