Paul McCartney justifies Magical Mystery Tour

David Frost: You said today, somewhere, that if this first film that you made yourselves had been a rave, then there wouldn’t have been a point in doing any more. What did you mean?

Paul McCartney: There would have been a point, but it wouldn’t have been as much of a challenge to do the next one. At least now we know that we’ve got not all that much to live up to.

David Frost: How often do you have a message, actually? Do you often say, ‘I hope a point gets across to people out there’?

Paul McCartney: Umm, no. I never say that. But everything has a message, but you can’t just pick out one little thing and say, ‘Is that their message?’ You know, everything we do is never intended to have a great deep message, but it has. Like everything you do, like everything everybody does.

David Frost: Like when John and George were talking about the Maharishi, they were saying that the main sort of point of his massage was ‘Know thy self,’ and so on. Is that what you…

Paul McCartney: It’s got to be. It’s the only point in anything anybody does ever, if you just get to know what it is you’re doing. We don’t do it deliberately, like ‘OK, we gotta get this message over in our songs.’ We just do songs. But if you ask the question about the message, I think there is one there. I still don’t know what it is.

David Frost: It’s there, but you don’t know what it is.

Paul McCartney: But I’m trying!

David Frost: By the 17th time…

PAUL: …I should know. Yeah.

David Frost: When you approach something like this, do you all equally feel the same sort of thing, like, do you all have a sort of kinship of feeling about the Maharishi? Or about the approach to this film, for instance? Or do you all not?

Paul McCartney: No. Like any four people it varies. We don’t all exactly feel the same thing. It’s pretty near, though, that’s why we’ve kept going as we have, you know? Because we happen to be pals, so we’ve got nearly the same kind of attitudes about most things.

David Frost: How do you categorise yourself? I mean, people think of Ringo as the clown, and George as the sort of mystic, and John as the rebel. What would you come out as?

Paul McCartney: Oh. I don’t know. (pause) I keep hearing that I am ‘the cute one.’ I don’t know.

David Frost: You’ve had five years of all this, now, looking at everything from a very special vantage point. Do you, in general, sort of respect the human race more now, having seen it close range in this way for five years?

Paul McCartney: Yeah. Of course, you know. The human race is fantastic, but what the human race does, I’m not always so keen on that as I used to be.

David Frost: How do you mean?

Paul McCartney: Well, the human race does some fantastic things, and that’s another programme.

David Frost: Well, we’ll get it into this one.

Paul McCartney: OK, well, you know the kind of thing I mean. Before you come into showbiz, you tend to think ‘It’s great, it’s fantastic,’ and ‘That’s my aim in life is to be rich and famous,’ and you can’t see much more beyond that, you know. But, once you’re rich and famous, you start to wonder what it is you’re actually doing. It can be disappointing if you suddenly realise that everyone is fighting and everyone is messing it up generally, for themselves, folks. I don’t blame ya ’cause I do it too. But we got to get together on this thing, David.

David Frost: What did you decide, when you were rich and famous, was the point of what you were doing?

Paul McCartney: The point? I can’t see a point. I think the point is just to do it to the best of your ability. Do it as best as you can, you know, and to try and help. That’s the only point I can see is just to try and help yourself and others. It sounds very christian, and it is.

David Frost: What are people doing to ‘mess things up’?

Paul McCartney: For a kickoff, people still believe that thing about ‘We gotta fight, because if we don’t fight, they’ll fight us.’ And so everyone keeps the myth of war going. It’s a bit silly because they’re killing each other off and fighting and shooting. And then, all the little follow-ups to that kind of thought.

David Frost: It always strikes me that, while you’re associated with all these new movements that come up, or whether people call them Flower Power, or whatever, that you, particularly, tend to become impatient with simplified vague explanations, like the phrase ‘Make love not war,’ for instance.

Paul McCartney: I don’t mind the slogans that come out of it as long as they’re good ones, like ‘Make love not war.’ It is over-simplified, but slogans have to be.

David Frost: To what extent do you feel responsible for the effects that you can have on people in the sense that they’ll do what you say? I mean, the obvious example is when you say something about LSD or something, people are slightly more likely to do what you say.

Paul McCartney: I don’t feel responsible because I’m always a bit suspicious of people who say they’re responsible, because they’re not really straight ordinary people. It always seems to be a politician getting up and saying ‘These boys are responsible for the nations morals.’ And he says ‘I am, and we’ll do our best when we get in if you’ll let us.’ And when they get in, they don’t. And they’re not really responsible. People that say they’re responsible always cop out on responsibility. So I don’t feel really responsible. But at the same time I don’t want to hinder things.

David Frost: For instance, when you said the thing, I know it’s months old…

Paul McCartney: No no, these people – they asked me. You know, that was the trouble. They said to me, ‘Have you ever had LSD?’ And I said, ‘Er, yes.’ And that was it, you know. And it was a big newspaper story, and I was made to look as though I’d said to the whole nation, ‘Take LSD,’ you know. And I haven’t. I just said, ‘Yes, I’ve taken it.’ And, er, maybe it would’ve been better if I’d said, ‘No, I haven’t.’ But maybe it would have also been better if they hadn’t have asked me.

David Frost: Right. And what would you say now to the young people in this audience about drugs?

Paul McCartney: Don’t bother, you know. There’s not much point. There’s no need for drugs, but there’s no need for a lot of things. There’s no need for alcohol either, and you know, it goes on and on. You can’t just say drugs, because when you say drugs you gotta say ‘And also don’t drink whiskey,’ and you sound like one of these fellas who says it! And I’m not, you know.

David Frost: Is there anything else that, if you ran into some of your contemporaries in Liverpool, is there anything with the fantastically special life you’ve had in the last five years that you’ve learned that you could tell them, that they might not realise about?

Paul McCartney: Umm… I don’t know, really. There’s a lot of hints I could offer. I don’t know whether they’d take ’em, because I don’t think I’d have ever taken ’em. Hints about if you’re trying to make money. A lot of people don’t realise how easy it is, because a lot of people work there, with the boss there, and they’re satisfied to do that.

David Frost: How is it easy to make money?

Paul McCartney: Well, you know.

David Frost: But, I mean, I wouldn’t have said ‘easy.’ That’s the difference.

Paul McCartney: I think that I always found it difficult to make money when I wasn’t being myself. I really found it – ’cause I was being the fella in that position – that’s what I thought I had to be. But I never realised that, in fact, you want the fella in this position to be himself, and not to say ‘Yes, that’s jolly good.’ You want him to say, ‘Well look, I’ve got a good idea for this.’

David Frost: Yeah, but are bosses as lovely as that?

Paul McCartney: No. And that brings you to good bosses, because they should do the same thing. They don’t realise it either.

David Frost: The difference is that you and I are in areas like television or music or whatever where there isn’t a great organization and a great system, and sort of individual people with ideas that lead to the way for them to express their ideas. But there may not be that in, for instance, the police force or in the garment industry.

Paul McCartney: Yeah, well, OK. I can only speak for my bit of it. I can tell them how to make money in entertainment.

David Frost: What about the rest? Anything else other than the money side?

Paul McCartney: Right now, the only advice is the one that I’ve always had: to always be meself.

David Frost: And another thing: you don’t take advice, do you? I mean, you…

Paul McCartney: Well, because the advice is often to not be yourself, you know. It’s like the show last night. The advice really, if we had taken it, after today’s Trib would’ve been, ‘You get a good choreographer, lads. A good director, producer. And get a lot of money behind ya, and we’ll have 5,000 dancing girls, and we’ll have you hanging from a Christmas tree. And it’ll be great because it’ll be…’ and it’s true, it would have been safe and set and everything. But we thought ‘We’ll try it our way, and if it doesn’t work…’ It doesn’t matter too much that it wasn’t the success that we’d hoped, you know, for that reason. Because still, at least we were able to be ourselves. And do what we thought was right.

David Frost: And what you think is right, next time, may be different as a result of this experience.

Paul McCartney: Yeah, but that’s the only way you can learn, you know. If we’d learned by putting ourselves in someone else’s hands and then letting them say, ‘We’ve got to do the vaudeville here, then it isn’t us doing it. And that’s the point of what we’ve done. You know, we’ve always just made records according to how we thought they should have been made, and alot of people said, ‘Well, that’s not the way they’re doing it now.’ And we said, “We’ll carry on and do ’em like this, and see if you like ’em when you get used to ’em.’ And it’s worked.

Last updated: 30 June 2022
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  1. Michael Butler Saturday 3 September 2011

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