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Paul interviews
1 January 2023
1.35am
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Richard
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Happy New Year!

I don’t recall seeing this remarkable interview before.  This clip was included as an extra on the DVD release of ‘Wingspan’ and shows Paul revealing the writing process behind three songs from the Band On The Run album:

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1 January 2023
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Sea Belt
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That was fun to watch, but he doesn’t really explain how he wrote them. There are so many songs he’s done over the years — Beatles and solo career — but precious little discussion anywhere I can find of the actual mechanics of how he’s writing and how he came up with this riff and that riff and this line and that line. For example, I accidentally happened upon a YouTube of the harp player who was asked to play harp on She’s Coming Home. I guess a couple of years ago British TV caught up with her and sat her down, and at one point Ringo joined in. She talked about how she was asked to come in late at night to the studio and every time she did her harp line Paul McCartney would speak down from the control booth and say that she didn’t get it right, and he would come down and explain what he wanted but she couldn’t really understand what he wanted. Finally she left, and she didn’t know whether they took any of her sessions. It turns out Paul chose the first one she did, but what he did was somehow add a doubling echo effect on each harp note. Why hasn’t Paul ever talked about that? There are like a thousand different things like that in all of his songs that he could talk about and get into the fascinating technical minutiae about, but he never does and about 50% of his chit chat is just repetition of motifs and themes and tropes he’s already repeated 100 times before.

Now today I find, you have changed your mind

2 January 2023
4.32am
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Richard
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Sea Belt said
That was fun to watch, but he doesn’t really explain how he wrote them. 

Paul has been asked about his songwriting many times and, as in this interview, he says that the musical ideas basically come into his mind spontaneously.  He may be playing a few chords on guitar or piano when a progression comes up that he likes, or sometimes the music or lyrics just pop into his mind even when he isn’t playing: a prime example of this type is Yesterday – the music came to him in a dream, and when he awoke he added his temporary “Scrambled Eggs” lyrics.

I’ve written a few songs myself on guitar, and they often come about when I’m just playing through some chords pretty much at random.

Some songwriters have a more formal method that they work through but, as far as I recall, Paul likes to keep the process as spontaneous as possible.

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2 January 2023
5.13am
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Sea Belt
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Richard said

Sea Belt said

That was fun to watch, but he doesn’t really explain how he wrote them. 

Paul has been asked about his songwriting many times and, as in this interview, he says that the musical ideas basically come into his mind spontaneously.  He may be playing a few chords on guitar or piano when a progression comes up that he likes, or sometimes the music or lyrics just pop into his mind even when he isn’t playing: a prime example of this type is Yesterday – the music came to him in a dream, and when he awoke he added his temporary “Scrambled Eggs” lyrics.

I’ve written a few songs myself on guitar, and they often come about when I’m just playing through some chords pretty much at random.

Some songwriters have a more formal method that they work through but, as far as I recall, Paul likes to keep the process as spontaneous as possible.

  

Sure, the initial impetus comes in a flash of inspiration to him, but knowing his perfectionistic attitude about crafting songs, which over the years through other people’s reports has become notorious, I’m more interested in the mechanics of how he built his songs after the initial inspiration. That building must have many moving parts which to me would be fascinating. Just to pick one out of a thousand, there are many sections and components of Uncle Albert , and I doubt he came up with all of them in the initial flash of inspiration. They probably came up with one and then started building upon that. I would just like to know why he went from the a minor to d part and chose g minor to c to alternate. And also, how he came up with that “live a little” section. And all the interesting transition riffs that go on within the song. They can’t all just be coming out of nameless flashes of inspiration, he must be actually tinkering and trying one thing out and another and getting upon the right thing, etc.

Uncle Albert brings up yet another example of how it had to be someone other than Paul to reveal an interesting glimpse into his song crafting: the guy who plays I think it’s a flugelhorn in Uncle Albert , talked about his experience. He said Paul sat down on the floor in front of him and explained to him what he wanted and also scat sang the line. At first the guy was playing a trumpet, and Paul knew it wasn’t right but he didn’t know why, and so the guy said why don’t I try doing it with a flugelhorn? And when he did Paul said that’s the ticket. But also, how did Paul come up with that line that the flugelhorn is doing? If it came later while he was adding component parts to his structure, he knew he wanted a little interlude but how did he know that particular melody had to be the right one?  I write songs myself, and I can — and would — answer all these questions if someone asked me.  In fact, from long frustrating experience of songwriters NOT talking about exactly what I want to hear (James Taylor does that too like Paul, but it’s also the fault of the interviewers for steering them to blandly general topics), if I ever got famous I would be sure to go into detail in interviews about the song crafting process — even if they DIDN’T ask me! One musician who is really good about that and explains all the minutiae is the electronic music guy Steve Reich.

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14 January 2023
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David Lynch interviews Paul about Maharishi and trascendental meditation:

 

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"I Need You by George Harrison"

14 January 2023
9.07pm
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I saw that interview a few years ago. When I first heard that David Lynch was deep into TM, I began to wonder how he squares that with the often dark and violent themes he regularly explores in his movies. What is it about darkness and violence and chaos and ugliness and evil that he finds so attractive that they become dominant themes in his main career of movie making? And what’s the relation of that to the peace and serenity of TM? Is that darkness part of the light? Is rape and murder and hatred part of the bliss that one is seeking in TM? Or does TM promise to vanquish the darkness? I don’t get any sense in Lynch’s movies that he proffers any hope or even desire to vanquish the darkness. Anyway, I wonder if any journalist or interviewer has ever bothered to ask him these questions.

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14 January 2023
10.27pm
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Sea Belt
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Yesterday on January 13th, some account on Twitter posted this old video from 1980 showing Paul McCartney ‘s first reaction in public to John’s murder, which had occurred apparently the night before. There are 874 comments (and still counting) in the last 2 days. A lot of people are remarking on Paul’s demeanor, curiously unemotional and seemingly unaffected. Others say well he was in shock, etc. No matter how you slice and dice it, it does seem a strange reaction from him.
 

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15 January 2023
1.33am
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Richard
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I think Paul was understandably in a state of shock at that time.

Paul has been asked about this several times, and here is his response:

Here are Paul’s comments in an NME interview:

I was very terrified right after John’s death because it’s such a horror for such a thing to happen. I was talking to Yoko about this — I had a few conversations with her quite recently and she told me people don’t like me because of certain things I’ve said. For instance, when John was killed I was asked for a quote. I said, “It’s a drag.” To me, looking back on it, I was just stunned. I couldn’t think of anything else to say. I could have tried for a sentence and put it all into words. I couldn’t. It was just like “blob, blob, blob.” All I said was, “Ah! It’s a drag.” (Pauses) That, put in cold print, sounds terrible: “Paul’s reaction today was, ‘It’s a drag, thank you very much,’ and then he got into his car and zoomed off.” That’s the terrible thing about all that stuff. That’s the PR thing again. I hate all that because I don’t ever mean it like it comes out in print.

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15 January 2023
2.15am
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Sea Belt
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Wow

@Richard 

Just as I clicked on your response I had seconds earlier clicked on the same clip from someone who provided it on Twitter!  It’s not the “drag” part that evoked my reaction; it’s his general demeanor. I can’t honestly completely erase my sense of something peculiar even though logically it seems groundless.

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15 January 2023
3.53am
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By contrast, here’s Frank Sinatra being pestered by the press about his friend Sammy Davis Jr. who had just died in 1990. Frank’s demeanor to me seems devoid of anything I could call odd, which I can’t say about Paul in that 1980 clip.
 

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15 January 2023
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But that’s a completely different situation, @Sea Belt. John was gunned down in the street by a “fan”, the first such event to have happened. Paul was responding to questions about the murder of his friend, someone so close that their names will always be remembered together.

The “It’s a drag” statement is what always quoted as his response to John’s murder, but what’s rarely quoted is his official statement that day, which in part runs:

John was a great guy and he’s going to be missed by the whole world.

Sammy Davis Jr. had been diagnosed with throat cancer nearly a year before his death. He and his friends had had the chance to say goodbye. It wasn’t unexpected, or the result of violence, a shocking crime that still echoes through the decades.

The logical comparison between Frank’s response on Sammy’s death, a death from natural causes that was expected, a when not an if, would be Paul’s response to George’s death:

The difference, time to ready yourself for the blow of the loss.

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15 January 2023
8.17am
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Sea Belt
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@Ron Nasty 

Yes, that is a better comparison. And in fact, his response about George almost amounts to a textbook example of the best way of handling a situation like that. It could be the best response by any celebrity to the death of a friend or colleague in the annals of paparazzi. Which indirectly reinforces my sense of the oddity of the 1980 response, even though the circumstances were different as you describe. Even with those differences, the lack of any emotion at all still seems odd to me. He could have said something very brief like “I’m in shock, I really can’t talk now, I’ll try to make a statement later, please respect that thank you” as he walks quickly to the exit or a limo. It’s not like he’s a wallflower and hadn’t had a spectacularly sociable life for the past 20 years before that, with massive experience fielding questions from various kinds of reporters over those years. So anyway, when I put all that together, I’m still left with, “it was kind of odd…”

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15 January 2023
4.50pm
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Sea Belt said

I saw that interview a few years ago. When I first heard that David Lynch was deep into TM, I began to wonder how he squares that with the often dark and violent themes he regularly explores in his movies. What is it about darkness and violence and chaos and ugliness and evil that he finds so attractive that they become dominant themes in his main career of movie making? And what’s the relation of that to the peace and serenity of TM? Is that darkness part of the light? Is rape and murder and hatred part of the bliss that one is seeking in TM? Or does TM promise to vanquish the darkness? I don’t get any sense in Lynch’s movies that he proffers any hope or even desire to vanquish the darkness. Anyway, I wonder if any journalist or interviewer has ever bothered to ask him these questions.

  

I don’t really think there is any relation at all between what he expresses in his movies and TM. It’s not that if you practice TM you are surrounded by a happy shinny multicolor world…you are still living in this world, surrounded by the very same misery, violence, and darkness as everybody else. TM just help you cope with anxiety, stress, depression and also brings a lot of other positive things…which doesn’t mean you are going to be talking about rainbows for ever.

I remember watching an interview where he quoted Maharishi saying “an artist doesn’t need to be sad to express sadness”

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15 January 2023
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@Shamrock Womlbs 

As with a lot of disagreements I have on this forum and elsewhere, it’s not like I know the other person is wrong in his disagreement with me, and I can definitively prove it. Everything you say could be true, but something still nags at me. It would nag at me less or even not at all, if David Lynch either incorporated the light into his movies about darkness more than just elliptically and barely noticeably (as one could make a case for now, that is to say, it would have to be more pronounced — I can think of only one instance in his entire Uber, and that is the moment near the end of his twin peaks redux a couple of years ago when agent Cooper finally wakes up and seems to have found his purpose for good, hire even than his love for his wife and child. But that’s still too indirect and it’s only one instance), or if he at least talked about the problem and conceded that it is kind of odd for him to be so preoccupied with the darkness in his main career, and for extra credit he could go deeper into the subject and try to explain why he’s doing that and what is the relation between darkness and light, and if there is this light that’s supposed to be so wonderful and redemptive, why is there so much darkness. Is the darkness part of the light? If so why would we oppose the darkness at all? Etc.

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16 January 2023
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Sea Belt said
Wow

@Richard

Just as I clicked on your response I had seconds earlier clicked on the same clip from someone who provided it on Twitter!  It’s not the “drag” part that evoked my reaction; it’s his general demeanor. I can’t honestly completely erase my sense of something peculiar even though logically it seems groundless. 

As Ron remarked, John was gunned down in the street by a “fan”, the first such event to have happened. John and Paul had been close friends since mid-1957, including a holiday together in Paris. Suddenly, John is murdered as he entered his home.

I think Paul was in a deep state of shock. I have experienced the death of family and friends, sometimes through expected natural causes, and sometimes unexpected. However, I have never experienced a family member or close friend being the subject of an unprovoked violent murder. I hope you haven’t either. I don’t know how I would react if a microphone was thrust at me and then I was asked sometimes inane questions shortly afterwards, but it wouldn’t be surprising if my general demeanour was different to usual. I give Paul due credit for keeping his composure in these difficult circumstances.

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16 January 2023
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Sea Belt said
@Ron Nasty 

Yes, that is a better comparison. And in fact, his response about George almost amounts to a textbook example of the best way of handling a situation like that. It could be the best response by any celebrity to the death of a friend or colleague in the annals of paparazzi. Which indirectly reinforces my sense of the oddity of the 1980 response, even though the circumstances were different as you describe. Even with those differences, the lack of any emotion at all still seems odd to me. He could have said something very brief like “I’m in shock, I really can’t talk now, I’ll try to make a statement later, please respect that thank you” as he walks quickly to the exit or a limo. It’s not like he’s a wallflower and hadn’t had a spectacularly sociable life for the past 20 years before that, with massive experience fielding questions from various kinds of reporters over those years. So anyway, when I put all that together, I’m still left with, “it was kind of odd…”

  

 

How can you call his reaction ‘odd’ when you have absolutely nothing to compare it to?

Let’s list some of the things that went into Paul’s reaction:

  • His relationship with John was deep, long, and complex, and extremely publicly scrutinised
  • John was murdered
  • The Beatles had received death threats for years, so Paul must have been concerned for his own life, and trying to process how to deal with that
  • A couple of months before this Paul held a dying nanny for an hour after a fatal car accident

And perhaps most importantly:

  • He has a highly developed press persona that relies on easy-going nonchalance and optimism — it was spectacularly ill-suited to this situation and he had nothing to fall back on

It really gets my goat when people call Paul’s reactions in this interview “odd”. There is no “normal” reaction to death but when you take everything into account I would consider anything from decking the guy to blubbering on the street normal. And that includes shutting down emotionally and looking blank, unemotional, and confused.

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16 January 2023
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Sea Belt
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@meaigs 

These two points are probably the best counter-arguments I’ve seen so far:

How can you call his reaction ‘odd’ when you have absolutely nothing to compare it to?

  • He has a highly developed press persona that relies on easy-going nonchalance and optimism — it was spectacularly ill-suited to this situation and he had nothing to fall back on

As to the first one, each person has within themselves a sense of anything and everything, even things they don’t have any experience of (consciously that is). It’s how artists can expand beyond their own immediate experience to imagine. Different people have different abilities in this perhaps, & possibly the people who seem devoid of this ability just haven’t tapped into it yet. This imagination or sixth sense or intuition or whatever you want to call it can tap into the human nature we all share and all its complexity and subtleties. It’s not omniscience, it’s not going to deliver absolute knowledge that’s always irrefutable. In fact it’s probably most of the time flawed, but that doesn’t mean that it’s always wrong. So even if I don’t have anything comparable to measure this by, something still nags at me.

(Although by now after some nearly a century of filming famous and non-famous people by the thousands if not the millions by now, one would think that among those there must be at least dozens of filmed reactions both celebrities and non celebrities to sudden deaths of friends and family. So it’s not like we have nothing to compare this with.)

 

What all of you don’t seem to be understanding is that I’m fully aware of all your points, and find myself, or great part of myself, agreeing with you guys. That’s the thing about paradoxical feelings, you feel both at the same time, you don’t try to force one to squash the other, or at least I don’t. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter if a lingering nagging feeling persists in me, I can still intellectually say, well there just must have been a good reason why Paul reacted that way, and my misgivings are just some strange feeling I can’t get rid of. And that’s that. But I’m not going to then conclude that I don’t have this persisting nagging feeling. To me that would be also odd.

The second point is good and we do see Paul changing after that time. For example, in Ron Nasty’s clip which looks like it must have been in the 90s maybe early 2000s? In that one he’s giving more of himself, opening up beyond a less glibly bouncy nonchalant Paul that we knew before perhaps. Although on the other hand, I do recall videos from prior to 1980 where he becomes serious about things and doesn’t go for the easy glib response, albeit those were not about personal tragedies. In Ron Nasty’s clip, perhaps the only solid point in this regard Paul expresses there is that he’s not good with public displays of grief, so he’s admitting a flaw in his own character. That brings up another interesting wrinkle to this. Does that mean that his reaction that day would have been different had he been good at public displays of grief? It certainly logically sounds like that. So it sounds like Paul is implying that there would be a different reaction in that circumstance if he did not have this flaw in his character unless he’s saying that nobody is good at public displays of grief, which I doubt. So for those who are good at it or relatively good, that means they would have reacted differently than he did, all things otherwise the same (close personal friend just got murdered, press converging upon you for any reaction. etc.).
 
All this said, my rather in-depth articulation of what seems to be a defense of my position is only a kind of reflex habit from two decades of getting involved in Internet wrangles and discussions and debates, which I used to relish but which I’ve kind of backed off on in the last few years, partly because I can’t find any venue on the internet where people want to get involved that way. And so just out of habit, a tip of the hat to the old days, I’m continuing this disagreement in the form of a defense.
 
At the end of the day, I could be more laconic about it and maybe Zen about it, and just say “I don’t know why I still think it’s odd, but I do, even though I pretty much agree with you guys.” That’s the paradox: both can be true at the same time. Not everything uncomfortable in life can be resolved one way or the other.

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20 August 2023
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Correct me if this has already been posted / if this is the wrong thread. 

I recently saw this quote from an interview with Paul Simon, when asked about the best songwriter of all time:

I’d put Gershwin, Berlin and Hank Williams. I’d probably put Paul McCartney in there too. Then I’d have Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. Then, in the second tier, Lennon is there, Dylan is there, Bob Marley and Stephen Sondheim are there, and maybe I’m there, too. It’s about whose songs last.

I found it interesting that he put Macca in a higher tier than Lennon and Dylan based on “whose songs last”, and I’m struggling to disagree. 

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I think it's great you're going through a phase,

and I'm awfully glad it'll all be over in a couple

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I’d agree with Paul about Paul; however, I’m not sure that “it” is about whose songs “last”.  The worth of a song isn’t primarily in its lasting.

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