Thursday, June 21, 2018

Sir Paul McCartney: 'Retire from what?'

Paul McCartney onstage at London 2012Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionMcCartney performed at the London 2012 opening ceremony
"This is it - the actual one!" Sir Paul McCartney is holding the double bass that belonged to Elvis Presley's original bassist Bill Black. 
It's leaning in the corner of his office, above his recording studio in deepest East Sussex. 
"Just imagine," he enthuses like a teenage fan "This was here…" he gestures a couple of feet to his left, "… and Elvis stood here!" 
He picks it up and starts plucking and singing Heartbreak Hotel. He rests it back on its stand and smiles: "I'd like to think one day this will be in a museum with my little Hofner bass next to it."
It's clear Sir Paul is aware of his standing as the world's most successful and famous musician, but seemingly carries the weight effortlessly. 
He's open, funny, cheerily self-analytical and enthusiastic, especially about releasing his first new album in four years, Egypt Station. The first single to be taken from it is the double A-sided Come On To Me and I Don't Know
Sir Paul spoke to the BBC about his new music.
I Don't Know opens with the lyric, "Crows at my window, dogs at my door, I don't think I can take it anymore". This imagery does seem pretty bleak for a comeback.
Well, I was in a bleak mood. It's a well-known fact, you talk to a lot of songwriters, that they write good songs from being in a bad mood.
It can often be a really good motivating factor, because you don't care. You can't just go out to your friends or your relatives, and just start going, 'I've got crows on my window.' 
You don't necessarily want to just go and complain about everything, but you can complain to your piano, in this case, or your guitar... It's a great therapy."
Doubt and regret seem to be things that people associate with you.
It's funny, isn't it? People think that about me, that well, when you reach my position... you end up with no problems at all. 
But that's unrealistic, because you're in life. And if like me you've got a big family, there's gonna be some sort of problem, even if it's just someone's ill.
So realistically speaking, you have to think that it's very likely that most people you know can have problems. Even President Obama. Even John Lennon. Even Taylor Swift. We've all got problems, and that's what makes us all so human.
Paul McCartney next to Oprah Winfrey at the White HouseImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionSir Paul was honoured at the White House in 2010 by former US President Barack Obama for the annual national celebration of the arts
And in a way it's a good thing. I don't think I'd want to just be living in some big fairytale castle, away from the realities of the world. Obviously when you're in a problem, it's annoying. But you're in the real world, and that's a good thing.
Do you have a critical voice when you're writing a song?
Yeah, definitely. You hope you have that. It's a good thing to have, because otherwise you're just gonna write songs you've written, or even worse, that other people have written. So you do self-govern as you're going along. 
You just think, 'That's a bit corny.' Sometimes I'll go right through it, but I'll remember that little bit that was corny and I'll go back to it. But I might just motor on to get the song done. Then I'll go back and think 'That was a lousy line.' Spend a bit of time on that line and think, 'Oh yeah. Much better way to say.' But often, they just fall out, if you're lucky. 
I was just wondering how tough you are on yourself. Because you've had 55 years of people saying you're great. 
Does that mean the voice has to be a bit more, 'No you're not, come on.'
No, you're right. The great thing about the fact that you've been so successful for so long, comes the not-so-great thing, which is that at some point, you're just gonna get big-headed. And you are just gonna think, 'I am pretty hot.' And I think you've got to watch out for that. You gotta hope that you're spotting that, as you're doing it.
Paul McCartney with band
Image captionThe former Beatle played at Maida Vale studios for BBC 6 Music Live in 2013
So yeah, if songs don't just lay themselves out, then I will be quite strict, and think, 'No, this is really lousy. I hate that bit of melody. I've gotta change it.' And so then I will just work harder on it, come back to it, and spend some time, and try and fix it. And if I fix it, that's fine, and then we go and record it. If I don't, that's not fine, and it gets chucked.
Because I think, well, everybody changes as they go through their life, and musicians and artists change creatively. I think, as one gets on in one's life, one can become more melancholic or one can become more optimistic or more sentimental, or more angry about the world. Where do you think you are, now? How have you changed?
Yeah, I think I'm always trying to be optimistic, and I am always pretty optimistic, because there's an expression somebody said to me once. 'I'm an old man with many worries, most of which never happen.' And I think that can be very true. We do worry about things. And I'll often say this to someone who's worrying about, so I'll say, 'Don't worry about it. It's probably not gonna happen. It'll be okay.'
And so yeah, I'm somewhere in the middle. I am optimistic, but I'm a realist, so I try and keep this check on me that just doesn't allow myself to get carried away with 'Oh! It's just all roses and sunshine!' 
Because I know it's gonna rain, I know the winter's coming round, and I know about that stuff enough for me to keep a check on myself and just think, 'Look, just land somewhere in the middle of all of this and you'll be okay.'
What gets your back up? You were at the pro gun control march…
Yeah, I just think America's got itself in a crazy position. In the old days when the constitution was written, it said the right to bear arms, because, I don't know, the British were coming, so let's give every man a musket, and allow him to use it. Then, I think it made sense. 
But as time's gone by, I think it should have been adjusted. Musket, yeah. If you fire one shot, then you gotta load, and maybe give you time to think about firing the second shot.
McCartney at the gun control protest, sporting a 'We can end gun violence' t-shirtImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionMcCartney at the New York March For Our Lives gun control rally in March
But with the assault rifles, it's just got to a ridiculous stage. And with the strength of the NRA, they have so much money, and their attitude is so powerful, that you could see when Trump was campaigning, that he would just say, 'They're gonna take your guns away from you.' And that is powerful, to Americans.
So I think all of that's catching up with America, and I really don't know how they're gonna do it. That's what I think is the biggest problem. I'd love to see gun control. The greatest hope I think, is the kids. The kids from all these shootings, who were at this rally that we went to in New York. And it was so powerful. They were so powerful. You really did think, 'If anyone's gonna change it, it's gonna be them.' 
How ambitious are you, these days? Because when bands start, you'll look at the other band on the bill and go, 'I'm gonna beat them. That song! I wish I'd written that.' Do you still do that? Do you watch, say, The Foo Fighters, and think, 'I wish I had written that one.'
No, I don't watch them. I know we're better than them [laughs]. Sorry, Dave. Yeah, I look around, and see who's doing what, and then sometimes you go, 'Yeah, I love that. I love the way he or she sings that.' Or, 'Wow, that's a great little record.' I don't get madly jealous. 
I listen to people, and I think there's a lot of good stuff going on, myself. But no, a lot of people my generation will say, 'Oh, music's not as good as it used to be.' But I always say, 'No, that's what our parents said.'
Paul McCartney onstage at London 2012Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionMcCartney performed at the London 2012 opening ceremony
Like when I worked with Kanye [West], and that was great, just seeing how that came together and listening to it, I thought, 'It's great. I love it.' Okay, so I contributed to it, so I would love it, but the bits I wasn't on, I really thought were very cool. And I could see the value of it.
So yeah, I listen, look at other people. And I'm intrigued by how they do it. So working with Kanye was quite an experience, something I'd never done before. But it was great. Four Five Seconds came out of it. I didn't even know I was making a Rihanna record! And then suddenly, it arrives. And I had to ask people, I'd say, 'Am I on this? Did I do anything with this?'
Surely somebody told you!
No! It arrived out of the blue and what had happened was, I'd played a guitar thing. The whole backing of four or five seconds is a guitar riff thing that I played. But I played it in A, down quite low and quite slow. And then for benefit of the record, and probably for Rihanna's vocal key, they lifted it, they sped it up. 
Are you are gonna go out and tour this new album?
Well, okay, we're just planning it now. And we definitely know we're out in September, and beyond. Because you've gotta book those now, kind of thing. And I know we're playing Austin City Limits, which is in October. I think that's been announced. Or did I just announce it? That's the only thing that's been announced, yeah. So we're playing that. 
And then, before then, before August, we might just do a couple of little gigs, just because they're fun. We once played The Hundred Club, we once played The Cavern, and those little gigs, they're really nice to do. 
And it not only takes you back to where you started, but there's the intimacy in the audience, and you can have a lot of fun. And you sometimes don't feel like it's quite so precious. Because if there's 40,000 people who paid all that money, you've gotta think about pleasing them. If there's only a couple hundred, and we're all having a party, you just think, 'We can throw in 'Matchbox,' or we'll throw in an odd number that we'd only do at sound checks or something. So they're good fun for that reason.
Elton John's announced this is the final tour that he's gonna do...
I'm like these footballers. People say, 'When are you gonna retire?' And they will nearly always say, 'Well, when I don't enjoy it, or when the legs give in,' or something like that. When there's a factor, that makes them retire. I don't think any of them want to retire particularly.
McCartney and Nancy ShevellImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionMcCartney married Nancy Shevell in 2011
And I was talking to - name-dropping, clunk - Willie Nelson, and I was talking about this whole retiring thing, because he's older than I am, even. And he says, 'Retire from what?' And I think that just says it. Retire from what?
The full interview will be broadcast on the BBC 6 Music Breakfast Show at 08.30 BST on Thursday 21 June.


June 21st: On this Day
1948, Columbia Records launched a new vinyl disc that played at thirty-three and one third RPM in New York City, sparking a music-industry standard so strong that the digital age has yet to kill it. 
1963, The Rolling Stones played at Ricky Tick Club, Star and Garter Hotel, Windsor, Berks. The influential 1960s rhythm & blues club in Windsor, Berkshire, was the host to many important acts such as The Stones, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and Cream. 
1966, Reg Calvert the manager of The Fortunes, Screaming Lord Sutch and the owner of offshore pirate radio station Radio City was shot dead by business rival William Smedley during a confrontation. Smedley was the owner of pirate station Radio Caroline and was later cleared of the murder. 
1966, After a North American tour The Rolling Stones sued 14 hotels over a booking ban in New York, claiming that the ban was violating civil rights laws. 
1966, Tom Jones needed 14 stitches in his forehead after his Jaguar was involved in a car crash in Marble Arch, London. 
1966, Working at Abbey Road studios in London, The Beatles recorded from start to finish, a new John Lennon song ‘She Said She Said’. The song was reportedly based on a bizarre conversation that Lennon had with Peter Fonda while John and George Harrison were tripping on LSD. 
1968, Pink Floyd played two shows in one day: the first at the Commemoration Ball, Balliol College, Oxford, and then at Middle Earth Club, Covent Garden, London. The club was notable for several drug raids by the police, during which underage revellers were arrested; on one occasion a machine called the 'Trip Machine' was dismantled and taken away by the police. 
1972, The first Stonehenge Free Festival was held at Stonehenge, England culminating on the summer solstice. Staged between 1972 and 1984, acts who have appeared include Hawkwind, Gong, Doctor and the Medics, Flux of Pink Indians, Buster Blood Vessel, Crass, Selector, Dexys Midnight Runners, Thompson Twins, The Raincoats, Amazulu, Wishbone Ash, Man, Benjamin Zephaniah, The Enid, Roy Harper, Jimmy Page, Ted Chippington, Zorch and Ozric Tentacles. 
1975, Captain and Tennille started a four week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with the Neil Sedaka song 'Love Will Keep Us Together'. The duo of husband and wife "Captain" Daryl Dragon and Cathryn Antoinette "Toni" Tennille had worked as backup musicians for Elton John and Neil Sedaka. 
1975, Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore quit Deep Purple to form his own group Rainbow. The group went through many line-up changes with, Ronnie James Dio, Graham Bonnet, Cozy Powell, Roger Glover, and Doogie White all being members. 
1977, Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten was attacked in a brawl outside the live music venue Dingwalls in Camden, London, England. 
1979, Angus MacLise, Velvet Underground's first drummer died of tuberculosis aged 34. He quit the band in 1965. 
1980, German orchestra leader and songwriter Bert Kaempfert died aged 56. Both Frank Sinatra (Strangers In The Night) and Elvis Presley (Wooden Heart) covered his songs. Kaempfert released over 50 albums. In 1961, he hired The Beatles to back Tony Sheridan on recording sessions for Polydor, (these were the Beatles' first commercial recordings). 
1980, French police arrested all members of The Stranglers after a concert at Nice University for allegedly starting a riot. 
1986, Genesis scored their fourth UK No.1 album with their 13th studio album 'Invisible Touch'. It remained in the charts for 96 weeks, making it the most commercially successful album of their career, eventually selling over 15 million copies worldwide and produced five US Top 5 singles, including the title track. 
1992, The Orb released 'Blue Room' the single had a duration of 39 minutes and 58 seconds, two seconds shorter than the maximum permitted for a single under UK chart rules. The single peaked at No.8. 
1994, George Michael lost his lawsuit against Sony Records. Michael claimed that his 15-year contract with Sony was unfair because the company could refuse to release albums it thought wouldn't be commercially successful. Michael vowed he would never record for Sony again. He re-signed with the company in 2003. 
2000, 39 year-old Karen McNeil who claimed she was the wife of Axl Rose and that she communicated with him telepathically was jailed for one year for stalking the singer. 
2001, John Lee Hooker, American blues singer and guitarist died in his sleep aged 83. Had hits with 'Boom Boom', 'Dimples' and 'I'm In The Mood'. His songs have been covered by many artists including Cream, AC/DC, ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Van Morrison, The Yardbirds, The Doors and The White Stripes. He appeared and sang in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers. 
2011, American band Maroon 5 released 'Moves Like Jagger', featuring Christina Aguilera. Its lyrics refered to a male's ability to impress a female with his dance moves, which he compares to those of Mick Jagger. The video featured old video footage of Jagger and his iconic dance moves. 'Moves Like Jagger' was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 54th Grammy Awards. The single peaked at No.1 on the US chart. 
2011, People magazine reported that 75-year-old Glen Campbell  had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. "I still love making music," said Campbell. "And I still love performing for my fans. I'd like to thank them for sticking with me through thick and thin." 
2015, Apple Music reversed its payment policy, a day after Taylor Swift said she was refusing to allow the company to stream her latest album 1989. In an open letter to Apple, Swift said she was withholding the record as she was unhappy with the three-month free trial offered to subscribers, saying "We don't ask you for free iPhones. Please don't ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation." Apple now said it would pay artists for music streamed during trial periods. 
2016, Trumpeter Wayne Jackson, who formed the Memphis Horns duo with saxophonist Andrew Love, died of congestive heart failure at the age of 74. Jackson and Love played together on 52 No.1 songs, supporting the likes of Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Otis Redding, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Peter Gabriel and the Doobie Brothers. 
June 21st: Born on this day
1932, Born on this day, Argentine-born American pianist, composer, arranger Lalo Schifrin, film soundtracks, including, Theme from Mission: Impossible, Enter the Dragon,the Dirty Harry films and Jaws. 
1936, Born on this day, O.C. Smith, American musician who had the 1968 US No.1 single 'Little Green Apples' and 1968 UK No.2 single 'The Son Of Hickory Holler's Tramp'. He died on November 23rd 2001 age 69. 
1944, Born on this day, English musician Ray Davies, singer, songwriter with The Kinks, who had the 1964 UK No.1 & US No.7 'You Really Got Me', and the 1967 UK No.2 single 'Waterloo Sunset' and the 1983 US No.6 single 'Come Dancing'. The Kinks have sold over 50 million records worldwide and among numerous honours, they received the Ivor Novello Award for "Outstanding Service to British Music". 
1944, Born on this day, Miguel Vicens, from Spanish beat group Los Bravos who had the 1966 UK No.2 & US No.4 single 'Black Is Black'. They were the first Spanish rock band to have a UK & US hit single. 
1944, Born on this day, English drummer Jon Hiseman who replaced Ginger Baker in the Graham Bond Organisation and worked with Colosseum and Jack Bruce. 
1945, Born on this day, Chris Britton, guitarist with English garage rock band The Troggs, who had the 1966 US No.1 & UK No.2 single 'Wild Thing' and the hits 'With a Girl Like You' and 'Love Is All Around'. 
1948, Born on this day, English composer and rock guitarist Joey Molland who with Badfinger, scored the hits 'Come and Get It' (written and produced by Paul McCartney), 'No Matter What', 'Day After Day' (produced by George Harrison) and 'Baby Blue'. 
1949, Born on this day, Greg Munford, from psychedelic rock band Strawberry Alarm Clock who scored the 1967 US No.1 single 'Incense And Peppermints'. 
1950, Born on this day, Joey Kramer, drummer with Aerosmith who scored the 1989 UK No.13 single 'Love In An Elevator', and their 1989 album Pump spent 53 weeks on the US charts They had the 1993 US No.1 & UK No.2 album Get A Grip and the 1998 US No.1 & UK No.4 single 'I Don't Want To Miss A Thing'. Aerosmith is the best-selling American hard rock band of all time, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide. 
1951, Born on this day, Alan Silson, from English rock band Smokie who had the 1975 UK No.3 single 'If You Think You Know How To Love Me'. Their most popular hit single was 'Living Next Door to Alice'. 
1953, Born on this day, American musician Nils Lofgren. He joined Neil Young's band aged 17, playing piano on the album After the Gold Rush. From 1971 to 1974 he recorded four albums with his own band, Grin. He had the 1976 solo album, 'Cry Tough'. Joined Bruce Springsteen E Street Band in 1984. And has been a member of Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band. 
1957, Born on this day, Mark Brzezicki, drummer with Scottish rock band Big Country, who had the 1983 UK No.10 single 'Fields Of Fire' plus 14 other UK Top 40 singles. 
1959, Born on this day, American soprano vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter Marcella Detroit who with Shakespears Sister had the 1992 UK No.1 single 'Stay'. She co-wrote the 1977 Eric Clapton hit 'Lay Down Sally' and released her debut album Marcella in 1982. 
1968, Born on this day, British singer, musician and DJ Sonia Clarke, (Sonique), who scored the 2000 UK No.1 & US No.5 single 'It Feels So Good'. She was the lead vocalist on two S'Express singles. 
1969, Born on this day, Pat Sansone, multi-instrumentalist, from American alternative rock band Wilco who released the albums Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, A Ghost Is Born, Sky Blue Sky and Wilco (The Album). 
1975, Born on this day, Lee Gaze, lead guitarist, from Welsh rock band Lostprophets, who scored the 2006 UK No.1 album Liberation Transmission. 
1976, Born on this day, Michael Einziger, from American rock band Incubus, who had the 2001 US No.9 & UK No.40 single, 'Drive', and the 2004 US No.2 and UK No.6 album A Crow Left of the Murder’, and the 2006 US No.1 album Light Grenades. Worldwide, Incubus has sold over 23 million albums. 
1981, Born on this day, American singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Brandon Flowers from The Killers, who scored the 2005 UK No.1 with their debut album Hot Fuss. Their 2017 album Wonderful Wonderful peaked at No.1 on the US & UK chart. In 2010, Flowers released a solo album, entitled Flamingo which peaked at No.1 on the UK charts. 
1985, Born on this day, American singer-songwriter, Lana Del Rey, (born Elizabeth Woolridge Grant). In 2011 a music video for her debut single 'Video Games' created by Del Rey was posted on YouTube and became a viral internet hit with over 20 million views. Her third studio album, Ultraviolence (2014), became her first album to reach No.1 in the United States.