Below are three excerpts from an interview Paul gave on December 6 for The Sunday Times (London)
Paul McCartney interview: on recording McCartney III and his friendship with John LennonMade while he was tucked away in his Sussex farmhouse, his latest album is full of beautiful melodies and heartfelt lyrics.(by Jonathan Dean)
Paul McCartney spent lockdown on his farm in East Sussex. During the day he would head to his nearby studio to make the music that would end up on his new album, McCartney III. “We were very careful,” the 78-year-old insists. “With masks, social distancing — always super-aware of the danger.” Delightfully he has christened this time “rockdown”. In the evening he would go back home for dinner with his daughter Mary and her family. “And she’s a great cook!” he says, beaming, of his firstborn, the photographer who took the snaps for his latest record and is also the baby on the front of his first solo effort, McCartney, nestled snugly inside her father’s big coat.That album was a double act between McCartney and Mary’s mother, Linda. The Beatles had split and Linda was his anchor in an all of a sudden Fab Four-free life. “She is a shoulder to lean on; a second opinion,” he said of Linda in 1970. Linda died in 1998 and, 50 years after Paul made that statement, Mary fulfilled that role.“It was a strange coincidence,” he admits. “I could run things past Linda, and here I was, all this time later, running it past Mary and her family.” Over dinner he would play them his new songs, from upbeat raw guitar tracks to delicate ballads. The family’s surprise favourite? The eight-minute, intense, mantra-like Deep Deep Feeling, which McCartney’s youngest grandson, nine-year-old Sid, would sing along to with his grandfather.
“Well, I am an optimist,” he says. “Generally speaking I do believe things are good, and we screw them up. In fact, a lot of people during lockdown would say, ‘Oh God!’ And I’d say, ‘Yes, but there’s a silver lining.’ It was a phrase I used a lot. I was loath to say it because a lot of people had it bad, but suddenly we saw more of the family than ever, and I was able to do recordings. That was my silver lining. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking things are bad and getting worse. Which, I don’t know, may be true, but I know I’d then be bummed out by that, so I say to myself, ‘Well, it’s not that bad. Think about the other day. That was good!’ I am always trying to find the good in things.
“It always occurs to me,” he continues, “that, a million miles away, on the other side of the earth ...” He stops himself, ever the perfectionist. “That wouldn’t be a million miles, would it?” He laughs. “Anyway. A long way away there will be people proposing to each other to get married. And the majority experience that sort of thing. I love humanity and people. So if I can write a song like Women and Wives, advising parents to give good advice to younger people, I like that. Let It Be was inspirational to people. Songs like that touch people and fill them with the feeling things are all right. I’ve always found that with beautiful music. Even if it’s making you cry, it makes you feel better. I’m lucky. People are very grateful that my music helped them. I often get people saying it helped them through cancer.”His voice croaks a little. “That is so powerful.” How does it make him feel? “That you’re doing something right,” he says quietly. “That what you’re doing is worthwhile. More than worthwhile really. It’s going out in the universe and helping people …” He loses his thread a little, even mumbling, which is very rare. He seems genuinely overwhelmed. “It makes you feel very good, I must say.”
Let It Be was released in 1970; the same year McCartney, when asked what his plans were, said: “My only plan is to grow up.” He was 27. Half a century on? He insists he is still growing up. “I’m definitely trying to get the hang of being a grown-up,” he says with a laugh. “Because at the same time I prefer to hold on to a lot of childishness.” Childishness suits him, I think, since it allows wonder in, and he still has a lot of that. And do not suggest he is about to retire, even though McCartney III has been called the final part of a trilogy and the closing of a circle — and he is nearly 80. “Hang on,” he says, bullishly. “What if I do a fourth? I’m not planning on shutting the door just yet.”