NEW INTERVIEW: PAUL McCARTNEY'S OTHER BREAK UP (THE TIMES)

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NEW INTERVIEW: PAUL McCARTNEY'S OTHER BREAK UP (THE TIMES)

Postby baal » Thu Dec 13, 2007 8:26 pm

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/ ... 046728.ece

Paul McCartney's other break-up
He's become an OAP, he's divorcing Heather and he has severed his ties to EMI. But Paul McCartney remains upbeat and busy

As the man who penned When I’m 64, it probably goes without saying that Paul McCartney felt a twinge of trepidation as June 18, 2006, finally approached. The way McCartney tells it, the plan was to pay little attention to it, perhaps avoid going out of his way to hear his most vaudeville contribution to Sgt Pepper. But that very morning he was greeted at his house by a delegation of younger McCartneys. “My kids did a version for me,” he exclaims from the kitchen of his Sussex recording studio. “I even had the baby doing it.” By way of illustration, McCartney lets forth a high-pitched imitation of Beatrice Milly McCartney singing When I’m 64 with atonal gusto.

A prurient inquiry springs to mind at this point. You wonder if Heather was there, singing along with the Maccas, all the better to imagine the atmosphere on that mildly mythical morning. But you weigh up the risks of upsetting a Beatle and you let it pass.

By the time he reached a pensionable 65 this year, he had turned into another one of his songs – he was here, there and everywhere. No doubt, some of the attention was unwelcome. When redtop headlines weren’t trumpeting the latest instalment of his divorce they were shining a light on his ensuing liaisons – a weekend apparently spent with the Hamptons socialite Nancy Shevell, and his current relationship with Rosanna Arquette. But even setting that aside, it was a period of activity unseen since the days when he had three other Beatles beside him to share the burden.

In June he formally severed his 45-year relationship with EMI by releasing his 14th solo album, Memory Almost Full, not with a conventional record label but with Starbucks’ music division Hear Music. Along the way, there were British and American gigs of hysteria-inducing intimacy and even a measure of acceptance for his classical work – his memorial piece to Linda McCartney, Ecce Cor Meum, earned him a Classical Brit.

During a 50-minute conversation, there is one word he uses more than any other. If, as GQ recently declared, Paul McCartney is the Man of the Year, then “exciting” was his word of the year. And if something wasn’t exciting, Macca didn’t want to know about it.

It seems that excitement – or rather the lack of it – struck the death knell for what was already becoming a strained relationship with his old label. “Everybody at EMI had become a part of the furniture. I’d be a couch; Coldplay are an armchair. And Robbie Williams, I dread to think what he was,” he begins. “But the most important thing was, I’d felt [the people at EMI] had become really very boring, y’know? And I dreaded going to see them.”

Boring in what way? “Well, because I could guess what they were going to say – ‘Love your record, Paul’ – and I’d say: ‘Well, what should we do with it?’ Then they’d go: ‘Well, we think you ought to go to Cologne’, which is what they always say.

“This idea became symbolic of the treadmill, you know? You go somewhere, speak to a million journalists for one day, and you get all the same questions. It’s mind-numbing. So I started saying: ‘God, we’ve got to do something else’.”

Had his American producer David Kahne not been on hand to hear these grievances then McCartney may never have got as far as working out what that “something else” was. Unluckily for EMI though, Kahne had friends at Hear Music. By the time McCartney got around to telling EMI the bad news, the deal was as good as done. Someone at the coffee chain told him that 400 Starbucks in China would be stocking the CD. He liked the idea almost as much as the fact that no one had mentioned Cologne.

The clincher, though, was the meeting he had with Starbucks executives, in which Memory Almost Full was played back in its entirety. “You Tell Me came on and one of the team started crying. It was weird. I thought, ‘Oh, this is real feedback.”

Not much crying at EMI then, lately? “Well, there is, but for other reasons,” McCartney says. It might be argued that, for an industry monolith such as EMI – now owned by a private equity firm, Terra Firma – losing Paul McCartney in one year is unlucky. That the label went on to lose Radiohead because, in the words of the guitarist Ed O’Brien, “Terra Firma doesn’t understand the music industry” – starts to look like recklessness. Thom Yorke may bristle at the idea of jumping ship to Starbucks, but one thing he and McCartney have in common is their enthusiasm for new, faster ways of putting out music.

Actually, they’re strangely reminiscent of the old ways. McCartney was one of millions who downloaded Radiohead’sIn Rainbows, paying “something reasonable”, on the week it appeared. “This was how we used to operate,” he enthuses. “I remember John [Lennon], for instance, writing Instant Karma and demanding it was released the following week.”

It wasn’t the case with EMI. “I’d started saying to them: ‘Look, we could write a thing and have it released the next week.’ And they would say: ‘You can’t do that these days.’ So I would say: ‘Well, how much time do you need?’ And they’d say six months. I said: ‘Why do you need that long?’ And do you know what they said? ‘To figure out how to market it.’ I said: ‘Wait a minute, are you sure you need six months for that? Couldn’t some bright people do that in two days?’ Jesus Christ. I said: ‘Look boys, I’m sorry, I’m digging a new furrow.”

And a fertile one at that. This year he bought the domain name http://www.meyesight. com (a pun on MySpace but pronounced so that it rhymes with “eyesight”) as a platform for his poems, paintings and demos. Far from making him retreat behind locked doors, the fallout from his divorce from Heather has thrown him not just into work but into a whirl of social engagements. At the Q Awards in September he got talking to Damon Albarn and congratulated him on the success of his Africa Express “super-jam” at Glastonbury.

“He asked me to take part in it, actually. I couldn’t do it because of my personal difficulties. I was looking after my daughter and I couldn’t really schlep her down and do that. But I think they’re gonna do another one, so I might get involved next year.”

The way his 2008 is shaping up, McCartney might find it no less of a struggle to fit in the next one. In February he picks up an award for Outstanding Contribution to Music at the Brits. Between then and his Anfield stadium show in the summer, he goes into the studio to assist on an album of songs by his famously shy son, James.

Also nearing completion are a guitar concerto and a new album under his nom de plume The Fireman. While he’s under no illusions about the place these projects will have in the mainstream, you suspect that much of his current swagger stems from the reception accorded to Memory Almost Full. It’s a record on which the Linda years seemed to loom large – not just on Wings-style rockers such as Only Mama Knows andNod Your Head, but across a succession of confessional, contemplative songs. Writing about his happiest years as though part of some increasingly intangible dream,You Tell Me, That Was Me and The End of the End numbered among his most affecting tunes for years.

That McCartney takes as much inspiration from Wings these days as he does from the Beatles, is probably no accident. The Beatles don’t need anyone to stick up for them. But the same can’t be said of the band formed by Paul and Linda in the hangover of the decade that the Beatles helped to define. When talk turns to the subject of Wings, McCartney relays a favourite story about Bruce Springsteen. “We were at the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame and we got talking. He said: ‘You know what? I like Silly Love Songs. I really didn’t get it at first, but now I’ve got a wife and kids I get what you meant’.”

It isn’t difficult to work out the subtext of this story. Having spent the Sixties as you would expect a Beatle to spend the Sixties – seeing Jane Asher, getting high with his arty mates at the Indica Gallery, being a Beatle – he changed with the new decade.

And many of his contemporaries resented him for it, little realising that the changes he underwent would befall them too. Family. Kids. Mellow times. “Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs/And what’s wrong with that?”

Does he ever get bored of being portrayed as easygoing, thumbs-aloft Macca? I suggest that his glass-half-full persona must have been manufactured as a method for coping with his extraordinary fame. He bristles slightly at the word “manufactured”. In fact, he says, it was probably a mechanism that activated itself during an adolescence overshadowed by the death of his mother. “If you knew anyone I went to school with, it was the same, you know. I was pretty optimistic.”

Besides, even happy songs have a way of turning sad as the years go by. Penny Lane pauses the videotape of memory on a moment to which its author knows he can never return. Even When I’m 64 carries a poignancy that he couldn’t have foreseen when he wrote it. “You know, I think you’re getting to the philosophical core of things when you say that. Things that are happy also contain the seed of sadness.”

By way of illustration, he pretends to be a brass band playing I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside. Images of Victorian ghosts in stripy bathing costumes suddenly abound. “See what I mean? One day, when we discover the meaning of life, that will somehow be contained within it – that happy is sad and sad is happy.”

At the risk of sounding like an enterprising Starbucks executive with a chopped onion secreted in his handkerchief, I tell Paul that the home movies on The McCartney Years – a new DVD anthology spanning his work with and beyond Wings – movingly underscores the point. Particularly affecting is the footage of the McCartneys revelling in anonymity at their Scottish farm retreat. It must have been incredible to raise children who had yet to rumble who exactly their dad was.

“Exactly,” he says. “There was one moment where they were riding their little ponies in Scotland, and Stella said to me: ‘Dad! You’re Paul McCartney, aren’t you?’ ‘Yes darling, but I’m Daddy really’.”

Were any reminder needed that he’s still Daddy, he has to leave his studio in a few minutes to pick up four-year-old Beatrice from school. On the way back they might do some Christmas shopping – a ritual with which he is quite hands-on. “I like to do that myself, you know?” In terms of getting the kids excited, I tell him I can recommend the Argos catalogue. It’s got nearly 2,000 pages.

“I don’t get the Argos,” he says, with the mock air of a man who may yet do – now that the idea has occurred to him. “But I do have others. There are catalogues that are even better than Argos. Believe you me.”

The McCartney Years DVD and the deluxe edition of Memory Almost Full are both out now
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Re: NEW INTERVIEW: PAUL McCARTNEY'S OTHER BREAK UP (THE TIMES)

Postby Cologne girl » Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:16 pm

Thank you very much for posting this, baal :)

Now much as EMI might have failed lately, there's one thing where they are definitely right:

“Well, because I could guess what they were going to say – ‘Love your record, Paul’ – and I’d say: ‘Well, what should we do with it?’ Then they’d go: ‘Well, we think you ought to go to Cologne’, which is what they always say.

Needless to say I totally agree with them there :lol: Just say the word and I'll put the kettle on or the champagne on ice or whatever...

Although...

Someone at the coffee chain told him that 400 Starbucks in China would be stocking the CD. He liked the idea almost as much as the fact that no one had mentioned Cologne.
What a shame really :shock: C'mon, mate, what's wrong with mentioning Cologne, we've got the Cathedral, eau de Cologne, several Starbucks... I mean, just look at me :wink: And, for all that I know, we don't eat dogs either...

Another bit I found quite amusing was this:

“Everybody at EMI had become a part of the furniture. I’d be a couch; Coldplay are an armchair. And Robbie Williams, I dread to think what he was,”

What was Robbie Williams then? A doormat? Poor chap...

And finally, I had a good laugh at this:

And they’d say six months. I said: ‘Why do you need that long?’ And do you know what they said? ‘To figure out how to market it.’

That reminds me of "The Life of Brian"... when it transpired that the protagonist was to be crucified and they said they would have to "hold a meeting" or something then. I mean, what marketing? They haven't done anything to promote his albums - six months for doing nothing? Obviously, they can't accomplish the same thing part of the female race does in nine months, but they could do a little better...

But seriously, Cologne is a nice place and won't take the blame for EMI's phlegm (or whatever it is). SO THERE :!:
It's the start of a journey
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And this wasn't bad
So a much better place
Would have to be special...
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Re: NEW INTERVIEW: PAUL McCARTNEY'S OTHER BREAK UP (THE TIMES)

Postby chris » Thu Dec 13, 2007 10:21 pm

this was a nice article.

and CG, i was at the art institute recently...and there was a photography exhibit there...all sorts of pictures of people living their life...all over the world. and there were a few there of cologne, germany. i stopped, contemplated for a minute or two...and wished you a happy day. you recieved my wishes, right? thought so.
I want to tell her that I love her a lot, but I got to get a belly full of wine.
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Re: NEW INTERVIEW: PAUL McCARTNEY'S OTHER BREAK UP (THE TIMES)

Postby mr h atom » Fri Dec 14, 2007 1:14 am

WHA...????

a (possible) NEW fireman album.....?????
missed that one...

...the heart doth pitter...
thanx for the 'view, B
lift up your head...and remember what your life is !
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Re: NEW INTERVIEW: PAUL McCARTNEY'S OTHER BREAK UP (THE TIMES)

Postby gfgb123 » Fri Dec 14, 2007 9:41 am

Ah the B-word. Boring or Brilliant: two of the most overused expressions from English musicians.
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Re: NEW INTERVIEW: PAUL McCARTNEY'S OTHER BREAK UP (THE TIMES)

Postby baal » Fri Dec 14, 2007 10:51 am

Amazing how his comments on EMI ,which are essentially the same as those he gave in April, May, June of this year have suddenly become top news today. Of course, The Times is a major source but I also think that Terra Firma/EMI's current problems in the boardroom and recent Radiohead condemnation of them are pushing his comments up the agenda.

Also looks like Paul is currently very much ON again as far as promotion goes and judging by the speed at which every new comment from him joins the google rankings, he's become a bit of a dab hand at web promotion this year.

Sales hikes of TMY and MAF Deluxe surely to follow well into 2008.

Go cat go!
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Re: NEW INTERVIEW: PAUL McCARTNEY'S OTHER BREAK UP (THE TIMES)

Postby Cologne girl » Fri Dec 14, 2007 10:33 pm

chris wrote:you recieved my wishes, right? thought so.

:) Perhaps it was when I read the bad news about the Chicago weather and thought "hope chris and his family are alright" - I'm glad to see you seem to be :)

I'm more and more inclined to believe there must be some sort of "satellite" linking people's thoughts. How many times has it happened that I have remembered some person I had not seen or spoken to for ages, and just that very moment the phone rings and they're on...

Maybe Macca should visit the same place you've been to - unless he decides to venture back here of course. I do remember that when he was here, he booked a hotel room from where he could see the Cathedral... :wink:

If EMI (from what seems to transpire from the interview) have their promotion/marketing whatever... department in Cologne, they ought to be hanged. Good promotion/marketing/advertising has never been one of my fellow countrymen and women's fortes - there are very few original ideas around in that field, which is why, for some time, I even toyed with the idea of going into advertising... I couldn't have done any worse than those dedicated to it...
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And this wasn't bad
So a much better place
Would have to be special...
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Re: NEW INTERVIEW: PAUL McCARTNEY'S OTHER BREAK UP (THE TIMES)

Postby lampie1970 » Sat Dec 15, 2007 10:11 am

Cologne girl wrote:If EMI (from what seems to transpire from the interview) have their promotion/marketing whatever... department in Cologne, they ought to be hanged.


Not to say the city is not fabulous, or possibly an EMI location, but, I thought he said they always picked Cologne because it was essentially in the middle of Europe and therefore a central location for all the European press to meet regarding a release.

But, I dont have anything in print to back that up, so, I am going on memory only...
I love the sound of Paul screaming in the morning...
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Re: NEW INTERVIEW: PAUL McCARTNEY'S OTHER BREAK UP (THE TIMES)

Postby baal » Sat Dec 15, 2007 10:40 am

Your memory serves you well. If you go back to some of the June-ish interviews, that's pretty much verbatim what he said.
Cologne...fine for executives and accountants whose tie doesn't change from one decade to the next but, for an artist, it really must be mind-numbingly depressing to have to go through it all over again in the same way as for the last 27 albums.

Now truly amazed at how many sites have picked up this 'EMI Boring' story.
I think he's trying to kill their share price to such a degree that he can buy the company!
;-)
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Re: NEW INTERVIEW: PAUL McCARTNEY'S OTHER BREAK UP (THE TIMES)

Postby gfgb123 » Sat Dec 15, 2007 5:23 pm

baal wrote:Your memory serves you well. If you go back to some of the June-ish interviews, that's pretty much verbatim what he said.
Cologne...fine for executives and accountants whose tie doesn't change from one decade to the next but, for an artist, it really must be mind-numbingly depressing to have to go through it all over again in the same way as for the last 27 albums.

Now truly amazed at how many sites have picked up this 'EMI Boring' story.
I think he's trying to kill their share price to such a degree that he can buy the company!
;-)


It's that the news media will print anything negative of music companies just as it will print anything negative about mortgage companies suffering from large numbers of defaults. It makes a better copy. They crave all this doom and gloom stuff.

Frankly I can understand McCartney leaving EMI if he felt ignored or not getting a favorably advance or royalty rate but that Cologne story and having to wait six months to gear up for a proper release (by the way it took Starbucks about three months and that was with him being the only major artist on the new label) doesn't stand up too well. He's been in the industry for decades and should very well know how it runs. It sounds like he just wanted to test the waters. He seems to be happy where he is now. Perhaps it's best for all parties but one should be careful about burning bridges.

As for the "part of the furniture" comment, maybe that's why MAF has a chair on that CD cover.
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