Paul McCartney On His Not-So-Silly Love Songs
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Explain the basic plan for "Wingspan."
The album comes out in May, and the TV show of no more than two hours comes out around the same time; they're editing as we speak. Then the box set comes later in the year. The priority has been the album, and then one or two funky mixes that we're doing for radio. There are songs on there that strictly speaking aren't Wings. We've stretched the envelope a little bit -- it's called Paul McCartney and Wings. And I always like value for money. You get all this music -- over two-and-a-half hours of it-for the price of one CD.
When will the solo album you're working on now be released?
I don't know, really. I will be finished before the summer, so it could possibly come later in the year.
Really, along with the Wings boxed set?
Well, really they're quite different things. The box set is a big Christmas gift item. This [solo album] is a regular CD. So I'm not sure they'd interfere with each other. But this is the kind of thing I talk with the record company about. If they've got major worries, then I listen to them. We'll see.
How do you feel about the success of the Beatles' "1"?
It's fantastic, lovely. I took the time over Christmas to listen to it, and I really liked it. I thought, "Shit, this is good." The single most impressive thing to me was the structure of the songs. I was very seriously reimpressed by the fact that there didn't seem a spare inch of fat on them. It seemed like what ought to be there was there, and what didn't wasn't. And I thought the sound on it was great; the guys did a really good job at Abbey Road on the sound, remastering it and cleaning it up.
I saw a guy yesterday who was [dance hall/pop singer] Shaggy's producer -- his name's Shaun [Pizzonia]. I said, [slyly] "I'm really sorry we kept you off the top spot [on The Billboard 200 albums chart until mid-February]."
He said, "Yeah, you were really sitting there." I said, "We were sitting there, and I really must apologize to Shaggy -- not" [laughs].
But it's a good record. Young kids love it, and nobody's twisting their arms. The kids were buying it for their parents -- but not giving it to them [grins], saying, "I'll hang on to this, man!" It introduces it to a whole new group of people. And it's crazy to see us on the cover of magazines now as the world's hottest band! This Shaun guy was saying that the kids don't know and they don't care when the record was made. They just love the songs.
Some things have been said lately regarding current music that's considered offensive, with the assertion being made that in previous generations people were also upset by the Beatles or Elvis. But I don't think that people were upset back then in the way that tactical point was intended. The fact is that you have always been very humanistic in your music, and in an organic way you're a champion of human dignity. There isn't any bigotry in the Beatles' music, and I don't remember Elvis being a bigot in his music, or anyone being upset with the Beatles because they were diminishing the human spirit. Do you think that's fair to say?
That's very nicely said. Thank you. And, yes, I think that's fair to say, and I'm quite proud of it. We had pretty black humor, but in what we presented to the public and what we did, we do champion peace, love, human values. And we do put down avarice and hatred.
Why do you think you did that?
I think it just came naturally. I think that's who we were and who we are. I think we were reasonable people. When you think about it, John did "Give Peace a Chance"; George was doing a thing against the "Taxman."
But it took a little courage. People have to be lonely in their ideals. You didn't know if people were going to like this stuff.
Well ... [shyly, after a short pause] we were very courageous people. I mean, the nice thing about the Beatles' stuff, and Wings', is that they're complete bodies of work, so you can talk about them now as if it's not you and sort of step outside them. And I really do think, even though it may seem to some people very immodest, that the Beatles were a fantastic band, and I think Wings were a great band and did great stuff. You can now step back, and the record is there to be examined.
On "Wingspan," there are 19 tracks on the "Hits" disc and 22 on the "History" disc. Each is a memorable song, but people may have the criticism of "I wish this ..." or "I wish that ..."
"... they'd put that song on," yeah. But that's physically just time limitations. But then they should buy the box set -- that'll have more, is basically the idea. But I think there's a lot of good stuff here, a pretty good selection.
Let talk about Wings, its formation, and your first 11-gig college tour [in February '72], which hit schools like Nottingham University and ended at Oxford.
It's nice now because I meet up with people who were kids at the schools, and they're all grown up and have jobs now, and they say, "Oh man, you came to our college!"
For me, it was like, "What do you do -- how do you follow the Beatles?" We'd always thought it's impossible. And we were always in the shadow of the Beatles. That was the big difficulty with Wings. So it was a question of, Do you just try and get a bunch of great musicians around you-which is probably the most logical thing to do -- and just pick up where you left off?
Like a Blind Faith.
Exactly, yeah. And that was the option, to do a Blind Faith. But I didn't fancy that, and I thought that to get a real band and to get a new direction, you've got to start at the bottom, square one -- start there. So we got a band like the Beatles had formed, which was really just a couple of friends, and in this case one of them was my new wife. And it was just a poky little affair, because new bands are. You don't have to answer to anyone. So we just took off in a van and did this real crazy little thing.