The Manchester Interview
Interviewer: Philippe Manoeuvre
Date: December 2001
TV Channel: Canal Jimmy
Broadcast: January 25th, 2002
Transcript: Pierre Rattaire
This is the unofficial transcript of Paul McCartney's exclusive interview by Philippe Manoeuvre from Canal Jimmy. This interview was recorded in Manchester in December 2001 and broadcasted on French channel Canal Jimmy in January 2002.It’s great, thank you very much for receiving us, Canal Jimmy, and we’re very proud to meet you and…
Notice : As English is not my "mother tongue", there may be some inacurracies or even errors in my transcript. Feel free to send me any comment at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bonjour Monsieur !Bonjour Paul !
Bonjour Sir Paul !
Bonjour… Sir Philippe !
We would like to ask you about your new record and I think it has been a long time in the writing and suddenly you decided to record it in a fairly short space, can you comment on that ?
What happens with me is I just make a song and then, maybe a few days go by, and I write another song that I put as a demo on a little cassette and when I got a lot of them, I just think, ah, that’s enough for an album, so then I think at the next step and I ring someone up and what happened was my…. someone in my office in New York said " who’s gonna produce your next album ? " They knew I had a few songs. I said " I don’t know ". They said " can we give you some suggestions ? " and they suggested a bunch of people and I listened to the music they produced. And I found this guy called David Kahne and I liked his stuff. So I met him and he said " well you know, let’s go record ". So we went out to L.A., got three musicians (young american musicians) and I just went in and said " OK, the song goes like this, let’s make a record ". So it was quite fast. But ‘how I decide’ is I just set me having enough songs to make an album, so then I think " let’s go ".
But a producer is not necessary, you are Paul McCartney after all, you could produce yourself, couldn’t you ?
I could do; sometimes I like to do that, but sometimes I don’t. It’s like, you know, you go to the restaurant : a chef cooks for you. I can cook if I stay home… I could cook... But sometimes it’s nice to have somebody else cook for you. It’s a different feeling. It’s liberating : I just sit there, I just play bass, I sing, somebody else thinks about the record. Sometimes I wanna think about the record too, I wanna " cook " myself, but sometimes I like to go to the restaurant.
Correct me if I’m wrong. In a precedent record, Run Devil Run, it was like " OK, something horrible happened to me, I don’t know if I can still sing (this is what you said to me), so I’m gonna do some basic rock’n’roll ... " Now this one is like " OK, I know I can sing; that’s the real me ". He’s a melodic, pop and very very efficient Sir Paul McCartney at work doing everything he knows…
Yeah, I would hint that’s right, you know, for me Run Devil Run was really just to make a release, like to say, to do something… and rock'n'roll songs, just like [Paul starts singing] "Well come into this house, stop all that yackety yak " you know, do some things like that, you know, just get out and just sing, and shout, and then, when I’ve made that, like you said, I felt like " This is OK, I got that album in my system now, I'll take some songs in, and I'll use a similar method, but this time with my songs, not old rock’n’roll songs ". So I had a good time making Driving Rain, you know, I enjoyed making it.
It’s a record which talks about two women, one who disapeared sadely enough, and a new one; so it’s got to be exceptional for a pop record…
Yeah, it’s unusual, it’s just my circumstances at the moment, you know, and I think I like to be very honest, so it‘s just what was happening to me when I lost Linda : I wondered if I would write any song again and I was interested... The song on Driving Rain is called Magic, and that was written about when I met Linda, not when I lost her, so I go remembering in the positive… the night we met, you know… so it’s a good memory. And then, now that I met Heather, the new songs for Heather are romantic songs, love songs, ... for her. And for me, I think if I’m honest, the two important women of my life, one my wife who had lost sadely, but I’m lucky to find another, I didn’t know if I could ever find another, and Linda was such a strong woman, but about fifteen months after she died, I found that I was started to feel like reborn a little bit, and when I would go into my office, I would notice the perfume the secretary would wear … " it's a nice perfume " I said, so I realized I was kind of wakening again to that kind of thing, and then I met Heather and fell in love.
Apparently, you went on a trip around the word with her, because the songs are written in a lot of different places...
Yes, with Heather, mainly we went to India at the beginning of the year and we had a lot of good time there, a lot of time off, and we were in Goa, so three of the songs on Driving Rain were written in Goa, during that holiday, and then some were written in London…
Some in New York…
Some… One in New York, yeah, and then one in Los Angeles, so they were written in various places. I wrote the first love song I wrote for Heather in New York. Do you want to hear a bit of it ?
[Paul sits at the piano and starts playing]'Loving flame'…., it goes like that… I was in new york just writing this …[Paul singing] How can I, hope to reach your love, help me to discover what it is you’re thinking of, cos when we kiss, nothing feels the same, I could spend eternity inside your loving flame, oohohohoo…[Paul stops playing] That was written for her, you know, and so a lot of emotions on the new album…
[Philippe, very affected…]I feel incredible, I feel very lucky to hear you singing for me !
Oh ! I love playing music, you know, so…
For two songs, your son is working with you, so this brings a question : do you really need a sparing partner when you write songs, somebody to exchange the music before you give it to the public ?
I don’t need it, but it's good to have, you know, some songs like that would just be written on my own (Loving Flame). Some songs like Yesterday I just wrote on my own… Hey Jude, Let It Be,… but sometimes it’s nice to have somebody, like for a change, like we’ve talken before about…sometimes you go to the restaurant, sometimes you get home. It’s good to do things differently. So a lot of the time I write on my own. But the song you were talking about, once called Back In The Sunshine Again… I happened to be just doing it…ah, it was like … [Paul sits at the piano and starts playing] Here we are, back in the sunshine again, ohoh yeah, oh no more trouble, no more trouble, back in the sunshine again… I’m doing that… and I started to do this [a few more notes on the piano]… and my son started ...du du du du… and joined in with me on the thing and he came out with a little bit ...du du du du… he started playing that on guitar. I said " hey, what’s that ? "... So it came in the song, you know. I don’t need to have a writing partner, because I can do it on my own, but I like to do that, it’s nice to bounce...
There is a question everybody asks when I say I’m gonna meet Paul McCartney; they all say " why is he doing a record, he’s the richest man in the world, he’s very happy ", and also people need to know now, because you and Mick Jagger, you release a record the same month, they want to know why ?
Because I NEED the money ! I NEED the money….[Philippe having a good laugh]... I have no food ! Pleeease ! ! ! No, I love it, the real truth is because I love it. I love to do it, you can see it. People talk about a gift with music, you know, they say " gift from God ". I used not to listen to that. But now I start to think there is a gift and a very special gift; not everyone can do that. I was told everyone can do it, but as you go on, you think " no, no, no... " and so I think " woa, it’s really amazing, you know ". So I do it because I love it, not because I need the money. I just love it the same way as many people look to listen to music as a very special thing. I think I’m very lucky that I can do it, and I enjoy doing it. So, when I sit down at the piano or at the guitar, it’s something I just love to do. Even if I didn’t do it for a job or a living, I would do it.
You even did it as part of the Sun tribute : you went to play with the Elvis Presley’s musicians. Could you tell us what happened there ? Because there were Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana, the Elvis Presley’s guys, and a Beatle !
Pfiiiuu ! Oh la la, oh man ! you know… for me, like many people of my generation, Elvis Presley was just God ! You know, just hearing Elvis’s voice ! I still listen to his records. I listened yesterday to ‘That’s Allright Mama’, not my version, his version, the original; it's just SOOO GOOD ! it’s just magical, and when I was a kid, I remember being on holiday, with George actually ….., and we were on holiday in Wales, and all week we had that first record of 56 with Elvis, and it was so great, you know, that to me it’s magical; you know, I love it so much. So I was asked when I’d be on a tribute record with Sun Records with Sam Philips. Ahmet Ertegun, the great American producer, said to me when I’d do it and I said " what’s the deal ? "; he said " well you know, you’re gonna be playing with Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana "; I said " woaah ! "; he said " yes, you know, … would you do it ? "; I said " YEAH ! " and then we had to go to the session and Ahmet said " how do you wanna do this, Paul ? Do you want to put down the bass first or do you want to sing later ? "; I said " no, no, let’s go once in the room, I wanna be in the room, just like Elvis was, Scotty there, DJ there, I’ll play bass and I’ll sing, and I’ll just do it [Paul starts singing and imitating Scotty and DJ] That’s allright mama…
How many takes ?
I think it was only a first take. You know with those guys, it‘s like being in heaven for me.
When you did this Concert for the Heroes - we have to speak a little about this -… When you put together that concert for the firemen of New York, you said " my dad was a fireman ". Do you have memories of your dad dressed as a fireman or going to fight fire ?No, because it was in World War II, and so I was only a little baby, so I don’t remember; and by the time I grew up and have images of him, he didn’t do that anymore, and like many people from that war, they didn’t speak about it, but I knew he’d been a fireman. But we never talked about that. I just used to hear certain little words; he used to talk about incendiary bombs which are fire bombs. So I remember that, but I don’t hear that anywhere else, just from my dad. And when the attack happened in New York, I realized " well, my father was a firefighter ". I saw these guys being heroes and I thought " my dad did that " and you know, he never talked about it, so I imagined him doing it; and we went down to see the firefighters in New York and talk to them, and give them tickets for the Madison Square concert - we went personaly, Heather and myself – and we talked and I said " you know my dad was a firefighter ? " and they said " hey ! you know what ? those guys were heroes, they put out a whole block with a hose and just water; they had no modern technics, they just ‘pschhht’… "; so those were heroes; so it made me feel really good remembering how courageous my dad must have been.
When we see the concert, it’s mostly the old guard : it’s you, Jagger, Clapton, Buddy Guy, bluesmen…; not many young bands are able to do that kind of stuff. Do you think music has lost something ?I think that there are many young bands that can do it, but I think we’re lucky with the old guard as you call them, because we had a lot of experience playing live; with the Beatles, we played in Hamburg, then we played all around the world, France, Italy, Germany, America, Britain, Australia, Canada, New-Zealand,… We played all these places and we had to play every night; I had to play bass and sing, bass and sing… So you get practised, it’s like a good footballer. You know, after you play a lot like Pelé, you just get good; and so even you’re a little older, you’re still good; that’s football ! And it’s not even as bad as athletics; with athletics you gotta have… be very fit. With music it’s not quite the same, you don’t have to be fit, you know, like… said… Buddy Guy… he still plays like a monster ! He’s the same, you know ! Eric Clapton gets better and better, hein ? I think Eric gets better every year, he’s like…
… you ! You’re not bad !
No, not bad ! [Laughs from both side…]
Can you explain the strange cover of this new record ?
I was doing an interview and the guy was wearing a watch like this [Paul shows his own watch] and I said " it’s an interesting watch "; he said " yeah, it’s a camera ! "; so he took a picture of me, so….
This watch is a camera ?
Yes, this is a camera. Stay where you are, so I take a picture of you…dee dee dee ! The lights are not very good… Wait a minute, dee dee dee… We get you… [Paul shows the picture he took on his watch] So I did this anyway... This is how we made the album cover.
Oh gosh ! my God !
Do you see ?
[Philippe stands up and looks at his own portrait on Paul’s watch]Oh my God, yes !
So that’s how we made the album cover; it’s all been taken on a watch, not this watch, another one…..camera watch; it’s an interesting look; the images look interesting…. I was on Larry King television show and just like I did it now, I just took a picture of him live on American TV; he said " what are you doing ? "; I said " wait a minute, wait a minute, Larry… woa, we got a picture ! ". So, it’s just a modern crazy watch, but I like the character of the images…
This record shows everything you can do, and on ‘Riding Into Jaipur’, one can only think of George, you know, because of the sitar, and this is like an incredible nice touch…
Yes… Of course, it wasn’t written because of George, but it’s nice, in life sometimes things come together, and I’m glad to have the track on Driving Rain, because it reminds me of George, because of India… he loved India. And, I went on holiday, earlier in the year, to India; and there is a great train you can take from Delhi that goes to Jaipur, and you go overnight on the train, and it’s like the Orient Express; it’s a very special train, you know; there is a bed on it, a restaurant, and a bar. So because it’s in India, it’s very magical, you know. It’s good going through Europe on that kind of trip, but in India it’s " mmmmm " [Paul takes a meditating attitude]; it’s very moving, emotional, you look out of the window : it’s India, there are fires, temples,… So it was a great train trip; so I wrote Riding into Jaipur [Paul singing]
Did he have a chance to hear it ? Did you call him to tell him " I’ve written a song " ?
No, I didn’t; no, I didn’t. At one point, I was thinking that… this was written a little while ago and I was thinking it might be good to get with George and maybe use some of his Indian musicians and orchestra and stuff to work with him on that; but we would never go round to it : he got ill.
He was the one who brought India to the Beatles, with the ‘Nowegian Wood’ sitar, and the Maharishi… Now when you think about it, was it a good idea, India ?
Oh yes, a beautiful idea. I think it was time in the sixties for the West to stop thinking one way : " westerners ! westerners ! ", you know. I think it was time for things to open, and with meditation, a lot of people started to explore other religions. Many people have since gone on to things like Buddhism, or other religions, and I think, for us, we were going on to do meditation, which I think is a great thing, very….
Do you still do it ?
Yeah ! not all the time, but if I feel stressed, it’s a great thing to do, you know, just to withdraw… And the reason I did it was to learn the system, if I wanted to do it. And I advice people : it’s a good thing to do, just so you know how to do it if you are ever very stressed, if you have some time in an hotel room and you need to calm yourself; it’s a great way to do it, you know, and Maharishi taught us how to do it, and we were very lucky to learn personaly from him.
Do you think the press missed a point ? Is there a side of Beatle George you would like us to think about ? Is there anything you would like us to remember ?
Well, you know, I think the press and people understood that George was a very special man, a very intelligent man, very spiritual, and at the same time, he had a very human side, so he liked to joke… Like Handmade Films and Monthy Python, all that was all George... this was his idea. He loved Formula One, a big friend of all the drivers, George knew them all, you know; he went round the world, followed the Formula One racings; he had a McLaren ! You’re kidding me ? Wrrooom ! ! I mean, he loved that stuff. I love cars but I’m not in like George did. So he had a really interesting mix in his character… A great spirit, a lovely man, and I miss him deeply, you know. I was in Liverpool yesterday, before I came to Manchester, and we just were in the area where George and I used to hang out when we were kids, and where we used to take the bus, you know. So it brought back a lot of memories to me. And I’ve known him a long time, we’ve been friends a long time, so it’s very sad that he has gone. But knowing George, he should be in a good place...
He thought of reincarnation for a long time; do you believe in reincarnation ?
Yeah, I do; George had very definite views, he was very knowledgeable about it. I’m not as knowledgeable, but… George was the most spiritual in the Beatles, I think.
Now when you think about it, do you think it was difficult for him to push songs to John Lennon and Paul McCartney ?
Yeah, yeah, I think at first it was very difficult, but it wasn’t too bad, because he didn’t write too much at first. It didn’t occured to him to write, and on the early Beatles’ albums, there would be just one George’s song, one Ringo’s song, just for the fans, and George would write one. He wasn’t really interested. But as time went by, he became more interested. He wrote some great songs and he didn’t have to push them : they push themselves. He wrote ‘Something’, that was such a fantastic song (it was Frank Sinatra’s favourite song – favourite Beatles’ song –), ‘Here Comes The Sun’, ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, …
‘Taxman’, ‘Piggies’, … There are so many great songs ! So George came on as a writer. He started to become more interested, and the more interested he became, the greater the songs became.
As the legend says (this is the last thing about him), he was the one who said " we do not play on stage because of the mayhem " and he was the one who stopped the Beatles from touring...
Well, that’s not true, no, we all stopped. But… George definitely felt that way; he and John first of all felt that way. And I used to think, " no, it would be good to continue ", but then we had an American tour that was pretty difficult, and finally me and Ringo said " you know, you’re right ". So when four of us did it, that was it. And then we did ‘Sergent Pepper’; we said we’ll send the record on tour ! [laughs from both sides]
And it went !
And it went.
Speaking of songs, there is a rumour that you are about to buy back the Northern Songs catalogue…It is UNTRUE !
" I have no money ! " [Philippe laughing and imitating Paul]
This is why I would need the money ! This is were I would need the money. (Oh, man ! you would need big money for that !). That’s not true. That’s a rumour.
Is there any place on earth where people do not recognize you, any place where you can walk the street without a bodyguard or Mister Baker ?
Yeah ! In most places I can do that. I do that anyway, you know. Everywhere I am, I do that; New York, anywhere; I don’t walk with a bodyguard . But you know, that’s just the way I am. But the interesting places…, somewhere like Jamaica (I go to places like Jamaica) or India, the ordinay people, the poor people don’t recognize me because they don’t look at TV all the time. You know, they just go to market, they dig the garden, or they do more sort of ruled things, and so they don’t know me. It’s the richer people who have television and are more middle-class Indians who recognize me. But I went to one place in Jamaica, and this lady who had just been buying some fruits from a store, she said " Where are you from ? "; I said " England "; she said " Oh ! I thought you were American "; I said " No, England " (‘cause my hair was longer); she said " Oh, you’re from England; oh ! you are SUBJECTS, like we are ! ". So you know, we’re all subjects from the Queen, we are just all equal.
Are you gonna tour with this record ?
Yeah ! I would like to. What I said to people was that I don’t know if I would like to tour and I’m not sure whether I would like it or whether the audience would like it; I needed to just see. So I did the Madison Square Garden concert partly as a test and then I just did some of the other night ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ concert; so I’ve done two recently; and I enjoyed it very much; so I’m now talking to people about doing some gigs in the new year, maybe in March. I’d like to do it.
If I showed you this… [Philippe draws an apple from his bag and throws it to Paul]… What are your feelings ? Do you think of old troubles ?
No, I think : excellent !… [Paul begins to bite into the apple]… Apple !… Très bien !
When you think about ‘Lonely Road’… It’s about being lonely. You think " this guy is a Beatle, he could call anybody, he’s not lonely, it’s not true, it’s impossible ! "
You know, anyone can be lonely.
Do you feel that ?
Yes… No, now I’m lucky, I have Heather now, so I’m not lonely now; but when I lost Linda, I was very lonely, you know. I think it can happen to anyone at anytime; and everyone understands the feeling; you know, it’s not a good feeling. So that song I was talking about : " I don’t wanna be lonely again ", it’s like a defiant song; it’s saying " I don’t wanna let you take me down, I don’t wanna get hurt second time around, I don’t wanna walk that lonely road again ". It’s a song saying " I won’t be lonely "; it’s like a defiant song. You know, anyone can be lonely; you hear stories about the greatest stars in the world who go to a concert …" yeah ! yeah ! " [Paul getting excited]… and they go home, and there is nobody there. It can be very lonely, not for me at the moment, I’m lucky, but it can be.
Are you looking forward to the next fifty years, going on tour and getting married ?
Yeah … yeah, sure; it’s good !
The world needs good pop music now; we need you ! !
Ah well, you know, I’ll love to do it and as long as the world needs it, I’ll be there.
Is there any yound band you listen to ? Because there are so many bands in England mining the Beatles… When you go home, who do you listen to ? Frank Sinatra or…
Yeah, I listen to a big wide range of music, you know, from rock’n’roll – Elvis Presley – through Nat King Cole, Fred Astaire, - the old people -, Frank Sinatra and… Travis !… I like Travis ! They’re really a good new band. I like quite a few in the new bands. I think there are some good musicians coming through. There is a great guy I love called Nitin Sawhney; he’s really cool; he is an asian guy; I went to see a concert of him at the Royal Albert Hall the other night… cool man !
Do you listen to hip or techno ? What do you think about Snoop Dogg ? Your opinion about Snoop Dogg ? ?
Snoop’s good; I think Snoop’s good ! Yeah, man, Snoopy Doggy Dogg ! … Cypress Hill ! I like some of these bands, I think they’re good; you know, it’s interesting; it’s like… Wyclef Jean. And I think, you know, it’s good... it’s just new and it’s always good to have something new coming through. So I like Snoop Dogg; he’s cool !
…. a crazy guy !
[End of the interview. Philippe stands up and asks Paul to sign his Driving Rain album cover.]