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Paul McCartney

 

 

 

 

Paul McCartney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul - The Interviews

 

 

Jasper Gerard meets Sir Paul McCartney

 

Page 1

 

Paint out the sadness, sing a happier song. Forget the king of Rock’n’Roll: Sir Paul McCartney is the god. No living pop star is fit to tune The Beatles guitar - or drive his car. He is old enough to be Robbie Williams's grandad, yet his music will be played long after Williams is forgotten. Paul was one of the creative forces and certainly the motivator behind the world's finest rock group, yet he still seems to potter through life with modesty intact.

 

So why isn't he better regarded? True, his post-Beatles band, Wings, were a bit of an embarrassment. And I can't help wondering how much greater his reputation would be if it had been Paul not John who was shot outside the Dakota building 20 years ago. We should all be glad Paul is still with us.

 

While other rockers develop mid-Atlantic drawls and accumulate wacky therapists, Paul remains as British as Big Ben. In fact, he's a national treasure. The foyer of his Soho office, where I await his arrival, is decorated with two photographs; both of the world's most famous singer-songwriter on the world's most famous pedestrian crossing (Abbey Road). But as an exercise in contrasts the photographs - taken 30 years apart (one has an early Beetle in the background, the other a swanky modern Merc) - fail. Despite the passing of time, Paul looks identical. The years seem not to touch him. This impression is confirmed when we meet.

 

The idol wears sandals smart grey trousers and an open-neck shirt; if he wasn't so famous you might think he was a dot com whiz. Then he smiles and his look is both wicked and innocent; an expression that reduced a generation of girls to adoring tears. "Glass of iced water please, girls," he shouts to his two secretaries. His days of excess may be behind him but his work continues. He has dabbled in classical music; he confides that he is to publish his first volume of poetry; but the reason for this meeting is to discuss his latest career - as a painter.

 

Never have I met a man more excited by the newness of things (he ponders aloud whether "I might even marry again"). Yet he is also a man who has lost nights dreaming of the past, of both John and his late wife, Linda - when I mention her his eyes fill with tears. He tells me he "drives" himself forward, but he cannot resist glancing back to yesterday: recently, he says, he embarked on a secret mission to revisit the Maharishi, evoking memories of the band's controversial pilgrimage more than 30 years ago. I thought he might be a bit worthy, and bang on about vegetables and Liverpool.

 

Instead, I found him intoxicated by fun, and full of what he calls his "outrageous dreams". He is also a fantastic mimic, delighting in deflating pretension. One of his paintings is called The Queen After Her First Cigarette - a close likeness of Her Majesty wearing the naughtiest of smirks. "She is often ready with a little joke," he says. "The first time I met her was in a Beatles line-up at a royal command performance and she said, 'Where are you playing tomorrow night?' I said, 'Slough, Your Majesty,' and she goes, 'Oh, just near us.' "

 

Will the picture offend her? "I don't know if she will like it, I don't care really. It is affectionate, it is not meant to be anti-royalist." Sir Edward Heath, Patti Boyd, and Andy Warhol are also featured. "It's just a little joke," he twinkles. He has been a little more careful with his fellow rocker, David Bowie, who is depicted in another painting throwing up: "I thought I had better warn him about that before the press got hold of it."

 

He may paint at Magritte's easel (a gift from Linda) but he is modest about his art. "I am doing it for pleasure, I'm not doing it for a living," he says, fondling his earlobe and looking relaxed about his exhibition, which will open in Bristol at the end of the month. Still, he must be worried that the art will be judged a failure against his music. "I do get traumas about art," he admits. "People like me aren't allowed to be artists. But then I tell myself not to be a silly sod. I have developed a bunch of tricks.

 

One is to tell myself that I am doing a painting for my friend Luigi, for an alcove in his restaurant." His paintings reveal a lot (particularly a miserable self portrait). "Yeah, sometimes I look at my paintings like a hard critic and think, 'I am too open, I show what is in my mind.' Linda asked me, 'Why do you want to exhibit?' The answer is that people will wonder what I have been up to all these years. I also thought it wouldn't be bad to get some feedback." It will need to be more than meritorious to stop the sneers. "I know. But my personality is to risk all. That's why I went into classical music. I don't want to remain just a pop artist. I get interested in things. That's my problem."

 

He claims that the young wife of a painter friend was "killed" by her husband's bad reviews. "The reviews are why he doesn't live in England any more. I know it will happen to me and I know it will hurt, but it's not going to kill me." Has he ever felt like escaping England? "God, the people and the weather . . ." he trails off. "I'm used to it. We are rooted here." Unlike your average rock superstar, he sent his children (including the fashion designer Stella) to British state schools.

 

Mick Jagger's daughter Jade recently remarked that she envied their ordinary upbringing. "Linda came from a wealthy family, she saw a lot of false values," explains Paul. "I used to say, 'You are just slumming it with me, aren't you? You just see me as a bit of rough trade.' She used to say that she had gone into lots of big houses in the Hamptons, where there was lots of money, but it was terrifying, there was no love there, kids walking around in echoing corridors with priceless sculptures." But his kids must still have been teased? "Oh yeah, sure. They got stick about Mull of Kintyre.

 

But they got it early and learnt to deal with it." He thinks that if they had gone to public school they would have been emotionally distant. Bill Gates has fulminated on the difficulty of being a famous parent. "Well, I was pretty famous," Paul says in a "so what" manner that suggests he has long lost interest in fame. "We got to know all the mums and we would say, ' 'ow's your 'arry? Oh, he's got jaundice, has he?' It was ordinary, but it was life."

 

How ordinary can his life - and his children's - have been? Stella might have played with a kid on a council estate, but then went back to the manor house. "No, ours is a relatively small house," he insists. "Sometimes I go to a friend's and think, 'Wow, I've got a rich mate.' They like to live like that, but I wouldn't. On the whole our kids - and they will moan at me for saying this because they hate Dad talking about them - are very level headed. Linda and I said that we wouldn't push them educationally, because we were both pushed and went in other directions. As long as they have good hearts . . ."

 

Paul The Interviews

All His Lovin'

Page one

Jasper Gerard meets Sir Paul

Page one

Page two

My Love for Linda

Page one

Page two

Page three

Page four

Page five

The Interviews Index

 

 

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Paul The Interviews

All His Lovin'

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Jasper Gerard meets Sir Paul

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My Love for Linda

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The Interviews Index

Paul on Tour

 

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