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Paul McCartney

 

 

 

 

Paul McCartney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul - The Interviews

 

 

Jasper Gerard meets Sir Paul McCartney

 

Page 2

 

McCartney is probably a little guilty of hamming up his blokeishness, with talk of bevies and birds, but even a mannered modesty is preferable to pretentious preening. "I still go on the Underground. Nobody goes on the Underground. Not even normal people. I was on the Metro in Paris and people were looking at me, but I blanked them and after a while they assumed it couldn't be me." Taking pleasure from proletarian pursuits does not signify a belief in equality so much as a yearning for company and discovery. "I used to travel on a bus in Liverpool with a pipe - how pretentious can you get? I thought I was Dylan Thomas."

 

With mention of Thomas, I ask if he ever had ambitions to be a poet. After all, Lennon-McCartney lyrics were at least the equal of the Mersey Beat Poets. His eyes dart to his resident public relations guru. "Can I talk about this?" The mood is friendly, so without answer he points to his desk. "There is the manuscript," he says. "I am trying to write a poetry book. Allen Ginsberg admired Eleanor Rigby, and he's no slouch. But as well as the lyrics I am trying to write some real poems. I don't want to be a Renaissance man," he continues, and laughs at himself. "I started writing poetry when a friend, Ivan Vaughan, died.

 

I couldn't write a song about somebody dying, so I just started on this poem. It was a farewell, and it went from there." Is there not a danger of spreading himself too thin? "They can all co-exist. The British tend to compartmentalise. Leonardo da Vinci finished his career as a court musician so maybe I could end as a painter." For the only time during the interview, Paul looks appalled. "Paul McCartney reckons he is Leonardo da Vinci," he says, imagining the headline. "You had better not put that in."

 

I promise to make it clear that he made his comparison with a "wry smile". "Yeah and your editor will take out the 'wry smile'," he says blithely. Despite the bonhomie, there seems to be sadness about him. "Yes, there is a lot of sadness in my life," he says slowly. "My mother died when I was 14. Three years on I was up and running in The Beatles. I have probably suppressed quite a lot. As a young guy in Liverpool, I'm not going to go around blubbering am I?

 

It was actually one of my great bonds with John, because his mum died when he was 16. Both of us had mothers snatched from us and we both loved them dearly. A lot is repressed. Yesterday was probably about that, you know, 'Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away'." There is a long pause. "You don't really want to cry in public," he says, looking very much as though he might. He expresses his grief through music ("sometimes I can feel really blue and pour it out on my guitar") and painting.

 

He painted Linda when she was healthy, when she was ill, and since her death two years ago. He still aches for her. "I did a lot of portraits, none of which captured her but all of which captured a certain essence. She had a great face to paint, long neck, gorgeous. We often used to sit late at night, and I would paint her. The ones I have done since she died . . ." he fades out.

 

"We are still trying to get to grips with it, 30 years is a lot to get over. She was a very powerful person in a very quiet way - very impressive. I talk to my kids and they say what they miss is just coming into a room and feeling her presence. You are going to make me cry now," he says, dabbing his eyes. "I'm sorry I've gone off . . . What were we talking about? Painting for me now is trying to get to grips with what life becomes when you lose someone like that. The paintings I have done of Linda now. They are pretty turbulent. A bit stark."

 

Having lost a wife would be enough to send most of us sobbing under a blanket, I tell him. "Yep, been there. Sure, it's tempting," he reflects. "But then you just find yourself under a blanket. I know what you mean. The first year that was the big question: how is this going to go? But I talked to my mates about it. She was such a positive spirit. She would want us all to get on with it." Although he has a girlfriend, Heather Mills, getting on with it seems to mean work. "I do have a work ethic. I even show up in the office occasionally!"

 

As well as writing the score for an animated film, he has even considered becoming a stand-up comic, though rock remains his passion. He defends his less successful endeavours. "Maybe you are right, maybe I should have been more protective of my reputation. I live with that. But one of these young musicians, I forget who, said on TV the other day, 'Dear Paul, what were you on when you wrote that Rupert and the Frog song - because I would like some of it?' We only have so much time - this time round, anyway - so we might as well make the most of it. The Maharishi said to us 'enjoy', which was before it became a cliché like 'have a nice day'."

 

He returned to his old guru recently with two of his children. The Maharishi had forgone India for Maastricht ("talk about being at the centre of action"). "He was lovely. He was in his eighties and I was told he might not want to chat much. We ended up chatting for four hours. My daughter then got out her video and asked what his advice was. He said, 'enjoy'. Which is at least consistent." Not that he has been doing much enjoying of late. As well as grieving for Linda, her death seems to have revived memories both of his mother ("she used to tell me off for talking like a scruff, which I hated, but now I love. She aspired for us") and of John.

 

Talking about John is the big taboo in a McCartney interview, and I was warned off it beforehand. But Sir Paul seems anxious to talk. "John and I wrote before there were cassette players. Can you believe it was that long ago? We would often forget the songs the next day. John is a central figure in my life, always will be. I will always be grateful for having so much intimate time with him.

 

If you are a Lennon fan, I was one of the luckiest people alive. The more distant his stuff becomes the more great it seems." Paul is rather in awe of John. He resisted exhibiting his own art because, unlike John, he had not been to art school. "I used to do caricatures of John, he was the only person I knew with an aquiline nose. When I painted him recently, I found myself saying, 'How did his lips go, I can't remember?' then I would think, 'Of course you know, you wrote all those songs facing each other.' " Such a sociable man cannot spend the rest of his life mourning those he has lost.

 

Might he marry again? "A leading question. You never know. I have no plans, but life develops and I might. I feel better than I have felt for a couple of years, but what they don't tell you is that time heals by erasing. In one respect I want to be as close to Linda as when she was alive; but the healing aspect is other. You do eventually have to say, 'This is the brief'. All our relatives will die, we will die. And you know, you've just got to get on with it."

 

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'

Page one

Jasper Gerard meets Sir Paul

Page one

Page two

My Love for Linda

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Page two

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Page five

The Interviews Index

Paul on Tour

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