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Playboy Interview with Paul and Linda McCartney:
Interviewed by Joan Goodman
Article 1984 Playboy Press

Introduction / Page 1 / Page 2


PLAYBOY: "And Wings was the first step to recovery?"

PAUL: "Yeah. The answer to losing your job is, 'Well, let's try to get another job.' It's not a very satisfactory answer, but it's the only answer you've got. So we just started off thinking, 'We'll take any job; we'll do anything just to get going, to do something.'"

LINDA: "Considering that you asked me to be in the group, you really were willing to take anything."

PLAYBOY: "Did you want to be in the group, Linda?"

LINDA: "Again, I didn't think about it. I never planned to be a photographer, either. I always thought I could do anything I liked doing. I'm not the type of person who thinks of the consequences beforehand."

PAUL: "Which was a saving grace, really, because if she had thought about what would happen."

LINDA: "It would have made me too afraid."

PAUL: "Anyway, it worked out fine, and eventually, bit by bit, we managed to put songs together. Those are the songs that some people thought were not as good as my earlier stuff, or too commercial. I know people from time to time used to say that, but my attitude was, 'Sorry, folks, it's about the best I can do right now. Sorry! You know, this is me trying to do it. I'm trying to do it honestly and genuinely; if some of it's not working to your taste, what can I say?' But it helped us claw our way back."

PLAYBOY: "What do you think of the Wings material, looking back on it? Is it music you're proud of?"

PAUL: "I used to think that all my Wings stuff was second-rate stuff, but I began to meet younger kids, not kids from my Beatle generation, who would seriously say, 'No, wait a minute; can't have you say that about your work. We really love this song or that song.'"

LINDA: "A lot of people come up to Paul and say, 'Oh, my favorite song is such and such' ...and it's one of the more recent ones."

PAUL: "Yeah, there'll be people who mention 'My Love' or 'Band on the Run,' and for us that's a big thing. Or 'Mull of Kintyre' or 'Ebony and Ivory.' No matter what I may think about them... I can view them cynically, even ruthlessly... even I have to admit there definitely was something there with some of the Wings songs. In fact, the more I bother looking at it again, the more I discover what I was trying to do. I think there'll be a lot of that Wings stuff sort of rediscovered in years to come."

PLAYBOY: "Some of the criticism of the Wings material undoubtedly stemmed from the fact that you had Linda in the band. How did you react to the criticism of her?"

PAUL: "Well, we laid ourselves open to that kind of criticism. But it was out of complete innocence that I got Wings together and naively said, 'Come on, Lin, do you want to be in it?' I showed her middle C, told her I'd teach her a few chords and have a few laughs. It was very much in that vein. But then people began to say, 'My God! He's got his wife up there onstage... he's got to be kidding!' And so forth. I think she came to handle it amazingly well. She has fabulous showbiz instincts, and by the time it came to the 1976 tour of the States, she was handling an audience better than any of us. But looking back on it, I can understand the criticism. It was as if we were putting her up there to top the Beatles or something. There was never any thought of that. If we were doing it again, we just might be more thoughtful. But I'm proud of her. I really threw her in the deep end."

(Paul is called away)

PLAYBOY: "Linda, what was the Wings period really like for Paul?"

LINDA: "I think Paul felt very frustrated. He wanted it to work with Wings, but we just picked the wrong people. He needed the best to work with, but he had to carry almost all the weight."

PLAYBOY: "Former members of Wings have written some pretty nasty stuff about both of you... in particular, that Paul was dictatorial to work with."

LINDA: "It's part of the same problem. Paul is such a good musician, and none of the Wings were good enough to play with him... including me, for sure. They were good, not great. But on this film, 'Give My Regards to Broad Street,' he's had a chance to work with the best. As for all the other stuff that's been written about the two of us, so much of it is rubbish. Former Wings guitar player Denny Laine wrote two articles: One said I led Paul around totally, the other that Paul totally dominated me. I thought Denny came off badly. I could see some girlfriend or an ex-chauffeur writing such rubbish, but a musician?"

PLAYBOY: "He was less then charitable about your musical contributions to the group."

LINDA: "Look, this acting-and-singing thing is not... I'm not really a talent in those fields. I was just telling Paul again that I don't quite know how I had the nerve to join him, looking back on it now. I mean, how do you go out with Beethoven and say, 'Sure, I'll sing harmong with you' when you've never sung a note? Or 'Sure I'll play piano with you' when you've never played? It was mad. But I'm... enthusiastic about things. Isn't it funny? People write that I'm cold and pushy. I hope I'm not, but I have that kind of face... I don't smile a lot. The truth is, I'm an old softy. I don't say to a kid, 'No, you mustn't do that!' I'm the person who puts her arm around him. I'm easy. I go along with things. I think my problem is that I married Paul and to this day, nobody knows what or who I am. I don't even know what or who I am. Being married to Paul makes me a personality, I guess, but if I weren't, I would have meandered through life. I quite like meandering. I'm curious and I like to try things I haven't tried before, like music. I was that way before I married Paul. I get excited about a stained glass I've never seen before, or a great sunset... very physically excited!"

PLAYBOY: "Why do you think you have the reputation you do? You share that with Yoko Ono... somehow being the cause of the Beatles' breakup."

LINDA: "If only I'd known that you have to explain things to people! When I married Paul, I knew I'd never had these problems... except maybe when I was at school... but then it was all right because you just listened to the radio and you'd forget it. But God knows, people got on my back, and for things I wasn't really doing. But I'm just not the type who'll get up and explain herself. It'll just go down that I'm that woman... People I used to know say I'm a snob now. You know, 'She didn't speak to me.' And people say, as they did on Good Morning America once, that if I weren't married to Paul McCartney, I wouldn't be a photographer. Well, maybe I wouldn't be a famous photographer, but I'd be a photographer. I'd make a living. All those things get to you, but I can handle it. I can just wipe it out. I don't dwell on what people say about me. I actually dwell more on what people say about Paul, for some reason. Maybe it's because he can't handle it."

PLAYBOY: "How do you handle it when a book portrays you as a groupie and describes intimate scenes of Paul's escapades and John's so-called homosexual encounter with Beatles manager Brian Epstein? That was what Peter Brown, who ran Apple the Beatles' record company, wrote about in 'The Love You Make.'"

LINDA: (pauses) "He was a friend. He was the one who introduced Paul and me... A man I trusted. When I was going to the hospital to have Stella, I handed him my baby, Mary, to hold. I wouldn't trust my baby to anyone but a friend. Now it's like he doesn't exist. And his book... well, it doesn't matter what he wrote, because he betrayed a trust. We decided not to read it, but we heard things. We put the copy he sent us in the fire and I photographed it as it burned, page by page. As to what he wrote about Paul or about John's experiences, ask Paul himself. He's coming back."

(Paul rejoins the conversation)

PLAYBOY: "We were talking about what Peter Brown wrote in his book."

PAUL: "Yeah, he told us he was going to write about the music of the Sixties, not a book about the Beatles. I took him into my house, something we don't do; we had lunch, showed him the kids, showed him around our village. I actually thought he was a friend. so to find out that he isn't is no big deal. But I mean, I hear he said John Lennon had a gay thing with Brian Epstein when they went to Spain together once. That's been rumored for years. I mean, was he in the room with them? It's probably just wishful thinking on his part. But I'll tell you what's naughty about it-- that John's not here to answer it, and neither is Brian. All that stuff that's written about us, I just hope that people who've sort of heard of our music, vaguely, know what the Beatles, or the ex-Beatles, were... and it wasn't what's been written. I mean, John's time and effort were, in the main, spent on pretty honorable stuff. As for the other side, well, nobody's perfect, nobody's Jesus. And look what they did to him."

PLAYBOY: "John apparently coped with the craziness of that period by experimenting with heroin. Did you know anything about that?"

PAUL: "No, not at the time. It's strange; that was all in private."

LINDA: "I don't think we really knew what they were up to."

PAUL: "We certainly never saw them on heroin. Never, ever."

LINDA: "It must have been when Yoko was around."

PAUL: "Yeah. My theory is that John and Yoko were so much in love that they began adding wildness to ordinary love, going for it in a big way. From what they told us... from what we found out... it did include crazy things like heroin. It appeared to include everything and anything. I mean, if the dare was to go naked, they would go naked. If the dare was to try heroin, nothing was too much. To think of yourself as Jesus Christ was not blasphemous, it was all just larger than life. All sorts of stuff was going on. Everybody was talking about expanding your mind."

PLAYBOY: "And you never took heroin yourself?"

PAUL: "No."

PLAYBOY: "But, to say the least, you're no stranger to other drugs?"

PAUL: "I've never wanted to be seen talking about marijuana for publication. Why? Because I've got four kids and it looks like I'm advocating it. I'm not. But after this last bust in Barbados, with people saying, 'Naughty boy, shouldn't do that!' as a 42-year-old man, I feel I now have the right to reply. If anyone had told me in the Sixties that 20 years later we'd still be talking about whether pot was worse than this or that, I'd have said, 'Oh, come off it, boys.' If you start the most-dangerous list with heroin or morphine... we know there's no way out of that-- you've got to be suicidal to get into that in any form-- then I think marijuana comes toward the bottom of the list. Cocaine is above marijuana in harmfulness. I used to do coke but it got too fashionable, too darling, amongst the record execs. I couldn't handle all that, being in the bogs bathrooms with all those creeps! And I do genuinely believe that Librium and Valium would both be above marijuana. For me, pot is milder than Scotch. That doesn't mean I've turned around and advocated marijuana. I haven't. I'm really only saying this is true for me. I mean, in Barbados, where I was on holiday, I was in a room miles away from anyone. It never interfered with anyone. No one was watching me except one manservant at the place. I also want to say that there are things that marijuana is more harmful than: air, for instance. I advocate air every day. Water, orange juice. I'd advocate that and a good vegetarian diet any day of the week. But as I say, in print, you're put in a corner; they make you sound like the bloody high priest of pot. It's stupid, you know. I can take pot or leave it. I got busted in Japan for it. I was nine days without it and there wasn't a hint of withdrawal, nothing."

PLAYBOY: "You haven't discussed your imprisonment in Japan for pot possession. What was it like?"

PAUL: "It was hell. But I only remember the good bits. Like a bad holiday. The ting is, my arrest was on every bloody TV set. The other prisoners all knew who I was and asked me to sing. I didn't have any instruments, but the world's press would have loved to have had cameras rolling as I was going drums with hands. Well, I'd seen 'Bridge on the River Kwai.' I knew what you had to do when you were a prisoner of war! You had to laugh a lot and keep cheery and keep yourself up, 'cause that's all you had. So I did a lot of that."

PLAYBOY: "Didn't you write a 20,000-word account of your stay in prison?"

PAUL: "After it, yeah. I wrote it in case anybody ever asked, 'What was that like?' because, like I say, all the good bits have surfaced. But if I think hard, I can remember that the first thing I expected was rape. That was my big fear. Right? Wouldn't that be yours? So I slept with me back to the wall. I didn't know what was going to happen, you know?" (Japanese accent) "'Hello, this is you friendly jailer. I'd like a favor, please.' 'No! Not even for a bowl of rice!' I slept for about a week in the green suit I was arrested in; I didn't know you could ask for fresh clothes."

PLAYBOY: "What was that period like for you, Linda?"

LINDA: "Total misery. The kids and I were in a Japanese hotel, not knowing what was going to happen. I was so frightened for Paul I can't even describe it. Your imagination takes off. I didn't know that they would be doing to him. And for what? A bit of nothing. Marijuana isn't like bombs or murder or the Mafia. I don't think pot is a sin, but I didn't want us to be a martyr for it."

PLAYBOY: "Your legal problems with pot are one thing, but the legal affairs surrounding Apple, to wind up the Beatles' financial affairs, are in another dimension. Will your former business ever be settled?"

LINDA: "What do you want? It's only been 15 years." (laughter)

PAUL: "To most clear-minded people, it's obvious we should have settled the Beatles' affairs by now... for our own sanity. But there have been many stumbling blocks over the years. There was the occasion when John came to a meeting and asked for a 1,000,000 pounds loan. That made us stumble! Everyone went, 'Say what?!' and jaws dropped and the meeting was canceled. Then there was the time when we had all arrived for the big dissolution meeting in the Plaza Hotel in New York. There were green-baize tables... like the Geneva Conference it was... with millions of documents laid out for us to sign. George had just come off tour, I'd flown in specially from England, Ringo had flown in specially, too, I think, and John wouldn't show up! He wouldn't come from across the park! George got on the phone, yelled, 'Take those fucking shades off and come over here, you!' John still wouldn't come over. He had a balloon delivered with a sign saying, LISTEN TO THIS BALLOON. It was all quite far out."

LINDA: "The numbers weren't right, the planets weren't right, and John wasn't coming. Well! And it's never happened since. It's never happened. He said he was not coming and that was it. Had we known there was some guy flipping cards on his bed to help him make his decision, we would have all gone over there. George blew his top, but it didn't change anything. It's beyond words. It's mind-boggling."

PAUL: "There were many stumbling blocks, and to keep the record straight, it wasn't always John and Yoko. Obviously, they accused my side of doing plenty of stumbling, too. We've all accused one another of various business things; we tend to be pretty paranoid by now, as you can imagine. There's a lot of money involved."

PLAYBOY: "With all these stories about numbers and cards, you seem to be saying it's Yoko who has kept this from being settled."

LINDA: "I don't know about that. It is true she settled with Klein for 5,000,000. It wasn't her money, really. Each Beatle gave a share, Paul included, and he never wanted that man as manager in the first place. Five or six million! When you think that they were pulling bloody cards to see what they would do! If only we had known what they were doing back there! We tried reason and reason didn't exist. All I know is, with all the advisors and lawyers and parasites, we're putting a lot of kids through prep school and buying a lot of swimming pools. And all Paul has been saying all this time is, 'Divide it four ways, please.' Instead of it staying in one kitty, where only the lawyers make money, divide it four ways and let's get on with life! I said to Paul I wouldn't mind if we didn't get anything, as long as it gets divided, just to get rid of the aggro. Just so the lawyers will stop making money. I don't care if we don't get any. But I hate being the fool."

PLAYBOY: "Fortunately for you, most of your income comes not from Apple but, actually, from your music-publishing company, right?"

PAUL: "That and my recording. About equal. The music publishing I own is fabulous recording. About equal. The music publishing I own is fabulous. Beautiful. I owe it all to Linda's dad Lee Eastman and her brother John. Linda's dad is a great business brain. He said originally, 'If you are going to invest, do it in something you know. If you invest in building computers or something, you can lose a fortune. Wouldn't you rather be in music? Stay in music.' I said, 'Yeah, I'd much rather do that.' So he asked me what kind of music I liked. And the first name I said was Buddy Holly. Lee got on to the man who owned Buddy Holly's stuff and bought that for me. So I was into publishing now. The strange thing is, we never owned our own publishing; it was always getting bought and sold. Someone else owns 'Yesterday,' not me. So it is a kind of compensation, really, for that. Lee found this company called Edwin H. Morris, in New York, which owned everything, including the kitchen sink... it's just the most wonderful company ever. It has some of the best music ever written, songs that my dad would play, like 'Tenderly,' 'After You've Gone,' 'Stormy Weather.' And our luck! There's a thing in the business they call Eastman Luck, or maybe a little McCartney luck thrown in, too, but we just suddenly got very, very lucky. There was a show that needed investors and Lee said, 'Do you want to let the show run or should we can it? We have the power to can it.' I said, 'No, keep it going... it's an artistic venture, we don't want to can that.' It was 'Annie.' It was at a small theater before it got to Broadway, a little show, and we published the music. 'A Chorus Line' happened too, and we published that. 'La Cage aux Folles' has happened since, and that's been lunatic, insane. Many, many more. 'Grease' too. John Travolta was looking for something to do, and we owned the publishing rights to that."

PLAYBOY: "It had nothing to do with your understanding of popular music?"

PAUL: "A bit. I was vibing it heavily. And very in love with it, and that helps. Anyway, now it's become the largest independently owned publishing company, so it's a big dip."

PLAYBOY: "It's also made you one of the richest men in the world, hasn't it?"

LINDA: "There aren't all those millions that you read about in the paper. How much Paul earns is one of those constant topics in the gossip columns, and it's all exaggerated."

PLAYBOY: "The figure we've heard most often is that you're worth about 500,000,000."

PAUL: "And the other one is that I earn 20,000,000 a year."

LINDA: "Can you imagine the taxes you'd have to pay on that?"

PAUL: "The money stories actually arose because some fellow somewhere wrote a book called 'World Paychecks: Who Makes What, Where and Why' ...a rubbishy book from which the newspapers quoted a reference to me. That is the entire source this wealth has come from."

LINDA: "And it doubles every time you look at the paper."

PAUL: "It's all based on that one published item, and it actually isn't true. I didn't earn that much in record royalties. You've only got to look at my sales in 1980 to figure that one out. In the here-and-now stage, the figure is wildly exaggerated."

LINDA: "That's it. That's all you need to say."

PLAYBOY: "Alright, but when you say 'in the here-and-now stage,' you seem to be hedging; does that mean that iths possible you might be earning that much in the future?"

PAUL: "No, I'm not talking figures. Where I come from, you don't really talk about how much you're earning. Those things are private. Like a lot of people, my dad never told my mum how much he was earning. I'm certainly not going to tell the world. I'm doing well."

PLAYBOY: "Does Linda Know?"

PAUL: "Linda knows."

LINDA: "I'm not really interested. I want to have enough to live on, and if I can help a few other people, that's what I care about."

PLAYBOY: "One other rumor: Is it true, as published, that you are the single largest depositor in the Chase Manhattan Bank in New York?"

PAUL AND LINDA: "We don't even use Chase Manhattan Bank!"

PLAYBOY: "Whatever else you say, people have always felt you are commercially minded, that you are motivated by money."

PAUL: "No, it isn't money. It's doing well. I saw that Meryl Streep said, 'I just want to do my job well.' And really, that's all I'm ever trying to do. I still like writing songs. It still gives me a thrill. If I had been asked at 15 why I wrote, I would have answered, 'Money.' But after a while, you realize that's not really your driving motive. When you get the money, you still need to keep going; you don't stop. There has to be something else. I think it's the freedom to do what you want and to live your dreams."

PLAYBOY: "One of the last things John Lennon agreed to do for PLAYBOY was to run through his songs and share his memories of them. Even if we don't have the time to go through all your music, Paul, would you tell us what you remember about some of your Beatles songs?"

PAUL: "OK, but it'll just be off the top of my head."

PLAYBOY: "Understood. What do you remember about one of your earliest songs, 'Love Me Do'?"

PAUL: "'Love Me Do' ...the first song we recorded, like, for real. First serious audition. I was very nervous, I remember. John was supposed to sing the lead, but they changed their minds and asked me to sing lead at the last minute, because they wanted John to play harmonica. Until then, we hadn't rehearsed with a harmonica; George Martin started arranging it on the spot. It was very nerve-wracking."

PLAYBOY: "'Do You Want to Know a Secret'?"

PAUL: "Nothing much; a song we really wrote for George to sing. Before he wrote his own stuff, John and I wrote things for him and Ringo to do."

PLAYBOY: "'All My Loving.'"

PAUL: "Yeah, I wrote that one. It was the first song I ever wrote where I had the words before the music. I wrote the words on a bus on tour, then we got the tune when I arrived there. The first time I've ever worked upside down."

PLAYBOY: "'I Wanna Be Your Man.'"

PAUL: "I wrote it for Ringo to do on one of the early albums. But we ended up giving it to the Stones. We met Mick and Keith in a taxi one day in Charing Cross Road and Mick said, 'Have you got any songs?' So we said, 'Well, we just happen to have one with us!' I think George had been instrumental in getting them their first record contract. We suggested them to Decca, 'cuz Decca had blown it by refusing us, so they had tried to save face by asking George, 'Know any other groups?' He said, 'Well, there is this group called the Stones.' So that's how they got their first contract. Anyway, John and I gave them maybe not their first record, but I think the first they got on the charts with. They don't tell anybody about it these days; they prefer to be more ethnic. But you and I know the real truth."

PLAYBOY: "What about 'Not a Second Time'?"

PAUL: "Influenced by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles."

PLAYBOY: "'Please Mr. Postman.'"

PAUL: "Influenced by the Marvelettes, who did the original version. We got it from our fans, who would write PLEASE MR. POSTMAN on the back of the envelopes. 'Posty, posty, don't be slow, be like the Beatles and go, man, go!' That sort of stuff."

PLAYBOY: "'I Should Have Known Better.'"

PAUL: "You should have studied before you took this Interview! 'I Should Have Known Better' was one of John's; it was in 'A Hard Day's Night.'"

PLAYBOY: "'If I Fell.'"

PAUL: "This was our close-harmony period. We did a few songs... 'This Boy,' 'If I Fell,' 'Yes It Is' the same vein, which were kind of like the Fourmost- an English vocal group, only not really."

PLAYBOY: "So you took things from other groups; you heard what other pop groups were doing."

PAUL: "Oh, yeah. We were the biggest nickers in town. Plagiarists extraordinaires."

PLAYBOY: "'And I Love Her.' Was that written for anybody?"

PAUL: "It's just a love song; no, it wasn't for anyone. Having the title start in midsentence, I thought that was clever. Well, Perry Como did 'And I Love You So' many years later. Tried to nick the idea. I like that... it was a nice tune, that one. I still like it."

PLAYBOY: "'Can't Buy Me Love.'"

PAUL: "We recorded it in France, as I recall. Went over to the Odeon in Paris. Recorded it over there. Felt proud because Ella Fitzgerald recorded it, too, though we didn't realize what it meant that she was doing it."

PLAYBOY: "'Help!'"

PAUL: "John wrote that... well, John and I wrote it at his house in Weybridge for the film. I think the title was out of desperation."

PLAYBOY: "'You've Got to Hide Your Love Away.'"

PAUL: "That was John doing a Dylan... heavily influenced by Bob. If you listen, he's singing it like Bob."

PLAYBOY: "'Nowhere Man.'"

PAUL: "That was John after a night out, with dawn coming up. I think at that point in his life, he was a bit wondering where he was going."

PLAYBOY: "'In My Life.'"

PAUL: "I think I wrote the tune to that; that's the one we slightly dispute. John either forgot or didn't think I wrote the tune. I remember he had the words, like a poem... sort of about faces he remembered. I recall going off for half an hour and sitting with a Mellotron he had, writing the tune. Which was Miracles inspired, as I remember. In fact, a lot of stuff was then."

PLAYBOY: "'Taxman.'"

PAUL: "George wrote that and I played guitar on it. He wrote it in anger at finding out what the taxman did. He had never known before then what could happen to your money."

PLAYBOY: "'Eleanor Rigby.'"

PAUL: "I wrote that. I got the name Rigby from a shop in Bristol. I was wandering round Bristol one day and saw a shop called Rigby. And I think Eleanor was from Eleanor Bron, the actress we worked with in the film 'Help!' But I just liked the name. I was looking for a name that sounded natural. Eleanor Rigby sounded natural."

PLAYBOY: "'Here, There and Everywhere.'"

PAUL: "I wrote that by John's pool one day."

PLAYBOY: "Did you write a lot of your stuff at John's house in that period?"

PAUL: "Some of it. When we were working together, sometimes he came in to see me. But mainly, I went out to see him."

PLAYBOY: "Of the songs you composed on your own, 'Yesterday' is obviously your greatest hit. Where did 'Yesterday' come from?"

PAUL: "It fell out of bed. I had a piano by my bedside and I... must have dreamed it, because I tumbled out of bed and put my hands on the piano keys and I had a tune in my head. It was just all there, a complete thing. I couldn't believe it. It came too easy. In fact, I didn't believe I'd written it. I thought maybe I'd heard it before, it was some other tune, and I went around for weeks playing the chords of the song for people, asking them, 'Is this like something? I think I've written it.' And people would say, 'No, it's not like anything else, but it's good.' I don't believe in magic as far as that kind of thing is concerned. I'm not into 'Hey, what's your sign?' or any of that. But, I mean, magic as in 'Where did you come from? How did you become the successful sperm out of 300,000,000?' --that's magic I believe in. I don't know how I got here, and I don't know how I write songs. I don't know why I breathe. God, magic, wonder. It just is. I love that kind of thought: All the information for a tree was in an acorn... the tree was somehow in there."

PLAYBOY: "Alright, from the sublime to the... less sublime: How about 'Yellow Submarine'?"

PAUL: "I wrote that in bed one night. As a kid's story. And then we thought it would be good for Ringo to do."

PLAYBOY: "'Good Day Sunshine.'"

PAUL: "Wrote that out at John's one day... the sun was shining. Influenced by the Lovin' Spoonful."

PLAYBOY: "When you wrote, did you have difficulty deciding who would play what and who would sing what? Or did you just agree you would sing your own songs?"

PAUL: "Normally, you just sang your own songs, and you played whatever you wrote."

PLAYBOY: "'For No-One.'"

PAUL: "I wrote that on a skiing holiday in Switzerland. In a hired chalet amongst the snow."

PLAYBOY: "'Got to Get You into My Life.'"

PAUL: "That's mine; I wrote it. It was the first one we used brass on, I think. One of the first times we used soul trumpets."

PLAYBOY: "'Tomorrow Never Knows.'"

PAUL: "That was one of Ringo's malapropisms. John wrote the lyrics from Timothy Leary's version of the 'Tibetan Book of the Dead.' It was a kind of Bible for all the psychedelic freaks. that was an LSD song. Probably the only one. People always thought 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' was, but it actually wasn't meant to say LSD. It was a drawing that John's son brought home from school. Lucy was a kid in his school. And we said, 'That's a great title,' and we wrote the psychedelic song based on it. It's a natural, isn't it? You know, it was that sort of time. Like all that 'Abbey Road' cover stuff, you know. Paul is dead, because he hasn't got shoes on, you know? It was a period when they used to read into our lyrics a lot, used to think there was more in them than there was. We didn't bother pointing out."

PLAYBOY: "Did your taking LSD make any difference in your writing?"

PAUL: "I suppose it did, yeah. I suppose everything makes some kind of difference. It was a psychedelic period then, so we were into that kind of thing. But we didn't 'work' with LSD... ever."

PLAYBOY: "'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.'"

PAUL: "It was an idea I had, I think, when I was flying from L.A. to somewhere. I thought it would be nice to lose our identities, to submerge ourselves in the persona of a fake group. We would make up all the culture around it and collect all our heroes in one place. So I thought, A typical stupid-sounding name for a Dr. Hook's Medicine Show and Traveling Circus kind of thing would be 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.' Just a word game, really."

PLAYBOY: "'Getting Better.'"

PAUL: "Wrote that at my house in St. John's Wood. All I remember is that I said, 'It's getting better all the time,' and John contributed the legendary line 'It couldn't get much worse.' Which I thought was very good. Against the spirit of that song, which was all super-optimistic... then there's that lovely little sardonic line. Typical John."

PLAYBOY: "'Fixing a Hole.'"

PAUL: "Yeah, I wrote that. I liked that one. Strange story, though. The night we went to record that, a guy turned up at my house who announced himself as Jesus. So I took him to the session. You know, couldn't harm, I thought. Introduced Jesus to the guys. Quite reasonable about it. But that was it. Last we ever saw of Jesus."

PLAYBOY: "'She's Leaving Home.'"

PAUL: "I wrote that. My kind of ballad from that period. My daughter likes that one. One of my daughters likes that. Still works. The other thing I remember is that George Martin was offended that I used another arranger. He was busy and I was itching to get on with it; I was inspired. I think George had a lot of difficulty forgiving me for that. It hurt him; I didn't mean to."

PLAYBOY: "'Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!'"

PAUL: "That was taken directly off a poster John had. A circus poster. We stretched it a bit."

PLAYBOY: "What about 'When I'm Sixty-Four'?"

PAUL: "Who knows? Yeah, I wrote the tune when I was about 15, I think, on the piano at home, before I moved from Liverpool. It was kind of a cabaret tune. Then, years later, I put words to it."

PLAYBOY: "In his Playboy interview, John said that was a song he didn't like and never could have written."

PAUL: "Who knows what John liked? You know, John would say he didn't like one thing one minute and the next he might like it. I don't really know what he liked or didn't like, you know! It would depend on what mood he was in on a given day, really, what he would like... I don't care; I liked it!"

PLAYBOY: "What about 'Lovely Rita'?"

PAUL: "Yeah, that was mine. It was based on the American meter maid. And I got the idea to just... you know, so many of my things, like 'When I'm Sixty-Four' and those, they're tongue in cheek! But they get taken for real!" (sarcastic impression) "'Paul is saying, Will you love me when I'm 64.' But I say, 'Will you still feed me when I'm 64?' That's the tongue-in-cheek bit. And similarly with 'Lovely Rita' --the idea of a parking-meter attendant's being sexy was tongue in cheek at the time. Although I've seen a few around, come to think of it."

PLAYBOY: "You're licking your chops."

PAUL: "Well, this is PLAYBOY talk!"

PLAYBOY: "Right. 'Good Morning, Good Morning.'"

PAUL: "'Good Morning' --John's. That was our first major use of sound effects, I think. We had horses and chickens and dogs and all sorts running through it."

PLAYBOY: "'A Day in the Life' --John's of course. Right?"

PAUL: "That was mainly John's, I think. I remember being very conscious of the words 'I'd love to turn you on' and thinking, Well, that's about as risque as we dare get at this point. Well, the BBC banned it. It said, 'Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall' or something. But I mean that there was nothing vaguely rude or naughtly in any of that. 'I'd love to turn you on' was the rudest line in the whole thing. But that was one of John's very good ones. I wrote... that was co-written. The orchestra crescendo and that was based on some of the ideas I'd been getting from Stockhausen and people like that, which is more abstract. So we told the orchestra members to just start on their lowest note and end on their highest note and go in their own time... which orchestras are frightened to do. That's not the tradition. But we got 'em to do it. Actually, we got the trumpets to start on the lowest note, and the violins started a little later; violins tend to follow one another, they're like sheep. Trumpets are a bit more adventurous; they're drunk! Trumpeters are generally drunk. It wets their whistle."

PLAYBOY: "'Back in the U.S.S.R.''

PAUL: "I wrote that as a kind of Beach Boys parody. And 'Back in the USA' was a Chuck Berry song, so it kinda took off from there. I just liked the idea of Georgia girls and talking about places like the Ukraine as if they were California, you know? It was also hands across the water, which I'm still conscious of. 'Cuz they like us out there, even though the bosses in the Kremlin may not. The kids do. And that to me is very important for the future of the race."

PLAYBOY: "'Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da.'"

PAUL: "A fella who used to hang around the clubs used to say," (Jamaican accent) "'Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, and he got annoyed when I did a song of it, 'cuz he wanted a cut. I said, 'Come on, Jimmy, it's just an expression. If you'd written the song, you could have had a cut.' He also used to say, 'Nothin's too much, just outta sight.' He was just one of those guys who had great expressions, you know."

PLAYBOY: "It's pretty clear how much you like to work off other people. It's as if you need someone else to be fully creative with. True?"

PAUL: "Well..."

PLAYBOY: "For instance, earlier you said you really missed those three sounding boards, John, Ringo and George. Whom can you use today as sounding boards?"

PAUL: "My kids. I'll play some new tune on the piano. If it's real good, I'll notice the kids will pick up on it and start humming it. I remember, when I wrote 'So Bad,' the lyric was, 'Girl, I love you/ Girl, I love you,' which I sang for my little girls--and they sang it back. Then my little boy James, who is six, looked at us doing this and I began singing the lyric as 'Boy, I love you/ Boy, I love you' --I didn't want to leave my boy out of a love song!"

PLAYBOY: "What about the other singer/composers with whom you've collaborated? How are they as sounding boards?"

PAUL: "You mean Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson? I loved working with them. I admire their voices and their talent. But it wasn't what I'd call serious collaboration; it was more like we were singing on one another's records. Michael and I happened to write a couple of songs together. But we never actually sat down and thought, We're now a songwriting team. I think Michael and I both treated it as a kind of... just a nice thing to do. He started out ringing me up and saying he wanted to see me. So I said to him, 'What's all this for?' you know? Like, why? It was all very nice, but... He said, 'I wanna make hits.' I said, 'Great, lovely.' So I don't take that kind of thing that seriously."

PLAYBOY: "Do you take Michael Jackson seriously as a songwriter?"

PAUL: "No, I don't particularly admire him as a writer, because he hasn't done much. I admire Stevie Wonder more. And Stephen Sondheim. Probably one of the best."

PLAYBOY: "Sondheim? You mean as in Broadway musicals?"

PAUL: "Sure. You know, when we started with the Lennon-McCartney thing, you know, 50-50 with a handshake, it was like a Rodgers and Hammerstein trip. For me it was, anyway. That romantic image of collaboration, all those films about. New York songwriters plugging away at the piano... 'We'll call it Alligator Symphony; what a great idea!' --and they all go to California and get drunk. That always appealed to me, that image. Lennon and McCartney were to become the Rodgers and Hammerstein of the Sixties; that's the way that dream went."

PLAYBOY: "Then is there a part of you that's still looking for a new partner --someone you can write with the way you did with John?"

PAUL: "I'm not looking... I'm not, because I didn't look for John, either. But I think if I happened to fall into a situation where I felt comfortable writing with someone, I definitely wouldn't say no to it. I like collaboration, but the collaboration I had with John... it's difficult to imaging anyone else coming up to that standard. Because he was no slouch, that boy. He was pretty hot stuff, you know. I mean, I can't imagine anybody being there when I go," (sings) "'It's getting better all the time.' I just can't imagine anybody who could chime in," (sings) "'It couldn't get much worse.'"

(End of Interview)

Source: Transcribed by from original magazine issue
Introduction / Page 1 / Page 2
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