PREVIEWING HIS FORTHCOMING 24th solo studio album – entitled New – in the latest MOJO magazine, Paul McCartney pricks the bubble of received wisdom that surrounds his former, quite-well-known band, The Beatles. One song, Early Days, refers pointedly to those who “weren’t there” and their wayward takes on his history.
“It’s a constant niggle,” he tells MOJO’s Pat Gilbert. “The fact is there’s only a given body of people who really know inside out what goes on, and other people analyse it and that’s fine. But when they get it wrong, you just have to live with it.”
“I was, ‘Woah, woah wait a minute! That’s not what I saw!”
Water off a duck’s back by now, you’d have thought, after 50 years of larger-than-life representations of his life and works. But living a mindf**king dual existence as flesh-and-blood human being and Stellar Music Legend is clearly not as easy as the nonchalant McCartney tends to make it look.
“Someone said it to me the other day and it was kind of horrifying, ‘Well, John was the clever one, you were the cute one, Ringo was the funny one and George was the spiritual one.’ And I’m like, (sighs incredulously) ‘Yeeeah, that’s it.’”
The flood of fanciful Beatle biopics has hardly helped. In MOJO’s exclusive interview, McCartney recounts his conversations with photographer and family friend Sam Taylor-Wood in the pre-production phase of her 2009 Young Lennon biopic, Nowhere Boy.
“[Sam] came around to my house with the script of Nowhere Boy and was talking to me about it,” recalls McCartney. “I’m saying, ‘OK, cool, tell me about it.’ John cruel, wicked… and I was, ‘Woah, woah wait a minute! That’s not what I saw! The guy who wrote this wasn’t there, so this is based on legend and hearsay…’”
Although some of the script’s more imaginative detours never made the final film, it appears that others survived.
“In the film, again, John and his mates jump on the top of a bus and he never did that. Sam said, ‘Ah yes but it’s a great scene,’ so I have to go, ‘You know what Sam? Let’s get an agreement. It’s a film. This is not a life, it’s a film. This is not the reality, it’s a film of the reality.’”
Elsewhere in a revealing interview in MOJO, McCartney joins the dots between his latest record and certain periods of his history. How On The Way To Work alludes to his between-Hamburg-stints stopgap as a driver’s mate for Speedy Prompt Deliveries (“You’d buy a magazine and look at the nudies in them”). How songwriting has pulled him through the darker days of his life. And how, this time, he chose to welcome rather than shun sonic tropes from his Beatle past: “The moment the Mellotron came out we just embraced it.”
Find more fascinating McCartney insights in the new issue of MOJO, on sale Tuesday.