DATE January 18, 2002 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/A
TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A
PROGRAM Fresh Air
Interview: Paul McCartney discusses his new book, "Blackbird
Singing," and his experiences with John Lennon
BARBARA BOGAEV, host:
This is FRESH AIR. Terry Gross is on the mend from laryngitis. I'm Barbara
With the passing of George Harrison last November, it's been a sad time for
The Beatles and their fans. We're featuring an interview today that Terry
recorded with Paul McCartney in April of last year when The Beatles were
on top of the charts with an anthology of their number-one hits. Before we
hear their conversation, let's listen to a song from Paul McCartney's new
"Driving Rain." This is "Spinning on an Axis."
(Soundbite of "Spinning on an Axis")
Sir PAUL McCARTNEY: (Singing) World spinning round to the next revolution.
Sun going down; gonna rise up again. I watch the sun go down with some
sorrow, and now I know it's gonna come back tomorrow. Ain't no reason it
to do that. It's the season of the culture bat. Spinning on an axis,
spinning on an axis, staring in the face of time and space, spinning on an
World spinning round to the next revolution. Sun going down; gonna rise up
again. World spinning round to the next revolution. Sun going down; gonna
rise up again. Oooh, hear me rising...
BOGAEV: When Terry talked with Paul McCartney last year, he had just
published a collection of new and old poetry, including lyrics which he
during the Beatle years, called "Blackbird Singing."
TERRY GROSS, host:
I'd like you to read a poem from your collection, and this one's called
Sir PAUL: Mm-hmm.
GROSS: And it's dedicated to your late friend Ivan Vaughn. Who was he?
Sir PAUL: Well, Ivan Vaughn was one of my best friends at school, who was
born on exactly the same day as I was in Liverpool. So when we discovered
this fact in the playground chatting, we became instant good mates. And he
was a really lovely man. He turned out to be a classic scholar. He went to
Cambridge to study Greek and Latin. And the other important thing was that
actually introduced me, one day, to John Lennon because he was very good
friends with John, part of John's crowd. And Ivan said to me, `Come along
this fete,' a fair, a village fair, that was in the village of Walton where
John and Ivan lived. And he said, `Why don't you come along? It'll be
a bit of fun,' you know. He said, `And my friend's playing in one of the
bands.' So I arrived there and saw John, and so I was introduced. So it
Ivan who actually introduced me to him.
And so we knew each other for a long time and had this sort of mad sense of
humor, so some of the references in the poem--there's a little line goes:
`Cramlock(ph) navel, Cramlock pie.' That would be the kind of thing Ivan
would say and wouldn't explain it because that was his sense of humor. So
was a lovely friend of mine, and he actually contracted Parkinson's disease
a very early age, in his 30s, which is quite unusual 'cause he was so
a very intelligent guy. He understood exactly what was going on and he
keep up with all the research on it. So it was particularly sad that he
at an early age. So I then was moved to write a poem, and that really then
started me on the path of writing the other poems that you find enclosed in
this poetry book.
GROSS: Would you read "Ivan" for us?
Sir PAUL: OK. "Ivan."
`Two doors opened on the 18th of June, two babies born on the same day in
Liverpool. One was Ivan, the other me. We met in adolescence and did the
deeds they dared us do. Jived with Ive, the ace on the bass. He introduced
to me at Walton Fete(ph) a pal or two. And so we did. A classic scholar
a rock 'n' roller me, as firm as friends could be. Cramlock navel, Cramlock
pie, a tear is rolling down my eye. On the 16th of August, 1993, one door
closed. Bye-bye, Ivy.'
GROSS: So your friend Ivan introduced you to John Lennon. Do you remember
what the band was playing the first time you heard John with the band The
Sir PAUL: Yeah. They had a repertoire of kind of folksy sort of bluesy
things mixed with early rock 'n' roll. And John and the band were playing a
thing called "Come Go With Me," which was a record for a group called the
Vikings. It was an early rock 'n' roll record. But John obviously didn't
have the record, and he probably heard it a few times on radio. And being
musical, he just picked it up. And so he was doing a version of it. But
impressed me was even though he didn't know the words, he would make 'em up
and he'd steal words from sort of blues songs. So instead of the real
which I don't know, but he was singing `Come go with me down to the
penitentiary,' which was more off Big Bill Broonzy or somebody, you know.
I thought, you know, that's inventive. That's ingenious. So I warmed to
immediately hearing that.
GROSS: And how were you invited to play with the band?
Sir PAUL: Well, they were doing two sets. There was one in the afternoon
when I first of all saw them, which was outdoors, and then there was to be
in the evening. And meantime, they had all this time to fill, so they went
into the village hall where the evening gig was to be. And they were
around, and with all this time on their hands, John, who was one and a half
years older than me, had got hold of some beer from somewhere and was having
little drink. And we were sitting around and just playing various songs.
even though I was left-handed, I kind of learned to turn the guitar
upside-down and just about play songs 'cause my friends wouldn't let me
their guitars, obviously. Too inconvenient for them. So I'd had to learn
this left-handed method. So I turned the guitar around--I think it was his
guitar--and I played a song, an early Eddie Cochran song, which was called
"Twenty Flight Rock."
And I must have done it quite well because a couple of days later I was
cycling around Walton, which was the area where I met John, and one of the
friends, a guy called Pete Shotton, cycled up to me and said, `Hey, we were
talking about you. You know, we enjoyed that "Twenty Flight Rock." And
`Would you like to be in the band?' you know. So I said, `Well, I'll have
consider this.' You know, this was a big move to me. I'd never been in a
professional outfit before. I'd never actually even hardly sung on stage
before. I think I'd just done it once, sort of holiday camp somewhere. And
so I said, `I'll get back to you on that.' Well, then a couple of days
I did and said, `Yeah, you know what? That wouldn't be a bad idea.'
GROSS: Now I understand you missed the first date that you were supposed to
play on with The Quarrymen because you were on a Scout camping trip. And
there's something I find so funny about that. I don't know...
Sir PAUL: Yeah.
GROSS: ...whether because it's a sign of how young you were or it was a
choice between, you know, the proto band, you know, the band that later kind
of became The Beatles, vs. camping with the Boy Scouts.
Sir PAUL: Well, I mean, you've gotta have priorities, haven't you, in life.
GROSS: That's right.
Sir PAUL: No, there were...
GROSS: And you chose the Scouts.
Sir PAUL: Well, exactly, you know. I mean, you know, come on. No, you
the Scouts was kind of an official thing I took part in. And so if you
it, you know, there was problems, whereas this was a new venture, you know,
the band. And let's face it; none of us knew it was going to lead to any of
the heights it did lead to. So it was the kind of thing I was likely to
up the band in favor of an important Scouting gig. So that had to go, I'm
GROSS: You have a poem called "Song for John." It's actually a lyric for a
song that you recorded in 1982. But I was wondering if you could read it
Sir PAUL: OK. This poem's called "Here Today." It was originally a song I
recorded for John Lennon. `And if I said I really knew you well, what would
your answer be, if you were here today? Well, knowing you, you'd probably
laugh and say that we were worlds apart, if you were here today. But as for
me, I still remember how it was before, and I'm holding back the tears no
more. I love you. What about the time we met? Well, I suppose you could
that we were playing hard to get. Didn't understand a thing, but we could
always sing. What about the night we cried because there wasn't any reason
left to keep it all inside? Never understood a word. But you were always
there with a smile. And if I say I really loved you and was glad you came
along, then you were here today, for you were in my song here today.'
GROSS: When did you write this?
Sir PAUL: I wrote that shortly after John died, and I wrote it in the
upstairs room of what is now my recording studio.
GROSS: What was `the night that we cried' that you refer to in the poem?
Sir PAUL: I seem to remember we had some time off in Key West, Florida, and
it was because there was a hurricane and we'd been diverted I think from
Jacksonville. We were supposed to play a gig in Jacksonville and we
get in 'cause there was some great hurricane. So we had to spend a night or
two in Key West. That's where we ended up anyway. And at that age, with
much time on our hands, we didn't really know what to do with it except get
drunk. And so that was what we did. And we stayed up all night talking,
talking, talking like it was going out of style. And at some point early in
the morning, I think we must have touched on some points that were really
emotional, and we ended up crying, which was very unusual for us because we
members of the band and young guys, we didn't do that kind of thing. So I
always remembered it as a sort of important emotional landmark.
GROSS: Do you remember what you were talking about that led to that?
Sir PAUL: Probably our mothers dying because John and I shared that
experience. My mother died when I was about 14 and his died shortly after,
about a year or so after, I think. So this was a great bond John and I
had. We both knew the pain of it and we both knew that we had to put on a
brave face because we were sort of teen-age guys, and you didn't talk about
that kind of thing where we came from.
GROSS: Now that's the kind of thing that John really acted out through his
music. I mean, he had a couple of songs that were really about that...
Sir PAUL: Mm-hmm.
GROSS: ...and were very emotional. It's not the kind of thing you really
did, though. None of the songs, as far as I know, were really about your
Sir PAUL: Well, no. Mine's veiled. My style is more veiled. And also, at
the time the songs were written that you're talking about, like "Mother,"
was going through primal scream therapy.
GROSS: Exactly right.
Sir PAUL: And, you know, that's going to get it out of you.
GROSS: Right. Well, those two different approaches you had to dealing with
your mothers, musically, is an example, in a way, of how you were different.
What do you think you had in common, musically, and were most different
Sir PAUL: I think, in common, we both loved the same kind of music, and it
was a very large spectrum. People often think of John as quite a hard guy.
In actual fact, he had a very soft center. And I was privileged to see
particularly in early days of our relationship. So he would love songs like
"Little White Lies," which is an old song. It's great.
GROSS: Walter Donaldson. Yeah.
Sir PAUL: Yeah. It's a very beautiful song, with some beautiful chord
changes. And it's not the kind of thing you'd associate with John. He was
quite a sentimental guy. And I think he had to cover it up more. I was
lucky. I had, and still have, a very large supportive family. I've got
relatives who are breeding as we speak. But John had quite a small range.
had a very strange upbringing, actually, which didn't help his emotional
profile. He didn't live with his mother. He was brought up by his auntie.
And then his Uncle George died. And John I remember telling me once that he
felt that he was some sort of jinx on the male side of his family 'cause his
father had left home when John was three. So I think John always felt
guilty about that kind of stuff. So I think I'd been more open about that
John wasn't able to talk about that quite so well, I think, until he was
older and therapy helped him.
So what did we have in common? We had a deep love of music, a love of
songwriting, which would stretch from very early old songs that were
beautifully crafted to much later rock 'n' roll songs, through people like
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, through a lot of Elvis Presley stuff,
through Chuck Berry, who to us was a great poet. I think Chuck is a great
American poet. Bob Dylan is another who we both loved. So we had a love of
As to what our differences were, I don't know really. I don't really think
about our differences. I prefer to think about what drew us together.
GROSS: Now your songs were co-credited, you know, in The Beatles era. My
understanding is--correct me if I'm wrong--that many of the songs were
by one of you or the other, although the other would do some editing on the
song, but a few of the songs were actually true collaborations. Is that
right? Is that accurate?
Sir PAUL: Yeah. Well, what happened was in the early days, they were
much--the very earliest days were separate. We wrote one or two separately
before we actually got together. But when we got together and actually
started writing, the earliest Beatles' stuff, everything was co-written. We
hardly ever wrote things separate. But then after a few years and as we got
bit of success with The Beatles and didn't actually live together, or
just always on the road together sharing hotel rooms, then we had the luxury
of writing stuff separately.
So John would write something like "Nowhere Man" sort of separately in his
house outside London, and I would write something like "Yesterday" quite
separately on my own. And as you say, we would come together and check them
out against each other. Sometimes we would edit a line of each other's, but
more often we'd just sort of say, `Yeah, that's great.' And very often, a
line that one of us was going to chuck out, we would encourage the other not
to chuck out because it was a good line.
I had a line in "Hey Jude" much later that said, `The movement you need is
your shoulder.' And I thought that was me just blocking out the line, and I
said, `I'll change that.' And he said, `You won't, you know. That's the
line in it.' And similarly I would encourage him to keep lines in his songs
that he didn't think were very good. And I'd say, `No, that's a really
line.' There was a song of his called "Glass Onion" where he had a line
the walrus, `Here's another clue for you all, the walrus was Paul.' And he
wanted to keep it, but he needed to check it with me. He said, `What do you
think about that line?' I said, `It's a great line. You know, it's a spoof
on the way everyone was always reading into our songs.' I said, `Here we
you know. We give them another clue to follow.' So we would check stuff
against each other, and it was obviously very handy for our writing to be
to do that.
GROSS: Were you ever sorry that your songs were co-credited? Did you ever
wish that you could get the composing credit for your songs; that it was
Sir PAUL: Well, it was an arrangement we made in the early days, very early
days. And of course, you know, a lot of people don't realize that we--our
admiration goes back to people like Rodgers and Hammerstein, Rodgers and
We loved a lot of the work of those people. And so we were looking for
something similar, so Lennon-McCartney grew up so that we would be a
songwriting team in the tradition of those people.
For the first few years, it was fine. And it never bothered us. But more
recently I must say it started to bother me because the kind of thing that
would happen, in actual fact very to do with the poetry book we're talking
about here, although we veered off into Beatle territory, Terry...
GROSS: We'll be veering back in a moment.
Sir PAUL: Let's veer back soon. What happened was the kind of thing that
would spark the feeling that they maybe should be better credited, the
was that Adrian Mitchell, who helped me edit my poetry book, did an
of verse where he had my poem, "Blackbird"--my song or poem, "Blackbird" in
it. And, of course, it was credited `"Blackbird" by John Lennon and Paul
McCartney,' which was just not true. John hadn't had anything to do with
that. So I started to think, `You know, this is a bit of a nuisance because
don't want any credit if John's stuff gets separately put in something like
poetry anthology,' you know. `And I don't want any credit for "Give Peace a
Chance," even though I am credited on that. Some of John's stuff was purely
John. And I'd rather it be that.
So that kind of started me thinking. And then when we had--"The Beatles,
Anthology" record came out, I actually did request that on the song
"Yesterday," which was solely penned by me, that, for the first time in 30
years, I be allowed to actually have my name in front of John's; not remove
John's name, but that we credit it, `"Yesterday" by Paul McCartney and John
Lennon.' As I say, John didn't actually have anything to do with the song
all. He didn't sing on it or play on it or write it. So I thought that was
fair enough. And, in actual fact, I wasn't allowed to do that. That was
vetoed. And I was actually in Italy and I was looking at a pianist's
songbook, the fake book that the pianist was using. And I--you tend to
through and look for your own songs, you know. You see, "Fly Me to the
very, very nice. You see "Moon River;" lovely. You see, "Hey Jude," you
`Wait.' And this was credited `"Hey Jude" by John Lennon' just because his
name comes first. So you've hit on a sore point of mine, there.
Sir PAUL: I don't want to remove his name, but I must say just for kind of
Trades Descriptions Act(ph), as we call it over here, I wouldn't mind on the
songs that I just did without John to have my name first.
BOGAEV: Paul McCartney. Terry spoke with him last spring. We'll hear more
of their conversation in the second half of the show. I'm Barbara Bogaev,
this is FRESH AIR.
(Soundbite of "I Saw Her Standing There")
THE BEATLES: One, two, three, four. Well, she was just 17, and you know
what I mean.
BOGAEV: Coming up, more about The Beatles with Paul McCartney. Also, Ed
with part two of his review of "Nuggets II," a collection of psychedelic
records from the mid-1960s.
(Soundbite of "I've Just Seen a Face" by The Beatles)
Mr. McCARTNEY: (Singing) I've just seen a face. I can't forget the time or
place where we just met. She's just the girl for me and I want all the
to see we've met, mm-hmm-hmm-hmm-hmm. Had it been another day I might have
looked the other way and I'd have never been aware, but as it is I'll dream
her tonight, i-di-di-di-di. Falling, yes, I am falling, and she keeps
me back again. I have never known the like of this. I've been alone and I
have missed things and kept out of sight while other girls were never quite
like this, i-di-di-di-di-di. Falling, yes, I am falling, and she keeps
calling me back again. Falling, yes, I am falling, and she keeps calling me
back again. I've just seen a face. I can't forget the time or place where
just met. She's just the girl for me...
BOGAEV: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Barbara Bogaev, in for Terry Gross. Let's
continue now Terry's interview with Paul McCartney, recorded last April. He
had just published "Blackbird Singing," a collection of his poetry,
lyrics from his Beatle years.
(Soundbite of "Blackbird" by The Beatles)
Mr. McCARTNEY: (Singing) Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these
broken wings and learn to fly. All your life, you were only waiting for
moment to arise. Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these sunken
eyes and learn to see. All your life, you were only waiting for this moment
to be free. Blackbird, fly. Blackbird, fly into the light of the dark,
GROSS: Now I was wondering, you know, why you didn't include some of your
early song lyrics in the new collection? I mean, even something like "Love
Do," which is, I think, one of the songs that you actually did co-write with
John. OK, a lyric like, `Love, love me, do. You know I love you. I'll
always be true. So please, love me, do.' Now on the page, that won't look
right, but it works well as a lyric--or, like, `She loves you, yeah, yeah,
yeah.' I mean, that's not gonna read great on a page, but it sings great.
Sir PAUL: As my father would have said, `Paul, there's enough of these
Americanisms around. Couldn't you write "She loves you, yes, yes, yes."?'
GROSS: Did he really say that?
Sir PAUL: Yeah, he did.
GROSS: Oh, that's so adult.
Sir PAUL: Even though he was very working-class, he was fussy about his
GROSS: So why didn't you include the songs--the early songs?
Sir PAUL: But, no. You know, "Love Me, Do" sounded good the way you just
it, I thought. So you know the truth of why it wasn't included was I
actually--Adrian--my editor on the book, Adrian Mitchell, actually chose
lyrics he wanted in it. And so I allowed him that decision. I didn't want
have to choose between my lyrics, actually. So I just said to him, `Which
ones do you think will work best on the page?' And he included them even
to `Why don't we do it in the road? Why don't we do it in the road? No one
will be watching us. Why don't we do it in the road?,' which, I thought,
mad to include that. But I actually did a poetry reading in Liverpool the
other night, my first ever in the universe, and, you know what? I ended
that and got the audience to join in. And we had a ball.
GROSS: What inspired that one?
Sir PAUL: That was inspired by Lord knows what; probably sexual feelings,
GROSS: It's kind of a lewd song for a first-time...
Sir PAUL: For such a nice guy.
GROSS: That's right.
Sir PAUL: Yeah, you know, but I have my lewd moments.
Sir PAUL: Don't we all?
GROSS: Now when you were growing up, your father was an amateur musician.
Sir PAUL: Yeah.
GROSS: And I imagined you had a lot of records around the house?
Sir PAUL: No, not so much records. We didn't. We listened to the radio
he played piano in the house. But in actual fact, I can't remember him
one record, let alone lots.
GROSS: Now did the songs that you grew up with that your father played or
that you listened to on the radio with your father, did they affect your
of, like, song structure or the kind of chords you'd put to a song?
Sir PAUL: Yeah, very definitely yes. I loved listening, as a kid, to him
playing the piano. I can still remember now sort of lying on the floor with
my chin cupped in my hands listening to him play. He played from another
era--songs from another era. One of my favorites he played was a song
"Lullaby of the Leaves."(ph) He used to play things by Paul Whiteman and
orchestra. He played "Chicago"--(singing) `Chicago, Chicago.'
So I loved all those songs. You know, I loved hearing him. And he would
actually take me and my brother and he would educate us in his own primitive
way, because he didn't know how to read or write music. He'd learned by
but he was very musical. And so we'd be listening to the radio and he'd
`Can you hear that deep noise there?' He'd say, `That's the bass.' So he'd
pick out things for us to listen to. And he would sometimes show us how to
a harmony. He'd say, `Now here's a tune and this is the harmony to it.' So
in The Beatles--in the early days of The Beatles, I was very keen on us
harmonies and I would have to put that down to him.
GROSS: The vocal harmonies you're talking about?
Sir PAUL: Yeah. I would always encourage The Beatles to do harmonies or,
John had a song, I would immediately harmonize to it. And you can hear that
right the way through The Beatles' career. I'm often harmonizing a third
above John or we're often harmonizing as a group. So I think my love of
harmony came from him actually sitting my brother, Mike, and I down and
saying, `This is how it goes.'
BOGAEV: Paul McCartney, from an interview recorded last spring. We'll
feature more after a break. This is FRESH AIR.
(Soundbite of music)
BOGAEV: We're back with an interview Terry Gross recorded last April with
Paul McCartney. His collection of poetry, "Blackbird Singing," includes
lyrics from his Beatle years.
(Soundbite of "Yesterday")
Mr. McCARTNEY: (Singing) Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away.
it looks as though they're here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday.
Suddenly I'm not half the man I used to be. There's a shadow hanging over
me. Oh, yesterday came suddenly. Why she had to go, I don't know; she
wouldn't say. I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday. Yesterday,
love was such an easy game...
GROSS: Now one of the song lyrics included in your new book of poems and
lyrics, "Blackbird Singing," is "Yesterday." And this, apparently, is a
rewriting of the very first song that you wrote at the age of 14, which
was called "I Lost My Little Girl."(ph)
Sir PAUL: No, that's not quite true. The--my very first song was called "I
Lost My Little Girl." And that was written at the age of 14, but where, I
think, the confusion is is that "Yesterday" was a rewriting of the original
lyric of "Yesterday" because the song "Yesterday," the tune of it, came to
in a dream. I just woke up one morning and I had this melody in my head.
being, by then, a professional musician, I thought, `I wonder what that is?'
And I had a piano by the side of my bed, so I actually sort of got some
and put this tune to it. But I didn't have any words, so the original words
to "Yesterday" were (singing) `Scrambled eggs; oh, my baby, how I love your
legs, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. I believe in scrambled
eggs.' And I thought, `You know what? The tune's too nice to have those as
the lyrics.' So "Yesterday" is a rewrite of "Scrambled Eggs."
GROSS: That's funny. That reminds me of how like Ira Gershwin and some of
the other great lyricists used to write what was called dummy lyrics.
come up with anything like the equivalent of "Scrambled Eggs" just to have a
fake lyric to give them the rhyme scheme for the melody.
Sir PAUL: Well, that's it. Yeah. I call that blocking in. It sometimes
happens as you're doing a song, you get a tune and it feels sort of silly
going, `Bah, dee, dee, bah, dee, bah, doe, dee, dee, doe, boh, bah, dah.'
you just go, `I've a girl, dah, dah, dah, and somebody, bah, do, bah, day,'
and you find words just come to you, some of which you keep; some like
"Scrambled Eggs" you lose quickly.
GROSS: So it went from "Scrambled Eggs" to, I think, the first song that
adults were doing of yours. You know, when The Beatles started performing
adults were up in arms...
Sir PAUL: Yeah.
GROSS: ...about them, about your hair, and about, you know, the silliness
the lyrics and everything. But with "Yesterday" like the nightclub adult
performers started adding it to their acts.
Sir PAUL: Yeah.
GROSS: Did that feel like a victory to you or did you really not care what
the adults were doing in their acts anyway?
Sir PAUL: No, it was very nice. It was very nice to have that because, you
know, we thought what we were doing was quite good and we were proud of it.
And there was this sort of backlash, particularly from the elder generation.
People tell me stories now. They say they were watching that first "Ed
Sullivan Show" and it's always the dad in the family who sort of says,
them Beatles, yeah.' He never likes us. And he always says, `You know,
are wigs.' They always thought--the dads always swore the kids--yeah, the
kids say, `We knew they weren't. We knew they weren't.' So it was always
problem; the dad was always the problem. So I suppose he was symbolic of
problem. So that when people started to like anything out of our
repertoire, it was a certain victory. And "Yesterday" was a personal
I mean, for instance, the great clarinetist Benny Goodman, who we had loved
and thought was great talent, started for some reason--and maybe it's just a
journalistic thing--but he came out against us. He said, `Oh'--you know, I
can't remember what he said, but, of course, we hated him from then on. And
we started saying, `He's a lousy clarinetist. I mean, what does he know?'
know. So there was this sort of group that didn't like us that thought we
weren't very good. So when "Yesterday" came out, I think a lot of them had
change their tune. And it eventually got recorded by way too many of them.
GROSS: Right. Now thanks for setting me straight that "Yesterday" wasn't
based on your first song "I Lost My Little Girl." But could you tell us
the lyric was to that song that you wrote when you were 14?
Sir PAUL: "I Lost My Little Girl."
Sir PAUL: Yeah. Of course, I'm trying to remember it now. This is a
test. `I woke up late this morning, my head was in a whirl. And only then
realized I'd lost my little girl. Her clothes were not expensive. Her hair
didn't always curl. Duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, I lost my little
girl.' Oh, my God, you would have to go through that, wouldn't you? I'm
trying to look grown-up and poetic here, and you're taking me back to my
memories. No, no. It was the line, `It made my toes curl,' and that
should have been a line in it, `She never made my toes curl.' Was her
hair--`her hair didn't always curl,' which always got grimaces from my
friends. But, hey, you know, I was 14. It's not bad for 14.
GROSS: Did you have a melody for it, too?
Sir PAUL: Yeah. I'm not singing it on your program, Terry.
Sir PAUL: Buy the record.
GROSS: I figured.
I'd like you to read another poem from your book. And this is one of the
poems in the book. It's a poem called "Lost." And it's for Linda.
Sir PAUL: Yeah. OK. One of the things about poetry for me is that it
a good way of dealing with grief. And when I'm feeling low--when I was
feeling low particularly after Linda died, words came to me in the form of
poems. One or two came in the forms of songs. But mainly they were just
words and things would happen that I felt I had to set down, so quite a few
poems, as you say, at the end of this book were words that occurred to me
then. And this one is one of them, called "Lost."
`I lost my wife. She lost her life. Until then, the luxury of no
responsibility chopper wouldn't fall that night as clinched inside a glove
sucked each other's energy.'
GROSS: The line `until then, the luxury of no responsibility.'
Sir PAUL: Yes. You know, I was married for 30 years, and in a good
you've got plenty of responsibility, but if you're lucky, you don't feel
you've got any. So even though I had a lot of responsibility, obviously,
the kids, Linda was cool enough to make me feel like I didn't really have
I had the freedom; all the freedom to do whatever I wanted. So that's
what that line is about. It should perhaps be the luxury of feeling I
have any responsibility. But it came out in that shortened version.
GROSS: Your wife Linda died of cancer. Your mother died of cancer as
well--your mother when you were 14. My understanding is that when your
had cancer, she tried to hide it and she didn't tell you that she had
You found out after she died what the problem was.
Sir PAUL: That's true.
GROSS: So when Linda got cancer, did--how did you want to handle it, from
what you had learned about not being told the truth?
Sir PAUL: Yes. Oh, you know, we just had to face up to it by then because
was a different era, a different civilization. We knew that, for instance,
would have to talk to the kids about it whereas in the era I was brought up
in, postwar Britain, it wasn't the kind of thing that women talked about.
there were a lot of things that women didn't talk about. Periods, for
instance, were completely forbidden for a mother to talk to her sons about.
think there are still a lot of people like that, but it was particularly
way. So when she got ill, she just got ill. And when she went to hospital
she was just in hospital for a short while. And it was all not spoken
And it wasn't until much later that I learned that she had, in fact, died of
breast cancer. So it was particularly chilling when Linda contracted it.
there were plenty of echoes that I actually tried not to notice.
GROSS: What kind of echoes do you mean?
Sir PAUL: All sorts of things. I mean, my dad--I remembered my dad saying
my mom when she would get tired, because of her illness, `Why don't you go
upstairs and have 40 winks?' So that was something that I was very careful
never to say to Linda out of sort of superstition, you know. I just
`No, don't ever say that, whatever you do.' So I would say, `Why don't you
take a nap?' You know, that kind of thing. So there were all sorts of
echoes. And obviously, we were hoping that she would pull through and she
would conquer it. We didn't realize how serious it was. So we stayed very
optimistic and very positive right up until the end.
GROSS: Well, Paul McCartney, I thank you so much for talking with us and
reading from your new book. Really appreciate it.
Sir PAUL: Good. Thanks a lot.
BOGAEV: Paul McCartney, recorded last April. He has a new CD, "Driving
(Soundbite of "Hey Jude" by The Beatles)
THE BEATLES: Hey, Jude, don't make it bad. Take a sad song and make it
better. Remember to let her under your skin, then you'll begin to make it
better, better, better, better, better, better, oooh. Yeah, yeah, yeah,
yeah. Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, hey, Jude.
BOGAEV: Coming up, part two of Ed Ward's survey of '60s psychedelia from
around the world. This is FRESH AIR.
(Soundbite of music)
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Profile: Psychedelic '60s music from all over the world
BARBARA BOGAEV, host:
The United States and England weren't the only countries making great
psychedelic records in the mid-'60s, as Rhino Records' recently released
"Nuggets II" box proves. Bands from Europe, South America and Asia recorded
their own takes on the music. Today Ed Ward takes us on a quick trip around
the rest of the rock 'n' roll globe.
(Soundbite of music)
Unidentified Man #1: (Singing) In the text, words from the past; fold down
the page to keep what's fast. In reality ...(unintelligible) knowing that,
hear you say you make your life just like a play. I came here before; I'll
come in the future. I know within your part, ever more I need your heart...
ED WARD reporting:
The coming of The Beatles sent tremors around the world. America, that
wealthy nation with so many teen-agers with disposable cash, had never paid
any attention to England's pop music before, yet these four guys were making
millions and millions of wonderful American dollars. Everybody wanted some.
Plus, of course, there was England. If you could get a hit there, you might
also springboard to the States.
(Soundbite of "Friday on My Mind")
EASYBEATS: (Singing) Monday morning feels so bad. Everybody seems to nag
Coming Tuesday, I feel better. Even my old man looks good. Wednesdays just
don't go, Thursday goes too slow. I've got Friday on my mind. Gonna have
in the city, be with my girl; she's so pretty. She looks...
WARD: Not many made it, but a whole lot sure tried. One group that did was
the Easybeats from Australia, although by the time "Friday on My Mind"
number 16 on the US charts in 1967, they'd moved to London. Harry Vanda and
George Young, their songwriters, wound up working with George's little
brother's band, AC/DC, incidentally. But Australia, New Zealand and Canada
were English-speaking countries. What's really remarkable is the number of
bands that recorded in English, although it wasn't their first language.
Holland led the invasion from the Continent.
(Soundbite of song)
CUBY & THE BLIZZARDS: (Singing) It's not enough to see into your soul, so I
don't want you because I know that I love your body but not your soul. I
WARD: Cuby & the Blizzards were one of Amsterdam's top attractions, a
hard-rocking blues band with a pop edge who wound up laying the foundation
a scene that's still very much alive, although the band dissolved in the
'70s. Scandinavia was another area where English-language education started
early for school kids. And while the scene was stimulated by some British
bands moving there to reduce their competition, bands like Sweden's The
Mascots sounded Beatle-y enough on their own.
(Soundbite of song)
THE MASCOTS: (Singing) There is nothing else I'd rather do. I would love
give my love to you. And as you're looking on to me, I know what love could
be if there were only words enough to tell you. Once before I...
WARD: Not to mention that way over in Iceland, The Omar(ph), who naturally
changed their name to Thor's Hammer when they went international, were also
reaching for the golden ring.
(Soundbite of song)
THOR'S HAMMER: (Singing) Girl, there is something I've got to tell you, one
thing that's been bothering me for such a long time. If you ever see me
leaving, and you don't come back again, my life will be like it was before.
Right before you came my life was all right, and it seemed that everything
just as it should be. But ...(unintelligible) my life will be like it was
before. My baby, you are the one who made life such a lovely...
WARD: Nor was Iceland the most obscure country in the running. Over in
Czechoslovakia, Tony Black, a Canadian student, had formed The Matadors, and
they had quite a run.
(Soundbite of song)
THE MATADORS: (Singing) Get down, from the ...(unintelligible). It was
two, three. I bet I'm a good guy, good guy. You don't notice as time goes
by. Good guy. And I have a broken heart. Good guy. You don't know what
(unintelligible) about. Good guy.
WARD: The lousy recording quality is on the original, but the lyrics are
nothing next to their masterpiece, "Don't Bother Me," which goes, in part,
`Live in peace, live in peace. Stop now teaching rude things. You are me.'
Even further out was South and Central America. Today's thriving `rock 'n'
Espanol' movement owes a lot to pioneers Los Shakers from, of all places,
(Soundbite of song)
LOS SHAKERS: (Singing) We want you to dance. We want you to hear. We want
you to dance, dance all night long. But till the music starts, don't stand,
girl, like a fool and break it up. You listen to me, break it all. It's
WARD: And then there were Mexico's Los Quechuas from Chihuahua.
(Soundbite of song)
LOS QUECHUAS: (Singing) If you want life to survive, then you'd better pray
and try. You know the best things in life are free, and I guess it's time
you to see. Got a change in the colors of life. Got a change in the colors
of life. Baby, I can see them changing. I can see them walking all around
you. Well, I...
WARD: In Japan, there was a huge eruption of rock music which became known
GS, or group sounds, and I hope to do a whole piece on this soon. But I'd
like to end here with the band on this collection which astonished me more
than any other.
(Soundbite of "Gaby")
THE BOOTS: (Singing) You say that you love me, though you treat me any old
way. I just want to leave you but you beg me here to stay. My love
(unintelligible). My love for you is better still. Though I feel the way
I do, I know this love can't just go on. Just can't go on, just can't go
Baby, if you leave...
WARD: Until that chorus kicked in, you'd be forgiven for thinking The Boots
were an '80s band who had too much Velvet Underground to drink last night.
But, in fact, "Gaby" was recorded in 1966 in, of all places, Berlin. Like
many of the other bands on "Nuggets II," they seem to have disappeared, but
it's wonderful to have what remains.
BOGAEV: Ed Ward lives in Berlin. He reviewed the "Nuggets II" box on Rhino
BOGAEV: For Terry Gross, I'm Barbara Bogaev.
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