McCartney on today's pop: 'Playing it safe'When it came time to plan the "Driving USA Tour" concert experience, Paul McCartney considered all the bells and whistles available for entertaining arena audiences - the big light rigs and circus sideshows, the fantastical scrims and satellite stages, the jumbo screens and dance teams.
Inquirer Music Critic
Like the fresh-faced Jazzercisers who follow Britney Spears everywhere?
"I could do it. Don't think for a minute I couldn't," the energetic 59-year-old says, laughing. "Can you imagine it? The leotards, the routines?"
The former Beatle is calling from backstage at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Arena to talk about the tour that brings him to a sold-out First Union Center on Tuesday night.
Though he says he's just kidding about the pop chorines, McCartney has to admit that planning his first major tour in nine years - to spread word about his current CD, Driving Rain - got him thinking about the changes teen-pop hath wrought.
Not only to youth-oriented music, which he had something of a role in inventing, but to the very definition of entertainment. As many of his contemporaries have discovered, we're in an era of choreographed spectaculars in which visuals often overshadow everything else. Carefully composed melodies about love and commitment, what McCartney considers the core of his art, have become subordinate. That realization first hit him two years ago, when, backstage at the MTV Video Music Awards, he watched the boy bands go through their paces.
"It looked funny, like it was out of some not-very-good Broadway show. . . . I thought then that someday people would get fed up with the choreographed thing. Hasn't happened yet, but you can't blame the guys. They're really just young guys earning a living," McCartney says. Tee hee! Peg, here though you can call me Brave Heather. Alright, when I read this article-thingy in the papers, I just knew I had to dish out the truth! And what better a place than "Behind the Scenes"? Okie dokie. This all started when Paul and I were at some gay awards show for like, VH1 or something. I don't really remember, as I wasn't paying much attention. Anywho, we were backstage while these boy-band people were all pop dancing and junk. At the time, I was flirting with this really hot guy called Mark McGrath (I think), from a band named...um, what was it? Oh yeah, Sugar Gay. Yeah, Sugar Gay. Ew! Does that mean he's gay?! I hope not, cuz I would SO do it with him. So yeah, I was just about to get his number when Paul pulled me aside and said to me, "Heather, I've fathomed a keen idea. I shall venture forth into the world of pop dancing. I'll even choreograph my own dances to do on stage. What do you think?" Naturally, I was sweetly honest, "Paul, you're too old and fat to be dancing!" Big mistake. Suddenly, he's all P.O.ed as if I insulted him or something. Um, hello?! I was just being honest. He IS too fat and old. Yucky poo. So after he finishes his ranting and finally shuts up, he has to go on stage with diva-thingy. Like, Madonna! That's weird, I thought she was dead........I guess not. I listened to parts of their little intro speach and guess who Madonna mentions? Butch Stella! Ew, Stella is so butch. Apparently, the two of them are good friends. Whatever. Like two hours later, I got Mark's phone number, Paul made out with Madonna, and then we went home. I slipped into Paul's ba-jillion dollar waterbed but he never joined me. "That is totally odd!" I remember thinking to myself, but didn't think anything else of it. The next morning, I woke up only to find Paul in the kitchen. He was eating a doughnut with one hand and doing some weird yoga thing with the rest of his body. "Like, what the hell are you doing?" I asked him. "Peggy, I've stayed up all night writing out my own dance. I've decided to take up the art...of yoga." Yoga? How not neato! "I thought you wanted to be a pop dancer?" I wondered out loud. "F*ck! I forgot about that! What a waste of all this time...fine, I'll get straight to work on it. Thanks for reminding me!" I swear, old people are so stupid sometimes. That evening, Paul took me and Geoff out clubbing, hittin' the town. We reached a happening club-place where Paul said he had prepared a surprise for us. "Oh goody! He's gonna give me money to shop!" I thought. Happily, I waited on the stool with glee while Geoff resumed snorting another kilo. The dancefloor quietly emptied and out came Paulio. He had taken off his suit jacket and was left in his suspenders and pants. And then, all hell broke loose. He began...to DANCE! And we're not talkin' about getting jiggy with it. Oh no. We're talking about "And that ain't no lie, baby, bye bye bye bye!" Eeeeek! I nearly fainted. Geoff nearly DIED! He began scouting the room for photographers, off which asses he would kick out. Oh, it was SO embaressing! To top it off, he let himself go, on the floor and started break-dancing! This happened over a series of 7 minutes until he slipped and broke his hip. Old people are so fragile! But thank God for that or we never would have left! Anywho, it was the most embarressing moment of my coolio life. So now you know the horrible truth. And if Paul starts break-dancing at a concert near you...you better make damn sure Geoff isn't there to see it! We'll have another Columbine, only, it won't be at a school, it'll be at a stadium. And it won't be people wearing trench-coats, it'll be stinky Geoff wearing loafers. Eeeep, scary! So watch out. Toodles!
Recording "I've Got a Feeling"
Paul: Right, let's get started then, lads. So "I've Got A Feeling", take one.
John: One, two, three.
<Band begins to Play>
Paul: "I've got a feelin', a feelin' deep inside, whoa yeah..."
Ringo: Hold on, hold on, hold on! What is she doing here again? <points>
Yoko: I come listen to band make music now. You going to play or what?
John: Now come 'ead, Yoko is a part of me now. She has just as much right to be here as any of us do. Cut her a break.
Paul: John, its okay for her to listen to us record once in a while. But why the bloody hell is her matress in here?!? This is a recording studio, not a slumber party.
John: Don't start, Paul. If Yoko goes, I go. Its as simple as that. She's my soulmate. We go through everything together.
<George and Ringo exchange annoyed glances>
Yoko: I no hurt no body. Now you make music.
Paul: Er, right then. Okay, "I've Got a Feeling" take two...
<Music begins again>
Paul: "I've got a feelin', a feelin' deep in-"
Yoko: <screaming moans> AaAaAaAaAahh. Tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet! AaAaAaAaAaAaAayyye.
George: 'Old on, what the -
Paul: John, what is she doing? We're trying to record a song here!
John: Well y'see, Yoko had some ideas for the song. Its so plain, Paul. We need something with more...avante gard.
Ringo: Ah, HELL no! I'm not doing any of that screamy bollicks! Leave it to Ava Gardner, not for me.
George: <politely> John, the song had been written. We don't need any unecessary additions to it.
John: Unecessary? This is music. We are making MUSIC. And Yoko and I feel that music...
Yoko: Shut up, John, I make defend myself now. You play bad sound. I make sound better. You no sound any good. I only try to fix what you done. Now, keep singing. I count you off. Eh one, eh two, eh...
Paul: Yoko, I like the song how its written. I respect that your making an effort to improve it, but its fine. Now please, be quiet.
John: Oh I see what it is. Your jealous. Your bloody jealous! You wish you had the voice she has! She intimidates you!
<George and Ringo cringe>
Paul: Don't get defensive with me, Lennon. The songs goes as is. No avante gard. And I mean it!
John: Fine! <turns to Yoko> Sweetheart, you're going to have to sit out on this one.
Yoko: Oh, you going to let him talk to you like that? He is jealous of me!
John: I know, dear. But you have to pity him, Linda's got him whipped.
Paul: What was that?!?
John: I said India's a pile of shi-
George: Nice save but don't bad-mouth my country.
John: <smiles> Right on.
Ringo: C'mon. Lets get on with it. Take three.
George: One, two, three...
Paul: "I've got a feeling, a feeling-"
Yoko: <singing> "The beat goes ooooon, the beat goes ooooon..."
Ringo: Everybody stop a minute...
Yoko: <still singing> "La da la de dee..."
Paul: Why are you PAINTING in the recording studio?
Yoko: Your old fashion music bore me now. Now I make art.
George: Well do you have to sing when you paint?
Yoko: YES! Singing help my creatives juices to flow.
Ringo: Pardon me Yoko, but we don't want to hear anything of your juices!
Yoko: You no can understand me or my art. I sing when I make masterpiece.
Paul: Yoko, there is a time and a place!
John: Piss off her, Paul! She's no hurting anybody.
George: - but our ears!
John: Aye, another jealous Beatle. Get over it, fellas. Guess my wife is the only with talent, eh?
George: 'Ell, my wife is a model.
Paul: My wife could sing a helluva lot better than THAT!
John: Ha! That American trite of yours?
Paul: Watch it, John!
Yoko: You no make fight! Fight create negative energy and I can't make art with bad vibes.
Ringo: <mumbles> The hell you can't...
John: How's that?
Ringo: I said the smell is rant. I was talking about India.
George: Don't talk about my country like that!
Ringo: Oh sorry.
Paul: This is ridiculous. How are we ever going to get through this number with all these distractions? Thats why we don't bring our wives to the recording studios!
Yoko: You shut up. I do nothing to distract anyone.
John: She's right. Everyone just leave Yoko alone and lets get on with it.
Paul: Take four of "I've Got a Feeling". Take it from the top.
Paul: "I've got a feeling, I think that everybody knows, oh yeah!"
Paul: John, thats your part! Where are you? <looks over at John>
John: <making out with Yoko>
Ringo: I don't want to see that!
Paul: ARE YOU NAKED?!
George: <peeks from his fingers> Yes, he is.
Ringo: Is she? I dare not look.
George: Don't think I'M looking.
Paul: <glances> Bloody hell! She is!!
George: Where are your clothes?
Yoko: This music boring. We make love now. And it will show in our painting too. Love and art.
<The three lads grimace and shudder>
Paul: THERES A TIME AND A PLACE!
George: <mumbles> tonight and in a vacant lot.
Ringo: John, thats disgusting! Do that buisness on your own time. This recording isn't free ya know.
John: <moaning> Oh Yoko!
Yoko: Tweet! Tweet, tweet!
George: <pulls his guitar strap off his shoulder> That's it. I've had enough of this crap. I'm going home.
Ringo: Wait for me!
Paul: I know, I quit. I'm gonna start a band with Linda, you'll see! And we're gonna be good, bloody good.
Paul: <turns to leave> You'll see. You'll see...
And that, my friends, is how Wings was born. Paul proved John wrong with his ONE good album, and followed up his success with 'the rest'. And in 1979 Wings died and all was good.