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Wings Over America
Wings Over America
(2013 Remaster)

2001-Nov-15: Normally, He's A Pacifist

Before his interview with Gavin Martin of the London newspaper, The Independent, Sir Paul took a "bracing late autumn afternoon horse ride" through the Sussex countryside "just getting the smell of nature back in my lungs again after being up in the city."

Sir Paul had been up in the city to promote his Driving Rain album and Freedom single, a song which has prompted some to suggest that he is the first Beatle to have supported a war.  Sir Paul responded:

"Normally you're a pacifist and you don't want any kind of war at all, but occasionally something so atrocious happens there's gotta be some kind of response.  I'd like to see the bombing stop but what are you gonna do, turn the other cheek?  I don't think that is possible.

"When I started getting into thinking like this it took me back to conversations we used to have in the Sixties. All the guys sitting round saying if there was a war we'd be pacifist. But I made one little disclaimer and said, 'But if Hitler was invading, and I had a family, I really would feel I have to do something.'  I remember people thinking, 'Oh oh, stiffening of resolve here.' I knew it was true, deep in my veins.

"It's like we used to live with this thing every Christmas in London, where the IRA would say, 'We're doing a bombing campaign.' And we'd go, 'How irksome, I hope it doesn't hit me when I'm shopping.' After the New York attack, my attitude was like, screw you man, just screw you.  I've got kids living in London. Are you gonna do a bombing campaign? How dare you? If you want to take my kids out - well, screw you. Come and talk about it, right in my face baby."

And does this relate to the accounts of his childhood frog hunting published in his autobiography, Many Years From Now?
 "The old tortured frog syndrome? You could be right. I didn't have to own up to that stuff - but in my tiny young mind, I knew why I had to do it. We fully expected to have to join the army and be made a man of - that was the phrase. We all dreaded National Service back then; luckily, with the advent of the Beatles, all of that ended - otherwise, those of us that would have been drafted, would not have had a band, no way.

"When I saw army training films of guys running into dummies and bayoneting them, I had a vivid enough imagination to go, OK, that's what I'm gonna have to do, run at a guy with a big sword and kill him.' I'd seen enough films to be terrified by that as a kid.

"The whole idea of the frogs was: let's practice! We'd go in the woods and get a frog; I thought, if I can't kill a bloody frog, I'll never be a man. It was a terrifying bloody thing. I say to people, 'Didn't you do that too?' And they go, 'Noooo, I was at Sunday school'."

 What does Sir Paul think of the recent easing of the marijuana law in the U.K.?
 "I think it's a good idea, but it just happens to coincide with a period when pot isn't something I do as much any more. Why is that? Because Heather doesn't. I don't want to be sitting there at a restaurant and say, 'Hey baby, I have to run to the bog and smoke a joint.' It just doesn't occur."
With his new Driving Rain album, did Sir Paul deliberately set out to create songs that are raw, emotional, honest and soul baring?
 "I dunno.  That sounds true, but I'm just trying to write a song and it's not that easy. I do draw on things that seem important at that time. But it's like you have a dream: the minute you start analyzing it all this extra significance comes out. It's one of the reasons I love doing it: there's a mystery to it. And I've been involved in this amazing succession of mysteries."
How did he feel about being chastised in John Lennon's song How Do You Sleep?
"I felt deep pain.  Stick it in the jugular, why don't you, John. The funny thing is later I heard that he didn't write that line, that John, his manager Allen Klein and Yoko were sitting round together and someone came up with that line. But it was very painful, a bad period, there was a lot of deep messages in all the stuff we did then. I was really writing a lot of songs to John.

"Then I got this great story, in one of the last interviews John did, where he said this guy brought him a copy of Coming Up and he was, like, 'Bloody hell, Paul's on to something - better go back to work.' You better believe I love that story."

While recording Driving Rain, Sir Paul attempted to recreate the working methods the Beatles used during their Rubber Soul and Revolver sessions:
"That was the time I remember getting the best feeling of my recording career. By that stage we were young executives, we had the suits, the gear. We were hot."
And then there were the bad times with the Beatles:
"That was the period when the term 'heavy' was coined. I remember Tony Bramwell of Apple came to a meeting we were having at Apple, and it was really intense: you could feel a weight in your soul just sitting there...

"But the Beatles thing, the more you review it, the more insane it gets. Those guys did a lot of shit. And I talk about them as if I wasn't in them. Checkpoint Charlie - bing! But it's beautiful, man, so intensely beautiful, magical for me. I'm like a fan, it's not like I can't hear what a fan hears. Sometimes I might get a little drunk, and I hear a moment in a song and I'm like, yesss! I try my whole life to get that note, because sometimes I think we were the only guys that never saw the Beatles."

Sir Paul also discussed his latest classical work, Ecce Cor Meum, which he began to write during Linda's illness.  Although it was performed  in Oxford last weekend, he claims it is still a work in progress and hopes to premiere the finished work next year:
"John used to say if you get to the edge of a cliff, throw yourself off. I'd say, 'Well no, John, you throw yourself off, and tell me how it is when you do, and then I might  follow you.' That was John and me right there.  But now I find myself accepting an offer to do something with the Liverpool Philharmonic, and then halfway through the sensible me kicks in and I think, this is pretty hard. A serious choral person asks, 'What text are you using?' I go, 'I'm doing my own.' Everyone else has used some obscure French medieval poet who has written great stuff, and I'm thinking I'll make it up. It's weird, it's like going off the edge of John's cliff at last."

(kindly submitted by PLUGGED correspondent Joan M. Hopkins)


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