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2002-Apr-03: From USA Today Today

Last week, during a rehearsal break, Sir Paul granted an interview to USA Today's Edna Gundersen.  Sir Paul, wear a tan T-shirt and olive pants plopped down onto a sofa in his trailer, kicked off his sneakers, removed his watch, and began to munch on his vegetarian lunch of salad and rolls. While loudly crunching on a carrot stick ( he looked at the reporter's tape recorder and said, "I hope you'll be able to understand this later" ) Sir Paul talked about the place of his Driving USA concert in what he described as of "synthetic music, boy bands and a lot of girls not wearing much."
"People like me and Neil Young and Bob Dylan and even U2, we're from a time you just played live, and the idea of playing with tapes is something you'd never consider. Today, the excuse is, 'Well, we've got to dance a lot. We're out of breath, so we can't sing.' Well, Fred Astaire could. Time it so you can do both.

"I suppose if I had a real aggressive modern manager, he might say, 'Paul, come on, we'll get a bunch of girls and guys, they can all dance, you can look real cute and be wheeled out on a podium, do some nice numbers with an orchestra.' It's not my thing.  However, I am thinking of wearing just the boxer shorts on stage. No choreography, just me standing there. Then I whip them off during the second number. I think we can make some headlines."

During their rehearsal sessions, Sir Paul and his band have kept their to a minimum to ensure room for spontaneity, "If we make a mistake, you'll hear it!" he promises. He recalled a performance of Penny Lane during a Paris concert:
"I said, 'Stop, stop, stop! Pardonez-moi. We've made une mistake, but je suis man enough to admit it.' That keeps it interesting.

"It's a luxury to have too many songs. At this point, there are a lot of hits, but we're leaving out things like Penny Lane. We discovered in the Beatles days that people like to hear the hits. We do Rock and Roll Music: 'Yay!' Then Can't Buy Me Love: 'YAY!' And here's something completely different: Baby's in Black. They'd all go (limply), 'Yay. Great, not even a B-side.' We had to hold our nerve and (settle for) a quieter round of applause."

Suddenly somber, Sir Paul said:
"It's sad, now that there's only two Beatles left."
Does he talk to Ringo often?
"We've talked a few times, just private talk. It's a great sadness for us, as it is for his family and all his friends. It's horrible. But George had a wonderful personal philosophy and always wanted to see his sweet Lord. With that in mind, plus the knowledge that we're all going sometime, it's probably sadder for us than it was for him.

"The last time I saw him, he was laughing and joking, and he wasn't well at all. It's madness, laughing in the face of that. He just had this Liverpool sense of humor.

 "Obviously, we know there'll come a point when the Beatles aren't alive.  It will be a sad day, because they were a damn good group. I wanted us all to ride off into the sunset, singing and maybe whistling, George playing a ukulele and John being witty. It just doesn't work out that way."

Then the conversation shifted to a brighter topic, the subject of Heather Mills:
"I'm very lucky to have found a great woman.  I wondered after Linda whether I would."
Sir Paul then went on to talk about his Driving Rain album:
"You never know if people are going to like a record.  I like the record a lot. I was enjoying playing it, really loving it. Then it came out, and it didn't scream to No. 1. It didn't even dash to No. 1. It was pretty disappointing.  But you can't go and cry. You just think, 'What happened?' I have no idea. The record company (Capitol) was in a bit of disarray. They chose a first single (From a Lover to a Friend) I wouldn't have chosen. Record companies like you to tour.  That's probably why I didn't do it sooner. I don't like to be told what to do."
So why did he take on this demanding tour?   "For my own fun," he replied. 

He is delighted about the rush for tickets to his concerts:

"I'm not blasé. I never know whether people will want to see me. But I think people will like the fact that this show's very live. I'm taking that a bit further, daring to do stuff totally alone, just me and a guitar and 15,000 people. That will be a little nerve-racking, because I've never done it before. I don't play safe. I sometimes wish I would so it would be a bit easier. I think of Elvis in Vegas with 36 musicians -- you can walk off, and they'll keep playing."
During the interview, Sir Paul announced that he's working on a reissue of Let It Be:
"We're cleaning up the film and going back to the original tape, before Phil Spector got hold of it."

(kindly submitted by PLUGGED correspondent Joan M. Hopkins)


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