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2002-Nov-26: A "New York Times" Interview

Today's New York Times reports that Sir Paul is getting back to where he wants to go.  Seated backstage before his concert at the Compaq Center, Sir Paul told the Times interviewer that every nine years he yearns to go out on the road:
"I don't know why.  It's a cyclical thing. Maybe I just need the feedback, maybe I just need audiences to tell me that they know the songs and like them. These songs are my babies, and they still like my babies."
Even Sir Paul is surprised at the unexpectedly big success of the tour:
"I should be jaded at my age, I should be blasé, I should hate the whole thing and retired years ago. But it's the opposite. I do two and a half hours on-stage. With the Beatles, we did 30 minutes, 25 minutes if we were angry. And this is so satisfying. It's kind of amazing. You get people and their children. You get tears. I saw on our DVD an older gentleman, probably my age, deeply moved by All My Loving. It has to do with: `I was a kid when I heard that. I was on a college campus. I was wooing a woman who's now my wife.' That's what's happening."
According to Gary Bongiovanni, co-editor in chief of Pollstar, a trade publication covering the concert world:
"The McCartney tour was probably the hottest ticket out there, and this was a year the Stones and Bruce Springsteen also toured.  Paul McCartney is not overexposed.  He's done few dates in the last couple of decades, and there's a pent-up demand out there. And to some extent the passing of George Harrison may have had some impact. People don't know if they'll see Paul again.  And besides it's a great show, he's not going through the motions, and the reviews have been excellent."
Over the year, the critics have not been kind to Sir Paul.  Sir Paul admits:
"I'm not very good at dealing with criticism.  Maybe I am in a sentimental mood sometimes. But the way I think about it is I feel I can do anything I want to do. I'm a grown up. I'm not a student at Cambridge where I'm sitting in a big hall taking an exam and waiting to be judged. The New York Times didn't like Sgt. Pepper. People get it wrong. Some are so savage that it goes pretty deep. So I try not to read most critics. Even good. I just say, `O.K., guys, tell me if it's good or bad.' "
Will this be his last tour?
"Who knows?  People asked me that when I was 50. I'll never say it's my last. Certain artists, famously Frank Sinatra and Elton John, had farewell tours, and it's a great way to sell tickets. Really. And the next year they say: `That wasn't my farewell tour. This one is.' When people ask me if it is, I say, `I doubt it, but it may be.' "
Does he ever get tired of talking about the Beatles?
"I should get tired, but it's the opposite.  It's like a psychiatrist's couch. You get to talk about this stuff, and suddenly I'm back in Liverpool or Hamburg or a room writing with John."
Sir Paul also talked about writing Yesterday:
"I woke up with this tune in my head da-da-da, da-da-da and I had a piano beside me and blocked it out. I went to John first, then George Martin, our producer. And I said, `What is this?' And they said, `It's good.' It came in a dream. I couldn't believe I had written it."
How does he describe his relationship with Yoko Ono?
"We're civil with each other.  It's sort of a business relationship. I don't dislike her, we're not enemies.  But we never seem to get beyond it.  All this stuff the Lennon camp, the McCartney camp. Why do we have to go there?   I'm just so fed up with this stuff."
Sir Paul often speaks by phone to Ringo Starr:
"Ringo is fun, a great guy, someone who always used to have these little malapropisms, say the most magical things.  Once he said after a concert, `God, it's been a hard day's night.' John and I looked at each other and said, `Did he say what we think he said?' "
Sir Paul admits that the breakup of the Beatles was probably unavoidable:
"We kind of reached the end of a cycle in life, and we all kind of knew it.  We could feel it coming with the White Album. It was all sort of winding down. It was kind of painful but the right thing. John had met Yoko, and I think he had to kind of clear the decks for her, and I think in a way it was right. It was really then, after that, that you couldn't really see a way that we could be the Beatles. Yoko would be in the studio, and she's sitting on the amp, and we'd be, like, bristling.  Besides, we had come full circle. It was a magical thing. We went from A to Z. We knew it was time.

"Is it conceited to say we were better than all the other groups? Maybe it is. But listen to songs like Eleanor Rigby and Penny Lane. We were better."

(kindly submitted by PLUGGED correspondent Joan M. Hopkins)


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