Tuesday 27 December 2022















'The McCartney Legacy: Volume 1, 1969-73' by Allan Kozinn and Adrian Sinclair is packed with information that even the most dedicated Macca fan likely won’t know.

The McCartney Legacy: Volume 1, 1969-73 by Allan Kozinn and Adrian Sinclair is the most important book that’s been published about Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles work in years. And if this first volume is anything to by, the full series should be the definitive look McCartney’s solo career.

“Originally, circa 2014, Adrian proposed writing a detailed sessionography for McCartney's work, along the lines of Mark Lewisohn’s The Beatles Recording Sessions,” Kozinn, formerly music critic at the New York Times, explains. “And he asked me to write wrap-around biographical chapters, to explain what was going on in Paul's life at the time he made each album. As we did the research, it evolved into a full-fledged biography — partly because during an interview with [Wings drummer] Denny Seiwell, he offered to let us use his wife's diaries and his own session log, which helped us establish an airtight timeline, and partly because Mark Lewisohn persuaded us that what was really needed was a biography.”

Despite what Paul claims, it was Beatles aide Peter Brown who introduced Linda Eastman, McCartney’s future wife, to Paul at London Bag O’ Nails club.

Allan Kozinn: It's an odd thing. Peter says that he’s asked Paul a number of times why he’s written him out of the story, and Paul has only said, “It’s nothing to do with you, I met her.” One possible explanation is that Brown became persona non grata in the McCartney household after his book, The Love You Make was published; Linda has spoken about burning a copy of it, and Paul was known to be unhappy with his portrayal in the book. But Brown’s comment about asking Paul why he doesn’t credit him suggests that this goes back to a time before Brown's book.

There are quite a few instances where Paul has preferred a mythologized account to the absolute truth. Maybe, in this case, the myth — he saw her across the room and intercepted her when she left her table — sounds more romantic to him than “We were introduced by a mutual friend.” However, there are some Linda interviews in which she says (to paraphrase), “I was at the Bag O’ Nails with some friends, and I knew the people Paul was with.” That lends support to Brown’s version, without naming him.

“Back in the U.S.S.R.” was originally written for Twiggy

Kozinn: Early in 1968, Twiggy was going to film a special for Granada TV, called Twiggy in Russia. She asked Paul for a song, and he gave her “Back in the U.S.S.R.” But the special was never completed, so Paul used the song himself, on The Beatles (aka “The White Album”). Paul and Twiggy were close friends; in fact, when Linda moved to London, Paul introduced her to Twiggy, who became Linda’s first close friend there. He wrote other things for her as well, most notably “Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance,” which she never used — it was for a film that didn’t get made — so Paul performed it in the James Paul McCartney TV special in 1973. He has never recorded it formally. 

Ram cost over a million dollars to make in today’s money.

Kozinn: When Paul began work on Ram, he tried to be fairly businesslike, using session players to record the basic tracks, then doing separate sessions for other things he wanted to add, without having to pay his sidemen to sit around. But as the sessions wound on, he found that he was having trouble finishing the album. He had recorded the basic tracks for a great many more songs than would fit on a disc, and seems to have had trouble deciding which songs to finish and which to keep on hand for later projects. That was why he ended up moving the sessions from New York to Los Angeles: the idea, which was proposed by John Eastman, Paul’s brother-in-law and lawyer, was that in L.A. he would work with producer Jim Guercio, who would help him put the finishing touches on the project. But Guercio found that he was unable to impose discipline on Paul, and quickly departed, and Paul took his time finishing the album himself.

Towards the end, Len Wood, from EMI, turned up for meetings at the Capitol Tower, and stopped in on Paul [at Capitol’s studio], and he was alarmed to learn that Paul had been working there every day for a couple of months. But since EMI was paying Paul’s royalties to Apple, rather than to him, Paul was able to send those bills to Apple, which made the process a bit more painless. As it turned out, the Apple business would not be settled until 1975, by which time Ram would have produced a great deal more in royalties to offset those costs. Was it worth it? Artistically, I’d say so: although Ram faced some critical resistance at the time of its release, it has proven to be one of his strongest albums, one that many fans regard as their favorite McCartney disc.

Wings were asked to appear at John and Yoko’s “One to One” benefit concert on August 30, 1972.

Kozinn: That was an idea Paul and Linda had. It was going to be for the big dance number, “Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance”; Paul would be dressed as a woman, Linda as a man. The show’s American sponsor, Chevrolet, objected, so the idea was dropped. Instead, Paul donned a pink tuxedo, and was surrounded by dancers whose costumes were half male, half female — that is, on one side, they wore short hair and male clothing, and on the other they had long hair and female dance costumes, so that depending how they were facing, they appeared to be male or female dancers.

No, the Wings recording of “Live and Let Die” was never considered a “demo.”

Kozinn: One story that George Martin used to tell, and that Paul occasionally repeats — in fact, it’s in his Lyrics book — is that when Martin played “Live and Let Die” for Bond producer Harry Saltzman, Saltzman said, “Great demo, who are we going to get to sing it?” To which Martin replied that unless they used Paul’s version, they weren’t going to get the song. But that was really just Martin misunderstanding the situation.

We found a copy of a memo [between Saltzman and his associate Ron Kass] that makes a number of things clear. First, Paul was being commissioned to write and record the song to be used in the film’s title sequence. There was never any question that Paul’s recording would be used, and by the time Martin met with Saltzman, the disc had been sent to the production team and everyone was knocked out by it. But the contract also calls for a second version of the song to be sung by a female singer or group — it was originally going to be the Fifth Dimension — during a disco scene within the film. And in fact, Paul had agreed to produce that version. By the time Martin and Saltzman met, it was clear that the Fifth Dimension couldn’t do it, and Saltzman was wondering who they should get.

In the end, they got Brenda Arnau for the second version, and Martin produced her recording, which was released (on RCA) the same day as the Wings version. Martin would not have been privy to Paul’s contract, so his confusion is understandable. But Paul certainly would have known the deal. So in his case, I think he tells the story just because it’s a great yarn, and of course, he had no reason to believe that anybody would ever see that contract and debunk it. It’s like the Peter Brown story: sometimes the myth makes a better anecdote than the reality.

Wings guitarist Henry McCullough had quit Wings once before he finally left in the summer of 1973.

Kozinn: Henry was very conflicted about his role in Wings. Here he was, a blues guitarist, used to improvising and soloing, but now in a band where Paul had very definite ideas about what Henry’s guitar lines should sound like, and who was not shy about singing him a line and saying “Play that.” The one time Henry persuaded Paul to let him run with a solo of his own was during the session for “My Love,” and the result — done in one take, since Paul had only agreed to let Henry try out his idea, not take several takes to develop it — was a triumph. Paul loved it, critics singled it out — yet, the next time the issue arose, during rehearsals for “No Words” on the Band on the Run album — Paul refused to let him experiment.

In addition, he wasn’t keen on recording things like “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” He was displeased, as well, when Red Rose Speedway was cut, at EMI’s insistence, from a double album that would have showed the variety within Wings, as a band, down to a single LP, which kept Paul front and center. He believed strongly that Linda should not be in the band; I think that on some level, it offended him to be sharing a stage with someone who was, by her own admission, not as skilled or experienced, musically, as the rest of the band. And he had financial concerns as well, since — thanks in part to the Apple situation, in which Paul's money was tied up — Wings were on a fixed salary the entire time Henry was in Wings. But I really don’t think he regretted joining. He mostly enjoyed the live performances in 1972 and 1973, and there were bright moments like getting his way on the “My Love” solo. I think he seriously hoped that he could persuade Paul to see things his way. But in the end, he realized that that was never going to happen.

It’s challenging writing a book about someone who’s still alive.

Kozinn: It’s challenging mainly because there seems to be an assumption that in that case a biographer should interview his subject for the project. I’ve interviewed Paul several times over the years, but while he’s happy to speak with journalists, he tends not to speak with biographers. There are plenty of things we’d have loved to run past him for comment or clarification. But we didn’t find that totally necessary, because we have an archive of literally thousands of audio, video, and print interviews that he’s done in which he's covered virtually every subject that’s likely to come up. 

In addition, there are a number of problems with interviewing biography subjects. One is that when you interview people about themselves, they are going to give you a version of events as they’d like them portrayed, often a bit idealized. Also, interviewing McCartney now about events that took place 50-or-so years ago, we’re dealing with the events as he remembers them at a distance, with various inaccuracies that have crept in. We felt that by interviewing the people around him, using documents where possible, as well as interviews and reporting from close to the time of the events in question, we were likely to get a more accurate picture.

Two examples: if you read Paul’s Lyrics book, you’ll learn that “Jet” took its name from a pony, and that he was in New York when the events of Bloody Sunday (which inspired “Give Ireland Back to the Irish”) happened. Both are incorrect. Jet was a puppy, as Paul explained in interviews close to the time he wrote the song; the pony Jet arrived in the McCartney menagerie a couple of years later, and was named for the song, rather than vice versa. And on Bloody Sunday, Paul was at home in London monitoring the news. We know this thanks to the Monique Seiwell’s diary: Denny visited Paul that day, and that evening they all went to the Rainbow to hear Mountain and the Jimmy McCulloch Band. As for the fact that Paul’s continuing to create — well, we’re writing Vol. 2 now, which takes us up to 1980, and we’ll just continue writing till we catch up with him. We intend to cover his entire creative output. Vol. 2 should be out at the end of 2024.




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