I just read the GQ article “The Untold Stories of Paul McCartney.” https://www.gq.com/story/the-untold-stories-of-paul-mccartney Writer Chris Heath’s interviews with Paul revealed many things even this lifelong fan never knew about the former Beatles/Wings/singer/songwriter/icon for a generation.
I was pleased and relieved to realize the energy, intellect, excitement, and mental clarity we perceive in Sir Paul is, apparently, an accurate impression. The 76-year-old is definitely still all there.
Heath unearthed far more than the sweet story behind “Let it Be” of how Paul’s mother Mary came to him in a dream – oh, so much more… I found, especially interesting, the insight to the Wings’ song “Jet.” While the title was for a pony they had named Jet, Paul seemed to suggest that early in his marriage to Linda, his father-in-law was a “kind of a nuisance,” and might have been the “Major” in that 1973 song.
Paul said his own father “was very sensible,” and he seemed to attribute his own tendency to be practical and think things through to his father’s influence. It explained his resistance to peer pressure, and is likely why he was the last of the Beatles to take acid. According to Paul, John “knew me well enough that if I said no, I meant no, and I’m not frightened of being uncool to say no.” That sort of revelation reinforced much of what I had always wanted to believe about this man I had admired for over 50 years.
Overall , I enjoyed learning some of the lesser known backstories of many Beatles songs. For example, “Helter Skelter” was the band’s effort to surpass The Who’s claim they had “just made the dirtiest, loudest, filthiest song ever.” A song I always assumed was an ode to the wholesome life, similar to “Mother Nature’s Son,” Paul said “Blackbird” was actually inspired by the 1960s Civil Rights struggles in the United States.
Some portions of the candid interview were, well, a bit too candid for me. While the story behind “Let it Be” is relatively well known by now, McCartney shared a somewhat graphic inspiration for “Why Don’t We Do it in the Road.” Apparently, while in India, he witnessed a “troupe of monkeys walking along in the jungle.”
I have my own funny (much more G-rated) story about both of these songs. Years ago, I enjoyed a very good Beatles cover band at a Dallas club. When my daughter was 21, old enough to go with us, after they played “Let it Be,” I told her the story about Paul’s mother coming to him in a dream. A few songs later, when the band played “Why Don’t We Do it in the Road,” my daughter leaned over and whispered to me, “I’m guessing this was before Mother Mary’s dream visit???”
I know I should not be shocked or even surprised by Paul’s use of profanity throughout the GQ interview. As my daughter reminded me, “He was in a rock band.” Yeah, yeah, I know. And I know he’s a grownup, and a guy, and I should understand that guys use the sh and f-word. Unfortunately, I have always had a serious tendency of placing people on pedestals. Once a person is elevated to that lofty lionization, he/she is expected (by me) to be immune to the more vulgar ways of the world. At the very least, I don’t anticipate f-bombs from my knights in shining armor. Given my unreal expectations, it goes without saying that some of McCartney’s other graphic divulgences were not my favorite parts of the GQ piece. While those tidbits about some of the Beatles sexual activities have been the trending topics in social media, it was just TMI for me.
Here is my backstory of being a lifelong fan. I was not yet 10 years old when the Beatles came to Dallas the first time. When I begged my mom to let me go to that concert, she dismissed it with, “Those teenagers will trample you.” So, I did the only thing I could think of as next best thing. On the morning of their concert, September 18, 1964, before school, I took a special glass tumbler outside, and scooped what I believed was a glass full of “Beatle air,” since they were in my city that very moment. I then stuffed the glass with tissue paper, too ignorant to know the paper would displace my precious Beatle air. Nevertheless, I saved that glass of tissue paper for years.
Needless to say, I bought all of their albums, and was one of the millions of kids inspired by the Beatles to play guitar and write songs.
Fast forward to the birth of my son, who had such a remarkable resemblance to Paul, that a friend teased, “I told you not to sleep with your Beatle albums!” And even my husband joked that Paul McCartney needed to pay me child support. Was the likeness willed? Not really. It is more likely my son had my dark hair and arched brows. Nevertheless, it was funny.
I did eventually get to see Paul McCartney in concert April 7, 1990 at Texas Stadium. At the time, I was a freelance columnist for DFW Suburban Newspapers, and penned this piece about my experience.
Some of McCartney’s anecdotes and language disappointed me, though certainly through no fault of his. As indicated, I am easily disillusioned, because I impose such stringent expectations on my objects of affection.
Nevertheless, it is worth noting that Paul seemed to express a need for propriety in his actions, citing several times, that he now is a grandfather. His 1972 song “Hi Hi Hi” he says could “get a little bit embarrassing, because I’ve got grandkids.” So, when he does it live, he says, “Let’s get high on life!”
I have to assume Paul’s grandkids won’t be reading GQ. If they do someday, they will likely be forgiving and accepting of their grandfather’s experiences, whether youthful indiscretions or simply the tales that weave the tapestry of his life.
Once I grayed out some mental images, and compartmentalized what I wanted to know from what I feared knowing, the now told “Untold Stories of Paul McCartney” was a great read.