Paul McCartney: the Beatle who refuses to say goodbye - La Tercera

On the afternoon of December 4, 1965, Philip Norman, twenty-something and inexperienced reporter for the English newspaper Northern Echo, fell under the nose of the dressing room which housed the four Beatles in preview of a show in Newcastle, in the middle of the world frenzy for the group, even though the gate was barely guarded by an elderly guard.

Suddenly, Paul McCartney himself appears chewing gum and invites him to start an unscheduled interview. The rest of his companions accept without hesitation.

February 9, 1964: The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.

“They were very friendly. I was not a renowned journalist. I followed them into his dressing room, especially Paul, and they were all very friendly to me, except for George, who was just sitting there watching TV and watching The Avengers. However, everyone made me feel very welcome, including him. I had recently written about the Beatles, in a rather local newspaper, and apparently they had read my biography and knew about my love of guitars. Paul also kindly handed me his classic Höfner model violin bass to play, and to see that it wasn’t that heavy and was easy to move around on stage. In general, I felt very comfortable, it was as if I could have stayed there as long as I wanted”, recalls Norman (79) in conversation with La Tercera.

But in this landmark maelstrom of meat, Norman says he was able to spot the differences: “Paul was moving around before the interview started, like he was looking for someone, he seemed more active, and even though I wasn’t didn’t know it, he was aware that he was different, he noticed a different air, he looked much more refined than the others, more sophisticated, and at the same time he seemed to be the one who appreciated the madness of Beatlemania the most I saw them play in Portsmouth a while ago, and the minutes at the start of the show were really chaotic, the screaming… As the music started, someone threw a teddy bear on stage, he picked it up and put it on his bottom, leaving it there throughout the presentation. He seemed to appreciate the attention, the adulation more than the others”, also nuances the writer.

Almost 50 years later, around 2015, Norman – already established as one of the greatest musical biographers on the planet, with books on John Lennon, Elton John, Mick Jagger and the colossal Paul McCartney: biography, the most complete that has been written about the artist – reached another performance of the musician in England, this time only as an audience, without keeping the boxes, but he was able to conclude almost the same thing: Paul continued to enjoy the stage like few other figures in the folk songbook world. Restless, bright and current.

“In the end, I was the one who was tired, because it was a three-hour concert. I needed to get out of there, I was exhausted! People gave him a standing ovation and asked for more. In fact, I had to go through the emergency exit (laughs)”, summarizes Norman. Concretely, McCartney has never diminished the intensity and rhythm of his live performances, like a totem that at 80 refuses to lower the curtain.

It is enough to look at the recent calendar to corroborate it: on April 28, he begins his last tour in Spokane, in the United States, symbolically baptized Got Back, a return to the stage after the pandemic hibernation, which accumulates up to present 16 dates and recitals timed in the immediate vicinity of two hours 40 minutes, on 36 songs. The trip will end next week at the English Glastonbury Festival, the largest in the world.

It seems that Macca has in recent years thrown on his shoulders the responsibility of being the last great guardian capable of showing the world the greatest musical heritage of the 20th century. It’s true: Ringo Starr (81) is also still on tour, but his role in the Fab Four was different. What happened to Paul seems like a survivor’s last ditch effort to tell the story as he experienced it.

MARCH 20, 2019/SANTIAGO Paul McCartney performs at the National Stadium as part of his Freshen Up tour. PHOTO: AGENCEUNO

“Paul became the ambassador of the Beatles in the 21st century. And he did a great job”, he also defines in contact with The third American author Peter Ames Carlin, the other great biographer of the singer-songwriter, with another essential book published in 2009 and this time in reference to where McCartney was left after the death of John Lennon (1980) and George Harrison (2001).

Then he continues: “Paul IS the music because he ultimately helped create it in the pattern we understand today. We see him when he is on stage, his face lights up with joy, his body seems to vibrate. It is then that he is most alive, when he is truly himself. I don’t know him personally, but I’ve seen him many times over the past 46 years (starting in 1976 on the Wings tour) and saw him last month in Seattle. It was incredibly cool, even on the verge of the 80s.

Norman also has a thesis on this: “After the Beatles broke up, everyone at some point denied those years, because they were horrible, difficult years, of great burden because of the fame they had, even after the breakup. Everyone went through a phase of denial for a long time. And Paul gradually started playing more of the band’s songs. You would think that he has nothing more to prove, but he has to prove himself, basically that he still has people’s attention, as he has always loved it. You have to think that everyone thought the Beatles would be a fad, that it would last a few years and that’s it, but it wasn’t like that. Paul feels he has to prove that the magic still exists, and that’s why he does gigs without a break, without taking a sip of water, just to prove himself, and that’s a sign that he’s a genius, because geniuses are never satisfied with themselves, they know they can always be better”.

In addition, the Englishman underlines another important trait: for him, Macca was the hardest hit by the end of the group in 1970, like a wound that took much longer to heal compared to his companions, who are quickly embarked on successful solo adventures.

“People often think that it was extremely easy for Paul to start a new career with his wife Linda and Wings, but the reality is that for him the separation from the group was much more traumatic than for the others. moreover, he saw the end of the Beatles coming and, during a stay in Scotland with his family, he had a nervous breakdown, and even almost became an alcoholic so affected he was the slowest to start a solo career and it wasn’t until 1973 that he really did, while John was already in 1969 making albums with Yoko, and George likewise in 1970. And even Ringo had some hits So Paul really had to wait to get his success, it wasn’t easy at all.”

As if looking back could reorder the facts and accentuate the nuances, the man himself Hey Jude Over the past decades, he has carried out projects that have allowed him not only to bring his parent group to life, but also to strengthen his role in the most fascinating artistic epic of the 20th century.. Perhaps the most notorious of these is come backPeter Jackson’s grueling Disney+ documentary showing the band’s 1969 recording sessions, which would later result in the album so be it and in the famous concert on the roof of the Apple building.

McCartney appears there at all times as the engine that does not want to wreck his group, as well as the genius who in a few minutes can invent a universal anthem.

Peter Ames Carlin notes: “I really liked it, for a lot of obvious reasons. One is the clarity with which we can see Paul at work as he entered into a whole new creative eruption. You can see him send song after song, many of which end up on his solo albums. Moreover, her sensitivity towards John and her love for Yoko, as well as the obvious concern and admiration that John and Paul had for each other, are extremely vivid and moving. It’s a great movie.”

Norman does not think so: “I didn’t like it, it’s a ridiculous film. This is bullshit. Because it’s almost eight hours on recording politics in pop music, when Jackson did the same thing around the Great War, with 20 million deaths summarized in two hours, about the First World War) . There are some interesting moments, but the Beatles sounded lame, they sounded like a tribute band most of the time.

Of course, Norman agrees that the documentary further highlights the symbiosis between John and Paul when creating, as a single body linked by respect and complicity.

For him, the core is in a question of class: “The Beatles were a two-speed group, like the Rolling Stones. And those two levels were defined by class, because everything in England was defined by class. Thus Lennon, who appeared as a working-class hero, had in fact been brought up in a more affluent social class, as well as Paul, who although he was from a working-class background, also had a mother who was a nurse, and the nurses, they were middle class, so they were both middle class. George and Ringo were genuinely working class, which split the band, resulting in Paul and John writing most of the songs. This is where the power was divided.”

And because of all this tonnage of records – and thoughts – that exist on Paul and the Beatles, both authors agree that it is almost impossible to determine an unequivocal definition of the former Beatle.. Ames Carlin puts him on a par with Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan in terms of influence, while considering him a multiple figure, as brilliant as he is ambitious, as restless as he is uncertain. “Aren’t we all a bit like that? Maybe he’s more than all of us, because he’s lived on stage for so much of his life.”

Norman – who was able to talk to McCartney several times, even obtaining the singer’s approval for his book – portrays him as the smiling and affable Beatle, but under whom obsessions, rivalries and frustrations hide. “For example, he doesn’t like to be seen as the traditional, melodic Beatle, unlike Lennon, who until today is singled out as the avant-garde. He always struggled to be seen as it, “he reveals. But at the same time, he warns that his name is so big that it may even be above many considerations: “You can’t even define it. It’s Paul McCartney . That’s enough”.

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