VENUS & MARS ARE ALRIGHT.
It was the first time Paul McCartney had heard his new single played on the radio. 'Listen to What the Man Said"' had gone straight on the Capitol Radio playlist, and that Monday afternoon Paul and Linda heard the song as Paul manipulated their Rolls Royce convertible through the narrow streets of London's Mayfair.
"Sounds good,'' the lead Wing decided. "It's a good summer single." As if to prove it, Capitol Radio went into a medley from Pet Sounds.
"There's a funny story about that one,'' McCartney smiled. "It was one of the songs we'd gone in with high hopes for. Whenever I would play it on the piano, people would say 'Oh, I like that one.' But when we did the backing track, we thought we didn't really get it together at all. We let it stay and added some things on it, Dave Mason came in and we did a little bit of overdubbing guitars, and then we wondered what we could do for a solo. We thought it would be great to have a very technical musician come in and do a great lyrical solo.
"Someone said 'Tom Scott lives near here.' We said, yeah, give him a ring, see if he turns up, and he turned up within half an hour! There he was, with his sax, and he sat down In the studio playing through. The engineer was recording it. We kept all the notes he was playing casually. He came in and I said 'I think that's it.' He said 'Did you record that?' I said yes, and we listened to it back. No one could believe it, so he went out and tried a few more, but they weren't as good. He'd had all the fell on this early take, the first take. So we'd finished the session, we just sat around and chatted for a couple of hours. I think what he plays on that song is lovely and that, overall, ii worked."
For Paul McCartney to expound on one of his songs at that length was to be uncharacteristically talkative, but he was riding a wave of good luck uncharacteristic even for him. Band on the Run had recently won a Grammy for the Best Vocal Group Performance of 1974, Venus and Mars had unearthly advance orders of one and a half million, 'Junior's Farm' had extended America's longest string of consecutive top ten singles to seven, and his lawyers had just completed negotiation of his new contract with EMI and Capitol, a contract with provisions so generous some shareholders protested on the grounds that Capitol did not have the resources to make such an offer.
"I always feel dull doing interviews," McCartney admitted, facing an afternoon of interviews to promote Venus and Mars. "I'd like to have great stories to tell. But I don't have a lot of control, or I don't feel I have a lot of control, over some songs."
As the McCartney mobile worked its way toward a Knightsbridge restaurant, one was constantly reminded of the appropriateness of Lee Eastman's admonition to his son-in-law to "make sure you stay ordinary." Paul was constantly recognized at every intersection and photographed by camera - carrying tourists at every red light. "Man, I don't believe who I'm talking to," a travelling Canadian student quaked near Piccadilly. "Can you pose with my wife?" a honeymooning Italian begged. McCartney granted every request: for this sunny lunchtime, he was in an outgoing mood.
This wasn't to say that everything was a source of joy. As he parked his car outside an Italian restaurant Paul addressed the immediate dilemma posed by the Robert Stigwood Organization's desire to film the West End play John, Paul, George, Ringo and Bert.
"I'm not struck on it. The original thing was written for a theatre presentation up in Liverpool at the Everyman (Theatre). A lot of people went up there thinking, hello, it's about the Beatles, could be a lot of money in this. The playwright who wrote it is a little Liverpool bloke and he's written a nice play but in the play it's almost not important what the story is. He's sort of taken all the press handouts that there ever were about the Beatles without really going into the history. He's just made a pastiche of it.
"It's very funny, and I've read the script. A lot of people like it. But now they want to make a film, and to me it seems that a film is going to be like The Beatles Life Story, inevitably. The plot of this little play is so weird and so wrong. Linda appears in a kind of crazy light. So do I. I appear as this total business-like character, which I only was towards the end of the thing. George is made to be a religious freak. It has nothing to do with how the Beatles were. My basic objection is that if they're going to do a thing which in years to come is going to look like the official Beatles story, they must at least think about getting it right.
Also, they're not thinking of bothering to give us a percentage, and I think that as it's our life and we're still living, that's a bit rich,"
Venus and Mars employed a few of the techniques McCartney learned while a Beatle. He pointed out that the album had more links than anything he had worked on since Abbey Road. An example was the segue between 'Listen to What the Man Said' and 'Treat Her Gently/Lonely Old People,' the latter track in itself a medley. The bridge was retained on the 'Listen to What the Man Said' single. "You either have to leave it and slop 'Listen to What the Man Said' dead or you spill over into the next little link piece. I just like that link myself, and though no one's going to mind that little extra on the record."
Paul's penchant for "top and tail" ing an album, manifested in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heats Club Band and Band on the Run, was further exhibited in the appearance on the new album of two variations of Venus and Mars. Popular speculation had the McCartneys as the little couple.
''When we had a party in the States to celebrate having finished the album, someone came up to us and said 'Hello, Venus. Hello, Mars.' I thought, 'Oh. no.'' When I write songs, I'm not necessarily talking about me, although psychoanalysts would say "Yes, you are, mate." But as far as I'm concerned, I'm not.
"The song 'Venus and Mars' is about an imaginary friend who's got a girl friend who's into astrology, the kind of person who asks you what your sign is before they say hello. That's it, 'a good friend of mine studies the stars.' In fact, in the first verse, it's 'a good friend of mine follows the stars,' so it could be ambiguous, a groupie or an astrologer.
"I didn't even know they were our neighbouring planets. I just thought of naming any two planets. What were the first that came to mind? I thought, Jupiter, no, that doesn't fit... Saturn... no... Venus and Mars... that's great, I'll just put those in. Later, it turns out they've just done an eclipse, Venus and Mars have lined themselves up for the first time in something like a thousand years. I didn't know they were the gods of love and war, either, and I wasn't thinking about the Botticelli picture someone ( George Melly) asked about."
McCartney also denied that the venues mentioned in 'Rock Show,' the second song on the first side of the album, constituted a cryptic reference to his tour plans with Wings.
"That just happens to coincide. I start off with an idea. 'Rock Show,' boom. Concert Gebauw came into my mind, because that's one of the places yon play in Amsterdam. We played there (during Wings' 1973 European tour), so I rhymed it with 'Rock Show' in an English pronounciation of Gebauw. 'Long hair'... well, where else? Madison Square. 'Rock and roll'..., well, that rhymes with Hollywood Bowl. Often these things that turn out to be great afterwards are just searches for a rhyme. I could see how you might think, well, he's doing this… but for me it's just writing a song. But as it happens, yes, I'd like to play those places, sure."
He said this with the confidence of a man sure of his band. "We'd like to have the band out in Britain this summer, have a bit of time off to write some more, and then really get it together for autumn. I keep saying we're coming to America, but we're planning and really want to.
"It's funny. Henry McCullough left and we got in Jimmy McCulloch. We lose a drummer named Geoff Britton, who's English, and get in a drummer called Joe English, who's American."
The new musicians had to be prepared to play in styles other than conventional rock-and-roll. 'You Gave Me the Answer' sounded burn and bred in the big band era, when Paul McCartney wore tie and tails and his debutante sweetheart Linda wore flour-length gowns.
''I know it's sort of a rock-and-roll album but' there's other things I like that aren't necessarily rock-and-roll,'' the artist explained. "On this LP I thought I'd like to get some of that in, so 'You Gave Me the Answer' is real fruity, imagining tie and tails, my impression of the Fred Astaire era.
"When I started to listen to music, the kind of music was Fred Astaire and the Billy Cotton Band Show (BBC radio), Cole Porter's type of lyrics. I like the Astaire films they show now on television. I think, wow, great, boy, can they dance! Boy, can they arrange tunes. They were only doing what we're doing now, but some of the time they were much better at it! Think of the choreographing of some of the big numbers, you just won't see that these days. We all know it's the money they had, but the class is still there for someone like myself to look back on and say 'That's a great idea.'
"I remember I was up in Liverpool once, just mucking around with this type of thing. If you play guitar, you like to do impressions. And I was singing an old tune and my Auntie Millie said to me, 'You know, that's just like Jack Buchanan!' He was one of my favourites, old Jack. I used to like all those blokes." (The British Buchanan was a star of stage musicals who also appeared in an Astaire film).
"I thought, great, she doesn't think it's a con, it's just a different style of singing, and she likes It. And I must admit, I do, it's very romantic. A fruity approach, but I'm not against all that.''
Part of McCartney's genius has long been his ability to make a fascinating story out of a mundane experience. Watching a movie on television inspired that Astaire-like '"You Gave Me the Answer.' 'Penny Line" may only have been a boring Liverpool street, but McCartney and Lennon made it sound like the home of intriguing individuals. The simple act of going to the corner market gave him the idea for 'Magneto and Titanium Man.'
"Yes, that's about Marvel Comics. When we were on holiday in Jamaica, we'd go into the supermarket every Saturday, when they got a new stock of comics in. I didn't use to read comics from eleven onwards, I thought I'd grown out of them, but I came back to them a couple of years ago. The drawings are great. I think you'll find that in twenty years time some of the guys drawing them were little Picassos. I think it's very clever how they do it. I love the names, I love the whole comic book thing."
"And I've been reading a bit of science fiction, things like Foundation by Asimov. I love the scope of it, the vision of it, because you can write anything. The second time 'Venus and Mars' comes around, it says 'Sitting in the hall of the Great Cathedral/Waiting for the transport to come.' That's like in science fiction books, waiting for the space shuttle. 'Starship 21ZNA9,' that's the kind of thing you'll find in Asimov. I like that, sitting in the Cathedral, really waiting for the saucer to come down, to take him off to Venus and Mars or whatever."
Magneto, Titanium Man and the Crimson Dynamo were all villains from the Marvel Comics post office wall. Joining them in the minds of most British rock fans are the little men of the Musicians Union and civil service who limit BBC Radio One's output of rock recordings to thirty-five hours a week. The needletime has been concentrated in the daytime, with the subsequent emphasis on a host of children's and housewives' favourites who never made it in the States, while artists like Jethro Tull and Led Zeppelin are hardly heard in any form. Even though he personally enjoys frequent airplay, McCartney shared his fellow rockers' angst.
"We don't have much good radio here in England, as you know. I was talking about this with one of the top men at EMI and I said that the BBC should have a station that plays the good stuff, Stones tracks, Beatles tracks, Zeppelin, what people want to hear. They say they don't have the needletime to play the good stuff, but that's not a good reason, they could just use the needletime differently.
"If you don't want kids to go underground, you've got to give them something they can like. BBC have never had enough of the good stuff. When I was a kid there was only one hour a week, and that coincided with one of my dad's favourite shows, and we had to fight it out in a friendly way every week to figure out who got to listen. You could figure that today they could give up some of their Gardening Tips time for Led Zeppelin. But the man from EMI just smiled and said 'Oh, you'll never get that in England, old chap.' What an attitude, 'you'll never get that in England.' The attitude is the only reason it's never been done!"
McCartney does have a personal reason for feeling less than content with the British establishment, and that is the tax burden he is forced to carry as a top-grossing pop star. For tax purposes "we had to record outside the country. I have to write all my songs outside the country, too. Otherwise the government will say, right, this is a British record, all the money has to come back into Britain. I'm in 98m per cent tax then. I get 2p, the government gets 98p. I mean, I don't particularly like it when the (US) government gets 30c and I get 70c but it's better than getting 2p in the pound."
Yet for all this travail the Liverpudlian remains, in his own words, "British to the core," so much so that he even calls his American wife "honorary British." "I wouldn't leave. So many people are leaving and trying to make it look like they're not leaving. Rod's leaving for a year, I think that's bad management advice. Elton would never leave for good, he's totally English."
McCartney's Anglophelia is so great that he fell compelled to speak out against British membership in the Common Market shortly before the June, !975 referendum. His comments to one national newspaper were printed in a column so personally derisive to Paul that his publicist was briefly suspended in recognition of the public relations disaster. With members of the music press he was also open in his dislike for the European Economic Community.
"One of the worst things about the Common Market is that miles are going to become kilometers," he protested. ''That's a foreign word, another foreign word in the British language. Acres became hectares, and so on. I wouldn't mind if the British government announced we're gonna have these words, but they're still going to be English things. That pees me right off. You have a great tradition in England, and some people hate tradition. They seem to want to take it down and put something in its place. I think that people who do that without regard to the past and the validity of the tradition often make mistakes and come back in two years and think 'Blimey I wrecked that!' Whoever's going to change kilometers from miles is going to be reading a book in ten years and say 'Ah, miles, they were good, weren't they?'
"I was reading a book about Egypt recently, some of it has gone into the new album ('Spirits of Ancient Egypt'). Apparently a measurement almost exactly the same as the inch was used in the construction of the pyramids. I'd hazard a guess that the millimeter isn't even that clever a measurement. I understand that it's more modern and it's easier, being in tens, but it's not for me. We had enough invaders and we finally got the British language straight, except for the normal amount of slang. I don't think we need to immediately go over to kilometers, hectares, kilos, liters, and to tell you the truth, I haven't even bothered to go to the trouble to learn all that stuff, it annoys me so much."
Despite the intensity of his views, McCartney did refrain from participating in the organized campaigning each side did in the weeks before the referendum. A movement to draft popular musicians into the fray failed, although Tim Rice, author of Jesus Christ, Superstar, did go on the BBC in support of British membership.
Paul manifested his strong British roots yet again on the closing track of 'Venus and Mars'. He recorded Tony Hatch's 'Crossroads,' theme of a long-running Independent Television Network drama-cum-soap opera series. "It is a bit of a British joke that I thought might be too much of a British joke, but I'd still like to put it out. If you don't get the joke on it, it sounds like a closing theme. Sort of like 'Ladies and Gentlemen, Miss Diana Ross! and Diana walks off with the orchestra going (sings a triumphant exit song)... But if you see the joke, it comes after 'Lonely Old People,' nobody asked us to play, they're wondering what's going on, spending time, nobody gets involved with lonely old people. One of the big things for lonely old people in England is to watch Crossroads. That was it, just a joke at the end. Funnily enough, they're going to use it at the end of the program now, use our tune on it, which is great.'"'
ITV did indeed adopt the Wings version of 'Crossroads' as the closing theme of the program in the summer of 1975. Early in the summer the group appeared on television themselves in one-minute filmed commercials for the new album, shooting billiards in a Holland Park home. Two Wings television programs were being edited for broadcast in the 1975-76 season.
"The first is from when we had Geoff Britton as drummer. We were rehearsing in Nashville and we just went into a studio and filmed the numbers we had been rehearsing. That's being put together now with the name 'One Hand Clapping.' It's just us playing with a couple of things of chat, it's very simple.
"The other thing we've had for a couple of years now and are just finishing. It's sort of a children's thing, although we showed it to Steve Stills and he thought it was 8:00 prime time material. But I have a feeling that if it goes out 8:00 prime time people are going to say 'Oh, they could have done something better, it's an old line-up of Wings.' It's quite a nice thing, though, it's certainly better than, say, the news."
The increased interest in television as a promotional medium was just part of McCartney's decided emphasis on dealing with professionals. Well into hiss thirties, the rocker was now clearly working with show business giants and business experts. His manager was British entertainment world veteran Brian Brolly, his American lawyer New Yorker Lee Eastman, Linda's father. George Melly was commissioned to write the feature article in the 'Venus and Mars' press kit, while Peggy Lee was the recent beneficiary of a McCartney original, 'Let's Love.' He also delegated important decisions concerning the merchandising of his songs to Capitol Record's Al Coury. McCartney modestly gave the credit for Band on the Run's three-time appearance in the number one spot on the American chart to Coury's advice.
"I must not take the credit on Band on the Run. Al Coury, Capitol's ace plugger, rang up and told us 'I persuaded Pink Floyd to take 'Money' off Dark Side of the Moon as a single, and you want to know how many units we sold? We want 'Band on the Run'! We want 'Jet'! We want 'em off!' And he's such a good spieler, this fella, that I'll say, well, it sounds like sense. No skin off my nose, try it, and it just kept coming back up, much to my delight.
"With the Beatles we had a whole line of singles and it was very much a singley thing. When we had Band on the Run, we had a purist thing and said no, we're not going to trail it with a single, everybody does that, everybody pulls bloody singles off albums. We won't do that. We'll just release an LP.
"We released it and it didn't get much notice. A few people heard it and said, oh, that's quite nice, it went up to number seven and then started to plummet. I said oh, blimey, it's better than that! It could just be the physical fact that people haven't heard it.
"You suddenly realize that everyone is housewives, clerks, just people. The majority of people are not people from the record business, like we'd think, because that's the kind of people we meet. The majority of people don't know Band on the Run is out unless there's a single. If someone says 'This is the single from Band on the Run, then everyone knows it's out. That's the power of the single. You go into a shop and they say 'Well, it's on an album, do you want that,' and they say 'Oh, is it?' The communicative value of a single is the big thing.
"That's why we turned 'Junior's Farm' over to 'Sally G.' Some people think, blimey, they're just trying to get two records out of one. But I think that if it's a song that people would like to know and sing, and it gets played only by the people who buy the record, then I like to see if we can give it an extra plug.
"So that's what we were thinking. We weren't thinking it would be a hit again, we just wanted to expose the song. You get things like, twenty years later someone says 'That's the brilliant B-side of Joni Mitchell,' but people don't know it! If it had been exposed, it might have been a great big hit or a thing that lived in everyone's minds."
'Sally G' was promoted as a country single as well as a pop record by Capitol, as was 'Country Dreamer.' the B-side of 'Helen Wheels,' "When I'm in a place, it's not uncommon for me to want to write about where I am," Paul mused, now well-mellowed in London's late afternoon. "Elton John did 'Philadelphia Freedom,' you know. You see a lot of that, someone will turn up and write a song the next day. Being in Nashville, I wanted to use a couple of local guys. I never worked with a Nashville steel guitar player, and I had to have a bit of material I could bring in and ask them to do. This bloke named Buddy took us out to Printer's Alley, which is a little club district. There were a few people just playing country music, and we imagined a bit more than we had seen for 'Sally G'.
"A lot of people do that. I saw the documentary on David Hockney last night (BBC's David Hockney in Paris) in which he saw a Macy's ad, which to him seemed a perfect room. So be took the room and just painted a nude boy on it. He made one of his pictures out of it.
"I didn't see anyone named 'Sally G' when I was in Printer's Alley, nor did I see anyone who ran her eyes over me when she was singing 'A Tangled Mind.' That was my imagination, adding something to it. the reality of it." It was while in Nashville that McCartney first heard Jimmy McCulloch play 'Medicine Jar,' which he liked so much he included in the album.
'Sally G' was listed in the trade charts as the flip side of 'Junior's Farm' when the latter number was in the top ten, a rare distinction for a B-side that Wings had also achieved with 'Hi Hi Hi/C Moon' in Britain. There the occasion was a bit more infamous, since the BBC banned 'Hi Hi Hi,' and only played 'C Moon' while other stations played 'Hi Hi Hi,' resulting in the double chart placing.
'Junior's Farm/C Moon' was Wings' seventh consecutive top ten hit, a string extended to eight with 'Listen to What the Man Said.' It was America's longest top ten streak, with Elton John the nearest competitor with seven. McCartney's commercial appeal has not been equalled on this yardstick in the seventies.
It is hardest to believe that Wings have done thus by remaining virtually exclusively a studio act. Paul McCartney has not appeared on an American concert stage since the Beatles closed their 1966 tour in San Francisco. Wings 'Take One' played UK college dates in 1972, starting with the famous unannounced Nottingham performance, and then did selected British cities in 1973 to tie in with the release of 'Red Rose Speedway'. Yet these were low key appearances, devoid of sensational effects, major supporting act, and much of a sense of occasion. The largest capacity hall on the tour seated 4.000, hardly a test of an ex-Beatle's drawing power.
What was happening was that McCartney, fully aware that he would be reviewed in exactly that ex-Beatle light, was getting his feet wet as a Wing. The group deliberately performed no Lennon-McCartney numbers, and the Wings tours were thus literally the concert unveiling of a new band. We wrote this in the June 21,1973 edition of ROLLING STONE:
Paul McCartney and Wings
May 12th, 1973
"Look, there goes someone with black hair! Is that a Wing?" asked one of the four twelve-year olds camped at the New Theatre six hours before show time.
"No, outside of Paul McCartney none of them has dark black hair," answered her friend with the David Cassidy button and McCartney picture. She then turned to the inquisitive reporter. "Listen, we're a little young to remember the Beatles. We've heard of them, but we're here because we're Wings fans."
"My favourite Paul McCartney songs?'' a third girl reflected. "I'd say 'C Moon,' 'Hi Hi Hi,' and 'My Love."
There were no Lennon-McCartney songs and no mention of the Beatles when Paul McCartney and Wings played the second concert of their first full-fledged British tour. Those who expected to hear ballads, Beatles or bubblegum were confounded. The group came on stage in black outfits and played a set of rock numbers interrupted only by the recent soft-sounding hits 'C Moon,' 'My Love,' and 'Live and Let Die.'
Although McCartney played spokesman between the first few numbers, the Wings concert was not just his show. When Henry McCullough announced it was time for "a real blast from the past," Denny Laine proceeded to sing 'Go Now,' his 1965 hit with the Moody Blues. Laine remained featured vocalist on his composition, 'Say You Don't Mind,' a 1971 British top ten success for Colin Blunstone.
The concert became a battle of nerves as McCartney politely suggested before each number that the audience make some noise. It held out until he remarked that since two "real rockers" were finishing the show it might be time for everyone to "shake your bums or whatever."
On the first chord five persons stood up and that broke the Oxford reserve. Within 20 seconds almost everyone was on their feet, half the crowd was rushing forward and two zealots leaped onstage. The closer, 'Hi Hi Hi,' and the surprise encore, 'Long Tall Sally,' were exercises in near-pandemonium.
Wings won over its audience with compact rock tunes. There were few visual effects, no long monologues and no extended solos. Linda McCartney, whom some observers have considered to be Wings' extra added detraction, almost acquitted herself. It was only when Paul replaced her on keyboards and she was reduced to shaking a tambourine and looking uncomfortable that she seem extraneous.
It was a respectable concert. Wings don't rate raves yet, but the time for snickering is over.
Only by accumulating a post-Beatle repertoire has McCartney been able to face the prospects of performing Beatle songs live again. Unlike his 1973 dates, Wings concerts in late 1975 and 1976 include passing reference to the body of what has gone before.
"We've been getting numbers together in Rye, rehearsing in the South of England. We're OK now, because we've got Band on the Run, Venus and Mars, and all the singles," Paul said in late May. "We have to think about what people want to hear me sing, I suppose they might want to hear me sing 'Hey Jude,' so I should do it. We're trying to think of which of those old numbers we could do. I'm thinking people might want to hear 'The Long and Winding Road,' 'Hey Jude,' 'Let It Be,' 'Fool on the Hill,' maybe, 'Blackbird,' and 'Yesterday.' I don't think I could get away with not doing 'Yesterday.'
"But I don't like to commit us to doing anything too specific too soon. We like to say we want to do something, but we don't want to have to do it in case something goes wrong at the last minute. We like to reserve that freedom for ourselves.''
The last flurry of Beatle reunion rumours died in early 1974, after the release of the 'Ringo' album featuring compositions from Harrison, Lennon and McCartney had failed to generate a get-together either in studio or on stage. The Beatle period receives only slight mention in the new McCartney biography prepared by McCartney Productions for any sort of Who's Who which now requests his listing. This official new version emphasizes the Wings phase of his career:
McCartney, James Paul, M.B.E.
British, born 18th June, 1942.
Musician, Artist, Composer.
Former member of the Beatles (disbanded, 1970).
Formed own group Wings 1971 and toured Europe and UK 1972/73
Soundtrack music for the feature film 'The Family Way' (1966).
theme song for 'Live and Let Die' (1973) nominated for Academy Award.
'A Hard Day's Night' (1964),
'Let It Be' (1970).
'Magical Mystery Tour' (1967),
'James Paul McCartney' (1973).
'Wings Wild Life' (1971),
'Red Rose Speedway' (1973),
'Band on the Run' (1973).
'Venus and Mars' (1975),
(1975 received two US Grammy Awards for 'Band on the Run' including Best Pop Vocal Performance).
Linda Eastman (American).
Heather, Mary and Stella.
McCartney Productions Limited, London W.1.
The three daughters mentioned at the end of the official biographical listing are far more familiar with their father's career as a Wing than as a Beatle. Stella shocked us across the generation gap when she pointed to our blue Beatles' 10th Anniversary t-shirt at Elton John's June, 1975 Wembley concert. "That's Ringo!" she exclaimed, pointing both to the likeness of Mr. Starkey and the man joking with her father a few feet away. "And that's Daddy! But who's that?" She was pointing to the picture of John Lennon.
The children go with their parents on their recording jaunts winch, as McCartney explained, had to be out of Britain for tax reasons. "I don't think it's bad on the kids," he stated. ''What we do is, whenever we get someplace, we immediately try to set it up as homey as possible. Plus, there are always good people around. And a pool in L.A., Mardi Gras in New Orleans - these are good places for children. It's great for the kids."
The unshakingly strong family life McCartney enjoys is so unusual for the pop world it is an angle for the conventional media to focus on. People did so in its early 1975 cover story. McCartney acknowledged it as a far cry from his swinging batchelor life during the early Beatle days, and the hearth constitutes yet another break from the past.
So did the death of Pete Ham, the Badfinger songwriter who took his own life by hanging in his lonely Golders Green room in the spring of 1975. McCartney had written the group's first hit, 'Come and Get It' from The Magic Christian, after which Ham and his comrades took over for the international hits 'No Matter What,' 'Day After Day,' and 'Baby Blue.' Ham co-wrote 'Without You,' Nilsson's number one single, which originally appeared on an Apple Badfinger album.
"Did you hear about Pete Ham?" McCartney said. "I was sad because he was good. Well, I told everybody he was good. It was one of those things where you hear about it and think, if only I had called him up a week earlier, I wonder if I could have helped to save him?"
Linda nodded in understanding. "It was like that with Jimi (Hendrix). The week before he died we were talking about him and decided we had to invite him up to Scotland, but we didn't that night. A week later, he was dead."
Ham's death further scattered to the winds the Apple artists of the hopeful late sixties. Only James Taylor, now on Warner Brothers, and Billy Preston, currently recording for A&M, are still enjoying commercial success. McCartney himself cut his link with the label in 1975 by adopting the Capitol logo of the fifties for his releases. The first Wings records to bear the new old label were Venus and Mars and 'Listen to What the Man Said.'
Indeed, instead of listing ways in which McCartney has moved away from his first historic role, one more appropriately tries to find factors which have not changed. They are hard to identify. His songwriting partner has lived in a different country for years. He has changed managers several times while maintaining the American connection with his wife's father. There are different labels on his records. He makes his records outside the country he used to make them in, using different session men to complement Wings and producing himself rather than relying on George Martin. Unlike other phoenix bird rockers of the seventies, Paul McCartney has come back not from drugs or obscurity but from his historic self.
The Singles of Paul McCartney
'Another Day' Paul McCartney (released in 1971). Reached number two in UK charts and five in US.
'Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey' Paul and Linda McCartney (released in 1971 in US only). First post-Beatles number one.
'Back Seat Of My Car' Paul and Linda McCartney (released in 1971 UK only). Released instead of 'Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey.'
'Give Ireland Back To The Irish' Wings (released in 1972). Banned by the BBC for political content.
'Mary Had A Little Lamb' Wings (released in 1972). Reached number nine in UK despite horrified reactions from the press.
'Hi Hi Hi b/w C Moon' Wings (released in 1972). 'Hi Hi Hi' banned by the BBC for lyrical content, but still reached Top Ten.
'My Love' Paul McCartney and Wings (released in 1972). Wings' first US number one.
'Live And Let Die' Wings (released in 1973). James Bond film theme, reached number two in US charts.
'Helen Wheels' Paul McCartney and Wings (released in 1973). After entry in US Top Ten, put on US Band on the Run.
'Jet' Paul McCartney and Wings (released in 1974). Top ten both in US and UK charts.
'Band On The Run' Paul McCartney and Wings (released in 1974). Reached number one in US charts and three in UK.
'Junior's Farm b/w Sally G' Paul McCartney and Wings (released in 1974). Reached number three in US charts.
'Listen To What The Man Said' Wings (released in 1975). Reached number one in US charts, extended Wings' streak to eight consecutive Top Ten hits.
'Letting Go' Wings (released in 1975). Re-mixed from Venus and Mars.
The Albums of Paul McCartney
'McCartney' Paul McCartney (released in May 1970). Reached number one in US charts and two in UK.
'Ram' Paul and Linda McCartney (released in June 1971). Reached number two in US charts and one in UK.
'Wild Life' Wings (released in December 1971). Reached number ten in US charts and eight in UK.
'Red Rose Speedway' Paul McCartney and Wings (released in May 1973). Reached number one in US charts and five in UK.
'Band On The Run' Paul McCartney and Wings (released in December 1973). Reached number one in US charts and one in UK. The US album had the single 'Helen Wheels' added for merchandising reasons.
'Venus and Mars' Wings (released in May 1975). Reached number one in US charts and one in UK.
Chart positions from Billboard (US) and Music Week (UK)
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