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useful; if you want to get in a Christmas mood, whack that on. Easter Parade, if you want an Easter mood, whack that on.
Irving Berlin was the great expert at all of that.. God Bless America and all that. He's got a song for every occasion going; The Anniversary Waltz 1 think he wrote. He's the boy.
So going on that kind of vibe I kind of thought well there's been a Christmas song, there's been an Easter song, what about a birthday song? Instead of Happy Birthday to You we were going to have a rock song for people who were into rock and roll as just another way of saying 'it's your birthday'.
So we came up with this real simple lyric - 'they say it's your birthday, well it's my birthday too yeah' - that sort of stuff and that 'were going to a party party', just a few little bits, a riff in the middle and a little instrumental break and 1 think we got all the crowd of people there to sing along the chorus, y'know "BIRTHDAY...I want you to dance...BIRTHDAY", just a little easy part for them, which we often used to do. And by the end of the evening, we'd done it. We just left it to be mixed and went off to a club.
Q; It's amazing that that song was never before released as a single.
A. I know. But The Beatles were funny about that, releasing singles. I mean in England we never released Yesterday or Michelle as singles. So it's not that surprising, with us often the most obvious singles didn't get released.
Maybe it was because Hey Jude was going on at the time, a stronger contender.
But that's what's nice about doing Birthday now. As you know, on the tour doing all these songs was nice for me because I'd never done them live before. I'd never done Birthday, only the night we recorded it. I'd never done Hey Jude, or Pepper. A lot of those songs were really good to do because they were just totally fresh for me.
So in a way it's fun that Birthday was never a single because now it can be useful; it can be a useful song now - if you've got a friend who's got a birthday you can whack that song on 'em. Or play it at a birthday party.
Q; Was that one of the last songs you wrote with John?
A; No, one of the last things I ever wrote with John was The Balad Of John and Yoko. He'd just got married in Gibraltar or somewhere and he showed up at my house in London one day saying 'look, man, I've got this song I'm dying to record and basically it was all there, I just helped a little bit.
And he said 'why don't you drum and play bass and I'll play guitar and 111 sing and we'll run round the corner to EMI studios. We can knock it off in half an hour'....
John was very impatient and it's great, actually, for creativity to have someone who's impatient because they will NOT sit around and twiddle their thumbs. He couldn't, he just couldn't.
So we fixed a couple of words, went round to the studios, ran in and did it. It must have been a bit awkward for the other guys; I think John in his impatience just didn't want to have the bother of ringing George and Ringo and getting a whole session together. He figured I'd be there, I was always like a couple of hundred yards away from the studio, always ready...y'know, plectrum in hand type of thing.
Q; It's interesting you saying that because you're the one still like that, aren't you, still ready with the plectrum in hand.
A. Yeah. Well, y'know, I'm a ham. There's no doubt about it; as much as I TRY to retire I keep thinking well this isn't me. I LIKE getting out there. It's not that I get bored at home; really the oppositie, it's great, being with the kids and Linda; homelife is a doddle, it's bliss, being in the countryside and free like that, I'm well into farming, organic farming.
But I do think that I've now set my character to the extent that I can't JUST do that. Linda's different; she could do that. But the musician in her isn't ingrained as much as it is in me. That's really all I've done from the age of 14 really; I wrote my first song at 14 and ever since that bug bit me I've been infected. And it's gone all of that time; through the Beatles period, through the Wings period, now through the solo period and I still love getting together with a little bunch of musicians. It can be hard work at times but I'm always glad 1 did it after it. And this tour has proved the point yet again. Much as I'm not into schlepping around all the Holiday Inns in the world the stimulus of your audience and the band is considerable.
Q. The album of the live show will also show people how much of a rocker you are, don't you think?
A. Yeah. Images are a funny business. You see George Michael talking about it on telly. He's a real good writer but he's thought of as a stud. It's the razor he uses, I think.
Obviously the closer you can get to what you want to be, the more sense it makes in life. And for me my image has tended to go towards the more lyrical, the smoochy and all that just because my biggest successes have been with Yesterday and Hey Jude, The Long and Winding Road, Let It Be....ballads. Now I love that and they may even be my favourite thing, it may be what I'm best at...but it is always refreshing for me to remember that I wrote Helter Skelter.Or that I also wrote I'm Down, She's A Woman, Can't Buy Me Love, Got To Get You Into My Life; a lot of the rocking stuff we do on the tour.
So that is another good thing about going on a tour like this, one, it reminds you of what you do - otherwise I would just sit on the farm and start to believe my own image ...Yeah, I'm just a balladeer aren't I?' but it's good if you can get out on the tour and somebody on the tour or some fan starts saying 'yeah, man, you're ROCKING'.
'You're singing your tail off, somebody said, and I thought 'Yeah, man, that's what I loved'. So it helps get your sense of proportion back somehow, that I'm not just a love song balladeer, there's more to it than what my critics say.
I mean it's always nice to think I wrote Why Don't We Do It In The Road? That's very un-me, that's very un-my image. Although it's funny because one of the guys on the farm came up to me before the tour and said 'Paul, I've been listening to that White Album and what does that mean, that Why Don't We Do It In The Road? I said I'll tell you when you're 21.
Q; There's also a new generation of fans out there for those songs now. I know that some of the younger girls on the crew, 11 and 22, really got off to Birthday but they'd never heard it before. They thought you'd done a new song.
A. I know and a lot of friends of my kids loved Got To Get You Into My Life the first time they saw it on the tour. It's great, I really love that. I really love seeing the younger generation get off on the older stuff. And that's even with my own family. There was a time a few years ago when we went on the Wogan show and the only thing my son James had heard me do live was Jet and Listen To What The Man Said. And they suddenly became his favourite songs and I realised then that it was just because he'd been exposed to them. It wasn't anything more, to him they were new they were hot, new songs to him.
And on the tour a friend of my daughter's came up and it was 'Got To Get You Into My Life, man, that's my favourite song' and then suddenly Pepper was his favourite song - Sgt. Pepper. I've had guys say to me 'Man, Sgt. Pepper, it's like Acid House isn't it? '
I say 'What do you mean it's like Acid House - it is Acid House, it's the start of Acid House is Pepper, it's where it all came from'.
But that is such a buzz, seeing all that happen all over again. And what I love about it is that it's held, the music, it's held it's own. Strawberry Fields, the lyrics are still as far out now as they ever were - 'I mean, I think, uh yes, it's me, I think, uh no, is it...' you know, it's always going to be far out.
And some of the songs improve, some of the sadder songs get more meaningful when you get older and you've had kids and all the worries of that.