ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel, and this is something that I've been waiting to say for years: Here's a man who needs no introduction.
PAUL MCCARTNEY: Hi.
SIEGEL: Paul McCartney, welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.
MCCARTNEY: Well, thank you for the introduction.
SIEGEL: I should say, you're here because of a new album of original songs, which is named - fittingly - "New." Let's hear a bit of the title track, which is "New."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NEW")
SIEGEL: Then we were new.
MCCARTNEY: Yes, sir.
SIEGEL: Who are we, by the way?
MCCARTNEY: We - that's me and my wife. That's Nancy. It was written shortly after we got together. I was just sitting at my piano, late at night. And yeah, I was missing her. She was away. She was in New York, and I was in England. So this was my way of bringing us together.
SIEGEL: I've read that you're always writing songs. Is there a - the old image was a trunk. I guess it's now - is there a hard drive or something, is there some store of Paul McCartney songs that...
MCCARTNEY: Oh, you know, there really is. I've got this little process where I had time to write. So what I would do is, I'd drop off my youngest daughter at school in the morning, come back to the house, sit down; and I knew I had a good three hours before she would wake up because of the time difference. So this was a nice motivation for me. I would sit down, write a song, and then I could ring her; say, good morning, would you like to hear a song?
MCCARTNEY: And so - and it was great actually. It became quite exciting to oh no, it's got to be better - I've got to really do something great for her to listen to.
SIEGEL: But the arithmetic here would suggest that there are lots, lots, lots more songs that you...
MCCARTNEY: Well, see. This is - the problem is that, OK, when I'm writing - like, I finish them up because I've got to play them to Nancy. But what also happen is, I put sketches down. I have an idea, and I haven't got time to finish it. And that is a big trunk full.
SIEGEL: Yeah. Paul McCartney, I want to ask you about one song on the album, "New," which is called "Early Days." Let's listen to it.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EARLY DAYS")
SIEGEL: Tell me about this song, "Early Days."
MCCARTNEY: So many times, I will have people tell me what I did when I was younger, you know, because there's so much been written. And I'm harking back here to the early Beatles period, or even pre-Beatles period. You know, like anyone's history, you remember pretty much what went down better then people who weren't there. So I was remembering John and I in Liverpool as young boys, walking down the street, dressed in black, guitars slung across our back, trying to get people to listen to our music.
And then I got to the last verse and I thought: Well, this is all very well me telling everyone how all this went down. But there are a lot of people who are going to say: Well, no, I know what really happened.
SIEGEL: I read that; I know the real story.
MCCARTNEY: Yeah. You know, I wasn't there but so-and-so wasn't either, and I read him. Yeah, so I just took a ticket from basically - I just sort of said, you know, when you weren't there, how can you remember?
MCCARTNEY: And why do you know better than I do?
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EARLY DAYS")
SIEGEL: Now, I'll tell you the reaction I had listening to this song - which I like a lot - is that I had this image of you as a young man in Liverpool. And then I realized that the sound of the song had me thinking of, you know, Austin, Texas; or Nashville. And I realized the reason that I didn't feel any conflict or any dissonance is because of what you did - what you and John did to music 40 years ago, 50 years ago; that it's broken down all kinds of barriers and become something very universal.
MCCARTNEY: And our influences were from, you know, country and western, R&B. Our influence is a lot of American music. People used to ask us, you know: What kind of music do you like? And it was like, American. And it basically was, really. I mean, we certainly weren't listening to any German music. You've got a lot to answer for, America.
SIEGEL: We are to blame, is what you're saying, for everything.
SIEGEL: Let's listen to another track from "New." This is the song "Alligator."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALLIGATOR")
SIEGEL: For a frustrated alligator there.
SIEGEL: What's up here?
MCCARTNEY: Yeah, it's - the first bit's simple, you know: I want someone to come home to, I want a place - I'm not quite sure why I always want conversations that are not too deep. But - I've come home from work, I think that's what it is. So I'm imagining myself just doing that. But then the interesting thing for me, then it goes into: Everybody else is busy doing better than me.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALLIGATOR")
SIEGEL: I'll accept this as a very common thing. And I'll accept that I've heard from any number of illustrious professors - or broadcasters, for that matter - the fear, I'll be found out. But I mean, Sir Paul McCartney - I mean, you have had success in so many dimensions of music. You really feel a competitive insecurity with somebody else who's coming out with a record?
MCCARTNEY: Unfortunately, yes. I think one thing that's good about it is, I think it's a good motivator. I think it keeps you hungry. I think the minute you're full up and have had enough to eat, then that's time to retire. But I agree with you. You know, I should be able to look at my accolades and go: Come on, Paul, that's enough. But there's still this little voice in the back of my brain, goes: No, no, no, you could do better. This person over here is excelling. Try harder.
It still can be a little bit intimidating. You know?
SIEGEL: Well, Paul McCartney, it's been an honor to help build up your ego here in this session...
MCCARTNEY: You've done it well.
SIEGEL: ...on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, and helped restore some self-confidence to you.
SIEGEL: And we greatly appreciate your coming in.
MCCARTNEY: Well, I certainly, very much appreciate you building me up. I was not sure. Now, I'm certain.
SIEGEL: Paul McCartney - Sir Paul McCartney, I should say, whose new album is called "New." Thanks a lot.
MCCARTNEY: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "QUEENIE EYE")
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