It was almost like another person had taken over Howard Stern's body because the hourlong interview he conducted Oct. 8 with Paul McCartney on Sirius/XM was full of warmth and love from both sides, but especially the popular shock jock, a deep interviewer who doesn't often fawn over his guests. Jimmy Fallon's interview Monday night with McCartney, however, came close to treating McCartney like any other guest.(You can see photos from both shows in the slideshow on this page.)
“Peace and love, peace and love,” Stern jokingly said as McCartney entered the studio, a reference, of course to fellow Beatle Ringo Starr's trademark line. “I have the weirdest feeling when you come in because I don't normally get nervous,” Stern said as the interview began. “But with you I do because I feel like I have so many questions to ask you. And I've got a half hour and I don't feel like I can handle it.”
At the beginning of the interview, Stern said the interview only was to last a half hour, but it ended up lasting about an hour. The two men talked cordially about a wealth of subjects including, of course, McCartney's “New” album. The interview was also punctuated with several Beatles songs as the conversation shifted to different topics.
Stern opened by asking whether “Helter Skelter” was the beginning of heavy metal music. “I will buy that theory,” McCartney said. “But when you look at that period, I can't remember anything else that was doing this.” But when Stern asked if he thinks the Beatles should get credit for being metal pioneers, McCartney said, “I get so much credit for this and that I don't need a bit more,” though a moment later, he said, “I would accept that credit.”
McCartney said the inspiration for the song came from a newspaper story about the Who, who were working on “the filthiest piece of music.” “So I went to the guys and said, 'We've got to get there before they do,” he said.
The talk moved to the Lennon-McCartney partnership and Stern suggested that McCartney's father didn't like him hanging around John Lennon. “Oh, he didn't mind John,” McCartney said. “Didn't he say that John was a bad influence and you almost had to sneak out and meet with John when you were young kids?,” Stern countered. “Well, almost, but by the time I met John, I had a little say in the matter,” McCartney replied.
Stern said he thought it was interesting that Wings covered “Richard Cory” by Simon & Garfunkel, a song about suicide, and wondered why they chose it. “That was actually Denny Laine's choice. He's the suicidal one,” McCartney said jokingly.
Asked about Yoko's presence in the studio during the recording of “Get Back,” McCartney said, 'Let's face it. We didn't welcome Yoko in the studio because we thought it was a guy thing.” But, “later on, we suddenly sort of thought, 'You know what? John's in love with this girl. If he wants to bring her in the studio, we've got to cope with that. And we learned to cope with that. And I now feel that he had the right to do that. It might have been better if he'd been a little more diplomatic and sort of said, 'Hey guys, I really love her and I want to be near her all the time,' but we had to figure that out. And we did eventually, but it took some time.”
Stern had an unusual (for him) nice question about Yoko, telling McCartney he'd said Yoko was instrumental in Lennon's solo career. McCartney agreed. “He found Yoko, his muse, and she was taking him in a completely new direction. Avant-garde, all stuff we admired in other people, but suddenly he had a ride on this bus.”
McCartney, in turn, credited Linda McCartney for supporting him through that difficult period, for which he wrote “Maybe I'm Amazed.”
“It was her attitude. She would say, 'Let's just get away. Let's just don't go to those meetings. Let's just get out of here,” he said.
Stern commented that the atmosphere of the Beatles was like they were gods, and said he understood Lennon's controversial statement about Jesus. “It sounded very arrogant,” said McCartney, “but what he meant was … those days no one was going to church, congregations were low, and he was saying, 'Get your act together 'cause we're bigger than Jesus at the moment … it wasn't that he was anti-Christianity or anti any religion. He was just pointing out they didn't have their act together as much as we did at that point.”
Stern made a couple of attempts to make topical points with McCartney that clearly fizzled. He turned the discussion to “Getting Better” and said that he'd read Lennon had tied the subject of getting away from hitting women to the lyrics. “That's us being macho,” McCartney said about the lyrics. “We didn't really do that. We were being characters, remembering our school days and occasionally just throwing something.”
He also tried to tie “Carry That Weight” to the situation in the Beatles' later years after Brian Epstein died and McCartney, he said, assumed all business responsibility for the group. “I never thought of it like that, but someone had to kind of keep the ship steady, on course kind of thing. I suppose it fell to me in some degree,” McCartney said. But, he said, “it was just about life at that moment. That was the period in which the word 'heavy' emerged.”
McCartney said the song “Eight Days a Week” came from a phrase a driver who was taking him to Lennon's house told him. He also made a booboo after Stern asked if “Rubber Soul” was the Beatles' turning point as writers. After a short answer, he said, “'Revolver' was just before that.” He later explained that the early records were directed at the fans, especially the female fans (like “Love Me Do,” “P.S. I Love You”). With the later songs, he said he realized they didn't have to do that.
In two typical Stern moments in the interview, McCartney also confirmed “Why Don't We Do It in the Road” was written after seeing two monkeys mating in India. He also briefly discussed hanging out with Keith Richards and moving out of flat and moving into the family home of girlfriend Jane Asher.
“Paul, I can't tell you what it means to me when you come in here,” Stern said as the interview concluded. “I just want to say from the bottom of my heart how much you mean to me, how important you are to me and to know that you would spend some time with me moves me to no end. It's really a treat.”
The interview concluded with playing the new single, “Queenie Eye,” which was released at midnight to radio stations and talk about the “New” album, which McCartney was there to promote. Stern asked why he was releasing a new album.
“Because I write songs, I love what I do and I hadn't done one for a while,” McCartney said. “I think it was time I got back to my day job.”
The two men exchanged warm pleasantries as it was time for the interview to end. “Come back some time,” Stern said as McCartney prepared to leave.” “I will come back to see you, Howard, because I love you,” McCartney replied, and called Stern's sentiment “very moving.”
The night before, McCartney appeared on NBC's “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.” The interview Fallon conducted wasn't nearly as enjoyable as the one from “Jimmy Kimmel Live” as Fallon clearly didn't seem to be as much of a fan and his treatment of McCartney seemed all too ordinary. And there was also no “event” attached to it as there was with the Hollywood Boulevard performance that accompanied Fallon.
But McCartney performed “Save Us,” which sounded better than previous live versions, “New” and “Lady Madonna.” Fallon also tweeted that McCartney had played several more songs for the audience. However, Fallon and McCartney also did an unusual comedy routine involving switching accents. (See video.)
Read all the news about Paul McCartney's “New” album in our special Beatles 101 "Read All About It" news roundup
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