One Sweet Dream: A Beatles Podcast
Revisiting Paul As Artist. An Interview With McCartney Biographer Chris Salewicz. Birthday Ep Pt 2
Wed Jun 21 2023
Salavitch's take on McCartney
00:00 - 07:59
- Salavitch treats McCartney as an artist rather than a Beatle.
- McCartney's image has been influenced by situational elements such as the Beatles breakup, Lennon's murder, and McCartney taking on the role of steward of the Beatles brand.
- McCartney is complex and not completely transparent or open about his talents.
- Salavitch's take on McCartney is radical and necessary.
- We should stop celebrating McCartney for being a Beatles legend and see him in the larger context of his career.
- Chris Salavitch is an author who wrote a biography on Paul McCartney.
- Salavitch brings an informed perspective to understanding Paul McCartney.
Paul McCartney's early life and influences
07:29 - 14:22
- Author spent a lot of time in Liverpool interviewing Paul's fellow students, friends, family, and teachers to get a sense of his core personality and traits.
- Consistent themes about Paul explain his behaviors, success, failures, and eccentricity in a way that counters some of the tropes and mythology around him.
- Paul McCartney was a natural communicator in the Beatles who drove them along. He was already an outstanding figure recognized by his teachers at school.
- Hamburg is important because they're growing up together in a rarefied atmosphere. It gave them freedom to try stuff and develop their own thing without people around to judge them.
- John-Paul bonding musically would have really happened there as half of their time or most of their time was on stage.
The dynamics between John and Paul
14:01 - 21:32
- Paul McCartney was the driving force in the Beatles and kept the whole thing going.
- The balance of power between John and Paul shifted after the breakup, with Paul getting more blame for it.
- John was very disparaging of Linda throughout his interviews in the '70s.
- There was a competitiveness between John and Paul, but also a deep bond due to their creative collaboration.
- John cried all the time according to Me Pen's book about him.
- John wouldn't have met Yoko if it hadn't been for Paul who invited her down to the studio.
- John's biggest issue with Paul seems to stem from him announcing that The Beatles would finish.
Insights into Paul McCartney's personality and creativity
21:16 - 28:04
- Possessiveness around STEM between Paul and Linda, which John never articulated.
- Genuine love between Paul and John.
- Sean's insecurity about Linda and Paul's relationship.
- John's inability to find a girl like Paul did, probably due to his emotional nature.
- Cynthia not being given enough credit in the Beatles' mythology.
- Thwarted platonic love and insecurity on John's part towards Paul.
- Heroin addiction of John and Yoko during this period.
- Paul is an artist, not just a musician, who is honest, dedicated, and hardworking.
- Inner creativity that drove Paul from the start of his career with the Beatles.
- Misconceptions about Paul being petty or small-minded are incorrect; he is generous and a rebel too.
- People championing Paul as an eccentric artist that should be looked at more closely now.
- The release of a book of lyrics by Paul may be revealing.
Paul McCartney's book of lyrics and personal life
27:50 - 34:07
- Paul McCartney is putting out a book of lyrics as a means of telling his life story.
- The book will probably be quite revealing and invite people to look into his songs.
- His songs will be dissected and their greatness perceived.
- It would be interesting to know what Paul has to say about how Helter Skelter was taken up as an anthem by Charles Manson.
- Paul's relationship with his mother was crucial for him and John Lennon, and her death was a turning point in his life.
- There is a quote from Paul where he says that he was lucky that when he lost his mother, he found John.
- Paul is the one who drove and kept the whole thing going in The Beatles, even though John is often seen as the leader.
- The story gets skewed when you see John as being decisive in general and highly emotional while doing acid, living out in the country. Paul is more forceful when it comes to business and Beatles issues.
- Paul's mother's death was devastating but also empowered him to become who he was.
The impact of Paul McCartney's mother's death
33:46 - 40:39
- Paul McCartney's mother's death was devastating, but it also empowered him to become who he was.
- To fill the gap left by his mother's death, Paul focused on his guitar and music.
- After meeting John Lennon, Paul found someone with whom he empathized creatively.
- John Lennon and Paul McCartney bonded over the deaths of their mothers.
- Psychologists suggest that Paul's mother dying when he was 14 is different from John's mother dying when he was 17.
- Jim Max jazz band played a big part in Jim McCartney's life before settling down as a cotton salesman.
- Paul McCartney went to a prestigious school and had professional parents, which defines him differently than being working class.
- Both of Paul McCartney's parents were lower middle class rather than working class.
- Paul McCartney and John Lennon lived in different social classes despite popular belief.
Paul McCartney's relationships and personal experiences
40:20 - 47:21
- Paul McCartney's relationship with Jane Asher was revolutionary for the time, as her family was liberal enough to accept him living in their house and sleeping with their daughter.
- Despite being seen as an ideal couple, they eventually broke up and it impacted Paul greatly since he was close to the family.
- There is a missing piece in Paul's life during that period because we don't have any insight from Jane about their relationship.
- Jim McCartney was described by everyone as charming, generous, affectionate, warm and gentlemanly. No one had a bad word to say about him.
- There is a suggestion that Jim may have gotten into financial trouble due to his gambling habits when he was younger.
- Paul McCartney was very generous with his friends in the 60s despite being seen as cheap later on. He may have had pressures on him when he was young that made him feel like he needed to have control over his money.
- Paul McCartney started out at a good school and did well. He stood out among 90 boys who sat for the 11 plus test to be awarded a place at Liverpool Institute.
Paul McCartney's early life and education
46:53 - 53:37
- Paul McCartney attended the Liverpool Institute, a prestigious school in Liverpool where he was consistently voted head boy.
- The teachers at the Liverpool Institute were of high quality and intellectuals, which would have stood him in good stead.
- George Harrison and Mike McCarty also attended the Liverpool Institute.
- Working-class boys attending the Liverpool Institute wouldn't have been unusual, but it would have been more middle-class.
- Paul McCartney was ambitious but not really academically inclined. He had all this ability and clearly it was recognized within the school but he didn't apply it.
- Paul McCartney was wildly charming, cheerful, boisterous, eminently likable and always making people laugh with witty comments. He was respected by other boys for his humor.
- People talked a lot about how incredibly smart and sharp Paul McCartney was. His intelligence somehow gets lost compared to John Lennon's genius intellectual image.
- Paul McCartney is old-school PR like nice to everyone will give people time and talk to them.
Paul McCartney's personality and relationship with John Lennon
53:09 - 59:34
- John and Yoko are better at crafting a story and sticking to a message than Paul, who is old school PR.
- Paul was held in high regard at the Institute due to his charm and dualism.
- Paul was very complex, astute, tough, shrewd, gregarious, popular and had faith in his own star.
- The toughness comes from surviving the loss of his mother and having to boost himself up.
- Paul was sensitive inside but learned how to be strong. He kept his cards close to his chest even with the Beatles.
- Leadership was shared between John and Paul but it was Paul driving the whole project alone.
The genius and creativity of Paul McCartney
59:17 - 1:05:36
- John and Paul were both geniuses, despite the common perception that Paul was just the practical one.
- Paul's hardworking nature may have come from his working-class roots or his parents' influence.
- At a young age, Paul displayed no qualms about entertaining others with his guitar and singing, potentially playing his own songs.
- The fact that the Beatles wrote their own material was unique for rock and roll at the time.
- Paul had an independent streak and wouldn't pretend to like something he didn't.
- There was a tension in Paul between being a conformist rebel, possibly rebelling against being told what to do.
- Despite not attending art school like John and Stu, Paul was obviously an artist.
Paul McCartney's artistic pursuits
1:05:14 - 1:11:23
- Art school was seen as cool and mystical.
- Paul could have gone to art school but excelled academically instead.
- John scraped into art school while Paul got a little Tindy K.A level art.
- Paul was instrumental in designing the Beatles' album covers.
- In the breakup, John and Yoko were considered more artistic than Paul.
- Paul drove the Beatles along like Picasso would drive his own career.
- Failures can lead to progress and new phases in an artist's work.
- Paul did some visualizations of how he sees music that resemble paintings.
- Robert Fraser was one of the biggest influences on Paul's life outside of the Beatles, but their relationship is not well-known.
- Fraser may have allowed Paul to explore his artistic side more freely than he could within the confines of the Beatles.
- During mid-60s London, Paul broadened out by exploring painting and other forms of art with people like Miles and John Dunbar at Indica Gallery in Southampton Road.
- Paul has a matter-of-fact approach to his work and is not precious about it like John was with his art.
Paul McCartney's approach to art and creativity
1:10:57 - 1:17:36
- Paul McCartney is not precious about his music and art, he does not intellectualize things.
- This lack of intellectualization may hurt him as an artist.
- John Lennon and Paul McCartney bonded immediately upon meeting due to a shared passion for music.
- John recognized that Paul had more skill than he did, but also saw him as someone who could teach him too.
- Paul has more social skills than John, while John is cool on stage and has a lot of character in his face.
- John was adept at talking about his art, which turned it into a commodity. He learned this from Yoko Ono.
- There are rumors that Paul hated Stu Sutcliffe, but these are likely untrue.
- Linda McCartney said that Paul's dad was leaning on him so he had to prove that he was strong.
Paul McCartney's influence and leadership
1:17:07 - 1:23:24
- Paul had to prove that he was strong because his dad was leaning on him.
- Paul's dad never said a bad word about anyone, which is interesting because it's believed that Paul hated Stu.
- John was always close to Stu, but there was a difference in their relationship compared to John's relationship with Paul.
- Age difference between John and Stu meant something.
- Stu's paintings were fantastic, but what Paul had got was ambition.
- The only person Paul was ruthless with was himself, even in the Pete Best situation. He was terribly distressed by Stu's death.
- Norman Smith said that overall it was always Paul who was the governor when they were in the studio.
- Paul has a clear musical vision and knows completely what he's doing. He just knows what he wants.
- When Brian Epstein died, it was Paul who tried to keep the whole thing going.
The dynamics within the Beatles
1:23:08 - 1:30:28
- George felt threatened by emerging guitar heroes and his role in the band.
- George was conscious of being overbearing and overwhelming, but also knew how good he was.
- Paul's involvement in producing music sometimes caused tension with other band members.
- John was more eccentric than Paul and had a lot of emotions he didn't know how to deal with.
- Both John and Paul went through difficult times after the breakup of the Beatles, but John checked himself into therapy for six months.
- John tried new things and was always on to the latest thing.
The dynamics between John and Paul after the Beatles
1:30:00 - 1:37:28
- John Lennon was more open to trying new things than Paul McCartney, who was cynical about them.
- McCartney's Band on the Run period is his favorite post-Beatles era.
- McCartney's early Wings tours were fun and not a disaster as some have claimed.
- Linda McCartney had a positive impact on Paul's worldview during their relationship.
Paul McCartney's relationship with Linda
1:37:17 - 1:44:09
- Linda McCartney expanded Paul McCartney's thinking and possibilities with her different worldview.
- She was very protective of him after the Beatles split up, which kept him going.
- Without Linda, Paul would have probably gotten off the rails with drinking and running around town.
- Linda was overshadowed by Jane Asher in England, but she was actually much more interesting than people thought.
- Although Linda didn't take good pictures, she had an engaging personality that many men found attractive.
- Paul and Linda seemed to have generally had a pretty good relationship that embraced Scotland.
- Being in a group like the Beatles is completely exhausting because they never stop working.
- Ram is a great album that wasn't as famous as it should have been due to Paul's interview with the British police at the time of its release.
- John Lennon was enjoying a particular period of great charisma during this time.
John and Yoko's relationship and its impact on Paul
1:43:44 - 1:51:55
- John was enjoying a period of great charisma and cemented himself as a counterculture figure.
- Paul is more underground and eccentric, not counterculture like John.
- Paul was involved in avant-garde activities before John but didn't talk about it much.
- Yoko Ono did not introduce the Beatles to avant-garde ideas; it's fake news.
- Ram album had amazing songs with Linda's good singing, which went unnoticed due to her being untrained.
- Linda's presence in the band was ahead of its time and could be seen as an argument for punk rock.
- The close proximity of John's wedding to Paul's death symbolized the irrevocable split between them. Paul provided a stabilizing influence on John, who admitted that Paul was his first love.
Paul McCartney's impact on John Lennon
1:58:17 - 2:05:30
- Paul played both maternal and paternal roles for John, which was a stabilizing influence.
- Paul had John's number from the beginning and wasn't afraid of him.
- Paul's strength and ability made him an archetype with both male and female sides.
- John was easier to mythologize than Paul because he was less complex.
- When the author met Paul in '86, he looked healthy, happy, and in good spirits.
- Everyone in England at that time had no good word for Paul. He broke up the Beatles but didn't deserve all the criticism he received.
- It says a lot about his strength and character that he wasn't crushed by all the negative reviews.
- Many people would have downed tools with the situation like that but they were quite supportive of each other during their breakup.
- In '86 interview with the author, Paul seemed to be trying to figure out what happened during their breakup as it was still a mystery to him.
The complexities of John and Paul's relationship
1:58:42 - 2:05:30
- Paul does not seem to understand how important he was emotionally to John.
- John is hurt by life.
- Paul getting married and turning his attention away from John may have hurt him.
- Being in a rock and roll band like that can cause irrational thinking due to the pressure.
- Bad decisions get made sometimes due to the exhausting process of being in a creative factory.
- John was lucky because he got all his pain out, but Paul is still trying to work it out inside him.
- Jones just seems insecure, hence going into therapy.
- John's mum and dad asking him which one of them he wants to live with when he was three would destroy anyone for their whole life.
- There's a part of Paul that understands John and doesn't want to hurt him.
The dynamics between John and Yoko
2:05:04 - 2:12:46
- John and Yoko's relationship was like a piece of conceptual art that they created for themselves.
- Paul McCartney believes in their relationship and love, but also understands that it's a story.
- Paul and Linda played their relationship differently than John and Yoko. They didn't commercialize it or see it as an art statement.
- Paul and Linda hid away in Scotland to protect their relationship.
Paul McCartney's marijuana use and creative process
2:12:22 - 2:21:11
- Paul and Linda hid away in Scotland to avoid the glare of the lens.
- Paul was sometimes stoned during interviews, which undermined his intelligence.
- Paul used marijuana as a creative tool rather than just to get high.
- Many musicians use marijuana in a similar way.
Miscellaneous insights into Paul McCartney
2:36:07 - 2:44:37
- Lawsuit against Mr. X was not possible as he was not a party to any of the opinions.
- Lawsuit had to be filed against the business, making the speaker the baddie.
- Retractions are often placed at the bottom of sports pages and are not given much importance.
- The speaker grew a beard because he felt insecure about his face.
- The speaker recently testified in high court and saved his life.
- Evidence presented by opposition was expected to go unnoticed but it didn't.
- John Lennon asked for an extra million pounds during a meeting to break up Beatles, causing chaos.
- John Lennon did this just to have cards to play with, which is standard business practice but sacrilegious in this case.
- Speaker always wanted to make the group better and knew their potential while making 'Abbey Road'.
- Speaker took three days to make 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer' and received criticism for it.