I’ve just finished the first of six 30 minute segments produced by Rick Rubin and a bunch of people with Paul McCartney for Hulu. They’re called “McCartney 3, 2, 1.” The first episode is extraordinary. Rubin, a consummate record producer, draws out McCartney at his most disarming and charming in a rare discussion of the music.
The films are in black and white. Rubin looks like a cross between Methuselah and a Swami with a long ZZ Top white beard and long hippie-ish stringy hair. He’s wearing shorts! They are mostly standing, sometimes sitting, in front of a recording console. It’s just the two of them. For McCartney, who has never written a book and is very dodgy in interviews, at 79 he is giving his oral history. If you’re a fan, this is it. This is all you need.
In this episode, they talk about “Michelle,” and how it was composed, how McCartney says they all wanted to be French and he was inspired by an Edith Piaf song.
He says the name “Sergeant Pepper” came about because he mis-heard his roadie ask to “pass the sale and pepper” on a plane ride. That they wrote “With a Little Help from My Friends” for Ringo because he was so popular. “He mostly sang covers. We thought we could write him a song.”
There is a dissection of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” in which Paul praises George Harrison as a songwriter and a human. He recalls how “George’s friend” Eric Clapton came to play on it, the first time an outsider played on one of their records. “It was very generous of George,” Paul says, to let someone else play such a tasty riff.
“But that’s the little guy I met on the bus” when they were 15, he says, looking amazed. “Magical.”
Of John Lennon, Paul recalls that in the early days when they would fight, he’d call Lennon “four eyes” and John would call him “pigeon chest,” Paul says, “because maybe my chest wasn’t so developed.” It’s a poignant, disarming, funny memory, like all of those included here. I am blown away.
And there are five more episodes! Stay tuned!
“McCartney 3,2,1” drops om Hulu on July 16th.