Saturday, April 13, 2024

Paul McCartney Hulu Doc: When They Fought He Called Lennon “Four Eyes,” John Called Him “Pigeon Chest”


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.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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