The six part Paul McCartney doc for Hulu, “McCartney 3,2,1,” is really stunning. As I went through it I thought, the more you learn, the less you know, the more questions you have. I got the feeling Rick Rubin felt that way, too. Six segments aren’t enough. I hope there are more.
This is my third piece on this series. Some things bubbled up during segments 3 through 6. First of all, Paul indicates to Rubin that of the 250 or so Beatles songs, the favorites that he wrote. One is not surprising, it’s “Yesterday,” which came to him in a dream and he still can’t believe it after 60 years.
The other favorite of his own songs, he says, is “Here, There and Everywhere.” The reason seems to be that John Lennon modestly praised the song when the album came out, conceding to Paul privately that it was essentially, “pretty good.” You see that McCartney has never forgotten that moment.
There’s an interesting discussion in segment four of “Come Together,” a song typically though to be a Lennon creation. The song has a sketchy background. Paul tells Rubin that when John brought it in and sang it to him, Paul said, “That’s a Chuck Berry song.” It was indeed very close to Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me,” complete with the lyrics about Flattop.
So McCartney says he fixed it, He slowed it down, added his bass, and reworked it to give it a “swampy feel.” Berry’s lawyers still sued, and Lennon settled by recording four Berry songs on later solo albums. But “Come Together” turns out to be a real Lennon & McCartney collaboration.
Paul also recalls in segment 4 that even though George Harrison wrote and sang “Taxman,” Paul played the guitar solo. He riled George up so much by showing him how it should be done, Paul recalls, that George told him, “Why don’t you do it?”
Rubin wonders if that happened a lot. In a really candid moment, Paul admits that he’d listen to a presentation from one of his mates “And then I’d ‘but’ them”– as in But, it would be better this way. “And they’d hate me for it,” he observes, sheepishly. But you know, McCartney is unguarded here for a change. He knows that he’s the boss. And he’s unapologetic about it.