Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Paul McCartney Uncommonly Generous to Michael Jackson (Who Later Bought the Beatles’ Publishing Rights) in Recollection of Recording “Say Say Say”


EXCLUSIVE Paul McCartney recorded three songs with Michael Jackson in the early 80s including “The Girl Is Mine,” “Say Say Say,” and “The Man.” The latter appeared on Paul’s “Pipes of Peace” album but gets short shrift even though I think it’s the best of the trio.

“Say Say Say” is the only one of the three documented in Paul’s “The Lyrics” two volume memoir of songs that will be published on Tuesday. Considering what happened after these sessions– Michael bought the Beatles catalog out from under McCartney — Paul is very generous to Michael in the recollection.

Initially Paul says he thought the high pitched voice on the other end of the phone was someone else. “I thought, This is a fan girl, and how the hell did she get my¬† number?” Quickly Paul realized it was Michael Jackson, who asked him, “Do you want to make some hits?”

Paul writes that Michael flew to London, and they met in his office. “We were both quite excited to work together, and the song came together quickly,” McCartney recalls in “The Lyrics.” He says: “I let him lead quite a bit, and I think a lot of the sensibility of the song was Michael’s. ‘Baptised in my tears’ — that’s a line I wouldn’t have used.”

McCartney says of writing, “It’s a time of discovery, and that’s what I love about it.”

There are two versions of “Say Say Say.” One was the hit, and the other was an outtake in which they reverse the singing parts. If you know the original, this other one is cooler.


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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