Please note that all of Paul's words have been bolded.
French magazines January 1985
The night before I met Paul McCartney, I must admit I didn’t sleep very well. It would be only hours before I’d meet this legendary man. No matter how things are seen, even to a cynic , this man is a living legend. I was nervous. I was afraid of failing the interview, of asking terrible questions, of irritating him, and looking like a fool. I was more than nervous. I’m nervous when I met Springsteen or Robert DeNiro. But Paul McCartney was one of four who completely changed me around; who changed our society, our lives, our morals and our manners. Paul, John, George and Ringo gave us so much power. Because of them, as a teenager I grew my hair long, was forced to leave home, and went to America to start a career. I couldn’t help thinking of this as I went to London to meet one of the four that was so responsible for the turns my life had taken.
I entered his office and there he was. Smiling and relaxed, charming and self confident. I knew I would not have control of the situation. I had an hour and 15 minutes with him and was a captive audience to his one man show. He was like a comedian for me, doing imitations, talking about the Beatles, playing the part of each one, even imitating the Maharishi . He even tried to imitate me. “You aren’t offended, are you? I often imitate people I’m with.” I was not offended. To be imitated by Paul McCartney is a greater honor than to be imitated by the most famous French imitators. As for the interview, he told me only what he wanted. if he didn’t want to reply to a question, he’d turn it into a joke, then change the subject. And I didn’t care. This was Paul McCartney and he could charm me.
He didn’t joke around all the time. We started the interview by discussing his movie. He acts in it and he wrote it. It is a movie that failed.
“I wanted to do a movie because it was the only thing that I hadn’t done in my life. We had very little to do with “Help” or “A Hard Days Night.” Here I’m responsible for the script and play the lead part. I’m sure the acting world shouted in relief when they saw the movie. I’m certainly not a threat to any of them! Anyway, i like the movie. It has a lot of myself in it. I was criticized for how simple the script was. But the story in “Indiana Jones” isn’t exceptional. In that they’ looking for a statue. In “Help” we’re running after a ring. I suppose my movie is strange because it’s not a wonderful movie. But it’s a movie that has a certain amount of worth which will be proven in time. “Magical Mystery Tour” wasn't’ a good movie but it’s a worthwhile film to see now because John’s in it. In “Broadstreet” I knew I went against the golden rule of script writing. I put in dream sequences with no explanation. That confused the audiences of today. But I’m sure that in a few years it will be looked at differently.
When I first started, I wanted to do a movie about someone trying to escape the fame. It was a bit like what happened to me when the Beatles split up. It was a terrible blow. It was like finding out you’re unemployed. It was depressing and I really felt useless. I knew how the unemployed felt. That’s the reason I said one day, “Let’s go. We’ll be a group. We’ll do something.” So asked some musicians, bought a bus, and we were on the road again giving concerts. That’s the way I am . I’m a musician. If I dont’ play or sing, then I’m unhappy. And everybody wanted to talk about the Beatles. It was awful! I didn’t even want to think about that time. I wanted to be treated like Paul, a musician with his band Wings. But to the rest of the world I was still a Beatle. It’s like the fellow who finished in the army. I was a civilian again and I didn’t want to be called Sergeant. That’s logical, isn’t it?
I took that opportunity to come back to a point he’d made a moment ago. Yes, that part of it was logical. What I couldn’t understand was when he’d said that during the break-up of the Beatles he’d known how the unemployed felt. You had built a fortune that protected you from all that…
I know. Everyone says that. “How can you talk about being unhappy with all the money you have?” But nevertheless it’s true. Money doesn’t mean much to me. Really nothing at all. But I was completely unhappy. I did nothing with my days. I slept. I woke up. I went to drink in a pub and then went back to sleep. No direction, like an uprooted tree.
He sounds like the announcer of a melodramatic soap opera; pretending to play a violin while humming a mournful melody. Funny and flippant. But I had to ask: Was the break up really necessary?
Totally necessary. We had to end. We did what we had to do. It’s like the army. When it’s finished, it’s finished. You can’t spend your whole life in the army. We had to live our lives, follow our destiny, find our wives.
You speak of your wives. That’s interesting because it’s always been said that they were responsible for the break-up of the Beatles.
That Beatles split up because of the Beatles. We had reached the limit of what was possible for us. We wanted to become famous and we were the most famous band in the world. We needed five years to gain that success and we spent five years at the top. The cake was left in the oven too long and it was going to burn. It was our wives who helped us bring it out. And you can’t condemn men for falling in love, can you? It happened to John first. We can’t begrudge John for falling in love with Yoko. If I could live my life over I don't’ think I’d change one thing except the break-up. I’d want to be able to come back and say “listen guys we’re going to split, but we’re going to do it peacefully because whether you like it or not, this business is going to keep going until the end of our days.” And it’s true. Last week I had to go to New York, like every year, to a meeting of all the representatives who are continuing to manage the Beatles and earning a living at it. Our egos collided. We had spent night after night roaring with laughter; only the four of us in cars or vans on the roads of the world. We, who were four guys completely united and happy together, suddenly we couldn’t communicate anymore. The break up was like the atomic bomb. We all got grey hair.
Despite his incredible success, behind the relaxed appearance, Paul McCartney is an anxious man with little self-assurance. He said that to me many times, and when I brought up the subject of punk music.
I don't’ feel anymore threatened now because all my life I’ve felt threatened. In the beginning, in Liverpool, we were anxious because of a group called Gerry and the Pacemakers. Later on, in London, we used to feel threatened by the Dave Clark Five. In fact, as far as I was concerned anyway, I didn’t trust anyone. I remember one day somebody came into our office saying “Dave Clark is number one in the chart.” There was dead silence. It was serious stuff. Today it makes you laugh to think that the Beatles were scared of Gerry or Dave Clark. But we were. Then ---this is just as ridiculous but it’s true. I remember I was scared of Alice Cooper! Because of all that satanic side and all that, and of the huge success he was having. I wondered, “Is music really going in that direction?” Then I met Alice Cooper and realized he was completely normal, just a guy with a drinking problem. So the punks didn’t really frighten me musically. You can’t say it was great music. What I didn’t like was the destruction side with heroin and the murder stories with Sid Vicious. That completely disturbed me. When we were young our parents were afraid to see us with long hair. Because they thought we’d associate with the scam of society. That was a ridiculous fear. I understand that today. One time I saw my oldest daughter dressed like a punk and I was afraid that meant she was getting into something bad. When in reality she simply wanted to be different. You’re always afraid of what you don't know. I learnt that from the Maharishi. I learnt a lot about myself from him.
It was said that the Yogi was only interested in your money
Yeah, it was said. But I don’t think so. If that’s true, then what is he doing with his money? Have you seen him dressed any differently than his white cheese bag he’s always worn? He doesn’t have jewelry, no Rolls, no playmates around him. If I hear that he bought Elton John’s house in Beverly Hills or that he’s got 50 ‘bunnies’ stashed away, then I’ll ask myself some questions. But that really is not the case. The man lives very simply. He taught me to relax. I stayed in India with him for a month and it was very good.
What is your favorite Beatles album?
I like them all. We lived through something phenomenal. It was fun and exciting. We were living in a whirlwind. We didn’t realize what was really going on. We had no idea of the power or the force that we had. It was extraordinary. What more can I say?
And what’s the truth behind the strange Paul is Dead Story?
Listen man, I always deny that. I’m not dead. Believe me!
He took my hand and looked me right in the eye. I told him that I believed him. And he seemed to be relieved.