Before Halifax show, ex-Beatle talks about late King of Pop, music, his daughter
Legendary musician Paul McCartney took time out from rehearsals Friday for his concert next week in Halifax to discuss a range of topics, including his sentimental feelings for the late pop star Michael Jackson.
The former Beatle, who spoke with CBC News ahead of his July 11 concert, recorded a number of songs in the 1980s with Jackson, who died suddenly last week.
He remembers the day Jackson called his private number. He didn't expect the call.
"He rang me up and said, 'Do you want to make some hits?'"
Those hits included Say, Say, Say and The Girl is Mine.
"I'll just remember Michael for being a huge talent and a great guy to be with. A very gracious, innocent, fun-loving guy, really. We just had a lot of fun together," McCartney said.
The two drifted apart over the years. There was a fight over publishing rights after Jackson bought the Lennon-McCartney song catalogue.
McCartney says he's over that now.
'I've got enough'
"Basically, I was a longtime worker looking for a raise. And we could never really talk about it and it never really happened. For a couple of months I was miffed, like anyone would be. But I soon got over it. I said, 'You know what, I've got enough.'"
Not enough musically, though.
McCartney will have centre stage next week at the Halifax Common — his only concert in Canada this year. About 60,000 fans are expected.
Rehearsals in England started on Thursday.
"They're going great. We're beginning to know what we're doing," he said.
McCartney has had countless hits over the decades and has legions of fans around the world. At 67, he just can't stop playing music.
"The truth is, I love what I do. I feel very lucky to be allowed to get out in front of a crowd, plug an electric bass in or guitar, and play and sing," he said. "I think I'd do it as a hobby if I didn't do it as a living."
It's tough to picture McCartney, who was knighted by the Queen, playing in a weekend bar band. But he insists he's a "normal" guy. There's no entourage of bodyguards and stylists when he heads to the movies or grocery store.
"When people get to know me, they're very surprised how normal part of my life is," he said.
"I go down to the shops, stand at the checkout counter just like anyone else. And I actually like it because it gives me a feeling of balance. You know, I feel like I'm keeping my feet on the ground."
Of course, fans want him to pose for pictures ["Everyone has a camera"].
"I say, 'No, do you mind, I'm shopping and it's kind of private.' People say, 'I understand,' and they leave me alone. Or we chat."
If McCartney ever needs a dose of humility, he can just turn to 5½-year-old Beatrice, his daughter with ex-wife Heather Mills. Beatrice may be the only person in the world who asks him to stop singing.
"She doesn't like it. And then she sings me something and she takes over," he said with a laugh. "I'm afraid High School Musical has got more stages in our house than I have."
Fans in Halifax shouldn't be surprised when he dips into his huge catalogue of songs and pulls out the fan favourites. After all these years, McCartney says he doesn't mind hearing the old songs on the radio.
Old songs, old friends
He calls the Beatles and Wings songs "good records" that also bring back a flood of memories.
"The combination of all that is nice. It's actually why I do more old songs in my show now. I used to kind of try and shy away from that a bit and think I must do new material. But people kind of like it. And I'm just the same. If a song works, it works."
The old tunes are also like old friends. They help him through the tough times.
"If I didn't love music and have it in my life, when difficulties arise and people pass away, I think it would be much more difficult for me," he said.
"Particularly in the case of John or George, I can listen to their music. In Linda's case, I can listen to our Wings records and reminisce.
"Music in general is very healing. So I'm very grateful to have music be so big a part of my life. I don't know where I'd be without it."http://www.cbc.ca/arts/story/2009/07/03/ns-mccartney-halifax-concert.html