The release of McCartney III – the upcoming third chapter of the now-50 year McCartney trilogy – has been delayed one week until December 18th, 2020. “Unforeseeable production delays” is the reason given for this change from the originally-planned December 11 release of this album made in “rockdown.”
The first McCartney album, his solo debut, emerged in 1970. It came in the wake of the break-up of The Beatles, and created at his home with Paul playing all the instruments. That was 50 years ago now, remarkably, and it still sounds new.
This was still the age of analog, so home-recording, unlike now, was rare. What remains rare is a musician such as McCartney, capable of doing it all so exceptionally. The songwriting (classics such as “Maybe I’m Amazed), singing, and musicianship to play each instrument beautifully – bass, drums, guitars, keys, vocals, was staggering. How could one guy do all that alone?
The answer, of course, is that it was Paul McCartney. Who else could do it at that level? (Yes, Stevie Wonder. And Prince. Absolutely. Anyone else?)
Ten years past that first chapter of what became known as DIY – do it yourself – came McCartney II in 1980, the second chapter, which expanded the opus with new electronica, featuring the exultant “Coming Up.”
Then forty years passed – the full span of John Lennon’s life – and here’s Chapter Three. Why now?
“It was kind of unintentional,” McCartney said to Loud and Quiet. “I had to go into the studio at the beginning of lockdown to do a couple of bits of music for an animated short film. So I got got in and did that bit of work and sent it off to the director, and then I thought, ‘Oh, this is nice, I’m enjoying this, this is a nice way to spend lockdown,’ so I ended up finishing off some songs, looking at bits and bobs, making up stuff, and generally enjoying myself in the studio.
“And then I’d come home in the evening, and I just happened to be with my daughter Mary’s family. The combination of being able to go to work, make some music, and then hang out with four of my grandkids, I was very lucky. Y’know, we were being super careful, but being able to make music really helped.
“Right at the end of it, I’d just been stockpiling tracks, and I thought, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do with all of this – I guess I’ll hang onto it,’ and then I thought, ‘Wait a minute, this is a McCartney record,’ because I’d played everything and done it in the same manner as McCartney I and II.
“That was a little light bulb going off, and I thought, ‘Well, at least that makes a point of explaining what I’ve been doing, unbeknownst to me.’
Asked if there was a secret he could share about his ability to write great songs through six consecutive decades, McCartney said, “The secret for me is having a bit of time. This afternoon I haven’t really got anything on, and my guitar is sort of sad here looking at me, saying, `Why am I over here?’ But it’s time. I think if I was stuck and needed to write a song everyday, maybe I could.
“I kind of play everyday, one thing or another. A mate of mine said, “Guitars is best.” I mean, they are. They’re great. You can form a good friendship with a piece of wood and metal. I was always lucky as a kid to have one, and when the world was against you, you could go off into the corner with your guitar and you could make things right.
“It’s the magic of music, because it comes out of nowhere. It does strike me occasionally – I’ll think, ‘This is great, because I’ve really learned chords, and I can really go between them.’ I can remember a really long time ago finding it really difficult to go between E and A and B, and don’t even talk to me about B7! I was just thinking the other day, “Now I can move between chords. I’m getting pretty good at this!”