Paul McCartney — McCartney 3,2,1 review (image (c) Hulu)
In the wake of the craze about the Beatles documentary Get Back, there is another series to consider. This one came out in June 2021 and is an entire season of 6 episodes on Hulu. So this came out a little before the documentary, and features the handsome, effusive and truly lovely 79 year old Paul McCartney in conversation with Rick Rubin. The episodes produced by Paul McCartney, Rick Rubin and Scott Rodger, are easily digestible and under 30 minutes. They were filmed in black and white in an old church in the Hamptons with lots of visually dramatic footage.
McCartney says he can’t read or write music in episode 2. His music comes to him as tunes in his mind, sometimes in sleep. He says he started to play piano with a C chord, and played the chords basically by shape. It’s a testament to those among us who truly are born with a musical ability, as it is unfathomable to those of us without. He demonstrates this technique of songwriting using shape with a winsome joviality, moving through songs with similar chords and varying moods. He speaks quickly and easily about his genius ability, downplaying it like it’s the easiest thing in the world. He says off the cuff “it’s a mathematical thing.”
The series interweaves beautiful footage including of the Fab Four from the Let It Be / Get Back sessions. And sometimes footage of Paul in recent concert halls, earlier Beatles footage, footage of other artists who influenced McCartney, and Paul with Wings and solo.
Rubin and McCartney listen to different songs from the Beatles catalogue, and McCartney gushes memories and information about each one like he’s in the midst of the moment that was maybe 50 years ago or more. His memory is crisp and gold. “Eleanor Rigby” and the orchestra, “Penny Lane” and the high trumpet. “Band On the Run” where McCartney had to play the drums because the drummer didn’t show up for the trip to record in Lagos at the last second, and then they were robbed of their Band on the Run demos at knifepoint in Lagos. Playing 10,000 hours together in Hamburg before their first album. Little Richard. The stunningly fast pace at which the young Beatles put out albums and singles. Impressions: Roy Orbison endings. The Kinks. Bob Dylan going electric. Jimi Hendrix. The Lowery organ. Lewis Carroll. And: “George knew all the best players.”
“Maybe I’m Amazed.” Dreaming “Yesterday.” Believing in magic.
Dancing at the recording sound board. Playing piano. Hopping up and down. Rubin sitting cross legged on the floor. And that infectious McCartney giggle.
Rick Rubin kept it very fresh with songs they’d play with at the soundboard, turning tracks up and down in the mix, isolating tracks and having fun with it. At one point you see Rubin, 20 years Paul’s junior, look starry eyed at Paul, Rubin swallowing his gratitude as he shyly confesses he got into music because of Beatles records.
The extroverted McCartney has such positive energy, and emotional openness as he is able to freely declare his love and affection for his Beatles bandmates and more. Telling stories about how he always believed things were possible, and worked around anyone who told him it wasn’t.
It’s really powerful and exciting and utterly uplifting. Do you know a lot of 79 year olds like this? It’s inspirational.
This may turn into a show with several seasons. There’s certainly enough material still to cover. Fingers crossed. Very, very highly recommended.
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