Paul McCartney has recorded a few solo albums. 18, probably more if you count the classical stuff, the electronica albums, and of course, even more if you count Wings as a solo project. And he’s even made a few albums truly solo, with no other musicians, except maybe Linda on backing vocals, specifically 1970’s McCartney and 1980’s McCartney II (possibly counting Chaos and Creation in the Backyard if you allow for the occasional session musicians, string arrangements, and the one track he performed with his backing band.) And with a long lockdown on hand, Macca decided to get back to a true solo record, with nobody else involved.
While Macca hadn’t planned to release it this year, “in the isolation of ‘Rockdown’ he soon found himself fleshing out some existing musical sketches [ed: notably a track from the early Nineties coproduced with George Martin called “When Winter Comes”] and creating even more new ones. Before long an eclectic collection of spontaneous songs would become ‘McCartney III’: a stripped back, self-produced and, quite literally, solo work marking the opening of a new decade, in the tradition of 1970’s ‘McCartney’ and 1980’s ‘McCartney II’.”
The track, called “When Winter Comes,” would be split into two tracks, the opener “Long Tailed Winter Bird,” and the closer “When Winter Comes.”
Quoth Macca: “I was living lockdown life on my farm with my family and I would go to my studio every day. I had to do a little bit of work on some film music and that turned into the opening track and then when it was done I thought what will I do next? I had some stuff I’d worked on over the years but sometimes time would run out and it would be left half-finished so I started thinking about what I had. Each day I’d start recording with the instrument I wrote the song on and then gradually layer it all up, it was a lot of fun. It was about making music for yourself rather than making music that has to do a job. So, I just did stuff I fancied doing. I had no idea this would end up as an album.”
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And for those of us who wonder if this could be the last album, Macca said: “Everything I do is always supposed to be my last. When I was 50 – ‘That’s his last tour.’ And it was like, ‘Oh, is it? I don’t think so.’ It’s the rumour mill, but that’s ok. When we did [Beatles album] Abbey Road I was dead, so everything else is a bonus.”
When asked why he’d chosen to title it McCartney III, he added: “I think it’s similar [to ‘McCartney’ – thematically]. It’s to do with freedom and love. There’s a varied lot of feelings on it, but I didn’t set out for it to all be like, ‘This is how I feel at this moment.’ The old themes are there, of love and optimism. ‘Seize the Day’ – it’s me. That’s the truth,” he said.
When asked if he planned on retiring anytime soon, he said: “There’s a lot of things in my life that I’m surprised at. People say, ‘After touring for all these years, don’t you just hate it? Aren’t you fed up?’ I’m like, ‘No, I’m not.’ I still enjoy what I do very much, and it all comes out as clichés – ‘I feel very lucky’ – but it’s true. When I was a kid, all I wanted to do was plug a guitar into an amp and turn it up for that thrill, and it’s still there. So it’s not so much that I’m looking for something new, more that I’m looking for something to do to keep me off the streets.”