Paul McCartney Says He'll Retire When He Feels Like It
Posted by Joseph Lee on 07.18.2014
No one will tell him when to stop...
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Paul McCartney said he plans to retire whenever he feels like it. Here are highlights:
On if he has plans to go back to the studio: "Yeah, I've got a lot of songs that I've written, and some that I need to finish. There's no fixed date, but at the back of my mind, I'll be wanting to clear a few months for me to write up the most likely of the songs that I've got on the boil and figure out how I want to record them and what I want to do with them. But I haven't booked any studio time. It's all there as fun for the future."
On if he has thoughts on retiring like his friend Eric Clapton: "Obviously, when you get to a certain age, it's going to be on the cards. I had a manager once who advised me to retire when I was 50. He said, "You know, I'm not sure it's seemly for a 50-year-old guy to keep on trying." I thought about it for a second and thought, "Nah." When will you give up? When will it give out? Who knows? But the margin has been stretched these days. The Stones go out now, and I go to their show and I think, "It doesn't matter that they're old gits. They can play great." And I talk to young kids who say exactly the same thing: "They play good."
I think that's the deciding factor. It would be a pity if Eric retires, because, shit, he really plays good! But he's that kind of guy, Eric. I can see him saying, "I'm going to retire." He's kind of a homebody in essence. We've talked about this before. I remember him joking about how I stand up for the whole show. He said, "I sit down." That's a blues player thing. But he's just too good a player. I would say to him, "Yeah, by all means, sit down, Eric. But don't retire."
A lot of people get fed up with life on the road, particularly when you've got a really nice home life. But for me, I want it all. I've got a great home life, and I've got a great life on the road – it's not like we're on a Greyhound bus anymore – and the audiences are just so warm, and the feedback is so good. People say to me, "Don't you get tired?" It's a three-hour show, and I'm on stage every second. I keep thinking the laws of logic ought to apply and I ought to be really tired – but I'm invigorated. There's something about it that just gives me energy. And there's always a day off after it, which is more than we used to have.
Mind you, you look at the Beatles' set lists, really early days, it's half an hour – 35 minutes if we were feeling good, 25 if we were annoyed. [Laughs] It is, man. I used to do half lead vocal, John would do half, so that's, like, 15 minutes each; then George would do something, Ringo would do something, so that's even less than 15 minutes. And you were way younger, so, physically, it was nowhere near the strain on you. But things have just grown like this, and I'm happy with it. I like being with the band. I love playing. I play a lot more lead guitar than I used to. I'm still learning, and that feels good. I was saying to someone the other day that one of the very first gigs we did – I don't even think we were the Beatles, it was the Quarrymen – one the very first times I ever played with John, we did a very early gig at a thing called a Co-Op Hall, and I had a lead solo in one of the songs and I totally froze when my moment came. I really played the crappiest solo ever. I said, "That's it. I'm never going to play lead guitar again." It was just too nerve-wracking onstage. So for years, I just became rhythm guitar and bass player and played a bit of piano, do a bit of this, that and the other. But nowadays, I play lead guitar, and that's the thing that draws me forward. I enjoy it. So, yeah, that means the answer to "Are you going to retire?" is "When I feel like it." But that's not today."
On if he listens to dance music: "You know, I listen to it on the radio. I have a friend who, for years now, has done a compilation for me of dance tracks and new releases. I play them while I'm cooking or in the car, and just see what interests me, see who's doing what. I'll have tracks like Pharrell's "Happy" way before it's broken onto the scene, and say, "Oh, that's a pretty catchy one. That's going to be a hit." I hear a lot of dance music that way.
Funnily enough, one part of this rest program was, I said to Nancy, "Hey, we can take a holiday! A real holiday, where we go away." So we went away to Ibiza. Obviously, there's a lot of dance music there. We didn't exactly go clubbing, but there's plenty of it about. It's in the air in that place. The house we rented didn't have a good sound system, so I said, "Excuse me, we're in Ibiza. I've really got to be able to hire a sound system." So I found the right guys, and they showed up and got me a really great little system. We were saying, "We could rent this house out one evening for 600 people, and we could have a rave." [Laughs] We didn't do it, but I was playing that music that I'd done in the studio, and it sounded pretty good."