Happy birthday, ‘You Gave Me The Answer’! Can you believe it’s been ten years since we first started the Q&A series on Paul’s website? In all that time, there have been so many topics covered so thank you for all your questions! Thanks to you all, we’ve asked Paul about new releases and old memories, favourite books and TV shows, not to mention songwriting tips and tricks for all the budding musicians out there. And with a festive Q&A every December, we almost know enough to host the next McCartney family Christmas!
As a monthly series on the website, it’s crazy to think that we have done over 120 of these Q&As, but it’s getting better all the time! So, to celebrate, we delved into the archives and revisited some of our favourite conversations with Paul.
Here are some of the interesting things we’ve learned from him over the years…
PaulMcCartney.com: Your given name is James Paul, why did your parents call you Paul rather than James, Jim or Jimmy?
Paul: It’s a strange story! I was told that it was because if letters arrived at the house for James McCartney, you wouldn’t know whether it was my Dad - that was James McCartney - or me, James McCartney. So that worked until they called my brother - whose name was Peter Michael McCartney - Michael!? And there was no Peter in the house to confuse him with! So I’ve ended up thinking it was rather Irish! I’ve no idea! My mum was Irish – and I don’t know, maybe there’s just some old thing where they call you by your second name. Nobody ever called me James, it was always Paul!
PaulMcCartney.com: We've heard that you can do headstands. Are there any skills that you're proud of that fans might not be aware of? And, is the headstand thing true?
Paul: Oh yeah, I'll show you! Come on, I've already done it today at the gym... [Paul does the headstand] YEAH! Come on! I've often thought about videoing it and singing a song upside down!
PaulMcCartney.com: That is seriously impressive!
Paul: It's just an old trick I learnt...
PaulMcCartney.com: Thank you so much for showing us your headstand, some of us are keen yogis and haven't mastered it yet.
Paul: I can show you how to do it. You need to bring your hands together and interlock the fingers. And your elbows and hands should form a triangle. Put your head in there and then you just walk up slowly until you get to a pivot point. From there, you crouch and straighten your body out, remembering where your head and triangle is.
PaulMcCartney.com: We’ve heard a story about you appearing on a Beach Boys song ‘playing' a stick of celery. Is that true?
Paul: Yeah, that is true, yeah! I mean it was wild and wacky days, you know, and I just went round to the studio because they invited me. I just thought it would be fun to sit there and watch them record, ‘cause I’m a big fan. And so I was there, and then it was, I think, Brian who came over and said, ‘Oh Paul, got a favour to ask: would you mind recording something?’ I thought, ‘Oh, no! But great, I could do that!' Oh God, I’m gonna be singing on a Beach Boys record or something, you know! I got a bit kind of intimidated and thought, ‘Okay, here goes nothing’. And they said, ‘Well, what we want you to do is go in there and just munch!’ …Well, I can do that! So, if you hear somebody munching celery, that’s me!
PaulMcCartney.com: What do you listen to in the gym?
Paul: Oh wow! That’s a cool question actually, 'cause I happened to have a great old jukebox that Capitol Records gave to each of The Beatles years ago, and it happens to be in the gym area. So, I listen to all these old records, Rock n’ Roll music by Chuck Berry, 'Something Else' by Eddie Cochran, ‘Tutti Frutti’ by Little Richard - it’s endless! I really love it!
PaulMcCartney.com: Do you have a pre-show routine or ritual?
Paul: Yeah, pretty much. I always get called an hour before the show - well, an hour before I’m going to be needed. In that time, I do certain things: I have a gargle with salt water, then I do my teeth, then I figure out what I’m going to wear, and then I have a kind of Chinese syrup solution you put hot water in. It’s supposed to be good for your throat - if you’ve ever seen pictures of me before the show with a cup, that’s what’s in it. It’s something [keyboard player] Wix’s wife Margot told me about years ago.
After drinking that, I’ll sit down and get a bit of make-up done if I think I need it (which I always do!), just a little bit but filling in the cracks here and there. Then when I’m totally ready about fifteen or so minutes before the show, I get together with the band, and we do a little warm-up - a bit of ‘Let It Be’ and a little bit of ‘Hey Jude’. And then Phil our tour manager calls us, and we go to the side of the stage, all come together and do a little confidence boost huddle!
Right before I walk out, my guitar tech (who coincidentally is also called Phil) gives me my bass and my pick. We always slap hands - I try to slap his harder than he dares to slap mine, and these days of course he’s got rubber gloves on because of Covid precautions. Then we are called again, and that’s the final moment: we go on stage. So, it’s a long routine!
PaulMcCartney.com: This question comes from the aptly-named "Teatlemania" on Twitter: how do you take your tea?
Paul: How do I take my tea? I take my tea with some soya milk and one sugar. If I’m really feeling naughty, one and a half sugars… I know, I’m living on the edge!
The funny thing is, I’m not a big tea drinker, but at the studio these things become a ritual. You guys have seen me drink it at the office too. It’s like – here’s a bagel, with a cup of tea. And that’s the only time I ever really have tea. I drink it at the studio or at the office, it just seems to fit. I don’t want a big lunch, so just that bagel and tea is great. And yeah, that’s how I take it – soya milk and one sugar.
In ten years, you can certainly cover a lot of ground... but with a career and life like Paul’s, it feels almost impossible to run out of questions so if you’re searching for an answer, stick around we say! We love to hear the questions so keep them coming, the more unique or unusual the better – we love to keep Paul on his toes! Get in touch and post yours via the Paul McCartney Official Fan Group on Facebook, or contact us on Twitter, Instagram or Threads using @paulmccartney.
You can revisit all the previous 'You Gave Me The Answer' Q&As by clicking the tag at the top of the article, or by clicking here.