We spend a lot of time on the internet. In fact, it’s our job to spend a lot of time surfing it! From time-to-time we come across some funny rumour or theory and wonder how these could ever have become a “thing”. One of these conspiracies is that Paul isn’t…well, actually Paul! The rumour goes he passed away in the 1960s and was replaced in The Beatles by a stand in. Of course there are some jobs that require a lot of skill, but you can get someone else to do it – the office tea round, for example! However, there are other jobs where it’s not as easy. Becoming part of one of the most successful songwriting partnerships in music history, for example!
Paul will be reissuing four live titles in July to coincide with his current US Freshen Up tour leg. We’ve already discussed Wings Over America and CHOBA B CCCP with Paul. The next in the series is _Paul Is Live_…
Recorded during the US and Australian swings of the tour in support of 1993’s Off The Ground, Paul Is Live is Paul's fifth live album. Originally released that same year, the album is famous for the multiple meanings and clues embedded in its title and cover art, all of which play on the “Paul Is Dead” conspiracy. In this month’s ‘You Gave Me The Answer’ we finally hear first-hand about that rumour…
PaulMcCartney.com: What are your main recollections from ‘The New World Tour?’
Paul: Well, it was a big world tour. The audiences were huge and the band was very good! So, we were enjoying it and it seemed like everyone else was enjoying it too! At that time what we would do is record a lot of concerts with the idea that we would listen to them and if there had been a particularly good show – like Boulder, Colorado, for example – we pulled a lot of tracks from that. There was also a New York show that was particularly good too, you know! That was the thing, just choose the best takes from around the tour.
PM.com: Was the idea to document the whole tour?
Paul: It was basically to just choose the best versions of the songs. The best recordings and the best audience reactions. You know, one night you’d do a song, and the next night you might do it again. But you might not do it as well. So, we wanted to choose the night we played it well.
PM.com: So… the title. Are you happy to talk about “that” conspiracy?
Paul: Oh yeah, 'Paul is Live’! Well, that’s why we did the cover on the Abbey Road crossing with my little doggie. This rumour had come out; it was an American DJ that had started it. And because I was barefoot in the original Abbey Road crossing picture, which really was because it was a very hot day. And I had arrived wearing sandals and kicked them off for a couple of the shots. And one of the shots we used was me without the sandals. So, you know, in those days people were going, ‘Why has he got bare feet?’ Whereas I would say, ‘It was probably hot and he probably took his sandals off!’ If you’re looking for conspiracies, apparently it was some old mafia thing about being barefooted!
PM.com: And you’ve done a cheeky nod to it here [points at car on the album]. The number plate reads ‘51 IS’ and on the original Abbey Road cover it says ‘28 IF’.
Paul: Oh yeah, ‘He’d be 28 if he’d have lived!’ So people said, ‘Oh, he’s obviously dead isn’t he…!’
PM.com: Even though you were 27 when Abbey Road came out! So, you’re aware of the conspiracy?
Paul: I know all the rumours… because I was being asked about them! There would literally be someone ringing up to ask, ‘Are you dead?’ I said, ‘Well, no. I’m answering this phonecall!’ And the reply would be, ‘Well, I can’t be sure it’s you’. So, then you actually do get a bit paranoid about yourself. And you think, ‘How am I going to prove to them or to anyone, that this is me?!’ I figured, in time, this look-a-like will be writing some pretty decent songs, and if it wasn’t me how had I trained him to write songs?
PM.com: There are rumours that it’s actually William Campbell or Billy Shears. And various hashtags online, like #Faul – ‘Fake Paul’.
Paul: Too many drugs! People may have taken too many drugs and started looking for answers in all the wrong places!
PM.com: Was the cover a deliberate thumbing your nose to the conspiracies?
Paul: No. No, this wasn't to thumb one’s nose. This was just to have a joke with it. We had live stuff and when you’re thinking of a title, it would be ‘Paul McCartney Live’. And that suggests, ‘Oh, remember that old rumour that Paul McCartney is dead?!’ Oh great, so instead of 'Paul is dead’ - which was sort of the original rumour - we’ll put this together as ‘Paul Is Live’. And that would be a funny thing. A lot of my life has been trying to have fun, because you know otherwise you'll get bored or fed up of what you do. And music is too great to get fed up of! I know plenty of people who are and just churn it out. So for me I just think, ‘Well, for us it just makes life better.’ So, it’s not like we’re churning out the same old. Even though you may be playing the same songs, you’re still trying to have a new kind of fun with them. Trying to rediscover them. I am every time I play them. I’m still trying to learn them. I’m still trying to figure them out, and think, ‘Oh, I could do this. I could do that.’
PM.com: Are you making little changes as you play them? Are you relating to the songs differently?
Paul: Yeah, you make little changes without meaning to. They just morph. I can tell by listening to tracks on this album, as we’ve done today to check the remastering. ‘Let Me Roll It’, for example. I play that slightly different now. Not massively. But I’ve just changed how I play it. ‘Lady Madonna’, we do that slightly differently too.
PM.com: It’s quite a quick version on 'Paul Is Live'…
Paul: Yeah! We do it very fast on this version, which is nice. Now, we probably play it closer to the original tempo.
We found it so interesting to hear that Paul is still learning to play his songs in new and fun ways. And we raise our glasses to him – what could be more fun, than trying to keep life fun!
Paul Is Live has been newly remastered at Abbey Road Studios and will be available in configurations including CD, 2 x 180g black vinyl, and limited edition colour vinyl (LP1 - opaque baby blue, LP2 - plush peach white opaque).
Pre-order your copy of the four decades-spanning "live" albums Amoeba Gig, Paul Is Live, Choba B CCCP and Wings Over America HERE!
What are your favourite songs from Paul Is Live? Let us know in the comments below…