Paul McCartney says: 'I didn’t expect to be singing and playing at the level I am now'

Paul McCartney met with the world media this week to talk about his new album Kisses On The Bottom. Here are some highlights from that webstream, including his thoughts on playing with Stevie Wonder again, on returning to the songs of his youth, and on becoming one of rock’s elder statesmen.

[ONE TRACK MIND: Laurence Juber takes over our One Track Mind feature to discuss key songs from his tenure with Paul McCartney and Wings, along with favorite sides from his solo career and Al Stewart projects.]

Kisses on the Bottom, due in early February from Concord/Hear Music, is McCartney’s 15th solo album and first record since 2007. The project is helmed by Grammy Award-winning producer Tommy LiPuma, and will feature Diana Krall and her band as well as a guest appearance from Eric Clapton.

HERE’S PAUL McCARTNEY …

ON THE INSPIRATION FOR ‘KISSES ON THE BOTTOM': Tradition in Liverpool family was the singsongs. I always loved these songs. Dad was a piano player. I wanted to do them, but I never got around to it. We were writing Sgt. Pepper, The White Album and new stuff… every time I came to this album someone else would do it. I kept saying, “well I can’t do it now, it’ll look like I’m jumping on the bandwagon.” But then I realized, I’d just do it and not worry about the market.

ON HIS FAVORITE SONG FROM ‘KISSES': I think probably “My Valentine” because it’s kind of the newest for me. I really had a lot of fun with Eric doing the solo on it. Again, he just came up with the solo. (whistles tune) I like that. Of the old songs I also love “Bye Bye Blackbird” because normally you get (begins singing) but Tommy’s idea was to slow it right down, which I was a bit dubious about at first, but I think it works. It was very similar to how The Beatles worked. Bring it in, kick it around, and record it. The fact I was working with great jazz musicians, it’s really cool to just say to the guys, ‘let’s just go from the bass,” and the guy’s an unbelievable player, so he knows exactly what to play, which really worked.

[SOMETHING ELSE! SNEAK PEEK: Get an early take on Paul McCartney’s ‘Kisses on the Bottom,’ an album that features some of the ex-Beatle’s most committed singing in years.]

ON RECORDING WITH STEVIE WONDER: We had this song, “Only Our Hearts” which is very ‘30s-’40s genre, that I’d written on purpose to be in that style. The producer said, “What about Stevie” and I was like “Wow.” It was a bit in left field. He agreed to come along, I met him after recording all those years ago, I’ve seen him off and on, but to record with him, we hadn’t done it in a while. But he’s such a genius. That’s one of the great things about this album. Everyone is such a great musician.

ON THE INFLUENCE OF FRED ASTAIRE: Yeah, I think Fred Astaire was just this fantastic character from that era. I remember in the ’60s when we were making Sgt. Pepper, I used to ask if they could make my jackets like Fred Astaire, he had very slick sleeves, and I wanted one. Musically, his vocal style is very interesting. Everybody thought he was lazy except the songwriters. He had this voice I wanted to try to get near. It’s like a little voice. I tried that. That became a big part of the signature of this album. Some of the stylistic things came from the people of that era. Have you seen the new film The Artist? Yes, great film, that’s the era I love. An era for style, music. An era I love.

ON BECOMING ONE OF ROCK’S ELDER STATESMEN: That’s the perspective of youth, you know? We thought 30 was really old. Now I think it’s amazingly young. The guys who came out of college at 24, we felt sorry for them. But they’re so young. I must admit, I didn’t expect to be singing and playing at the level I am now. It keeps things interesting. We were in South America last year and the crowds were amazing, the best. You come out to that, and it’s hard to say no to that… even though I am over 30. I always say at the end of all my concerts, “See ya next time.” And I mean it. I’ll do it as long as they’ll let me.

Here’s our sneak peek at ‘Kisses On The Bottom,’ set for release on February 6 in the UK and February 7 in America. Click through the title for complete review …

SOMETHING ELSE! SNEAK PEEK: PAUL McCARTNEY – KISSES ON THE BOTTOM (2012): This is not just a love letter to a lost era of songmaking, but one of the most evocative, deeply ardent records that McCartney has ever issued. Working in a higher vocal range that remains largely untouched by age, or his rugged third-act touring schedule, the ex-Beatle stirs up a spectacular range of emotions: The hushed, crepuscular melancholy of Peter van Steeden’s “Home (When Shadows Fall)” is matched only by the stirring resolve found on Haywood Henry’s “Get Yourself Another Fool” from this now thrice-married soon-to-be-70-year-old. McCartney’s trembling rapture throughout Irving Berlin’s “Always” finds a balancing moment in his impish hat-tipping joy during Johnny Mercer’s “Ac-Cent-Thcu-Ate The Positive.”

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