Paul McCartney and Rick Rubin Unearth Creative Secrets of The Beatles in ‘3,2,1’

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Ultimately, Peter Jackson’s “Get Back” might just be the second most satisfying Beatles licensed documentary of 2021 when it releases around Thanksgiving. Or maybe he’ll become the best of the most popular after all in the fan rankings of these things. But what is certain is that the “McCartney 3, 2, 1” hosted by Rick Rubin is such an infallible delight that it sets the bar very high for Beatlemania satiety this year. Not because it’s artfully created or brilliantly hosted, but maybe because it doesn’t aspire to impress anyone with anything except with the ease with which it prompts the most talented musician of the last century. to clear a good part of his brain for public reading.

If you’ve seen the teasers for the six-part series and seen the shots of McCartney and Rubin standing over a mixer and vigorously nodding your head while playing the Beatles’ main recordings, you will You may be wondering if there is still any value left. another interview where an interrogator has Macca confess that, yes, in fact, he realized how great the Fab Four were and is sort of objectively stunned himself, now that he thinks about it. There are a few moments of that in that movie, where it’s like the high-rent version of that “SNL” skit with Chris Farley in the elevator, with McCartney admitting that his old band was, in fact, awesome. But there really isn’t much of that in the three hour question-and-answer period. Most of the time when Rubin asks his idol to join him in a slight whim he starts playing with the board and pulls a rod of an instrumental curiosity and just asks McCartney how he or they came up with something. ingeniously strange. . And he always has an answer, and if you care about that recording, the whole series exists somewhere at the intersection of catnip and nirvana.

Rubin’s questions aren’t always deep or penetrating, although he sometimes comes up with a zinger that reminds you that he didn’t win a Malibu compound just by being a fanboy. But with McCartney, if your goal is to remind him of the creative process, you don’t have to. It’s a wind-up toy whose springs sometimes take it down expected paths to familiar anecdotes, but just as often reveal something you never realized about a three-minute song you had. heard obsessively (or accidentally) hundreds of times. As a music producer, Rubin has been described by turns as a goad and a guy who stays on the sidelines – usually doing one then the other at certain points in a project – and that’s how ‘it works here. After pushing McCartney, he then more or less knows how to shut up and listen to what the man has said.

There’s an almost complete randomness to the show that’s pretty refreshing, with no beats to hit to establish where the Beatles were in their careers – just scoring in “Baby’s in Black” or “Eleanor Rigby” anecdotes in quick succession. or “A Day in the Life” or “Penny Lane” … or, in the very, very moments where Rubin finds something precious after 1969, “Band on the Run” or “Waterfalls”. (Barely a few minutes are spent on McCartney’s Wings or solo careers; hopefully that means there is a sequel to the work using more than the 15 hours of footage that would have been collected.) Perhaps the structure and storytelling are overrated? It’s not something we would say a lot, but it may be true for the hardcore McCartney who really doesn’t need all of this contextualized for the 150th time as he waits for the right things. The good part is that even if you are a youngster who has yet to hear how the British invasion revolutionized culture, you are probably just as likely to respond to Rubin pulling a bass or guitar part. really weird and asking: How the hell did you do that?

Since the songs and periods of “McCartney 3, 2, 1” aren’t presented in any particular order, chronological or otherwise, other than seeming to have some sort of basic flow, here are 10 random favorite moments from the series:

1. McCartney imitates John Lennon’s rhythm guitar part for “All My Loving,” which sounds like a relaxed song but, when you pull it apart, Lennon does something deeply frantic. “You try to do this for three minutes,” McCartney said, mimicking Lennon’s furious scratch, before patting his aching arm.

2. Also on “All My Loving,” McCartney points to the separate solo guitar solo and simply says, “Country! And while you’ve probably never noticed it before, it does.

3. He talks about a phenomenon long gone – how in the original era of the LP, after taking a long trip to a record store, you usually would have had to spend a lot of time on public transport looking at things. exhaustively the cover and the cover of the album before a turntable. introduced himself. McCartney says he thought about it when he designed the “Sgt. Pepper”, wanting “something that you would need a few bus rides to figure out.”

4. Rubin takes the bass part to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, which is a much deeper, thicker, almost heavy metal thing than you’d guess if only the song as a whole was considered. “I’ve never heard a bass sound like this before,” says Rubin, noting that it’s like two different songs are playing at the same time, if you factor in the bass. “Interesting that you bring this up. I was never aware of it until you played it now, ”said McCartney, almost seeming not to know why he came up with something so contrapuntal either.

5. After recruiting a pro for the final solo of “Penny Lane,” McCartney vocally dictates how the solo is to unfold, then is informed of the climax, “It’s officially out of reach of the piccolo trumpet.” He never seems happier during the series than when he plays the tune-piccolo-trumpet and mimics the note he pestered the guy to achieve.

6. Rubin plays the isolated piece of John, Paul and George all holding extended, wordless harmony in “Dear Prudence” to a point that, like this piccolo note, seems inhuman. “It’s fun when you play and push yourself,” he said, not noting if the other two were ultimately okay with it.

7. “At first one of our things was, if the producer doesn’t notice the mistake, it’s not a mistake.” Said pointing out an audible error in an isolated track of “Another Girl”.

8. McCartney was a guitarist, alongside Lennon, in their band’s first incarnation, then got nervous one night in Liverpool. “After that, I didn’t think about lead anymore.” Except, of course, for all the times he harassed someone else about how to play a solo guitar solo and then they just told him to do it, like George Harrison handing over the reins of “Taxman to him. “. “It was a bit awkward; if you had a good idea for something you would say it, the other guy would say, “You play it.” “His reason for being a control freak on that one:” The track is so stinging, and if we “you’re gonna have a solo, that should be ridiculous.

9. He had a model for his famous melodic bass lines. “It was a double-edged sword. People were like, “Can’t you play straighter? I was reprimanded once or twice for being too busy, but by then I had heard James Jameson.

10. Rubin finds the isolated guitar part for “Maybe I’m Amazed” so loud, bizarre, and circular saw-like, that she might have threatened to turn the song into speed-metal, had it been included. McCartney grimaces, having no memory of the abandoned part. Maybe there was a poltergeist in the machine.

Does this kind of ephemeral seriously enrich our understanding of the Beatles catalog? Not most, probably. It’s not even clear that the biggest lesson in going down all those rabbit holes is the one we can learn from. The show is all about the magnificence of whims – a wonderful thing to pursue if you are one of the great creative geniuses of the 20th and 21st centuries, at the top of your game; maybe not so much for everyone probably doomed to abject failure though our the muses led us to a piccolo trumpet. In the end, a miniseries like “McCartney 3, 2 1” can really only firmly assert one position: it’s pro-magic.

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