McCartney 3,2,1 – A Documentary

“We were writing songs that were memorable because we had to remember them.” – Macca

This is just a brief advisory note to let you know that there is a cool new limited series on Hulu called McCartney 3,2,1. (Personally, I would have called it McCartney 1,2,3,4!) It is, for whatever reason, filmed in black and white and if cinematographer Gordon Willis who did Manhattan was still amongst us, I’d swear it was his work.

This is essentially just two people – a producer and a musician – sitting down and talking about the latter’s work. They listen to songs from The Beatles and McCartney’s solo career, bringing the bass up here, dialing the vocals in there.

Sometimes McCartney jumps on the piano and explains how he learned to play it or picks up the guitar. All the while, Rubin reacts to every lick, every lyric, every fart as if it is Moses coming down with The Ten Commandments. (I am every bit of a Beatle fan as Rubin is but not every happy accident is genius.)

The series runs for six 1/2 hour episodes and is only occasionally marred by Paul’s ego when he talks about his bass playing as if that were the only thing that mattered in a given song. Interestingly, he talks about making Band on the Run in Nigeria where he went to see Fela Kuti – about whom we were just talking on Aphoristical’s site – whose music was so good it made him cry.

Anyway, if you are the kind of person who still wears your Beatle wig, carries a Beatle lunch box, and wears go-go boots, please get professional help. For the rest of you, if you dig seeing inside the creative process from a guy who lived it, this series is worth checking out.

 

32 thoughts on “McCartney 3,2,1 – A Documentary

  1. Thanks very much for the heads up! I took a look at availability in Canada as we canโ€™t get Hulu off the shelf, and this is available through Disney+ with its Star channel. Iโ€™ll be watching.

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  2. Thanks for the flag, Jim. I’ve seen a trailer and it looked great to me – definitely planning to watch it!

    Two music pros breaking down great songs is the kind of stuff I find fascinating, even though every now and then, one may say something that’s a little over the top.

    Rick Rubin is an interesting guy, having worked with so many music artists like The Black Crowes, Red Hot Chili Peppers, AC/DC, Petty Petty and Johnny Cash, to name a few. I imagine chatting with him should be interesting.

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    1. Rubin asks good questions. I admit I was a bit surprised about his relatively limited knowledge of our guys’ history. For example, he seemed surprised that they knew Little Richard from touring in the early days. Hell, read ‘Shout’ or somethiing. It’s also sometimes funny. McCartney makes offhand observations that made me laugh out loud.

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      1. Man, I started watching it last night on TV- so good!

        I pulled it via our Roku but for some weird reason, I couldn’t get the volume of the TV up to a decent level.

        I just realized you can also watch it on the computer, which is much better. As you can see, I’m not exactly a tech wiz! ๐Ÿ™‚

        Anyway, watching it on my laptop and with earphones plugged in is 10,000 times better, so I’m going to watch everything again tonight!

        And, yes, you’re right, sometimes Rubin appears to overly want to flatter Macca, while Macca isn’t particulary moderate in his comments either. I think it’s more passion than being full of himself, so it doesn’t really bother me.

        I also kind of like it’s all shot in black and white. This gives it an interesting atmosphere!

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        1. It does. Odd choice. Like they’re in some parallel universe. Hold that thought on Macca’s passion till they discuss “Something.” Nothing about how great a sing it is, George’s solo, etc. All about that bass. Rubin’s fault here I think. He should be pulling Paul back from the ledge. But, just a quibble. I’m digging it too and wish there were more episodes.

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        2. That bassline on “Something” is among the best Macca has ever played, in my humble opinion, along with “Come Together”. That being said, “Something” is also a highlight in George’s song catalog, so glossing over that isn’t exactly appropriate!

          I’ll be watching (again) tonight! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. Iโ€™ve met Sir Paul on a few occasions and as lovely and polite as he always was he always had an air of โ€œI know this is amazing for you to be talking to meโ€ so Iโ€™ll wager he got a kick from Rubinsโ€™ adulation.
    This looks good though so Iโ€™ll keep an eye out for it when itโ€™s on a format I can access

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        1. No shit. That’ pretty cool. Hey, if you see him again, tell him the Music Enthusiast wants to know exactly what he’s accomplished in life. And remind him he’s no Jeff Beck.

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        2. BTW, Christian – in New Jersey – is watching this online. Are you telling me that you can’t find it online in Old Blighty? You might not be aware of this old boy, but Macca is from the North.

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        3. Think I’d have to sign up to another streaming service to do so and as much as I enjoy We All Stand Together I’ll not part with coin for it

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        4. Iโ€™m not surprised – when I tried to get my thesis on it published I got told theyโ€™re overrun with academic treatments of it and Give My Regards to Broadway

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        5. Looks like it’s hitting the UK on August 25th via the Mickey Mouse channel so I’ll be able to confirm whether or not Rubin loses his shit about ‘Ebony and Ivory’ bang on time as I happen to have that week off. I’m not even gonna comment on the Swedish bunch

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        6. I think the Man of Ken will find Rubin to be quite gushy with a lot of ‘wow’s and even at several points sitting at Macca’s feet. Paul does his best to stay humble but clearly none of those song would have worked minus his bass parts. Also, are you going to sit there and tell me you’ve never seen ‘Mamma Mia?’

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        7. There’s no getting around Macca’s contribution to the list of great songs both in and out of the Beatles so will check it out though I’m not a fan of sycophantic interviewers.

          Mamma Mia?! I swear you must have the wrong blog… combining Abba and musicals is definitely up there on the list with being the middle piece of a human centipede.

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        8. Rubin is (surprisingly) pretty fucking obsequious. I like ABBA more than you but I blame them for the cookie-cutter scourge known as Max Martin. Swedish blonde chicks on the other hand, are hot. No offense mate but your lot all look like birds and have bad teeth.

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        9. Well, the knock there was on your women. But as I recall you neatly dodged that by marrying – a Columbian woman? I forget.

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        10. I did indeed (with a Romanian woman), though the days of dodgy dentistry are a thing of the past thanks to the influx of private dentists etc but the bird thing still makes me chuckle ๐Ÿ˜€

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        11. Romanian. Boy, I could NOT remember that. As to teeth, I read somewhere that Brit dental health is easily on par with the US. But the Brits – so it said – don’t worry so much about how it looks whereas we are obsessed over here with nice, white, straight teeth.

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    1. He knows his producing for sure. But he’s way more like a fanboy here. Surprisingly, he didn’t do much homework. Paul tells him minor details that are reasonably well known and he’s surprised. Dude, do your homework. Read a book.

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      1. You have to remember you are at the upper end of the history of his music. That’s not something you pick up quickly. Overwhelming actually. Cant fast track experience Doc. But I do get you on being prepared.

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        1. You are correct. I should have interviewed Macca. I think part of it too is that as top notch as Rubin is as a producer, he’s probably aware he’s never quite caught lightning in a bottle like that for any of his artists. Nor has he likely ever seen such an incredible growth and experimentation in a band.

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    1. Just finished it today in fact. And it’s 3 hours, composed of six 1/2 hour episodes culled from a couple of days. I very much enjoyed it and wish it were longer. It’s interesting to hear about Macca’s creative process. Christian has somehow found it online and is watching it but possibly for a fee, don’t know.

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