Paul McCartney Fights For A Song

Even a once-and-forever Beatle has to endure creative clashes. Forget the fact that Paul McCartney’s current solo tour sold out faster than even his last mega tour, and that his new album, Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard [Capitol], showcases a legend who isn’t afraid to celebrate his past, while simultaneously adapting ideas from the now. Chaos producer Nigel Godrich—who has worked with retro futurists Radiohead and Beck—simply didn’t dig some of the fab one’s tunes, and a courteous battle ensued over McCartney’s insistence to include “Riding to Vanity Fair” on the album.

“I had written enough songs for Chaos and Creation that I decided to let Nigel pick the ones that appealed to him,” says McCartney, who played his Martin D-28 on most of the album’s acoustic tracks. “He wasn’t too keen on the first version of ‘Riding to Vanity Fair,’ and, right up until the last few weeks before we completed the album, that song hadn’t made it. But I could see something in there, and I said, ‘I’m not sure you’re right about this song, Nigel.’ I didn’t quite understand what it was he didn’t like. Eventually, I sat him down, and we went through the song line by line. He liked the first line, but not the second, for example, and we ended up completely rewriting the melody because Nigel thought it was too chirpy—the melody didn’t always match the string arrangement we liked, or the song’s kind of dark mood. So we inserted a bit of a sadder melody. That changed the entire nature of the song, and it finally made the cut. I suspect we could have reworked some of the other songs that Nigel originally didn’t like, but this was the only song I insisted upon.” •