Paul McCartney has recently revealed that he once masturbated with John Lennon and saw God on a drug trip. Yet, possibly the biggest revelation of all is that the ex-Beatle — who’s highly-acclaimed 17th solo album, Egypt Station, has just been released — manages to pass unnoticed on the London Underground.
“If I’m on a train, I see everybody else just looking at their screens,” McCartney tells BBC News. “But I’m looking out: ‘Oh look, there’s the London Eye! There’s the River Thames!’”
McCartney continues, “Sometimes they do look up and they take a little picture and they sell it to the newspaper. And this is the price of fame.”
The songwriter recently put this to the test in the lead up to his concert in New York’s Grand Central Station by wandering through the atrium and filming the audience on his iPhone — “just to get a feel of it,” he explains to the BBC. He wasn’t noticed once.
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It is just one element of the fame survival skills McCartney has nurtured since the early days of the Beatles, when the band were literally chased down the streets by screaming fans. Instead of panicking or beefing up their security, John, Paul, George and Ringo learned that the best way to deal with Beatlemania was to simply keep moving and keep calm.
“What happened occasionally was you had security guys who would growl, ‘Get out of the way! Move out of the way!’ and the crowd would get a bit aggressive,” McCartney says.
“So, we learned to keep moving forward and be very quiet and calm about it — out of necessity, to not make a crazy scene any crazier.”
Another important lesson McCartney learned in the ’60s is that while rock ’n’ roll is all about having fun — as recently evidenced by his Elevator Surprise with Jimmy Fallon — you can also throw in a political message if you’re smart enough.
Egypt Station includes a number of thought-provoking songs, such as “Who Cares,” which McCartney explains is inspired by Taylor Swift‘s “sisterly” relationship with her fans and addresses the theme of Internet bullying.
“I was imagining talking to one of these young fans and saying, ‘Have you ever been bullied? Do you get bullied?’” he adds.
“Then I say, ‘Who cares about the idiots? Who cares about all this? Who cares about you? Well… I do.’”
A second song, “Despite Repeated Warnings,” goes one step further into political territory and directs a chastening comment in the direction of climate change deniers with the lyric: “Those who shout the loudest/May not always be the smartest.”
“People who deny climate change… I just think it’s the most stupid thing ever,” McCartney, reveals to the BBC.
“So, I just wanted to make a song that would talk about that and basically say, ‘Occasionally, we’ve got a mad captain sailing this boat we’re all on and he is just going to take us to the iceberg [despite] being warned it’s not a cool idea.’”
And just who could the “Mad Captain” be?
“Obviously it’s Trump,” McCartney says before adding, “but there’s plenty of them about. He’s not the only one.”