Being in the presence of a Beatle, as anyone who has ever done it will tell you, can make you feel a curious mixture of wild anticipation and mild anxiety. Add to that the fact that I was playing with one of the Beatles at twenty-four years old, and you’re halfway to recognising the situation I found myself in.
The first thing that I noticed about Paul McCartney was how much attitude he has as soon as he picks up his bass. You can see his total command of the instrument. I heard it too, and at deafening volume, as he stood looking at his amp and went BWOOOMFV! with one note. It was the best bass sound I’d ever heard, and the loudest. We kicked into ‘Twenty Flight Rock’, which I’d managed to work out the night before, and it took every bit of resolve I had not to shout, ‘Holy fuck! That’s Paul McCartney, singing right there in front of my face! Does everybody else realise that that is Paul McCartney … standing right there in front of my face?’ Luckily I held it together enough not to do that, and just tried to make my playing sound as authentic and fifties rock ’n’ roll as possible. At one point Paul asked me if I knew ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, and I tried to keep a straight face as I said, ‘Yeah, I think so.’ Then he asked me matter-of-factly if I fancied singing the harmony. A voice in my head started screaming, ‘You mean John Lennon’s part? I’M … GOING … TO BE SINGING … JOHN LENNON’S PART?’ But I just nodded and said, ‘OK … I’ll give it a go.’ The next thing I know, me and Paul McCartney are facing each other, singing, ‘I saw her standing there.’ I couldn’t really believe it was happening, but I made the most of it. I got brave and suggested ‘Things We Said Today’. He counted it off and away we went. I thought it sounded very good.
“I was playing with Paul McCartney all day and it was fantastic music.
“Then we took a break and he was asking what was going on with me. Linda very genuinely asked me how I was getting on with the post-Smiths break-up.
“I was honest with her. It was very emotionally quite raw, you know, and I said to her ‘wherever I go, people won’t stop asking me’.
“I took a moment and I thought ‘okay, I’m sat in the presence of the one person who could really, really give me some insight into this situation, you know.
“The man who’s been defined by a song writing partnership - if anyone can give me some advice, it’s him.
“So, I told him what had been going on and he took a minute and he looked at me and he paused and said ‘that’s band’s for you’.
“And, actually, I haven’t really thought of a better way of putting it. He knows a thing or two about bands.” [Johnny Marr, asking Paul for advice when The Smiths broke up, Manchester Evening News, 1 November 2016]
Pics: John & Paul, IP/Rex, Johnny Marr and Morrissey, photographer unknown.
Sometimes, the universe is beautiful. You go through so much hardship and you wonder, will there ever be a light at the end of the tunnel? Today proves there is a light, and it never goes out. Suck eggs, Paul Slattery.