Monday, June 2, 2014

18 Days of McCartney Day 2- Early Childhood

 Before reading this you may find it to your benefit to read about Paul's parents; Jim and Mary by clicking here

 It's hard to deny or get mad at a big hazel eyed, chubby cheeked child that Paul McCartney was. Everyone adored him for his chipmunk cheeks and innocence which, if he played his cards right, would get him out of some trouble. His brother, Michael on the other hand, didn't have Paul's fortune and was known more of the trouble one of the two,

"He was the one you felt you wanted to love and protect. With Paul, you loved him, but you knew you'd never have to protect him."- Olive Johnson on Michael, Shout by  Philip Norman

As a child Paul remembers his father being ‘a great crossword – puzzle man’ telling his kids to practice and keep the mind sharp, “it would improve our word power”. After leaving school at age fourteen his father had to educate himself, which wasn’t bad at all,

 “He taught me words that no one else knew and I was the only kid in my class who could spell ‘phlegm’.” - Paul McCartney, Anthology
Michael and Paul

His mother was a midwife and nurse, very kind and proper woman, trying to teach her kids to grow up using the Queen’s English instead of the Liverpool dialect of Scouse. One and a half years after Paul was born he received a baby brother, Peter Michael, who would be known as Michael or Mike. In The Beatles Anthology Paul describes his childhood as secure, being brought up as what he called “a pioneer family”, due to them always moving to fit with his mother’s job,

 “No sooner would we be established in one house than we would be moved to a new one, on the outskirts of Speke, say, where they hadn’t built the roads yet. We’d live there for a while and then it would be ‘whipcrack away’, and we were moving again.” 

The family lived from, 10 Sunbury Road, Liverpool but not shortly after they lived at 92 Broadway, Wallasey, this home was only temporarily, the family were given a home at 3 Roach Avenue, Knowsley due to Jim’s new job as a  Napier’s inspector, which was to be considered as war work. They then lived at a ground-floor flat in Sir Thomas White Gardens, Everton. In 1946 the family moved again to Speke staying at 72 Western Avenue and two years later they moved down the road to the new Liverpool estates, 12 Adwick Road where Jim would become secretary of Speke. Finally, the family settled down in 1955 at a three bedroom home 20 Forthlin Road, Allerton.

Liverpool suffered during World War II due to the docks and the ports that surrounded it, 

“we played on bomb-sites a lot and I grew up thinking the word ‘bomb-site’ meant ‘playground’. I never connected it with bombing. ‘Where are you going to play’? –‘I’m going down the bombie’”. - Paul McCartney, Anthology

As children they’d grow up speaking terms like shell shock and never know what it meant, it was the innocence of a child. Paul spent his days at the bombie’s and the docks, saying he had a very romantic feeling about the docks, at St John’s market- prior to it turning into a parking lot, or at the beach walking down Dungeon Lane. McCartney remembers the winters in Liverpool being freezing, “They were like being in Siberia…” getting chapped knees and  rashes.

Mary being a Catholic, Jim being a Protestant had decided to baptize their sons as Roman Catholics. The two boys didn’t do much with religion; they did how ever go to Sunday school, sing hymns at the Catholic schools they attended in their early childhood. Some of Paul’s earliest music came from churches and hymns, saying that he grew to like the sounds of them. He also auditioned to join church choirs in the Liverpool area, unfortunately at around age eleven he didn’t pass the audition at the Liverpool Cathedral.  

 “I was exposed to many religious arguments on the pierhead, and I came to the conclusion that ‘God’ is just the word ‘good’ with the ‘o’ taken out, and ‘Devil’ is the word ‘evil’ with a ‘D’ added. Really, all that people have done throughout history is to personify the two forces of Good and Evil. And although they’ve given them many names – like Jehovah or Allah – I’ve got a feeling that it’s all the same.”- Paul McCartney, Anthology

“A lot of people don’t like school. I didn’t like it very much, but I didn’t dislike it; and I quite enjoyed bits of it. I enjoyed English literature because we had a good master. What I didn’t like was being told what to do.”- Paul McCartney, Anthology
Paul at Joseph Williams

 Paul attended Wood Road Primary School from 1947 until 1949. Later on he transferred to Joseph Williams Junior School. Due to Paul passing the Eleven-Plus (an exam given to children around the ages eleven to twelve which will help schools decide on which secondary school would fit best with the student) he was admitted into the Liverpool Institute where he would become friends with Ivan Vaughan. Paul describes the school as dark, dank, and gloomy. He was always a promising student having report cards that read, “A very intelligent boy…” followed by “Very good work”.  One year his school decided to put on the play St. Joan, Paul would audition for the part of Warwick but like his choir auditions at the Liverpool Cathedral he didn't pass the audition and was given a small role as an inquisitor. Growing up Michael and Paul had believed that they would grow up to be doctors, since their mother was in the medical field. Unfortunately, Mary had suffered from cancer when Paul was fourteen years old, and passed away at age forty-seven on 31 October, 1956; she was laid to rest on 3 November at Yew Tree Cemetery.

 “My mother’s death broke my dad up. That was the worst thing for me, hearing my dad cry.”- Paul McCartney, Anthology

 It was during this time that Paul had learned to “put a shell on”.  With his mother gone and his father distraught and working, Paul and Michael had taken up little house chores with help from his aunts and uncles, 

“Auntie Milly and Auntie Jinny came on Tuesday, and that was  a golden day in my week because I could come home and not have to do anything.”

Jimmy Mac Jazz Band
Music was in Paul’s blood, his father played trumpet and his Uncle Jack played Trombone in a jazz band called Jimmy Mac Jazz Band. Not only did Jim play trumpet but he also knew clarinet and a self-taught pianist, he’d always play the piano which lead to Paul’s infatuation for the instrument. His father would tell his sons to learn the piano; it’s a great way to get invited to parties. Paul and Michael would ask their dad to teach them but he refused to, saying that they must learn properly and not self-trained like himself, 

“In the end, I learnt to play be ear, just like him, making it all up.” 

Paul did eventually take lessons from an elder woman at her home; he hated it. Going to her home made him uncomfortable, he didn’t like the smell, “it smelt of old people” and in the end he gave up on it due to the homework being a bit challenging, but for what it’s worth he did enjoy something’s she showed him but he never learned how to read or write sheet music. With more practice he’d be playing at parties, with help from his Uncle Ron who would always know the right time for anything. 

“I had a lovely Uncle Ron, who would come up and say, ‘All right son. Now, you know “Carolina Moon”?’ and I’d say, Yeah.’ He’d say, ‘Well, don’t play it yet, wait till I tell you. I’ll give you the OK.’ I’d wait and everyone would get steamed up, you could feel the party rise and the atmosphere building, and at about eleven he’d come up to me and tap me on the shoulder – ‘All right, son, go for it.’” 

These family parties would always take place on New Year’s Eve; Paul describes them as some of his favorite parties. Having the family together, as kids he’d work behind the bar, Uncle Jack telling jokes, and the atmosphere. 

 The Following video is Paul McCartney's "That Was Me" from his Memory Almost Full album;

But Paul's early music will be saved for 18 Days of McCartney Day 3, where Paul's idols, trumpet days, and the beginning of a new artist will be shared.
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