Tuesday, June 3, 2014

18 Days of McCartney Day 3- Early Music


To get a background knowledge of Paul's childhood and his father's band (Jimmy Mac's Jazz Band) click here.  

It was the mid 1950s where parents began to loose control of their children, where the younger generation had lost themselves into a new kind of music, Skiffle; a kind of music using styles of jazz, blues, and folk played with unconventional instruments like washboards, banjos, even kazoos. The skiffle sweep was thanks to Lonnie Donegan's debut with "Rock Island Line"

"He was the first person we had heard of from Britain to get to the coveted No. 1 in the charts, and we studied his records avidly. We all bought guitars to be in a skiffle group. He was the man."- Paul McCartney
The first instrument Paul received was a trumpet from Rushworth & Draper’s music store, given to him by his father on his fourteenth birthday. He’d learn songs like “When The Saints Go Marching In” in the key of C but he soon realized that he wouldn’t be able to sing with a trumpet in his mouth, instead he wanted a guitar. The trumpet was traded in for a righty Zenith acoustic guitar. Paul, a born lefty, started to play the guitar with his left hand wrapped around the fret board and his right hand strumming the six strings. A bit frustrated in why it was taking him longer to learn and struggling to form chord shapes, Paul had gotten the idea to tilt the guitar upside down and reverse the strings, now playing with his right hand on the fretboard and strumming with his left. With his love and interest for music booming he started writing little songs using simple and little chords, his first being “I Lost My Little Girl” which he used chords G, G7, and C; 
I woke up this morning, 
my head was in a whirl, 
only then I realized, 
lost my little girl,
 uh, huh, huh.

The world changed in May of 1955 when  “Rock Around The Clock” by Bill Haley and his Comets was released starting a madness that would spread across the nation, introducing artist like Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and many more musicians who defined three words that would change history; Rock and Roll. It was during a free period at school where Paul had seen an Elvis advertisement from one of his fellow classmates
 “…and there was an advert for ‘Heartbreak Hotel’. Elvis looked so great; ‘That’s him, that’s him – the Messiah has arrived!’ Then when we heard the song, there was the proof.”-Paul McCartney, Anthology
From this came other major influences in Paul’s life (as mentioned above), Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran – who he saw on the television program; Oh boy!, Buddy Holly, 
“… was completely different; he was out of Nashville, so that introduced us to the country – music scene.”- Paul McCartney on Buddy Holly, Anthology
among many others. He’d even write in to get autographs, not just from musicians but for people like Peter Scott, a Television host who use to draw birds. Paul wrote in to ask for a picture of one of his ducks; “I got a polite reply.”

 By this time Paul had met John Lennon (read about The Day John met Paul by clicking here)  and began playing lead guitar in John’s band, The Quarrymen (read about The Quarrymen by clicking here)  From the first day John and Paul had had an unbelievable bond that would later be shown in their work. The two both had the same influences, Paul even recalls listening to Chuck Berry on John’s record player in the bedroom -“I remember learning ‘Memphis, Tennessee’ up there”. When the two first started writing songs they both began trying to write like Buddy Holly,
 “John was Buddy and I was Little Richard or Elvis. You’re always someone when you start.” -Paul McCartney, Anthology
Besides for music the two shared a loss that no one else around them had dealt with; losing their mother. 
Paul with The Quarrymen
“That became a very big bond between John and me, because he lost his mum early on, too. We both had this emotional turmoil which we had to deal with and, being teenager, we had to deal with it very quickly. We both understood that something had happened that you couldn’t talk about – but we could laugh about it, because each of us had gone through it. It was OK for him to laugh at it and OK for me to laugh at it. It wasn’t OK for anyone else. We could both laugh at death – but only on the surface. John went through hell, but young people don’t show grief – they’d rather not. Occasionally, once or twice in later years, it would hit in. We’d be sitting around and we’d have a cry together; not often, but it was good.”- Paul McCartney, Anthology

As lead guitar Paul was given a solo for “Guitar Boogie” written Arthur Smith.  During rehearsals he could play the solo with no problems but during McCartney’s first gig on 18 October, 1957 at the New Clubmoor Hall, 
“… I got sticky fingers; I thought, ‘What am I doing here?’ I was just too frightened; it was too big a moment with everyone looking at the guitar player. I couldn’t do it.”   
It was the last solo Paul would play until many years later. That’s when The Quarrymen turned to Paul’s school friend, George Harrison- if you're interested in reading about how George and Paul met, along with George and John meeting click here

The following video is Paul McCartney's "Early Days" from his NEW album;


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