How Paul McCartney and Rick Rubin teamed up to talk about the Beatles and solo music for the Hulu series – Daily News
The Beatles are arguably the most researched, reviewed, and celebrated musicians in books, movies, and television of the past 60 years. This fall will bring Paul McCartney’s book “The Lyrics” and the Peter Jackson Disney + “Get Back” docuseries. Still, when iconic producer Rick Rubin started talking to Paul McCartney, they found the impetus for a new project: âMcCartney, 3, 2, 1,â a six-part Hulu docusery that premiered July 16 in which Rubin and McCartney take apart from the songwriter’s classics to examine the parts that make up the whole.
âThey had a kind of musicology geekfest conversation that led to this project,â says Zachary Heinzerling, whom Rubin brought in to direct. âRick has the desire to discover what makes something magical and timeless. It’s chance, testing and experimentation, but also a deep knowledge of music – the intersection of skill and that ineffable quality is where this project lands and every aspect of the shoot and the shoot. design is in the service of showing both sides of the creative process.
Heinzerling, who was nominated for an Oscar for his documentary âCutie and the Boxer,â says McCartney and Rubin sorted out the content while he and Rubin planned how to film the production. It depended on access to the original Beatles masters. âThe official stems used to create these songs didn’t really come out of Abbey Road Studios; they are kept under lock and key, âhe said.
âThe idea was to take those stems and dissect them and translate the magic behind the songs. Where does this bass line come from, who played this instrument? You make assumptions about how songs are created, but you’ll be surprised at the randomness that comes into play. It’s so much stranger than we imagined.
The docuseries jump back in time – the Beatles era in Hamburg and the composition of McCartney’s “Yesterday” appear in the final episode – but unsurprisingly, they focus on the Beatles’ seven years of recording with just a few nods towards McCartney’s 50th birthday. Beatles career, although he produced 15 top 5 studio albums (including eight number one) and 15 top 5 singles (including nine number one).
In both catalogs, the emphasis is on classics like “Here, There and Everywhere” and “Live and Let Die”, but also time devoted to underrated songs, like “And Your Bird Can Sing” and “Waterfalls”.
McCartney indulges in old-fashioned stories that every Beatles fan has heard thousands of times, like “Yesterday” coming to him in a dream, but also talks enthusiastically about obscure R&B singer James Ray.
âPaul was enjoying Rick going into a solo song like ‘Check My Machine’ at the level of detail he would have with a Beatles song,â said Heinzerling.
And, of course, throughout the series, McCartney exudes charm and charisma, but he also reveled in music, singing and playing an airy guitar on the tracks like any fan.
Heinzerling, 36, recently spoke via Zoom about meeting McCartney, filming in black and white and trying to strike the right balance to appeal to casual fans and diehards alike. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q. You led BeyoncÃ© [for the âSelf-Titledâ web series forÂ her album, âBeyoncÃ©â]. Who were you most excited to meet or the most intimidated by?
I was more intimidated by BeyoncÃ©. The thing with Paul is, he showed up in his Bronco, walked in alone, and walked on set. At the end of the day, he grabbed his guitar, threw it in the back of his Bronco, and just peeled off. His manager was there but there was no team of protectors around him. One day we were filming and Jimmy Buffet came over and they started talking. There was no impression of layers of glass between you and Paul. He has a flippancy and he appreciates life and these opportunities very much. It was the most fun I have ever had on set in my life.
Q. How did you conceive of the shoot?
Rick is all about creating the right atmosphere. We have set up production to be as less intrusive as possible. It was shot as a live performance with multiple cameras with long lenses following the action and light signals, so when Paul went from the center console to the piano we didn’t have to mute and reset them, lights would simply change and the cameras would move. Paul never had an interruption or had to repeat anything.
Q. Why film in black and white?
He eliminated some design and styling factors that might date the project. We’ve taken a very minimalist approach to design, with no titles or labels and few bells and whistles to create distractions from the sound. Black and white seemed okay to me. We had this idea that sound represents color.
Q. What is the organizational principle of each episode?
It was one of the most difficult jobs. We didn’t do it chronologically. We thought about it thematically: these are the songs where the bass was really important, these are the ones about experimentation, these are more about the composition. But then it felt like we were categorizing things when we really wanted the songs to organically connect to each other and really be a find.
There’s a title to every episode that’s somewhat iconic, but we didn’t want to make it stereotypical or know exactly how those songs connect – that’s part of Rick’s emphasis on the unknowable. There is sort of a theme or thesis that can be gleaned from some episodes, but what exactly it is is a question mark for everyone to decide for themselves.
Q. Who is the audience for this – the die-hard fan fascinated to hear Rick and Paul discuss the isolated bass track of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” or the occasional fan who might not know the history of the “Band demos” on the Run “stolen in Africa?
It’s a good question. You want something that everyone can watch, but you also want something where Beatles aficionados can learn something new. The way Rick and Paul play each other and the intimacy of the conversation, the spark and the joy in the way Paul answers questions can make it universally viewable.
But I think our audience is mostly fans and it’s an opportunity to deepen and see real musicology. There is the story of the Beatles wanting to crank up the treble on “Nowhere Man” so much that they would exceed red on the console. [McCartney explains how they persuaded the engineers to experiment.] They wanted that buzz inside of you, an emotional response to that sound. Stories like this are the pride of this project.
We wanted to capture the essence of a genius musician who has the ability to feel the magic in an instant and capture it and imbue it with music that touches so many others.