Despite Paul McCartney's often-overlooked varied solo career and his heights with Wings that are covered in his new lyrics and narratives collection, The Lyrics: 1956 To The Present, interviewers have been mainly focussing on his other band in the array of chats he's been doing in support of the book. And that's understandable, considering Peter Jackson's new three-part, eight-hour film Get Back for Disney+ will shed a whole new light on the final era of the Beatles.
Now McCartney has offered his thoughts on Get Back in an interview with NPR's Terry Gross.
"When I knew Peter was going to look at all the footage I said to him, I'm not sure I'm gonna like this, Peter', because it was from a very difficult period of my life and it's always looked like I broke up the Beatles and that isn't the case. But the [original Let It Be] film came out and gave that impression, and the associated journalism around it.
"He went off to New Zealand where he works and lives," McCartney continued, "and a few weeks later he sent me back a text saying, 'No, it's not like that at all. This is just four guys working out songs, having a lot of fun.' He said, 'You know, there's one or two little tense moments maybe.' but we put that down to that's any family, it isn't all just roses. But generally speaking, this is a bit of a rose garden. It was us enjoying being back together; showing each other our songs, learning them and having fun with them."
McCartney broached the prickly subject of who called time on the Beatles in his book and that he's glad the film sheds new light on that era, but reiterates to Gross where the misconception came from that it was his decision.
"So I think that's a great thing because at the time, for some crazy reason I got blamed," explains McCartney. "I know why it was, it was because when I put my first album out after the Beatles, I was sent a questionnaire that asked various questions about the Beatles. It was something like, 'Will the Beatles get back together again?', or 'When are they getting back together again?', and I sort of said, 'No, I don't think so.' I can't remember the exactly reaction but something like that, and that became, as it does, blown up as ' Paul says the Beatles are finished' and whatever. So that became, Paul must have finished them.
"I didn't get the chance to say, 'No there was a meeting and John walked into it and the other Beatles and me were in this room and John walked in and said, 'I'm leaving the Beatles'. That never came out.
The legend also tells Gross he was "gobsmacked" when Lennon made his announcement. But the perception was that it might not be permanent.
"We were very shocked," McCartney reveals. "And the first question in our minds was, well is it gonna last? Or is just something very John-ish where he says a big dramatic statement and then you'd go off and a couple of weeks later and he'd go, 'Oh, maybe we should get together again.'
"But it was quite shocking. You can imagine when someone walks in and says, 'The factory is closing'. It was big, and it was shocking. I think we wondered if it would get together again and when it didn't, it left us all, in one way, without a job. Because this had been our job. But later I realised that John had this new relationship with Yoko and he had to clear the decks in order to give her full time attention."
Watching Get Back, Yoko's presence and proximity in the Let It Be sessions is undeniably close; at points she's literally sitting in with the band as they play and record. Grosser asks McCartney about how he felt about this, and he's diplomatic but honest.
"At the time it was very difficult because we knew John was infatuated with Yoko," begins McCartney. "And having known John so long personally, I knew what he liked in a woman. And he liked strong women. His aunt Mimi, who raised him mainly, was quite a strong woman and I think he liked that.
"In his family there were quite a few strong women," he continues. "Some of his aunts were strong and very opinionated. So when he met Yoko, I think he was very attracted to her and I think it was a great thing for him. I think he needed it. It was time to break loose and so some new things and I knew it was exciting for him.
"But at first it was… we were not too keen on it at all," McCartney admits. "It was like, who is this and why is she sitting on my amp? And for me, this having been my employment and my artistic world for quite a number of years, and having known John since we were teenagers together to this point, to finally coming to an end, it was very challenging. The first question was, what do I do now?"
Let It Be is out now on Disney+