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Paul McCartney and the Courage to Get Lost
One of the first things I noticed about Paul McCartney was his language. From the first conversation we had I was aware of the shared vocabulary of the painter. One of the most memorable conversations of my life took place in AIR London, the recording studios of George Martin. Paul went to great lengths to explain to me the detailed procedure of operating a mixing desk. Technologically uneducated and incapable of effectively operating a fax machine or TV remote control, I was astonished that I fully followed the lecture. The language he used was my language. In it sounds had textures, notes had color, tracks were applied in layers like impasto, sweeping strings were brushstrokes, and so on. At the time, I assumed that Paul had brilliantly come down to my level. As our friendship grew I came to realize that he always speaks in the language of the visual artist. It is his natural inclination.
Having distinguished himself as historically as he has in the cultural landscape of the century as a songwriter and performer, it's a brave move for Paul to share his paintings with us. Paul McCartney approaches his adventure in painting with the same characteristic modesty that animates his music. Painting, like music, is a journey for McCartney, a mystery tour that he allows to lead him where it will.
Over twenty-five years ago Paul and Linda, searching for a new home, decided consciously to get lost in the labyrinthine lanes of East Sussex, until by chance they happened upon the property that was to become their family home. On many occasions he has corrected me when I described his long industrious days as "hard work." "I'm a musician; I don't work, I play." He is the ultimate amateur, the anti-professional, the intuitive, the subjective; he is, in short -- by my definition at least -- the genuine article, a real artist entirely fearless about getting lost. Armed with what must constitute one of the most full and varied lives of our time, with learning and experience that would make the most generous of us cynical, Paul McCartney, by some mercurial twist of fate and, I venture, gargantuan effort, has remained as a artist a humble, modest man. Nothing is too insignificant for his full attention; no little castaway item or urban waste lying on a beach escapes his creative eye. No idea in painting goes unregistered, and the great discoveries of artistic giants of the past are absorbed into his own vocabulary with the same gentle ease with which most of us might enjoy the scent of a flower. Robert Fraser described Paul to me in the late seventies as "that rare, exotic thing, a real artist."
--Brian ClarkeExcerpted by permission of Little, Brown and Company. Copyright © 2000 by Little, Brown and Company. Paintings by Paul McCartney © 2000 by Paul McCartney.
Posted November 24, 2000
When I first saw the painting 'Big Mountain Face' I was amazed at how much it resembled the face of George Washington from the vantage point of the new walkway at Mount Rushmore, which passes almost directly beneath the Four Faces. Here's the weird part: When that new walkway first opened, about 2 or 3 years ago, I was walking along it, admiring the Faces (the original Fab Four?) and I could not get the thought out of my head, 'What if the Beatles were here? Wouldn't that be cool!' as if picturing them making another fun movie here, alas, sans John. That thought lingered with me the rest of the afternoon. I am a Beatles fan but to have had such a thought from out of the blue was odd, even for me! Mr. McCartney, if you read this, have you been to Mount Rushmore in the past few years? Is it what inspired 'Big Mountain Face'? Your painting has been haunting me because of those strange thoughts I had there 2 or 3 years ago. (I have to wonder, too, about the song Rocky Raccoon. Sounds like some time in the past you've been here to the 'Black minin' Hills of Dakota...')Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.