Paul McCartney Talks Retirement: 'Not Today'

Playing lead guitar has given former Beatle a new drive.

Ultimate Guitar

In a new interview with Rolling Stone (via Gigwise), Paul McCartney has stated that a new-found confidence in playing lead guitar means that he is unlikely to be retiring any time soon:

"I was saying to someone the other day that one of the very first gigs we did. I don't even think we were the Beatles, it was the Quarrymen - one of the very first times I ever played with John [Lennon], we did a very early gig at a thing called a co-op hall, and I had a lead solo in one of the songs and I totally froze," he recalled.

"My mum had come, and I really played the crappiest solo ever. I said, 'That's it. I'm never going to play lead guitar again'. It was just too nerve-wracking onstage. So for years, I just became rhythm guitar and bass player and played a bit of piano, do a bit of this, that and the other.

"But nowadays, I play lead guitar, and that's the thing that draws me forward. I enjoy it. So, yeah, that means the answer to 'Are you going to retire?' is 'When I feel like it'. But that's not today."

McCartney also stated that he's still more than happy to play his big '60s and '70s hits for audiences, rather than basing his sets around newer material:

"Last night at the show, I said, 'I know what you think of new numbers,'" he joked. "Because when we do the old numbers - something like 'And I Love Her' - I see all the phones come out.

"You see all the little lights, ding-ding-ding-ding-ding, like Disneyland. And why did you just get your phone out? 'Because it's my old favourite.' That's reality. And like me and the Bill Haley concert, I don't want to cheat those people. So we mix it up occasionally, but mainly we hope we're pleasing the various facets in the audience.

"People say, 'But why do you care, man?' Someone like Bob Dylan doesn't necessarily care - he'll just do what he wants, and that's cool.

"I say, 'Yeah, but I have these memories that haunt me of these concerts that I went to and these records that I bought'. I don't want those people in my audience thinking, 'Hey, we came for big hits, and you played a bunch of sh-t.'"

11 comments sorted by best / new / date

    As long as he is enjoying himself this is great news! Considering McCartney is in his 70s, he is doing great, he still can release some great music and his live shows are incredible! 3+ hours, nearly 40 songs, career-spanning, ever-changing setlists... Much respect for this man!
    I just saw him a few months ago in Costa Rica... He was awesome... 38 songs... for an 70 yo guy that more than amazing!
    I love seeing Paul in concert. Every show is a different set. He's also a smart guy who has a great feel for his ever expanding fan base and has the perfect mix of old and new, along with some back wall stuff that you don't expect.
    I hate to be the guy saying this...but im freaking sick and tired over the same old *******s who put less and and less effort into their music and get more and more attention...while there are so many hardworking respectable and capable musicians being pushed aside...for ****s sake the music is progressing slower and slower every day.