Documentary To Stem From McCartney Tour

Paul McCartney's ongoing Driving USA tour will produce a home video/DVD release, according to the artist. "It will be a documentary," McCartney said Friday before his first of two shows at New York's

Paul McCartney's ongoing Driving USA tour will produce a home video/DVD release, according to the artist. "It will be a documentary," McCartney said Friday before his first of two shows at New York's Madison Square Garden. "We're starting to think about what we might do for it. This tour is going so well, we thought it might be nice to capture it all."

The tour, which kicked off April 1 in Oakland, Calif., finds McCartney supported by his touring band which includes guitarist Rusty Anderson and drummer Abe Laboriel Jr., both of whom played on his latest Capitol set, "Driving Rain." Brian Ray rounds out the band, handling bass and guitar during the show, which features material from the Beatles, Wings, and McCartney's solo albums, as well as an acoustic set that features McCartney alone with a guitar.

The North American leg of the tour is set to close with a pair of shows, May 17-18, at the National Car Rental Center in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Aside from a June 3 appearance at Buckingham Palace in London for the "Party at the Palace" in celebration of the Queen's golden jubilee, international touring plans are still up in the air. That fact has not stopped rumors about where McCartney might play, including speculation that has the former Beatle visiting Cuba.

"Those are just rumors," McCartney stressed. "I don't care how good [Cuban leader] Fidel Castro thinks he is on the guitar, he's not joining our group (laughs). All we've got planned is this American tour, but what's happening is that we're enjoying it so much that we think it would be a pity to shelve it. We're starting to think of doing [another tour] toward the end the year, but we don't know where yet."

No matter where the tour goes, one thing McCartney is unapologetic about is the relatively high cost of tickets for his shows, which run from $50 to $250. "This is what I do for a living," he said. "If I earn money on this tour, a lot of it will go to charity. As far as the high prices of the tickets, they're not high compared to what everyone else charges. I say to the promoters, 'What do U2 or the Rolling Stones charge?' I figure I'm somewhere in that ballpark. Tickets [for this tour] start at $50, which isn't that high. Actually, the Stones are going to charge more than us [for their 2002 tour], so there's your story."

During his backstage visit with Billboard and other media outlets, McCartney chatted amiably about a variety of subjects, including the music he's performing on the road and his thoughts on retiring. Here are some highlights from that conversation:

On how he keeps his live show fresh:

"Whenever I go out on tour, it's exciting to stick in a few things I haven't done before, because there's a bit of a nervous edge to it. On this tour, I'm doing the acoustic thing, which I haven't done before. It's great to do it. I've gotten over those nerves [from the first show of the tour], and I'm quite at home with it. You have to do something a bit different each time you go out [on tour] or else you get bored, and that shows with the audience."

On which song the audiences are reacting to the most on this tour:

"The one I think that they're reacting to the most is a little-known song I wrote after John [Lennon] died: 'Here Today.' It's in my poetry book, 'Blackbird Singing,' and I've been reading it at poetry readings, so it worked as just the words. Then I decided to reinstate the song and try it in this acoustic set. A lot of the audience don't know the song -- they're hearing it for the first time -- and I've rediscovered the song. It's quite poignant. I tell them it's for John and it gets quite emotional, in a good way. It's reaffirmation of how much we loved him and still do."

On the meaning behind the Beatles song "Blackbird" and why he tells the story on this tour:

When you do a show, there are certain songs you find yourself talking about. You could talk about all of the songs, but when you find a story that means something you tend to keep it in. I remember the genesis of the song. In England, we call girls "birds" and "Blackbird" means black woman. The song is about the [civil rights] struggles going on in the '60s. A lot of us with any morals around the world were very sensitive to and supportive of the people going through the struggles. So I wrote the song with that in mind."

On why he deliberately flubs the lyrics of "You Never Give Me Your Money" during his live set:

"I just goofed around, and a lot of people started to laugh. So I did it the next time and the next time, and the next time, and it stayed in the show. I actually do know the lyrics now (laughs), but I don't really like the lyrics, to tell you the truth. We did have some disputes over it, but we just decided, 'Sod it. We'll just have a laugh at that point.' This is very much a live show. We're not [lip-synching] and if we want to goof around, we'll goof around."

On the Concert for New York City (held Oct. 20, 2001, at Madison Square Garden):

"That concert was very influential in deciding to do the tour. When Sept. 11 happened, I was in New York, so I experienced Sept. 11 with the American people. [Before Sept. 11], I was supposed to go to Russia, where I had another concert planned to see if I was going to like touring again, but it didn't seem appropriate to do the concert there. So we thought the concert should be for New York and the U.S. That became the concert to see if I still liked playing for an audience. It was a very special concert and a very emotional evening, with the firefighters and rescue workers being there. I did say afterward that I'd like to get back on tour. That was the concert that got me back on the road."

On personal safety after Sept. 11:

"I feel as safe as I've ever felt. You can walk down any street anywhere and you can be at risk. We're all at risk, but I'm enjoying life and I feel pretty safe."

On finding happiness since the tragic 1998 death of his wife, Linda:

"I'm happy and I'm very lucky. With Linda passing, we had some terrible times... the whole horror of her getting cancer and us losing the battle. So to come out of that long, dark tunnel makes you happier. I've got a new band, which I really like playing with. I've realized how much I really like playing live music. I'm due to be married to a very lovely girl [Heather Mills]. So the combination of all those things has really made me happy. I'm at a better point in my life than I've been in a while. I just consider myself to be very lucky to be playing, particularly at this time in American history. It's a very interesting time to do an upbeat, healing show. There's a great feeling in the audience, which is really special and which I haven't experienced before."

On which album of his he would most like to see turned into a musical:

"[The 1973 Paul McCartney and Wings album] 'Band on the Run.' The only reason why I say that is someone said to me that would make a good musical. I'm really stupid and just take other people's answers. I think making 'Band on the Run' a musical is a good idea."

On when he'll retire:

"As far as retirement is concerned, I'd never consider it, although I'm getting up toward retirement age. I think someone falsified my birth certificate because I can't feel it. I don't want to retire. I love what I do. I always said if people don't come to the shows, I'll do this as a hobby. I have a vision of me at age 90, being wheeled on stage very slowly, doing 'Yesterday.' At the moment, it's not like that. It's the opposite of that. We're loving it, the audiences are loving it, so while that's happening, I'm keeping on rocking."