Setting out on his first solo tour, McCartney, the only son of former Beatle Paul McCartney, is crisscrossing the country in a nondescript white van playing intimate acoustic shows with songs from his forthcoming album, Me. Last night, he made a sold-out stop at The Blue Door.
While it can be hard to distance himself from his famous parents, McCartney wants listeners to get to know him, and his music.
The album is set for release May 21, and McCartney knew his audience was unfamiliar with its songs, including the single, “Strong as You.” The novelty of seeing the son of a Beatle soon wore off as his infectious melodies and lyrics about flowers, snowfall and coping with his mother’s death from cancer, let the audience know this was neither fluke nor celebrity son simply trying to cash in on his pedigree.
The taciturn McCartney named each song before it was played, with a little banter thrown in, like asking the audience if there had been any recent tornadoes, and how he would like to see one, albeit from a safe distance.
Despite lacking his father’s stage presence and charisma, McCartney moved effortlessly between guitar and piano. Unlike his left-handed dad, McCartney is right-handed and played several guitars, including a reissued 1964 Epiphone Texan that was a gift from his father.
McCartney obviously grew up with music all around him, but only really started to play seriously in the past few years. Growing up, he said he began playing piano as a youngster, and at about age 9, picked up a guitar.
“Then I just focused more on guitar,” he said.
He always enjoyed The Beatles’ music, along with the Rolling Stones; during the 1990s, he had Nirvana, Sonic Youth and Radiohead in heavy rotation.
“I went through a big Nirvana period,” he said.
He was born during the midpoint of Wings, his dad’s post-Beatles band, and has vague memories of being on tour with his parents. Being part of a well-documented family, he’s not always sure those memories are his own, or simply constructed from stories and photographs.
He seems to remember visiting John Lennon at the Dakota building in New York City, where Lennon was ultimately killed, but he’s not 100 percent sure. He does know that he was around Lennon as an infant and toddler as his father and Lennon mended their relationship.
“I’ve heard John held me as a baby,” he said.
These days, McCartney said any strife involved with the breakup of The Beatles is gone. As a child, he remembers visiting the other Beatles with his parents, and formed relationships with George Harrison and Ringo Starr.
“They would sometimes come by the house, or we’d go to their houses,” he said. “Everyone gets on well now.”
McCartney and the other Beatle sons are dead ringers for their fathers, and all are musicians. In an interview in 2012, he had hinted of the Beatle scions teaming up. Despite wishful thinking by many, he said that is not likely.
“We’re all like brothers,” he said. “But we never get together to jam.”
The current tour includes 47 U.S. dates. In April, he played both weekends of Coachella in Indio, Calif., with thousands of fans who braved the desert heat to see established acts, and up-and-coming bands.
“It was cool, but a little nerve-racking,” he said.
While he works to make his own way in the music world, he did work with his father on the upcoming album, and still holds one family tradition close to his heart: vegetarianism. Paul and Linda McCartney were strong advocates for animal rights and vegetarians.
“I’ve been veggie all my life,” he said.
With Paul McCartney playing two shows in Tulsa later this month, the younger McCartney said he would be happy to open for his dad in front of 20,000 fans, but doesn’t think that is in the cards anytime soon.
“I’d love to,” he said, “but he wants me to be an individual and not just Paul McCartney’s son.”