Paul McCartney’s Emotional “Freedom” Tribute!
One of Paul’s most memorable moments took place in 2001, when he wrote a stirring tribute to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack…it’s a dramatic end to what was conceived as a “Beatles style album”…
Paul McCartney’s Two Weeks Of “Driving Rain!”
Later Paul McCartney albums are interesting to me…Macca tried a number of things, not always successful, and also reverted at times to his straightforward “pop” sound. For his 2001 release “Driving Rain”, he tried something else – a Beatles recording style!
It all started on his previous album, “Run Devil Run.”
“During some of the interviews I’d done around Run Devil Run, I’d been talking about the old way we used to record with The Beatles around the time of the early albums … The band for that album had said to me, ‘Can we learn up what songs we’re going to do, like a week before we go into the studio?’ And I’d said, ‘No, no homework.’ So we did it the same way with this new album, following the same technique.”
Beatlesbible.com has this great quote, which continues:
“We came in on Monday morning, I’d show them a song and we’d start doing it. We didn’t know what was going to happen and it was a little bit into the unknown for all of us. The band on this album is a new band who I’d never worked with before, never even met before. It was into the unknown too for David Kahne and consequently it started to be a little bit different than what any of us would have done. All of us were having to think on our feet, and that process led us into something different from what we normally do. So for me, that’s what I mean by this album is not necessarily what you expect from me, because it’s not what I was expecting. But by going into the recording freely, not dictating, things just evolved.”
On September 11 2001, McCartney was sitting on a plane in New York City when the terrorist attacks occurred and was able to witness the events from his seat. As wikipedia reports, “incensed at the tragedy and determined to respond, he composed “Freedom” and helped organise (alongside Harvey Weinstein) The Concert for New York City, a massive all star show at Madison Square Garden on 20 October where “Freedom” was performed”.
The cover of the album featured a photograph taken with a Casio wristwatch that had a built-in camera.
“Lonely Road” starts the album, then the first single: “From a Lover to a Friend”
Here is the song performed live at The Concert For New York City after 9/11:
“She’s Given Up Talking” and the title track “Driving Rain” are next:
Here is Paul performing the song live on his 2002 tour:
“I Do” and “Tiny Bubble” follow, then a great pop song: “Magic”
Here is a terrific fan video put together on YouTube by “StrawberryLennon9’s channel”
“Your Way” and “Spinning on an Axis” are next…”Spinning” and “Back In The Sunshine Again” were co-written with his son James.
“The lyrics on the album are kind of quite simple; there’s nothing deeply deep. I’m not trying too hard, I’m just spinning them out, not worried if I’ve heard a phrase before and just gone for it. There’s a couple of songs on this where I’ve just put two songs, or fragments of songs, together. I just thought, ‘That will go with that.’ It meant at times that instead of getting a 4/4, four beats to the bar, in slamming them together you’d get a 5/4, but I thought that’s OK, I’d fix it later. But when I played it to the band and to the producer, they loved those little odd bars.”
“About You” – His “Heather Mills” Song…
I am among those who do NOT like Heather Mills…from the moment she stated she never listened to The Beatles, I was turned off to her, and ultimately, she and Paul divorced.
However, the next song on the album,”About You” was written for her, as Paul thanked her for helping him get over the death of Linda…
“You give me power to get out of bed
When in the morning I’m feeling dead
Living and loving, there’s a lot to be said, it’s true
Gonna say it about you
Say it about you”
Here is a great youtube video from “piggies1”:
“Heather” and “Back in the Sunshine Again” are next – “Sunshine” was also written with his son James…
“Your Loving Flame” was written on the 36th floor of the Carlyle Hotel in New York…as Paul explains, a creative spark can come from anywhere:
‘Driving Rain’ was written in Los Angeles – there was a lot of rain and so on our day off we went off for a drive in this little corvette that I hired, we drove up the Pacific Coast Highway and went up to Malibu and had a bit of lunch. In the evening, feeling great after a nice day out, I was sitting around at the piano and I just started writing something half based on that day out. People say ‘how do you get your creativity’ and I think the answer is you just have to be open to stuff.”
“Riding into Jaipur” and “Rinse the Raindrops” are next, with “Raindrops” turning into a 10-minute jam…very much in Paul’s “Fireman” mode…
“Rinse the raindrops
From your head
Wipe your eyes
Go back to bed
In the morning
And I’ll be here
See the sunlight
Break the ice
For the birds of paradise
Listen to the song they sing
A special fan video posted by “mccrabapple’s channel” on youtube:
McCartney’s Indian holiday had affected his voice during the sessions, as he later recalled:
“When I was in India, a carpet salesman ripped me off. He told me that this carpet was the rarest thing ever but when I got to the next town I found another 20 of them. So I rang him and during the argument, and not helped by the weather, I started to lose my voice. The following day it went totally. I couldn’t talk. With only a week to the recording sessions, I still couldn’t get the high notes. So I came to LA with my voice in quite a rough shape and decided to do the easy songs first, just to get the tracks down. But then I ended up just letting loose on one track, this monster 10-minute song called Rinse The Raindrops, where I really ripped it, and it all came good. It’s a nice quality if you can get it, a rawness. My voice has never been trained, so I just cross my fingers and go for it. I just wing it every time, like I always have done.”
Thank to “Beatlesbible.com” for the McCartney quotes!
Paul’s Stirring “Freedom” Tribute To The Victims of 9/11:
As mentioned, Paul was on a plane waiting to take off when the tragic events of 9/11 unfolded. He wrote a heartfelt tribute to those who lost their lives that day, and premiered it at “The Concert For New York City”:
Due to the last minute addition of “Freedom” to the album, it isn’t listed on the early releases…
“Freedom” was recorded live during The Concert for New York City with later studio overdubs. There are some copies of the CD that were issued with an outerbox and a different cover and the tracklistings featured “Freedom” as an official track.
Reviewing the album for Uncut magazine, Ian MacDonald noted McCartney’s spontaneous approach to its recording, such that,
“In parts (for example, the lengthy closer ‘Rinse The Raindrops’), the results are almost ferocious, coming as close to a McCartney-esque Tin Machine as one could reasonably imagine.” MacDonald considered the more “polished and produced” tracks to be “the most successful”, however, and concluded: “Possibly a grower, this album is certainly better than anything Macca’s done for some while, if not the late masterpiece some of us have been hoping for.”
Impulsively, McCartney halted the pressing of Driving Rain so that “Freedom” could appear as a hidden track (since the artwork had already been printed).
Beginning in April 2002, the Driving USA tour – a significant success which would lead to worldwide tour extensions – was launched.
According to wikipedia, McCartney said in 2007 there are those who ascribe “militant” connotations to “Freedom” and, because of this, he had decided to remove the song from his setlist. About the song, McCartney added:
“I thought it was a great sentiment, and immediately post 9/11, I thought it was the right sentiment. But it got hijacked. And it got a bit of a militaristic meaning attached itself to it, and you found Mr. Bush using that kind of idea rather a lot, in a way I felt altered the meaning of the song.”
Some elements of the album are experimental, just as this album was:
Read all about his terrific “McCartney II” here:
Recently, McCartney did an extensive interview with Q magazine, and he discussed The Beatles’ last song as well as some of his more experimental work…
It is a fascinating story, read about that here:
Let me know what you think of “Driving Rain!”