Rick Rubin (left) and Paul McCartney discuss music and other topics in McCartney 3,2,1, which is available on Hulu.
I’ve always been an older soul when it comes to music, mostly preferring bands that haven’t put out a new record in decades and that were comprised of legendary figures, many of which are, sadly, no longer with us. As Eddie Van Halen tragically reminded us this last year, these legends are only on the earth for as brief a time as any of us “normal” people, so we darn well better appreciate them while they’re here. Perhaps this is what was going through the mind of Rick Rubin when he sat down with the Walrus himself in McCartney 3, 2, 1, a fascinating and intimate documentary/miniseries that is destined to become a must-watch for fans of The Beatles here, there, and everywhere.
One thing that immediately impressed me was how enthusiastic and lively Sir Paul was, even after decades and decades of similar Beatle-related interviews. Gracious and personable, he never once seemed annoyed at being asked a question or resentful of his universal fame, discussing each song and experience as if it were the first time the subjects had been broached. He and Rubin, himself an iconic figure in music but from behind the scenes, have a rapport that makes for a very relaxing and intimate watching experience that is enhanced by minimalistic stage design and a complete lack of any other players (next time, Ringo). Whenever I watch a documentary like this I ask myself, “Could this have been a podcast?” The answer here is no, as the visuals go a long way setting the mood the creators wanted to convey. If there is one word I would use to describe McCartney 3, 2, 1 it would be “comfortable;” it is very much like having your grandfather regale you of tales of the good old days if your grandfather happened to be one of the most famous musicians of all time.
That’s not where the similarities to grandparent-story-time stop, however: Some bits of McCartney 3, 2, 1 are more interesting than the others, and the casual discussion format means that there is very little linearity in the story telling. One second the two are discussing the lives of each member of the Fab Four pre-fame, the next they are talking about Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) before going back to Revolver (1966). At first this bothered me a bit, but then I accepted that this is a perfectly reasonable tactic that enhances the feeling of this being a natural one-on-one instead of a mere verbal biography of Paul McCartney. Could McCartney 3, 2, 1 have been cut down from six hours to two like many of your grandfather’s monologues? Sure. Was it sometimes a wee bit difficult to follow these two musicians when they delved into the intricacies of certain pieces? Yes, as I am far from an expert when it comes to these things, and these are world-class virtuosos we’re talking about here. Would I have had them cut any of this? Hell no.
If you are a fan of The Beatles, or music in general, you gotta check this out.
McCartney 3, 2, 1 is now available on Hulu.