Paul McCartney Turns Lockdown into Rockdown With McCartney III

Fifty years after Paul McCartney issued his first post-Beatles solo album, McCartney III will feature him on every instrument.

McCartney III
Photo: Capitol Records

The last time Paul McCartney was stuck alone in his house, his band of many years had broken up. It was the greatest show on the earth, for what that was worth, and fans and press camped out in front of each member’s places to catch any clues to what was going on. McCartney sequestered himself after the Beatles breakup but didn’t fall into any kind of creative abyss. Instead he immersed himself in the studio. He’s done it again. McCartney is his own Wingman and when the pandemic forced him into seclusion he called up the friends who don’t need masks. His arsenal of musical instruments. McCartney III will be out Dec. 11 on Capitol Records.

“I was living lockdown life on my farm with my family and I would go to my studio every day,” McCartney said in a statement. “I had to do a little bit of work on some film music and that turned into the opening track. And then when it was done, I thought, ‘What will I do next?’ I had some stuff I’d worked on over the years, but sometimes time would run out and it would be left half-finished. So I started thinking about what I had.”

The tracks were cut live with Paul on vocals, guitar, and piano. He overdubbed bass and drums later. “Paul hadn’t planned to release an album in 2020, but in the isolation of ‘Rockdown,’ he soon found himself fleshing out some existing musical sketches and creating even more new ones,” reads the album description. The process began when he returned to an unreleased track from the ‘90s, “When Winter Comes,” which had been co-produced by the late George Martin. When creating a new section for the song, he came up with the song “Long Tailed Winter Bird,” which will open the album.

“Each day I’d start recording with the instrument I wrote the song on and then gradually layer it all up; it was a lot of fun,” McCartney said in a statement. “It was about making music for yourself rather than making music that has to do a job. So, I just did stuff I fancied doing. I had no idea this would end up as an album.”

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Linda McCartney, Paul’s wife who died of cancer in the late 1990s, shot the photos for the McCartney and McCartney II albums. The cover and photos for McCartney III were photographed by his daughter Mary, as well as his nephew Sonny. The packaging will also include photos from McCartney’s cellphone.

The album spans a “vast and intimate range of modes and moods, from soul-searching to wistful, from playful to raucous and all points between — captured with some of the same gear from Paul’s Rude Studio used as far back as 1971 Wings sessions,” according to the McCartney III description. “And Paul’s array of vintage instruments he played on the new album have an even more storied history, including Bill Black of Elvis Presley’s original trio’s double bass alongside Paul’s own iconic Hofner violin bass, and a mellotron from Abbey Road Studios used on Beatles recordings, to name but a few.”

McCartney III will be available digitally and on CD and vinyl, which will be handled by Third Man Records. McCartney III is his 18th solo album. McCartney’s last album was Egypt Station from 2018. Earlier this year, he reissued the 1997 album Flaming Pie.

McCartney hasn’t been entirely out of the public eye during the lockdown. In April, he performed “Lady Madonna” on the One World: Together at Home telethon to raise money for the World Health Organization and frontline healthcare workers through Global Citizen. He also switched up to a completely different instrument than we’ve heard the multi-instrumentalist play. Paul blew trumpet on an all-star version of “When the Saints Go Marching In” for the New Orleans Preservation Hall Foundation. The performance helped support out of work musicians.

McCartney III release date is Dec. 11 on Capitol Records.