Paul McCartney has recorded a special festive recording of ‘The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)’ – click below to watch the clip exclusively on NME.com.
Speaking to NME, McCartney explained that recording the song was an intimidating prospect. “Doing ‘Chestnuts’ was a bit intimidating because when you do these old songs, there’s so many good versions of them – particularly Nat King Cole’s in this case. So, I thought, ‘You know what, I’m not even going to listen to it, I’m not going to see who’s done it, I’m not even going to figure out how I’m going to sing it. So it was just done in one afternoon in New York. And I’m quite pleased with it, because it’s not like anyone else’s version.”
The track can be found on a special edition of his ‘Kisses on the Bottom’ album, ‘Complete Kisses’, which will also include a DVD of a concert filmed at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles earlier this year. It features the only live performances of the songs on his standards album: this being the first time Paul McCartney has ever performed an entire show without an instrument in his hand.
“It was a bit naked,” he said of this aspect of the performance. “You never realise how much your guitar or piano is protection. There’s something between you and the sound. Like you’re plugged into the music, because you’ve got your hands on the keys, or you’ve got your hands on the fret. When you haven’t got anything, it’s like: what do you do with your hands? They feel very awkward. So there was a bit of hand waving here or there, but that was it. No mic techniques. No [Roger] Daltrey swirling.”
Paul McCartney said he’d been wanting to do an album of standards for ages, but was put off by people he knows releasing similar albums, “Ringo did one, early days of The Beatles, and I still wanted to do it. And then Rod Stewart came out with all of his and I thought, ‘Oh, I can’t do it’. Then Robbie Williams did one and I thought, ‘I can’t do it now’. In the end I just thought, ‘Sod it, I’m gonna’ do it.'”
Having grown up listening to his father play standards on the piano, McCartney says they’ve been a major influence on his own songwriting. “It’s amazing because years later I realised in certain songs of mine: ‘Oh my god, that’s where I got that chord from’. Or I realise, ‘That change, where it goes from a minor, then it goes into a major.’ You go, ‘that’s why I do that.'”
He also had a simple explanation for why he’s been so busy in 2012. “What it is, is: I accept proposals too easily!” he says. “So, you know, Damon will ring up and say ‘Hey we’ve got Africa Express, man. Wanna do it?’ ‘Yeah!’ I never quite know what I’m getting myself into. But I like it like that. So, I find myself doing things a little bit, um, that I wouldn’t have planned; but I like that. I like that I’m doing spontaneous things.”
‘Complete Kisses’ is out now, and the Capitol concert will also be shown on ITV this Saturday, straight after The X Factor.