Review: 'McCartney 3,2,1' Focusses On The Songs

by Rob Lester

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Sunday August 1, 2021

'McCartney 3,2,1'
'McCartney 3,2,1'  

Calling all eavesdroppers! "McCartney 3 2 1" is an informal, informative Q and A session with topics cued by snippets of legendary recordings.

In his mega-chat (six segments) with a very engaged Paul McCartney, there's burly, bearded, bright-eyed Rick Rubin, award-winning record producer for rap stars, Johnny Cash, Adele, etc., as enthused and enthralled as rabid 1960s fans in the throes of Beatlemania. They convene and converse around a studio mixing board, sliding levers to adjust levels and isolate tracks.

Listening intently, Rubin is blissed out, body rocking to the beat, head bob-bob-bobbing along. He's transported. His observations and comments sometimes reveal informed appreciation for musical structures and inventiveness, but also there are his jaw-dropped less articulate gasps of "Wow!" and "Incredible!" McCartney mouths lyrics and anticipates tempo changes with his arms and face, conductor-like. He seems time-zapped, as if it were yesterday. (Of course, one song us "Yesterday.")

Fans will recognize some oft-told things: "Here, There and Everywhere" being perhaps his favorite of his own songs; how he dreamed the "Yesterday" melody, but thought it might be an old song; classics covered in early gigs. Paul is generous in praising other musicians he's admired and the musicianship of the other Beatles. He seems touched when hearing, for the first time, high praise in a quote from John, revels in listening to Ringo's drum dexterity, and sweetly recalls his teen-aged schoolbus bonding with George.

If there's impatience or resentment regarding scant attention to 50 years (!) of his post-Beatles career, patient Paul shows no sign of it. (Could more episodes be planned and promised for somewhere down the long and winding road?)

Don't expect any dishing or regrets The focus is on the songs and instrumental lines and licks — with lots of specificity highlighting a bass line, counterpoint, tempo change, harmony, unusual instrumental choice, etc., which may be T.M.I. for casual fans. Awestruck Rubin asks what was pre-planned or spontaneous; the answer comes and he's blown away. McCartney dutifully doles out mini-demonstrations with voice or instrument for replies and memory-jogs. Occasionally, he's uncertain, adding self-deprecatingly that a piano bit is "bad enough" to be him.

The filmed-in-black-and-white conversation gets its own counterpoint with relevant vintage film and stills — most of them in color — to add, um, color. "McCartney 3,2,1" should bring new appreciation for the man and the groundbreaking, history-making songs.


"McCartney 3,2,1" (six segments of 29 minutes each) streams exclusively on Hulu.

ROB LESTER returns to Edge in 2019 after several years of being otherwise occupied writing and directing musical theatre shows, working as a dramaturg, arts consultant, and contributing articles and reviews to various outlets. His long-running "Sound Advice" column covering cast albums and vocal CDs has been running regularly at www.TalkinBroadway.com for almost 15 years.