London Daily

Focus on the big picture.
Friday, Sep 22, 2023

Mary McCartney on If These Walls Could Sing: ‘Abbey Road is still so important’

Mary McCartney on If These Walls Could Sing: ‘Abbey Road is still so important’

Paul McCartney’s daughter talks to us about her documentary charting the history of the world-famous music studios

The only time I have previously had the privilege of strolling across the most famous zebra crossing in the world and into the most famous studio in the world, it felt like stepping into a museum: to the extent that they even had the original, stand-up sixties ashtrays set up in Studio Two. Ashtrays into which john Lennon and Paul McCartney would once – well, more than once – have tapped their Gauloises Bleus while recording with the Beatles.

“They will have them here, but they’re not in the studio,” smiles Mary, the daughter of the latter, sat in the Gatehouse Room of Abbey Road – the studio about which she has made a documentary –when I ask her if this is still the case. “They’re probably trying to discourage people lighting up in the studio these days.”

This is understandable because although it has been open since 1931 – having originally been built as a nine-bedroom Georgian townhouse in 1831 – Abbey Road is still a studio that is in full time use. “So many people have passed through here and made such significant pieces of music,” says the singer Celeste, who walked through its famous doors for the first time last year, “and that encourages you to elevate your performance.”

View of Studio 1 in Abbey Road Studios

This quote comes from one of the many gushing interviews McCartney has squeezed into the 90 minutes of If These Walls Could Sing, which charts the history of Abbey Road. She’s also bagged chats with – deep breath – Elton John, Kate Bush, Liam and Noel Gallagher (not together, sadly), Roger Waters and Dave Gilmour (ditto), Cliff Richard, Kanye West (yes yes, we’ll get there), Jimmy Page, Ringo Starr and – of course – her father, who even busts out a bit of Blackbird on the acoustic guitar, his foot tapping on a piece of cloth just as it did when he originally recorded it, archive footage of which his daughter cuts to as he plays.

“I was like, ‘Look, your guitar’s here and I’m going to ask about Blackbird and if you feel like it, just pick it up and play it. But you don’t have to’,” she says. "I had no guarantee it was going to happen. It just shows: one thing I’ve learnt over the years is that if you say to the Beatles or my dad, ‘You can’t do something’, then this glint comes into their eye. You can tell that’s why they were so innovative. They’re like, if you say we can’t do it then we’re definitely interested in doing that now.”

I wonder if she gets as awestruck as anyone else would seeing a Beatle replicate such a famous Beatles moment, exactly as it was, just a few feet away from her, or whether it’s just… dad? “It’s funny, it’s sort of two things. Sometimes, like if it’s at home, it’s just more kind of normal. But I have to say, people laugh at me because when I’ve seen him perform live they’ll ask, ‘How was the gig?’ and I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness, it was amazing, he’s so amazing live,’ and I kind of am removed. Like, ‘Wow, what a performer.’”

Paul McCartney in Studio 2

McCartney has herself spent a great deal of time in Abbey Road: as evidenced by the photo of her as a baby crawling over the floor of studio two that pops up in the first few minutes of her documentary. “I hadn’t seen that picture before,” she says. “Someone from dad’s archive sent that and I was like, ‘Wow, I really have been here a long time.”

How long, exactly? When is the first time she can remember? “I imagine I was around five, walking over – because we lived nearby – coming over when mum and dad were recording in Wings. But being that age… I was small and looking at things from a much lower perspective, so I remember Studio Two feeling quite vast. And then going into the canteen and just eating as many snacks as I could.”

Given that they spent so much time there – and immortalised it in the title of the last album they recorded together – the Beatles feature heavily in the film. But McCartney, was, she says, conscious of not “swamping the documentary” with her father’s old band. And she has done a fine job.

She has, for example, varying recollections from the Gallagher brothers as to whether or not they were thrown out of the studio for bad behaviour during their hedonistic mid-Nineties pomp (“I liked the fact that they slightly contradict each other. It sort of seems their relationship, they’re always going to challenge each other”); some quite breathtaking footage of John Williams recording the Star Wars theme with a full orchestra ("Meeting him was a bit like the feeling of walking into Abbey Road: just this aura of magic and creativity around him”); Kate Bush actually speaking in public (‘It’s so great to hear her, isn’t it?’).

In fact, the only musician she wanted to get but didn’t was Frank Ocean. “He recorded Blonde here,’ she says. “He sampled a Beatles track on it as well, so I thought it would have been a really nice addition. But I understand it. He famously doesn’t really do interviews, so I wasn’t expecting him to.”

She did, however, get Kanye West, who features heavily in a section about his Late Orchestration live album from 2006 that, for obvious reasons, now feels more than a tiny bit uncomfortable. I wonder whether she considered editing him out? And if not, how she feels about having him in the film, post antisemitic outbursts?

Celeste in Studio 2

“Well, I’m upset by what he’s saying now, because I’m vehemently against any kind of inciting any kind of hatred or antisemitism or racism,” she says, firmly. “It is upsetting. When I made the documentary – because obviously it was locked and finished quite a while ago – he hadn’t started saying these things.

“I’ve thought about it a lot since then,” she continues, "and the interview that’s in the documentary is very much of the time when he recorded the album. It’s very much him speaking eloquently about the studio and music and creativity. So I think it works. It shows the range of music that has been recorded here. The interview is very much of a time in the past and I think that really comes across to the viewer. It was important to include it at the time.”

It’s true that the segment nicely bridges the gap between the Abbey Road of the past, the Abbey Road of the present and – hopefully – the Abbey Road of the future. It may be staggering to learn that, at some point in the Eighties, there were plans to demolish it and make way for a car park. But the truth is that, in 2022, you can record studio quality albums in your bedroom and, for many ostensibly successful artists cashing cheques from Spotify worth mere pennies, stepping into the hallowed confines of Studio Two for weeks at a time likely remains an impossibility.

Mary McCartney

Abbey Road are aware of this. The Gatehouse, where McCartney is currently sitting, is one of two ultra-modern, smaller studios opened in 2017 and aimed squarely at younger musicians. And the director of If These Walls Could Sing, meanwhile, takes great comfort from the fact that it was “actually was challenging for me to get the studio space booked.”

During all her interviews she did in fact, she says, “ask, ‘Why is there a place for a recording studio like Abbey Road?’ And it comes down to the fact that, yes, you can record anywhere with technology now – in your bedroom or wherever you want – but ultimately to come somewhere, close the door, shut out the outside world and be in a studio where you can just fully focus on creating, I think that’s the reason Abbey Road is so important.”


Related Articles

London Daily
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
You Are So Beautiful
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Postmodern Jukebox European Tour Version
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
An old French tune (by Georges Brassens) Pomplamoose ft. John Schroeder
Steve Jobs' Son Launches Venture Capital Firm With $200 Million For Cancer Treatments
Sattahip Motor Show 20
Greek PM offers tourists affected by wildfires a free stay in Rhodes next year.
SONATE AU CLAIR DE LUNE - Moonlight sonata
Google reshuffles Assistant unit, lays off some staffers, to 'supercharge' products with A.I.
A kiss to build a dream on
End of Viagra? FDA approved a gel against erectile dysfunction
Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
UK sanctions Russians judges over dual British national Kara-Murza's trial
Mean Blues
US restricts visa-free travel for Hungarian passport holders because of security concerns
La Chansonnette
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Pattaya Addicts
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Franz Liszt - Liebestraum - Love Dream
Political leader from South Africa, Julius Malema, led violent racist chants at a massive rally on Saturday
Dream a little dream of me
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
Unchained Melody sung like you've NEVER heard!
How “peacekeepers” at the UN spend our American tax dollars.
Dave Brubeck - Take Five
'I am not your servant': IndiGo crew member, passenger get into row over airline meal
Édith Piaf - Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (Sofie)
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Rondo Alla Turca
Spanish Citizenship Granted to Iranian chess player who removed hijab
Kiss of fire
US Senate Republican Mitch McConnell freezes up, leaves press conference
Tom Jones - I´ll Never Fall In Love Again 1967, 1989, 2001
Speaker McCarthy says the United States House of Representatives is getting ready to impeach Joe Biden.
Israel Cachao López - Guajira Clásica
San Francisco car crash
Edward Maya - Stereo Love (feat. Vika Jigulina) (Extended Mix)
This camera man is a genius
Strauss - Radetzky March - Karajan
3D ad in front of Burj Khalifa
La vie en rose
Next level gaming
The Temptations - My Girl (Smokey Robinson Tribute) 2006 Kennedy Cent
BMW driver…
Orlando Cachaito Lopez Redencion
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
RADETZKY MARCH-2008-Wien, New Year Concert
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to
Only you (And you alone)
The future of sport
Strangers In The Night
New York City Agrees to Compensate Demonstrators Subjected to Excessive Force and Unlawful Arrests Amidst Widespread Protests
Charles Aznavour - La Boheme
Paul Simon: "I can't perform anymore due to hearing loss"
Summer time
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
Sting and Stevie Wonder - Fragile (from Sting's 60th birthday concert)
The future of sports
Aux Champs Elysees
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Stand By Me - Ben E. King (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
La Mer (Beyond the Sea) – Avalon Jazz Band
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Nathalie Song by Enzo Petrachi Stjepan Hauser Cello
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
Shape of My Heart - Sting (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
Swedish Embassy in Baghdad Engulfed in Flames Amidst a Firestorm of Protests
Radiohead - Creep
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Quizás,Quizás,Quizás - Andrea Bocelli - Jennifer Lopez
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps - Multi-Couples
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Pentatonix Havana
House of Commons rejects nine significant amendments from the Unelected, Privilaged House of Lord - Overturn Crucial Migration Bill Amendments in a Bid to Curb Unauthorized Maritime Immigration
Paula Cole - Autumn Leaves
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Oscar Benton Bensonhurst Blues
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Muslim Tycoon Asif Aziz Receives Approval for the Transformation of the iconic London Trocadero Landmark into Mosque
Nina Simone - ”I Put A Spell On You”. Vezi aici cum cântă Jeremy Ragsd
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
NIGHTWISH - The Phantom Of The Opera
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
Motorshow 2016 Tanjay Negros Oriental
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
Monica Bellucci - Ti Amo
Europe is boiling: Extreme Weather Conditions Prevail Across the Continent
Michael Jackson - Billie Jean Milena The Voice France 2018
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Hospitalized Due to Dehydration Amidst Summer Heatwave
Michael Buble (Help Me Make It Through The Night) feat Loren Allred
Memories Canon In D - Maroon 5 (Boyce Avenue piano acoustic cover)
Matteo Simoni - Marina
Maroon 5 - One More Night
Maroon 5 - Memories
Mark Knopfler - Brothers In Arms (Berlin 2007 Live)
Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris - Romeo And Juliet (Real Live Roadrunni
Marina, Marina - The LUCKY DUCKIES intimist live concert at Guimarães
Major Lazer & DJ Snake – Lean On Mauranne The Voice France 2016
Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet - Joslin - Henri Mancini, Nino Rota
LoLa & Hauser - Love Story
Linkin Park Jay-Z - Numb Encore (Live 8 2005)
Hallelujah Mennel Ibtissem, The Voice France Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen - Dance Me to the End of Love
Leonard Cohen & Natasha Rostova - Dance me to the end of love
La casa de papel - Bella Ciao
La Camisa Negra
L'italiano (Toto Cutugno) - The Gypsy Queens
Juanes - La Camisa Negra
Jonathan and Charlotte - Britain's Got Talent 2012 Live Semi Final - U
John Powell - Assassin's Tango
Joe Cocker - You Can Leave Your Hat On (LIVE in Dortmund)
Joe Cocker - Unchain My Heart 2002 Live
Joe Cocker - A Whiter Shade Of Pale
Jay Z & Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind LIVE
Jason Mraz - Im Yours (live)
Jarrod Radnich - Bohemian Rhapsody - Virtuosic Piano Solo
James Blunt - You're Beautiful
James Blunt - You're Beautiful & Bonfire Heart (Live at The Nobel Peac)
If You Go Away - Helen Merrill & Stan Getz (Tribute to Virna Lisi)
I Say a Little Prayer
Hotel California ( Eagles ) 1994 Live
Historia de un amor - Luz Casal. Vezi interpretarea Biancăi Sumanariu
Here Comes The Sun - The Beatles (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover) on Spot
Heart - Stairway to Heaven Led Zeppelin - Kennedy Center Honors
HAVANA by Camila Cabello Zumba Pre Cooldown TML Crew Kramer Pastra
HAUSER and Señorita - I Will Always Love You
HAUSER - Waka Waka
HAUSER - Lambada
HAUSER - Historia de un Amor
HAUSER - Despacito
Great Pretender
Georgia May Foote & Giovanni Pernice Samba to 'Volare' - Strictly Come
Gary Moore - Still Got The Blues
Fugees - Killing Me Softly With His Song
French Latino - Historia de un Amor
For A Few Dollars More The Danish National Symphony Orchestra (Live)
Flashdance • What a Feeling • Irene Cara
Filip Rudan - “Someone You Loved” Audicija 4 The Voice Hrvatska Sez
Eric Clapton - Wonderful Tonight
Enya - Only Time
Enrique Iglesias - Bailando (English Version) ft. Sean Paul
Enrique Iglesias - Bailamos
Elena Yerevan Historia de un amor
Ed Sheeran - Shape of You (Official Music Video)
Ed Sheeran - Perfect Symphony [with Andrea Bocelli]
Ed Sheeran - Perfect (Official Music Video)
Easy On Me - Adele (Boyce Avenue 90’s style piano acoustic cover) on S
ERA - Ameno
ELENA YEREVAN- Cancion Del Mariachi-IN STUDIO-2017 DPR
Dust In The Wind - Kansas (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
Despacito x Shape Of You - Pentatonix
Deep Purple - Child In Time - Live (1970)
David Foster When A Man Loves A WomanIt's A Mans World (SealMichael Bo
Dance me to the end of Love ( Pi-Air Design )
Coolio - Gangsta's Paradise (feat. L.V.) [Official Music Video]
Conquest Of Paradise (Vangelis), played on Böhm Emporio organ
Cielito Lindo
Chico & The Gypsies - Bamboleo
Canción Del Mariachi - Antonio Banderas, Los Lobos • Desperado
Camila Cabello - Havana (Audio) ft. Young Thug
Camila Cabello - Havana ( cover by J.Fla )
California Dreamin' - The Mamas & The Papas José Feliciano (Boyce Ave
Buster Benton - Money Is The Name of The Game
Hallelujah Pentatonix
Bobby McFerrin - Don't Worry Be Happy (Official Music Video)
Bob Dylan - Knockin' On Heaven's Door Emilia The Voice Kids France
Besame Mucho - Cesaria Evora
Ben E. King - Stand by Me Sax Cover Alexandra Ilieva Thomann
Bella Ciao
Beautiful in White x Canon in D (Piano Cover by Riyandi Kusuma)
Bad Romance - Vintage 1920's Gatsby Style Lady Gaga Cover ft. Ariana Savalas & Sarah Reich(1)
BAMBOLEO - Gipsy Kings • Antonio Banderas, Katya Virshilas
BAILANDO (original)
Awesome Ukrainian yodeler - SOFIA SHKIDCHENKO (with English subtitles)
Avicii - The Nights
Atom - The Great Gig in the Sky
Aretha Franklin - (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (Official Ly
Antonio Banderas - Cancion del Mariachi (Desperado)
André Rieu - Zorba's Dance (Sirtaki)
André Rieu - Can't Help Falling In Love
André Rieu & Mirusia - Ave Maria
Andrew Reyes Elton John - Don't Let The Sun Go Down The Voice 2020 (
Andreas Kümmert Whiter Shade Of Pale The Voice of Germany 2013 Showd
And I Love You So
All About That Bass - Postmodern Jukebox European Tour Version
Alan Walker - Faded (Piano Cover)
Ain't No Sunshine -- Bill Withers (cover by Canen 12 y.o.)
African music
Adriana Vidović - “Creep” Audicija 4 The Voice Hrvatska Sezona 3
Adriana Vidović - “Believer” Nokaut 3 The Voice Hrvatska Sezona 3
A Fistful of Dollars - The Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Tuva
4 Beautiful Soundtracks Relaxing Piano [10min]
2CELLOS - Whole Lotta Love vs. Beethoven 5th Symphony [OFFICIAL VIDEO]
2CELLOS - Smooth Criminal (Live at Suntory Hall, Tokyo)
2CELLOS - Smells Like Teen Spirit [Live at Sydney Opera House]
13 Year Old Girl Playing Il Silenzio (The Silence) - André Rieu
094.All About That Bass
(Ghost) Riders In the Sky (American Outlaws Live at Nassau Coliseum, 1
(Everything I Do) I Do It For You - Bryan Adams (Boyce Avenue ft. Conn
What a wonderful world
Moon river