Paul McCartney unexpectedly allowed Henry McCullough creative freedom for the guitar solo in 'My Love'

Paul McCartney and Wings
Paul McCartney and Wings / Reg Lancaster/GettyImages

Over his decades-long career, Paul McCartney has maintained a reputation for being a bit of a control freak, at least where his music is concerned. That was painted rather vividly in Peter Jackson's recent documentary, The Beatles: Get Back. So, it's surprising that he gave Wings' guitarist, Henry McCullough, creative freedom on the guitar solo for "My Love."

Paul McCartney gave Henry McCullough creative freedom on the guitar solo for 'My Love'

In his book, The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, Paul wrote that the recording session for "My Love" at Abbey Road Studios was "really cool" for McCullough. The former Beatle said the guitarist played an essential role in it.

Everything that Paul does, in and out of the recording studio, is detailed and thought out meticulously. There's a schedule or a script that everyone must follow. Such was the case when he and Wings recorded "My Love." Paul explained that they'd worked out a guitar solo during the rehearsal because the tune would be recorded live with an orchestra. This was one instance where no one could veer off the plan.

Yet, Paul let McCullough steer them in a new direction. Paul remembers him walking around the studio before one of the takes and whispering to him that he had a new idea for a guitar solo. Paul wrote, "Would I mind if he tried it out? I could have said no. I could have said I'd prefer him to stick to the script, but I said, 'Yeah, sure.'"

Paul said the guitar solo came out of nowhere. None of them had heard it before. McCullough randomly whipped it out of his head during that recording session, and all of them thought it was great. Paul believes giving McCullough his freedom was lovely, even when he'd only been in Wings for about a year.

"It was great for him to be bold enough not only to want it but to take it," Paul said. The former Beatle granted McCullough his freedom to bring something new to a song with tight details, but it was a "comparative" freedom. McCullough's solo still had to work within the framework that Paul outlined.

Still, Paul rarely gave over control of his songs. Considering how he operated in The Beatles only three years before, it was a big step for Paul as a collaborator and musician.

Paul wasn't always collabortive in The Beatles

By 1969, Paul had begun to try to take control of The Beatles. They had been floundering since the death of their manager, Brian Epstein. He wanted to steer them into a new era and had many creative ideas. However, nothing and no plan was working. There were too many cracks in the band. Everyone but Paul wanted out for various reasons, the biggest being that they had all outgrown being Beatles and wanted to explore other things.

Paul wanted to showcase Let It Be by doing a huge concert abroad or go back to doing little gigs like they used to do in their early career. Either way, Paul was desperate to keep The Beatles together. John Lennon, on the other hand, wanted none of it. He wanted to take Yoko Ono and pursue other things.

Outside of that, Paul was as domineering as ever regarding his songs. That didn't exactly make the rest of the band want to stay together. He was especially bossy with George Harrison. Fans have never forgotten the scene in the Let It Be documentary in which Paul had an especially tense row with George.

During rehearsals at Twickenham Studios, Paul said to his bandmate, "I'm trying to help you, but I always hear myself annoying you." George replied, "I'll play whatever you want me to play," George said. "Or I won't play at all if you don't want me to play. Whatever it is that will please you, I'll do it."

The argument resulted in George's temporary hiatus from the band. He later said that he and Paul were not musically compatible. He'd have to help Paul, playing exactly how he instructed, on tons of his songs before Paul helped on one of George's.

McCullough didn't stay in Wings for very long

It's intriguing that Paul was willing to relinquish some control over to McCullough on "My Love." It was only three years after The Beatles broke up. Maybe Paul had a sudden moment of recognition. If he and Wings were to work, he had to give his new bandmates some creative freedom.

Still, the bone Paul threw the guitarist didn't end up keeping him in Wings for long. Shortly after recording "My Love," McCullough left during the recording sessions for Band on the Run that same year. He and Paul had musical and business differences.

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