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Sunday, 20 May, 2001, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
Wingspan: Your views
Wingspan set out to document Paul McCartney's music, his post-Beatles band Wings and, at the heart of it all, his late wife Linda.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
"At an hour, skewed towards the 1967-76 period this could have been great, even as a home movie. What we got started promisingly but quickly palled. A bit like most Wings songs really," wrote the BBC's Norman Miller.
But what do you think? Did this programme offer any new insights into McCartney post-Beatles? Did it focus too much on the family and not enough on his music? Would it have been more balanced to gain the opinions of those outside McCartney's circle of family and friends?
Wingspan was an informative programme that showed how McCartney struggled with success, to shake off the Beatles label and show that he could perform by himself. Wingspan is justified by the unseen footage alone.
Lets not over-analyse and over-criticise this too much. It was an honest and rare insight into the life and times of one of the most important pop musicians of all time. A priceless addition to the Beatles archive.
I felt the whole programme was very one-sided. It would have been nice to get the views of Denny Laine etc. I also think a more objective interviewer might have probed a bit deeper and got some more telling insights out of Paul.
Paul's agenda was to finish a documentary that Linda had begun, so he stayed true to her original theme: being in a world-class band while raising a family. Having his beautiful daughter Mary to interview him was a unique, wonderful idea. She did a great job! This is long-overdue, unfinished business that he needed to do for history's sake, as well as for his soul.
Yes, perhaps we didn't get the whole story, warts and all, but we got Paul and Linda's views and it proved to be much better than I - a forever Beatles fan who was tolerant of Wings - had expected.
I think the programme showed what an intensely private but well-balanced man McCartney really is. I learnt a number of things which I did not know before and felt the programme was informative about the history of Wings and the post-Beatles era.
McCartney looked back with humility and respect given the large part Linda had in it and any greater detail would have turned it into a Hello interview.
An interesting insight into this period of his life, but with a few exceptions I was struck by the poor quality of the music.
I have always respected McCartney and his music. But this documentary was self-serving and egocentric. The family/tribal thing was sickening. I see that Lennon (although guilty of the same sickness) knew him well.
Fame and money do corrupt eventually, no matter how much you hide it under vegetarianism and lovey-doviness. I hope Sting drives his Benz into the sunset (or is that the tropical rainforest? Such frauds!)
Very interesting, I loved it. Well done Paul.
Although a home movie (with his daughter doing the interviewing) I found it fascinating and lost track of time when watching it. An interesting view of one of the world's greatest songwriters.
I thought it was a very warm and honest look at that period in his career. I never knew how much of a 'garage band' Wings were in the early days. Linda and Paul had a good long party while it lasted, and seemingly had loads of fun doing it.
Klaus Weisenberger, CA, USA
I thought this documentary was charming. McCartney always took fatherhood and family values seriously and it shows in the way he lived his life, setting up a band with his wife, Linda and taking his children on tour with him. And as it was his daughter interviewing him he opened up on the issues more. My respect for the man has grown.
Lets not get carried away, in a hundred years we will remember the music. Not the man, certainly not the woman.
What a pity it was so one-sided. Other people should have been interviewed to give a more balanced perspective.
Other group members could have shone an interesting light on this white-wash.
C Bennett, Canada
It just made me wish the Beatles could reform.
Paul McCartney has without a doubt, been one of the most influential musicians of the 20th and 21st centuries. He has proved this with the success that has been documented over and over again. He was the main player in the Beatles' success because of his drive and enthusiasm for music.
Lennon was also a brilliant musician, and together they made history. Wingspan was another glimpse of Paul McCartney from a different perspective. No, not all the music was brilliant, and he admitted it. So who then in his or her profession has always turned out exceptional work? We don't read the poor quality written articles, or the badly conducted interviews.
Paul McCartney, you either like him or you don't!
Wingspan was great.
I thought that this behind the scenes look at Paul and Linda with Wings was well done and informative. Outside of live shows, we rarely have a look at the artist, Paul McCartney. Well done.
A very intimate and informative family history as told by Paul. Very moving, and the focus on the children was admirable. I thought that Mary was the star of the show, and she might consider a future career as a chat show host or narrator.
Wingspan was an informative programme. An interesting insight into this period of his life and even better was his daughter Mary interviewing him, which was unique.
You can tell who was the force behind the Beatles, it's one of the best documentaries I've seen for a long time. A priceless addition to the archive.
This programme was the best and most informative insight into Paul and Linda McCartney's life as a happy couple living the good life and having fun while playing music for their own taste.
The interview is a good companion to the biography penned by long-time friend Barry Miles. In both cases, Paul gets the chance to put his personal story forward without difficult cross-examination. But this doesn't detract from its appeal or its relevance. In watching, I gained new respect for Linda, who was very clearly one-half of a very tight partnership, and a great source of strength.
A superlative rockumentary. Quite simply, Wings are the band the Beatles could have been. Fantastic.
Because Sir Paul controlled it, we got a santised view of the subject. The best part was about life in Scotland. He seemed defensive about people leaving Wings, and
didn't mentioned Denny Laine's later attacks on him. Worth seeing if taken with a grain of salt.
Robin Wilson, England
This programme documented the love between two humans as much as it presented a history of a band. Ideally, this should be considered as an appendum to the Beatles Anthology series (why no DVD release of that?), likewise, Yoko's semi-watchable Lennon orientated movies.
I enjoyed Wingspan for what it is: the story of
some people having a good time all the time...
Strangely, I never used to think of Linda as attractive
until I saw the home movies. She was beautiful in many
Well done Paul, Norman Miller hasn't listened to much of your music so don't worry. Wingspan is fantastic, just too short. Bye.
I thought it was somewhat informative but it would have been nice to hear from Denny Laine, Denny Seiwell, Joe English, Henry McCullouch, Laurence Juber, Steve Holly and even to hear Paul talk about going back to work in 1973 with George Martin. We only got one view of Wings from Paul. Mary didn't so much interview Paul, she more or less nodded in agreement to his statements about Wings.
I watched this just after a copy of last year's Ono-made Lennon documentary. Both were very one-sided affairs, but at least McCartney refrained from sniping at anyone and presenting himself as all things to all men.
I'm always a little puzzled as to the pieces of his music he favours. I didn't hear the Rockestra theme once, nor Every Night. Maybe I'm Amazed cut out before the first solo - in fact, hardly anything was played in full.
McCartney had a great little rock and roll band for a while, but the film skimmed over the glory years (Band on the Run, Venus and Mars). Interesting stuff on the Tokyo arrest.
However, the most interesting thing was seeing how detached McCartney was from the other band members (Linda excluded) - allowing so many to slip through his fingers with just a shrug.
Wings and his whole solo career have been marginal to say the least .. if there is success it has been in being the only remaining member of the Beatles who has continued to have a career in music since the 60s/early 70s.
It is completely obvious that Paul McCartney was the driving force in the Beatles.
I loved the programme. I felt that it was the right balance of family and music and I loved seeing all the rare home movies - being a long time Beatles/Macca fan I knew I was seeing something special. But it seems like the press continue to bash Paul no matter what he does.
Oh dear. I never thought it possible WIngs could seem worse than they actually were - but this 'rockumentary' somehow managed to devalue them further.
I could mention the banal questions, the tepid interview technique - the sparseness of coverage of how the band were actually seen by anybody other than Paul, let alone Denny, let alone the press.
Linda never stopped looking ill at ease throughout her 'pop adventure'. Had Paul left Linda to the photographs and focused just 10% of his talents on his output during the 70s and 80s, he might just have produced something of the calibre of his heyday.
As it is, I guess it doesn't matter really - we still have the good stuff from the 60s - but really, we don't need any more of his soggy anthology. There is being thorough and then there is revelling in your own averageness!
That is what this programme achieved.
I thought the show was extremely well done. The memories, the tributes to Linda and a few of the talented band members, the music, all of it was truly inspiring. The music brought back a flood of happy memories for me.
The programme showed just how much Paul loved Linda, his work, and his family and I think it was fitting that his daughter should interview him. I still think Paul McCartney is a wonderful person, despite the criticism he receives.
Linda Aiello, USA
I loved it, they were obviously happy with one another and were devoted parents. Paul McCartney has had a wonderful family life as well as career. A fitting tribute to a devoted wife.
The main problem with Wingspan (CD) is the inclusion of non-Wings material - one third of the songs are Paul solo. Few realise every single 45 Wings released hit the US top 40 - a feat neither The Stones, Madonna, Michael Jackson nor the revered Beatles accomplished. Yet eight of them were left off the set.
It is also unfortunate Denny Laine's contribution to the group has been ignored. He did, after, co-write 'Mull Of Kintyre' in case that has been forgotten... still, the music the group made holds up well and it is wonderful to see this re-birth occur.
The bottom line, for me at least, is and always has been the music. I'll take Paul McCartney any way I can get him. He's been a big part of my life for 30 of my 35 years and I've enjoyed him throughout. There are not many performers I (or anyone else) can say that about. After seeing endless footage and reading endless print about The Beatles, it was refreshing to know more about Wings.
It seemed to be a tribute to Linda McCartney, which was fine. She seemed to be a strong supportive woman, maybe it shouldn't have been titled Wingspan as none of the other band members were involved. It was a nice family home movie.
The documentary was little more than an extended advert for the new McCartney compilation - there was no-one to disagree with him, so he was free to say whatever he wanted. It's all very well, for example, going on about why the Beatles split up, but I think we'd hear a different story if John was still with us - one that was more interesting and that wasn't a product of McCartney's self-serving agenda.
What also struck me about the programme was the fact that McCartney regards everything he's ever recorded as "great" or "good" - sure he made a few good albums (Ram, Band On The Run), but this is also the man who wrote the overblown arena rock of "Venus and Mars" and the insipid "Let 'Em In".
Overall, the programme was just like the new Wings compilation - superfluous, adding nothing to the Beatles, Wings or McCartney legacy except to endorse the McCartney party line.
What came through in the show was not really about music but more of a genuine love story. It was very nicely done using new techniques to show some quite touching home and historical footage. Paul came across as very chilled and the interacting chat was much easier to watch than that of many professional-type interviews.
As Paul stressed in this documentary, he
was just a songwriter and Wings
was a 'little band' that went from town halls to stadiums not relying solely on the set list of The Beatles....
It proves he's the best
Whilst I concur that it would have been interesting to have seen points of view other than those of the McCartneys, that was never going to be the case with the team involved with the making of Wingspan.
Paul has the skill of making it seem like he's bearing his soul whilst giving very little away...and who can blame him - he tries (successfully, I think) to maintain a private life whilst still satisfying the unrelentless thirst for stories from the media and fans alike.
In conclusion, I thought Wingspan was a quite informative and charming portrait of an extremely talented (and all too often underrated) man
I enjoyed watching the home movies and was quite moved to see the young McCartney family - they looked like a great family. But Paul just comes across as such an egotist so much of the time: the long shots of him driving his latest jeep, the staged-to-look-spontaneous interview with the same commentaries we've heard from him again and again.
Yes. He was born under a fortunate star, but must he turn every strand of conversation towards himself? (I don't find his dyed hair becoming either).
Also, being interviewed by his daughter I felt made the conversation more intimate. He may not have said the same things to a stranger or more 'professional' interviewer. He has always highlighted the importance of his family, so why not include plenty of footage of them? It helped to show the down-to-earth, unaffected man that he is.
While I will never tire of seeing documentaries about The Beatles, Wingspan was a refreshing reminder that Macca has successfully achieved a 30 year career beyond the fab four.
Greatly enjoyable with lots of rare archive footage. I think it was a good job considering the time constraints (The Beatles Anthology covered a similar period in 6 hours - this only had 1.5 hours).
It would have been nice to see some complete performances perhaps (maybe we'll get more on a video or DVD release!), but the programme did what it set out to do and gave a potted history of Paul's solo career from 1970 - 1980.
Vaguely interesting but overall pretty tedious. The whole idea that McCartney had to struggle to make people buy his records and come to his concerts is laughable. If Paul and Linda had announced they were to play Peruvian nose flutes at Wembley Stadium you can be sure it would have sold out. We all know that Wings made very little music that wasn't mediocre at best and this programme certainly confirmed it. Let's have something a little less twee and a bit more revealing in future please.
I was disappointed. As much as I like Linda, I wanted more focus on the music, less on family. They're nice people, but I don't buy their photo albums, I buy their record albums!
They mentioned Denny Laine as often as Denny Seiwell. The latter was around for a year or so, while Denny Laine was Paul's right-hand man throughout the whole Wings career. He was conspicuously under-represented. What's up with that?
I enjoyed this documentary - it came across as a family album of the McCartneys during that period of their lives. What was really touching was the closeness of the relationship between Paul and Linda, and their children.
Touching and wonderful.
Just as the Beatles Anthology does not truly tell the story of the Beatles, Wingspan isn't the story of Wings. It's a eulogy for Linda more than anything. Considering Paul's current love life, it's not surprising that he would be going out of his way to make sure his kids are happy.
I thought it was a nice tribute to Linda, and Paul, and their ability to keep a family atmosphere and rise to new heights in rock and roll. Autobiography is not the most accurate way of telling a story. The book (or film, whatever) is still out there on Wings and the Beatles.
He is successful in everything he does even now, more than 30 years after being in the greatest band ever!
Rock on, we can't get enough of you, and thanks for all you've done to make us happy!
I thought the home movie footage was quite interesting but the interview section was very boring. Mary came across as a simpering wet lettuce who is obviously from the Selina Scott school of interviewing. Paul as usual had nothing new to say and proved only that his ego is still as enormous as it always was.
Good show but the other Wings members should have been interviewed too.
I saw nothing new, most of the footage I've seen before at various Beatle conventions. Nothing is mentioned of the lawsuits with/against the other Beatles during this period, nor of the setup of his hugely successful publishing company MPL Communications. And not a word of how Lennon's death may have influenced the fate of Wings.
It's difficult to be objective when the documentary presenters are a mourning husband and daughter who want to keep their loved one's memory alive. Linda's true professional asset was her photography which is displayed nicely throughout the special.
You have to accept the fact that you'll never get into the nitty-gritty of what makes Paul McCartney tick from the man himself...at least you can enjoy the music!
Steve Marinucci, USA
What did everyone want - a John-like primal scream therapy? If Paul doesn't want to tell all his dark secrets (if he's got anything that bad), then good. I like him for his music and his humour.
If he didn't mention any of the former Wings people perhaps it might be because they have been quoted in trashy books saying nasty things. I wouldn't talk to them either. It was his band (with Linda), the rest were along for the ride. If any of them were particularly good, why didn't we ever hear from them again?
His band in the early 90s was worth talking about. No, all his music isn't good (neither was John's - be honest) but both of their best work is and was worth waiting for. Thanks for the ride Paul.
In "Lennon Remembers" John states that the other three Beatles were sick of being side men to Paul. This was probably the case for all the former Wings members. That's why Paul doesn't give them a chance to speak. It might be embarrassing and not very pleasant. Denny Laine's contributions were pathetically undervalued in this documentary. I guess when you're a billionare you can do whatever the hell you want.
As a bio of Paul and Linda's first ten years it was okay, but it was advertised as being about Wings, and there was very little about the band. It was all just Paul and Linda. Watching this special, Paul seems to think more highly of Linda as a musician than Denny Laine. I think he mentioned Denny by name all of three times, and yet he was with the band the full ten years.
No mention was made of Jimmy McCulloch's death after he left Wings. I thought Paul might at least offer some final thoughts on Jimmy, who was one of the best guitar players of that era. I think Paul's lack of comment about the other Wings guys shows what a self-centered egotist he often is. Imagine the Beatles Anthology without any input from George or Ringo (or for that matter John) and you've got Wingspan.
It was a beautifully paced and edited family movie that told the story of a young married couple and what they did about the husband being thrown out of work, and his subsequent depression.
And it was, unsurprisingly, another love song to Linda, one of the many musical talents that Paul McCartney nurtured. She became a superior backup singer and a capable keyboardist as well as a punk rocker. That the British public may be unaware of her punk wit and attitude (she was going to call herself Vile Lin) may be due to the fact that the BBC banned her song The Light Comes From Within from the daytime airwaves.
I thought the whole thing was a complete waste of time. I learnt nothing new about Wings. The only thing it did confirm was that Paul's ego is completely out of control. I know it must be difficult being humble when you're an ex-Beatle but George Harrison has managed it beautifully.
I always felt that the popularity of Wings was a direct result of Beatles fans longing for the Beatles after the breakup. In the early 1970's, the public was hungry for anything Beatles related and, for the remainder of the decade, Wings filled that void.
However, Wings' music could never equal the Beatles. The public began to realise this as the years passed and the sales of Wings albums decreased with each release. As expected, this was not addressed in the Wingspan special. We never really got into the band politics of Wings. Instead we got a tribute from Paul to his late wife. And that is not a bad thing, but it is misleading.
There were no interviews with former Wings members, who appeared to be mercenaries in Paul's opinion. Everything was sweetness and light, nothing dark, not even his arrest in Japan. Typical Paul.
There was very little commentary on the music and band politics while making the Wings albums. The interview seem contrived and self- serving. A lot seemed to be said but, in retrospect it was nothing new.
If anything, Wingspan illustrated what made the Beatles as great as they were/are. Checks and balances between band members who regarded each other as equals.
Bottom line is that I was once again impressed by how monstrous this guy's talent is. His struggle to reclaim his muse and step out on his own is amazing. His Wings period provided some great music and I believe that whole period has been unfairly maligned.
In my opinion, any programme that brings attention to this under-appreciated part of Paul's career is a good thing, no matter how one-sided the presentation may have been. After all, no-one complained about The Beatles "Anthology" book just having the points of view of the four Beatles.
Perhaps someone could do a follow-up programme and track down Denny Laine, Lawrence Juber, etc. and present "the rest of the story."
First, I would like to say thanks to the McCartney family for allowing us the pleasure of viewing some private moments from his life. I've been a fan of Paul's since the 60s and I think the show brought out things I didn't know. An example would be the living conditons in Scotland where they retreated after the Beatles. By having Mary interview Paul, it gave you a look at the warm and caring man behind the music. I for one enjoyed the show.
I think if it makes him happy and gives him a new sense of his life, it is good. I respect a person who goes on to live, and does not cling on to the past.
It was great to see the personal side of Paul, which was very revealing and touching. It's not too often that you'll get to see a sit-down interview and see Paul at ease. What helped him quite a lot was being interviewed by his own daughter, which makes the show more personal and and made him more candid.
Perhaps we would have liked to have
seen more, but the way Wingspan
was put together was done very
well and I give high points to Paul's
son-in-law, Alistair Donald, not to
mention Mary (his daughter) for
making this project see the light of
Brought back many memories. Loved it,
would like to see more! Missed some important points, maybe they are too private.
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