Music and dance: perfect together. How true this is and how wonderful when the two arts mingle and infuse each other with new life! That’s why I loved reading about Paul McCartney creating a classical music score for the New York City Ballet. It’s a love story called “Ocean’s Kingdom” and it sounds very intense and mythological — a far cry from “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” But that’s what appeals to me most about Paul’s foray into ballet: its boldness and the versatility it shows. Paul is like one of those little dazzlers that shoot off sparks: he’s constantly pushing his creativity in new directions.
Over the years, in addition to moving back and forth between rock and classical music, he’s published poetry and children’s books, and even ventured into painting. Now here’s a guy with plenty of creative chutzpah!
When Peter Martins ran into Paul and said, “Maybe we could do something together,” Paul was totally open to the idea. “I can’t refuse an offer,” he said — especially one that pushes him in a fresh direction. Once he agreed, Paul embraced the challenge with gusto and intensity. He did his homework, reading about ballet and going to performances.
Instead of feeling that his lack of classical training is a handicap, he’s taken adopted a beginner’s mind attitude, saying that “ignorance is bliss,” because he doesn’t have any preconceived notions about how a classical work should unfold. He’s also been more than happy to reach out to other composers for help in fine-tuning his musical vision.
What’s really refreshing is his take on critics. In his long career, he’s become “slightly hardened” to harsh views of his work. “They didn’t like ‘She Loves You’ either, he noted. “You’ve just got to read any orchestral reviews or reviews of any art and there’s an awful lot of stuff the critics don’t like. If it did worry me, I would give it up altogether.” Luckily, he didn’t: Our boy Paul is listed in the Guinness World Records as the “most successful musician and composer in popular musical history,” with 60 gold discs and sales of 100 million singles in the U.K. alone. Bravo!