It would be hard to find a more no-frills production than this six-part docuseries, which largely consists of McCartney and music producer Rick Rubin (both producers on the project) sitting together and going through various songs, performing almost forensic analysis on how they were put together.
The whole exercise works in part because it’s structured less as an interview than a conversation, at times breaking down the music to its fundamental building blocks, like isolating the strings on “Yesterday” — and how producer George Martin slyly overcame McCartney’s resistance to including them.
Now 79, McCartney also exhibits an infectious sense of engagement listening to the work, grooving to one of his own early ballads before musing, “Pretty little song, he said modestly.”
Obviously, there’s not much place for modesty in this sort of exercise, and “McCartney 3,2,1” feels a bit arbitrary in the way that it dices up the episodes, strategically drawing from old rehearsal and performance footage to augment the artist’s recollections.
“We all knew we had the freedom to goof around,” McCartney recalls, discussing the “great camaraderie” of musicians at the time, and issues like his reluctance to include Beatles songs in his stage shows, at first, after becoming a solo artist.
Relatively small in scale, “McCartney 3,2,1” might not top that list, but for anyone who knows that it was Lennon who added “It can’t get no worse” to McCartney’s more upbeat lyrics on “Getting Better,” as times for musical nostalgia go, it doesn’t get much better than this.
“McCartney 3,2,1” premieres July 16 on Hulu.