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Paul McCartney to release album of covers, two new songs

December 19, 2011 |  8:49 am

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney announced this morning that he'll be releasing a new album of cover songs, along with two new compositions, on February 7th. Featuring songs that McCartney says were key early influences on him and fellow former Beatle John Lennon -- in his words, "the songs me and John based quite a few of our things on" -- the as-yet-untitled album has guest appearances by Diana Krall, Stevie Wonder, and Eric Clapton.

Following in the footsteps of other baby boomer crooners dipping into the classics, McCartney digs into the attic of American popular music to uncover gems that inspired him. 

"When I kind of got into songwriting, I realized how well structured these songs were and I think I took a lot of my lessons from them," McCartney said in a statement. "I always thought artists like Fred Astaire were very cool. Writers like Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, all of those guys - I just thought the songs were magical. And then, as I got to be a songwriter I thought it's beautiful, the way they made those songs.

"It was very spontaneous, kind of organic," he said, "which then reminded me of the way we'd work with the Beatles. We'd bring a song in, kick it around, when we found a way to do it we'd say 'Okay, let's do a take now' and by the time everyone kind of had an idea of what they were doing, we'd learnt the song. So that's what we did, we did the take live in the studio."

McCartney, 69, has also penned two new songs in the spirit of the others on the album, called  'My Valentine' and 'Only Our Hearts.' The former will stream at McCartney's website starting at 9 a.m. Monday. (The track listing will be released at a later date.)

The album, to be released on Hear Music/Concord Records, was recorded throughout 2011 at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, as well as in New York and London, with a simple rationale in mind, said McCartney: "In the end it was 'Look, if I don't do it now, I'll never do it."


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-- Randall Roberts

Photo: Paul McCartney digs into his rock n' roll songbook at the Hollywood Bowl in 2010. Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times.