Paul McCartney reveals the story of the private courage, tears and anger that lay behind the making of his late wife Linda's solo album, Wide Prairie, in an interview published in USA Weekend, conducted by the McCartneys' close friend, Pretenders' frontwoman Chrissie Hynde.
Paul tells Chrissie how - despite a 2½-year fight against breast cancer - Linda showed tremendous bravery by working on the album up until the last weeks of her life. Obviously very moved by the interview herself, Chrissie said, "The legacy of Paul's music and the Beatles is one thing, but I think his real legacy is this love story he had with Linda."
Although Linda first composed some of the songs on the 16-track album in the early seventies, it was not until March this year that Linda, who died in April, finally completed the recordings.
Paul tells Chrissie, "Before we went out to Arizona, about a month before she died, we were putting the finishing touches on the album. We were going to work on promotion now, this time of year, and instead of me doing this interview she was going to be doing it. It is an album she was very proud of. But when she died, I thought I've just got to fulfill that plan."
Paul also revealed his trauma when, after Linda's death, he had to return to their private recording studio to mix and produce Wide Prairie. It was from these sessions that the USA Weekend McCartney cover story title, "Tears and Laughter" originates.
Paul explains: "A couple of months after she died I managed to get myself into the studio to finish up the album, because that was very much what Linda wanted. I called up my old friend Geoff Emerick, the Beatles' engineer, and he came over. Geoff had lost his wife to cancer too, so the pair of us were just crying on the console at times. But then we'd listen to Linda's spirit and fun coming through the songs and we'd laugh and remember how funny she was. We called the mixing sessions the 'tears and laughter sessions' because although at times it was very moving to do, it was also very uplifting."
Paul also told of the emotional impact the songs on Wide Prairie have had on him and his friends.
"The song 'Cow,' which is about a cow in its last day grazing in a field before it is sent off to the slaughterhouse, is a pretty tough song. Linda played it to friends of ours and they just cried and went vegetarian the very next day as a result of this song."
"It is a powerful song and I cry too when I hear it. But it's typical of Linda, she wanted to get the animals' message over because it's so poignant."
Linda was not without her critics and McCartney discusses the anger that lay behind two of the songs on the album, "The Light Comes From Within" and "I Got Up," which focus on those who mocked Linda's campaigns for vegetarianism and the love of animals. Paul reveals that even though Linda did not hold grudges, she did vent her emotions through these two songs, on which she shockingly swears.
"The Light Comes From Within" was the very last song she ever recorded and is Linda answering her critics. Paul said that when it came time to record the song, even he was surprised by Linda's outspoken lyrics.
"When it came time to record her vocal I said 'these lyrics are a bit strong, are you sure you're going to be able to record this?' She said 'Yeah, watch me.' She went into the studio and did it in one take. I thought, 'Well, there you go babe,' that's my baby, that's fairly uncompromising. Linda hated compromise. If she wanted to say it, she'd say it and she didn't figure anyone had the right to tell her not to."
"And that was the last song she sang, so she literally had the last word on this one."