I started this album, Memory Almost Full, before my last album Chaos And Creation In The Backyard (released September 2005). The first recording session was back in the autumn of 2003 at Abbey Road with my touring band and producer David Kahne. I was right in the middle of it when I began talking with Nigel Godrich about a brand new project (which became Chaos And Creation In The Backyard).
After the Grammy nomination when everything concerning Chaos was finished I returned to making this album. I was wondering if I would enjoy it, but actually I really loved it. In places it’s a very personal record and a lot of it is retrospective, drawing from memories of being a kid from Liverpool and summers gone. The album is evocative, emotional, rocking, but I can’t really sum it up in one sentence.
There is a medley of 5 songs towards the end and that was purposefully retrospective. I thought this might be because I’m at this point in my life, but then I think about the times I was writing with John and a lot of that was also looking back. It’s like me with ‘Penny Lane’ and ‘Eleanor Rigby’ - I’m still up to the same tricks!
I know people are going to look at some of the songs and interpret them in different ways but this has always been the case. The thing is that I love writing songs, so I just write and write. I never really get to a point where I start thinking I’m going to write about specific subjects. Inevitably though, what I am thinking finds its way into what I’m writing.
The opening track of the album is ‘Dance Tonight’. I recently got myself a mandolin and I was just playing about with it and came up with the basis of this track. A couple of weeks ago we made the video, which was great fun. It’s directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind) and stars Natalie Portman and Mackenzie Crook. We had a good time doing it.
The album title came after I had finished everything. For me, that’s when they normally come, with the exception of maybe Sgt. Peppers, otherwise I don’t think I have ever made an album with The Beatles, Wings or solo where I have thought of a title and a concept first. I was looking for something that would sum the whole thing up and ‘Memory Almost Full’ came to mind. It’s a phrase that seemed to embrace modern life; in modern life our brains can get a bit overloaded. I realised I had also seen it come up on my phone a few times. When I started bouncing the idea round with some friends they nearly all got different meanings out of it, but they all said they loved it. So the feedback helped solidify the title.
After completing the album I then started thinking about the album artwork and how I’d want it to look. I really wanted to make the CD a desirable object. Something that I know I’d want to pick up from the shelf, something that would make people curious. The album sleeve itself includes an etching by a friend of mine, Humphrey Ocean.
I really enjoyed making this album with David Kahne and I’m proud of all the songs. We had a great time. I hope that the fun we had will communicate itself to the people who are going to listen to it.
All the best,
Paul McCartney, April 2007