PUBLISHED: 20:16 EST, 27 February 2013 | UPDATED: 02:42 EST, 28 February 2013
We have all said things that we’ve immediately and eternally regretted.
For Paul McCartney it’s a thoughtless, inexplicable quip made when he was 14 and had just been told his mother had died.
‘What will we do without her money?’ the teenage Paul blurted, not knowing how to handle his shock and grief.
Then he went to bed and cried all night, clasping his hands in prayer, promising God he would be good if only his mother could come back.
So, it comes as little surprise to learn this week that McCartney, now 70, has told a Brazilian fan that if he had a time machine he would like to ‘go back and spend time with my mum’.
To lose a mother at any age inevitably leaves a well of regret. To lose her at 14 can be devastating, and it’s quite possible the death of Mary McCartney in 1956 from an embolism after an operation for breast cancer, affected Paul’s life for ever.
His brother Michael, who was then aged 12, would later say how, just after their mother’s death, Paul’s growing interest in the guitar turned into an obsession.
Eight months later, in the summer of 1957, Paul was to meet John Lennon, who was also soon to lose his mother in a road accident. Paul believes their shared sense of loss helped bond them, cementing their early friendship.
Decades ago, when I was at a Beatles recording session at London’s Abbey Road, Paul took me into an empty studio, sat at a piano and played me a song he was writing.
It sounded to me like a hymn and, though at that point, he didn’t have many lyrics, one phrase he repeatedly sang that night stayed in my head for more than a year until the record was released. It was: ‘Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom . . .’
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