I have interviewed many hundreds of musicians down the years, including Madonna, Morrissey, U2, and Mick Jagger. But here are six artists that stand out in the memory with my favourite album by each.
Amy Winehouse – Back To Black
When I met Amy it was in a London café while she was writing what became Back To Black. In fact she kept fishing a notebook out of her handbag to jot down lines as they came to her during our talk. She was a nervous interviewee, with obvious insecurities, but no sign yet of the problems that over came her after she became properly famous.
David Bowie – Low
Bowie is the artist I grew up feeling obsessed by, and meeting him has never been a disappointment. Low was a very mysterious record, made as if to destroy all his hard-won popularity. I always admired that fearless side to him.
Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska
I only met him once, backstage in Chicago, but he was very generous with his Budweisers, which is the main thing. He can be a big stadium-pleaser but there is also a pretty serious, intimate side to his style where some of his best songs can be found, I think.
Van Morrison – Astral Weeks
Van has just been given a knighthood, which certainly wasn’t for his services to journalism. He is a very tough interviewee, but I always took the chance when I could. His music has always moved me so much, especially this mystical stream of consciousness he made when he was only twenty-three.
Joe Strummer (The Clash) – Sandinista!
I was just the right age to stumble into punk when it erupted in London in 1976. I joined the NME and one day Joe Strummer came round to the office to be interviewed. We went off on a pub crawl around Soho and the whole encounter lasted two days.
Paul McCartney – Ram
I’ve interviewed this guy so often I decided to make a book out of it: “Conversations With McCartney”, which is out now in hardback. Ram was a record from 1971, when Macca was still in shock from the break-up of The Beatles. He got the whole thing out of his system with a bunch of madly tuneful nonsense that just gets better over time.
Paul has written for and edited Q, Mojo, and NME over his long career in music journalism. Whilst he has interviewed and met all the artists mentioned above, he will be releasing his compiled portfolio of interviews with Paul McCartney on the 24th September 2015. “Conversations With McCartney” can be ordered in hardcover for £25.