As they stand over some knobs, Rubin pulls apart the building blocks to McCartney’s legacy, in his Beatles and solo career. It’s about the string section in “Eleanor Rigby”; the “F-demented” chord that gave birth to “Michelle”; the drums to “Tomorrow Never Knows”; the bassline in “Something”; etc. Sometimes McCartney is talking about a magic that belongs to bandmates like Ringo Starr, John Lennon, George Harrison, or their famed producer, George Martin. The series will make you appreciate McCartney’s animated bass playing and how his creative impulses were not reserved for just his outrageous chord progressions, or innovative recording technique. As someone fairly versed in these songs and their stories, those isolated audio tracks especially stood out.
Rubin is a fascinating figure; casting him here as an adoring fan, who sometimes sits on the ground, asking a seated McCartney questions, is questionable. He’s mostly here to praise what’s coming through the speakers, lob softballs at McCartney, and let the anecdotes flow. Even the passages that will certainly add to numerous Wikipedia pages hit the same note: “Remember when you were with the Beatles? That was awesome.”
The general air of “McCartney 3,2,1” is intriguing, especially when its camerawork gets cozier, and certain songs are demystified with tales you did not know. It’s worth noting—the songs alone might make this series worthwhile to McCartney fans, because we love to listen to them, and if you like McCartney’s type of music, chances are one likes to think about what makes them so good, too. But from its beginning, the series has an inconsequential energy to it, starting with how it simply introduces Rubin and McCartney talking about different songs as if this chat were just happening and we’re lucky someone was recording it. “McCartney 3,2,1” could be six hours longer. It could be 30 minutes total. It would likely be most helpful to musicians as a podcast.
All six episodes screened for review. “McCartney, 3,2,1” premieres on Hulu on July 16.