Let the nostalgic memories start flowing as you watch Paul McCartney’s music video about the “Early Days.” The song is taken from his most recent album, “New” (2013), and though the lyrics are primarily autobiographical, the video for the song follows two fictional characters from the American South who happen to be young, aspiring musicians in the 1950’s. Spliced with cuts of present-day McCartney leading a school-of-rock-looking jam session, the entire video is black-and-white like most memories tend to be.
Vincent Haycock shot and directed the video in Natchez, Mississippi and Faraday, Louisiana, after scouting locations for a month and casting local actors for the fictional storyline. Haycock is credited with coming up with the concept for the video. McCartney told Rolling Stone, “It’s a memory song for me, about me and John in the early days. But Vince came up with this great idea: Instead of having young lookalikes of me and John walking the streets of Liverpool, guitars slung over our backs, and literally acting out the song, what if it was any two aspiring musicians? I thought that was such a cool idea.”
The jam session footage was shot in Los Angeles, making it quite convenient to feature a few other known actors and musicians including Roy Gaines, Al Williams, Dale Atkins, Henree Harris, Motown Maurice, Lil Poochie and Misha Lindes, and Johnny Depp. “Early Days” is the third McCartney video Depp has been in, after “Queenie Eye” in 2013, and “My Valentine” in 2012. Though critics tend to feel Depp should stick to acting only, McCartney enjoys their little joke.
“It’s getting to be a running gag,” McCartney says. “He’s like the Alfred Hitchcock of my videos. And he’s good! He used to be a musician before he was an actor, you know. One of his old bandmates actually organized getting me that cigar-box guitar that I played with Dave Grohl on ‘Cut Me Some Slack,’ that we ended up getting a Grammy for. So I knew he could play… I happened to ring Johnny Depp, I said, ‘Come along and we’ll sit around and jam with these blues guys.’ He said, ‘Yeah, OK, count me in, man.’ I knew it was an offer he couldn’t refuse.”
The “Early Days” video is full of happy and sad memories that are there to stay. “They can’t take it from me, if they tried / I lived through those early days. So many times I had to change the pain to laughter / Just to keep from getting crazy,” the chorus goes, and the evocative video definitely fits these wistful words. Though you never find out for sure how it turns out, you get the feeling at the end of the video as the two young dreamers run off with guitar cases in hand that they will achieve their musical aspirations.