It's shaping up to be a big year for Paul McCartney. On May 6th, McCartney, 68, announced he had gotten engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Nancy Shevell. And in an L.A. studio a month earlier, he began making another dream come true: He started recording an album devoted to covers of pop standards from the pre-rock years. "It's my dad's style of music," he says. "I've wanted to do that kind of thing forever, since the Beatle days. But then Rod [Stewart] went mad on it. I thought, 'I have to wait so it doesn't look like I'm trying to do a Rod.'"
Working with an orchestra in Capitol Studios, McCartney quickly knocked out nearly a dozen tracks, including a handful with Diana Krall and her band. But he's keeping the titles under wraps for now: "They're just songs I admire," he says. "I'm trying to steer away from the obvious ones." McCartney also cut several of his own new songs in a similar vein — even singing into a microphone used by Nat "King" Cole. "It's get-home-from-work music," he says of the LP, tentatively scheduled for release early next year, following additional sessions in London. "You put it on and get a glass of wine."
This article appeared in the May 26, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available now.
McCartney is also planning more U.S. concerts this year — a Las Vegas show on June 10th has been announced, and he says other shows are being finalized. In June, he'll reissue his classic 1970 solo album, McCartney, and 1980's McCartney II, in deluxe editions with bonus tracks, DVD documentaries and hardcover books heavy on Linda McCartney's period photos. (Among the major finds: McCartney outtakes like "Suicide" and "Don't Cry Baby.")
And that's not all: McCartney is also writing material for what he calls a "heavier rock" album. He has yet to pick a producer, but he says a recent conversation with Dave Grohl about how he recorded Foo Fighters' latest LP in his garage lit a fire. "It sounds quite wacky, but it keeps it fresh," McCartney says. "I love that — you get a crazy idea and go with it. You never know — I may run into a garage to make this other album."
He adds with a laugh, "But it won't be in Dave's garage."