July 7 was an exceptional day for billions of rock and roll fans around the globe. But it had nothing to do with the premiere of the legendary Paul McCartney’s latest music video, “Early Days” or the fact that the music-shaping artist seems to have bounced back with a vengeance from his recent health challenges. No, McCartney’s legions of loyal listeners were ecstatic to learn that just like them, the former Beatle occasionally has to endure his own personal ordeal with “The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave.” Of course, you could do worse than Johnny Depp.
The enigmatic actor – and sometime musician – once again collaborated with the rock royal on the latest video from Macca’s 2013 release, New. It isn’t the first time that the talented twosome has teamed up on one of Sir Paul’s efforts. The video for the tune centering around McCartney’s inimitable musical relationship with John Lennon makes the third one that Depp has appeared in, following 2012's “My Valentine” and another cut from New, 2013's “Queenie Eye.”
“My Valentine” features a brilliant sign language duet between Depp and actress Natalie Portman. For “Queenie Eye,” the celebrated actor is only one of a seemingly endless list of entertainment icons –Sean Penn, Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons to name a few – that mysteriously fade in and out of the Abbey Roads studio while rocking to McCartney’s attempt to lay down the catchy tune.
Rather than predictably searching for Lennon McCartney lookalikes to stroll the streets of Liverpool, director Vincent Hancock suggested something a bit more innovative to McCartney. For this video go round, Depp joined a joined a fabled group of blues players – including Roy Gaines, Al Williams, Dale Atkins, Henree Harris, Motown Maurice, Lil Poochie and Misha Lindes – to tell the story of four aspiring musicians in the grit of the Deep South.
As McCartney admitted to Rolling Stone, the irony of the recurring “Depp thematic elements” wasn’t lost on him. “It's getting to be a running gag. 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.”
Not that the much awarded, much revered, millions of records-selling artist really cares about adding to his Grammy haul, but a golden gramophone for “Early Days” would be McCartney’s 19th. Pretty impressive for a simple Scouser from Merseyside and one time Silver Beetle.