McCartney revisits his musical influences

Paul McCartney performs during his 'Good Evening Europe' tour in Moscow on Dec. 14. McCartney has dug into the attic of popular songs for material for a new album, seeking ones that inspired him and fellow former Beatles early in their careers.

LOS ANGELES -- Paul McCartney announced Monday morning he'll release a new album of cover songs, with two new tracks, on Feb. 7.

Featuring songs that McCartney said were key early influences on him and fellow former Beatle John Lennon -- in his words, "the songs me and John based quite a few of our things on" -- the as-yet-untitled album has guest appearances by Diana Krall, Stevie Wonder and Eric Clapton.

Following in the footsteps of other baby boomer crooners dipping into the classics, McCartney digs into the attic of U.S. popular music to uncover gems that inspired him.

"When I kind of got into songwriting, I realized how well structured these songs were and I think I took a lot of my lessons from them," McCartney said in a statement. "I always thought artists like Fred Astaire were very cool. Writers like Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, all of those guys -- I just thought the songs were magical. And then, as I got to be a songwriter I thought it's beautiful, the way they made those songs.

"It was very spontaneous, kind of organic," he said, "which then reminded me of the way we'd work with the Beatles. We'd bring a song in, kick it around, when we found a way to do it we'd say 'OK, let's do a take now' and by the time everyone kind of had an idea of what they were doing, we'd learnt the song. So that's what we did, we did the take live in the studio."

McCartney, 69, has also penned two new songs in the spirit of the others on the album, called 'My Valentine' and 'Only Our Hearts.' The former began streaming at McCartney's website (www.paulmccartney.com) Monday morning. (The track listing will be released at a later date.)

The album, to be released on Hear Music/Concord Records, was recorded this year at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, as well as in New York and London, with a simple rationale in mind, said McCartney:

"In the end it was 'Look, if I don't do it now, I'll never do it.' "