Cyndi Stivers
July 04, 2009 AT 10:35 PM EDT

Flash back, if you will, to May 1983. Paul McCartney is on a soundstage at EMI Elstree Studios, about 45 minutes outside London, filming an elaborate production number for Give My Regards to Broad Street, a semiautobiography featuring 11 of his songs, including several Beatles classics. Elsewhere on the lot, Barbra Streisand is looping Yentl, and Steven Spielberg and crew, just back from Sri Lanka, are shooting interiors on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Between set-ups, McCartney sits down with a young LIFE magazine reporter (yours truly) to talk about his work. Legendary Beatles producer George Martin, who’s also on set, has just let slip that McCartney has a new album on the way (which turns out to be “Pipes of Peace”), featuring Michael Jackson, with whom McCartney had just collaborated on “The Girl Is Mine.” So here’s McCartney telling the story, complete with imitations of Jackson and a Joe Franklin-like talent-show host. (I’m including a transcript, since there’s a lot of background noise from the smoke machine they were using to fog up the set.)

“[‘The Girl is Mine’] was Michael’s — reciprocated for the thing that we did together. He originally rung me up and said,’Would you like to write songs together, Paul?’ I said, ‘Who is this?’ ‘Michael.’ And I didn’t believe it was him, first of all. So we were talking and stuff, and he wanted to come and write something with me, because he’s just getting into writing. He just said he’d like to do some writing; came over, we wrote two, and then in return for that, I went over toLA and worked with him and Quincy [Jones], which was great to do. They did all the work. I just wandered in as a vocalist, then they mixed it, they released it, they promoted it — it was great, like a busman’s holiday. Mike’s great; lovely guy. Nice fellow to work with; very easy to get on with. And ‘a major talent! Major talent!'”

More Paul McCartney-Michael Jackson from EW:

Paul McCartney denies he’s upset Michael Jackson did not bequeath Beatles songs to him

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