Thirty-year-old collaboration between Paul McCartney and Jeff Beck unearthed

The track, titled Why Are They Cutting Down the Rainforest?, is being shared as part of McCartney’s Meat Free Monday campaign to encourage vegetarianism

Paul McCartney has shared a recently unearthed collaboration between him and the late Jeff Beck, recorded about 30 years ago. Titled Why Are They Cutting Down the Rainforest? and released as part of a new series produced by McCartney’s vegetarianism campaign Meat Free Monday, the song features Beck speaking about deforestation and cattle farming over jaunty psych-rock production.

“With the sad passing of Jeff Beck – a good friend of mine, and a great, great guitar player – it reminded me of the time we worked together many years ago on a campaign for vegetarianism,” McCartney wrote in a statement. “It’s great guitar playing, cause it’s Jeff!”

Why Are They Cutting Down the Rainforest? was originally recorded by McCartney and Beck in 1994, and was featured in a 15-part radio series presented by McCartney called Oobu Joobu, in which he shared rare recordings and spoke about his passions, such as vegetarianism. Beck’s message aligns strongly with concerns McCartney has raised over cattle farming and meat consumption over the past 40 years.

Paul McCartney and Jeff Beck’s Why Are We Cutting Down the Rainforest? – video

“What worries me is what else we are killing besides the cows. Nearly a quarter of all medications and pharmaceuticals that we use today are derived from tropical plants,” Beck says on the record. “Because we want more and more grazing land for cattle, we are ripping up the rainforests, uncaring or oblivious to the fact that these forests may and possibly do contain plants that could provide a cure for leukaemia or heart disease, maybe even a cure for Aids – who knows. But it doesn’t make much sense to me to risk losing the possible discovery of a miracle cure just for a $1.50 hamburger.”

Per a press release, this video marks the beginning of a new content series produced by Meat Free Monday “featuring friends of the campaign”. McCartney and his daughters, Stella and Mary, launched Meat Free Monday in 2009, after reading a 2006 UN report on the impact of the meat and dairy industries on the environment.

Beck died earlier this month at the age of 78, after contracting bacterial meningitis. Peers such as Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart and Ozzy Osbourne paid tribute to the legendary guitarist, with many citing him as a key influence on psych-rock and heavy metal.

An eight-time Grammy winner, Beck rose to prominence as a member of the Yardbirds, before finding widespread success in America with his own band, the Jeff Beck Group. “Jeff could channel music from the ethereal,” Jimmy Page wrote in tribute to Beck on Twitter, “Jeff I will miss you along with your millions of fans.”


Shaad D'Souza

The GuardianTramp

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