Today, Paul McCartney celebrates his 79th birthday. The last twelve months have been a reminder of what an artist, in the truest sense of the word, he remains to this day. When the world locked down last March, McCartney remained busy the only way that he knows how; by locking himself in the studio and finally creating McCartney III, an album that fans have been waiting for since 1980.
Then, earlier this year, McCartney showed that even though he’s achieved more than any artist could ever dream of, he still wanted to work with the new generation of artists. Taking his material to a new level, the former Beatle invited the likes of Phoebe Bridgers, Dominic Fike, and many others into his life to rework his most recent album. Nobody in their right mind would ever say no to Macca, his impact is unparalleled, and he changed contemporary music forever.
Whether the influence is on a conscious or subconscious level, one thing that can’t be ignored is how Paul McCartney shaped modern music as we know it today. The Beatles famously borrowed from the blues heavily, and it took them several years to truly discover their own identity.
The sweet sounds McCartney made alongside John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr made from Rubber Soul onwards stands the test of time and saw The Beatles create a myriad of genres that spawned out of their artistic expression. The musical landscape without Macca’s influence would be much less kaleidoscopic, and it’s impossible to measure how colourful he’s made all our lives.
When The Beatles split up, McCartney found himself in a personal slump as his world came crashing down. Then, out of the darkness, came a bright light as he poured his anguish into his art. Macca created his stunning debut and followed it up with RAM within the space of twelve months. It was here that he proved he could stand on his own two feet and thrived as a solo artist.
Even McCartney, who would admit that not everything he’s touched has turned to gold, has never shied away from his core principles. Whether the project falls flat or is another yet another mind-bending masterpiece, the price that Macca has been prepared to pay throughout his career remains his sincerity. After all, he’s Paul McCartney, and no questionable collaboration with Stevie Wonder will ever change that.
Throughout his career, McCartney has carefully struck that balance between making music that makes him tick in an experimental way, while also serving up slabs of what fans expect and demand to hear from him. It’s evident that music remains the lifeblood of Macca’s life, and every part of the cycle, whether this is playing shows or working tirelessly in the studio, these are things that he can’t imagine a life without.
At 79, it would be easy for McCartney to put his feet up and take a well-deserved rest, yet, that’s not a life he wants to live. He has chronicled his personal journey through his work since he was barely out of school, creating a body of work that continues to touch each generation of artists who find inspiration from him.
To commemorate the life of one of the finest talents to have ever walked the planet, and a man who has a relationship with melody like no other, Far Out spoke to the artists he has inspired to find out what Paul McCartney means to them.
If you wondered whether his music still had an impact on artists today, then look no further.
The influence of Paul McCartney:
Jake Bugg was still a teenager when he scored a number one album with his debut back in 2012, and over the last decade, he’s carved out his own distinct lane. Bugg’s never been afraid to experiment and has worked hard to ensure that he isn’t penned into a box. His highly anticipated fifth album, Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, arrives this August.
“I’ve always been a massive Beatles fan and have played their songs out many times, especially when I first started out at sixteen playing acoustic gigs,” Bugg tells Far Out. “One of my favourite songs to play is ‘Like Dreamers Do’, but I’ve had a crack at loads of them over the years, and we’ll often play a few Beatles songs on the tour bus too.
“Their influence is impossible to measure as they were true pioneers in so many ways from acoustic and pop to psychedelia and all the way through to the anthems that everybody knows. Classic songs that never age.”
Earlier this year, Flyte released This Is Really Going To Hurt and proved once more that ‘second album syndrome’ is nothing short of a myth. This summer looks set to be a busy one for the group as they venture to All Points East before hitting the road on a headline tour in September.
“You’d have to make a genuine effort not to be influenced by McCartney,” the band say. “To the point where anyone who says otherwise is acting out a shallow personality move.”
Adding: “Anything experimental on a Beatles record, you assume came from John, it’s likely it came from Paul. His range stretches from the traditional to the heavy to the abstract to the kitchen sink. His work will always prevail.”
SPINN, like everyone raised in Liverpool, have grown up around The Beatles their entire lives, and there’s a reason why the city continuously punches above its weight musically.
“Paul McCartney, where to start? I’ll give it a go, probably the best to ever do it,” Johnny Quinn notes. “The man of a thousand voices. Possibly the walrus… The inventor of heavy metal, and of indie-pop. The cute one. The one who made me want to write pop tunes in the first place. The lad who every scousers’ nan reckons she could have married.
“Maybe just some fella who grew up around the corner from ours. Loads of things. Whatever. My hero. Happy birthday Paul.”
London singer-songwriter Louis Dunford writes about the day to day defeats and victories of life in a rare way. He’s an honest songwriter who doesn’t wrap anything up in cotton wool, and McCartney’s an artist that he didn’t fully appreciate until maturing into his own sound.
“I think Paul McCartney’s genius was kind of lost on me growing up cause his tunes were played so much in my gaff that he almost felt like part of the furniture or part of the family,” Dunford says.
“Like a musical uncle, forever singing the soundtrack to our lives from the radio in the kitchen. It wasn’t until I picked up the guitar myself and started learning the piano that I realised just how prolific he is. I feel like I couldn’t come close to the quality or quantity of his body of work if I had ten life times to try so the fact he’s done it in one blows my little mind. He’s a hero.”
Liverpool four-piece Courting shared their pulsating debut EP, Grand National, earlier this year and have an insanely bright future on the horizon. Just like SPINN, they are thankful to their hometown’s favourite son.
“I think what inspired me the most was Paul’s solo work like RAM and the DIY ethic that he has,” the band said. “I think he set a precedent for popular artists to keep innovating and pushing your own sound forward. Some of the tracks from that period still sound ahead of their time today.”
LA rock duo Deap Vally show just how far and wide Paul McCartney’s influence has stretched. After teaming up with The Flaming Lips last year as Deap Lips, they are back as a duo with their new EP, American Cockroach.
“You could say that the music of the Beatles is imprinted on my DNA. I wouldn’t make the music I make, write the melodies I write, if I didn’t grow up listening to Paul McCartney’s songs,” the band’s Lindsey Troy notes.
“Whether it’s the cool catchiness of ‘Drive My Car’, the angular riffs of ‘Helter Skelter’, the suspenseful melancholy of ‘Eleanor Rigby’, or the campfire singalong anthem, ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’, Paul McCartney’s music helped shape the musician I am today. Happy birthday, Paul!”
Jack In Water
Brought up in a little village in Essex, Jack In Water is the alias of singer-songwriter William Clapson, who is gearing up to release his debut album You Don’t Feel Like Home through Netwerk Records this summer.
“I was a pretty latecomer to The Beatles and was in my mid to late ’20s when I really got sucked into listening to all of the albums back to back,” he commented. “I can say for sure it definitely inspired and changed the way I thought about music and, in general, the way they use harmony in such an interesting way.”
Adding: “Songs that seem like simple progressions can quickly veer off moving to this whole new world, and I feel like The Beatles were able to use all of these tools in such a natural way without it feeling too contrived. They have changed the way I make music now.”
Novelty Island is the alias of Liverpudlian artist Tom McConnell, who makes no qualms about Paul McCartney’s RAM era being his greatest source of inspiration for his project.
“One memory sums up Paul McCartney to me. I was very lucky to see his tiny Cavern Club show in 2018,” McConnell revealed. “The (then) 76-year-old doesn’t need to play in a swelteringly hot cellar at all, let alone care enough to remember to perform such minor production details like 2 bars of mouth percussion in the middle 8 of ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’. No one would notice if he didn’t do it, but he knows it’s wrong without it.”
Adding: “Happy 79th, Paul – thanks for being my superhero with a Sgt Pepper cape and Hofner bass when I was six, thanks for still being my guru at 28, thanks for ‘Coming Up’ and ‘Ram’ and all the rest (best!), and thanks for caring about the music since you lived in Speke. Here’s to McCartney IV in 2030.”
Earlier this year, The Snuts released their long-awaited debut album, W.L., which entered the charts at the top spot, and the band look set to be an act that we’ll be talking about for a long time. Guitarist Joe McGilveray thinks if it wasn’t for McCartney, bands like The Snuts wouldn’t exist.
“For me, the Beatles are untouchable. They paved the way and shaped the mould for what a bread and butter guitar band was and is, but never stopped changing and adapting with every album. They comfortably bounce between genres but always sound definitively like ‘The Beatles’. The impact they’ve had on music can’t be measured.
“When I first heard abbey road, I was 12 or 13, and I think it was the first time I’d ever really appreciated an album as a complete piece of work, rather than just the individual songs.
“The contrast from the barebones rock n roll of ‘Come Together’ and ‘She’s So Heavy’, to the horns and strings on ‘Golden Slumbers’, but with songs like ‘Polythene Pam’ and ‘Her Majesty’ keeping things light and away from the grandiose. Without the Beatles, bands like ours wouldn’t exist today. Happy birthday, mate.”
The Sherlocks made their comeback earlier this year with the anthemic single, ‘End Of The Earth’. They’ve also recently announced plans to visit independent venues off the beaten track that usually get ignored by bands and will be heading to places like Wrexham, Bedford and Grimsby in a bid to save these sacred buildings.
“He’s obviously a huge influence musically,” singer Kiaran Crook explains to Far Out. “But I think that to be doing what he’s doing still now, with his legacy, just shows he’s doing it for the love of it and if anything that’s more influential to me now.”
Pearl Charles released her sophomore album, Mirror Mirror, earlier in 2021 and has built up an esteemed reputation for putting on a clinic whenever she plays live. Pearl has also supported the likes of Mac DeMarco and Sunflower Bean, but it’s safe to say she’d like to add Paul McCartney to that list.
“Although there is a special place in my heart for all of The Beatles, I’ve always had an affinity for Paul and specifically his post-Beatles material. My boyfriend and musical partner Michael Rault and I are obsessed with the idea of ‘couples rock’, and Paul and Linda were definitely pioneers of the genre with Wings.
“I’ve been lucky enough to see Paul live a few times, most recently, I somehow managed to manifest an 11th-row ticket, and I laughed, cried, danced and sang along to every single song. From Ram to Rock Show, Paul is a national treasure, so here’s to another trip around the sun for the man who may quite possibly be my favourite Beatle!”
The emerging London artist arrived back at the tail-end of 2019 before dropping his debut EP, Natureland, at the beginning of 2020. Since then, the 23-year-old from South London has penned a deal with Polydor and looks set to have a year to remember in 2021 following the release of his delicious EP, Trying Not To Deep It.
“McCartney is a huge part of why I still make music,” Maxwell said. “The countless times where I’ve not felt good enough or inspired enough to write anything, I’ve always reverted back to certain McCartney records and had the spark re-ignited.
“I’d like to think that elements of my sound are influenced by all the trinkets of information found within McCartney’s music; often his albums act as textbooks on the way things ‘should be done.’ My favourite McCartney album is RAM and my favourite song at the moment is ‘Long Haired Lady’!”
The Hull quintet, recently formed, only got the chance to play a smattering of gigs before the pandemic struck, but that hasn’t stopped them from creating a chasm of euphoric anthems that are screaming out to be played live. The Yorkshire group have been taken under Blossoms’ wing and are on the Stockport band’s Very Clever Records.
The band’s Sam Howell notes, “Growing up, I was always surrounded by music, it was a pretty big constant. One of those main constants was The Beatles, and specifically Paul McCartney. Their music was always blasting out around the house. Eventually, I was inspired to start learning an instrument, my dad bought me my first acoustic, and he’s a big McCartney fan. I stayed in the car as he popped into the music shop to get it, and when he came back, he told me he borrowed this from Paul himself.
“Filled with excitement, I couldn’t wait to start working out how to play Beatles songs. From then on, it’s just been a huge sense of respect and love for The Beatles and McCartney’s music ever since. To this day, I still stick on a Beatles album and have that same amazement I got as a kid. Thanks Paul.”
Meanwhile, singer James Harrod added: “In terms of how far the art of songwriting can take you, it’s Paul McCartney that takes me the furthest. I discovered The Beatles at a young age, and the sheer brilliance of McCartney’s melodies still resonate with me today the same way that they did back then. I think I’m speaking for most musicians when I say we owe a lot to that man! Happy Birthday, Sir Paul.”
Badly Drawn Boy
Badly Drawn Boy, the Mercury award-winning alter-ego of Damon Gough, has released nine albums throughout a glittering career that spans over twenty years. After eight years since his last record, Gough shared the album Banana Skin Shoes in 2020.
“The most inspiring thing about McCartney to me as a songwriter is that he just kept going…even after success and many great songs under the belt, like Bob Dylan, McCartney never stopped searching for his next great idea/song… and still does to this day.
“It’s inspiring because it underlines the notion that every new day has the potential to bring with it a new idea, fresh inspiration. If an individual loses the urge to keep searching, they stop being an artist.”
Singer-songwriter Sophie Morgan is another artist on this feature who is a local to Merseyside, and the work of McCartney always provides her with a taste of home no matter where she is in the world. Morgan has a headline hometown show lined up at Leaf in Liverpool on December 1st.
“I first heard ‘Yesterday’ in music class at school. We watched Paul perform it alone in black and white. I silently soaked it all up enraptured amidst the chatter of classmates. That soaring melody. The simplicity of it. The complexity of it. That first line. He’s my favourite Beatle. That old soft Scouse accent reminds me of my grandparents, so although he’s a superstar, somehow he always feels like home.”
Francis of Delirium
Francis of Delirium, comprised of Jana Bahrich alongside collaborator Chris Hewett, released their second EP, Wading, earlier this year, which followed last summer’s debut release, All Change.
“So much of my childhood was soundtracked by Paul McCartney’s voice. From the ages of 5-9 years old, I used to listen to CD’s while falling asleep, and I had a pretty limited rotation. I would listen to the Beatles 1 album almost every evening to go to sleep and then would occasionally swap it out for the Secret Garden audiobook or a CD called Beethoven lives upstairs,” Bahrich said.
“Every time I put the 1 compilation on I would wait excitedly for ‘Eleanor Rigby’ to come on. I remember being able to picture the space and mood so vividly and feeling so affected by the tone of the songwriting. We bought the Wingspan compilation which accompanied us on most car rides. I think for a lot of people, the Beatles are the first pop/rock group that you listen to growing up, so a lot of people associate Beatles with their family,” she commented.
“I certainly do. When we’d visit my uncle, he’d bring out the guitar and we’d all sing ‘Let ’em in’, ‘Ob-la-di, ob-la-da’ or ‘Maybe I’m amazed’ together. Listening and singing along to McCartney’s music sort of established early on that music is communal and meant to be shared. His influence is one that affected me slowly. Every night I listened to his tracks I was absorbing his keen sense of melody and harmony and his sometimes poignant, often carefree lyricism.”