More often than not, when speaking of Paul McCartney and his contribution to music, people will point to his extraordinary songwriting talent, which is more than fair. As part of The Beatles the musician has created some of the most iconic songs of all time. The next thing people might say about Macca is that he was a gifted musician and bassist. Again, entirely valid.
Yet, there’s one thing that Paul McCartney was also very good at—singing. It may seem obvious but for a long while the principal singer in The Beatles was Lennon and behind that sat Harrison and McCartney providing harmonies. But soon enough, Macca broke out on his own and began to add the vocals to all of his songs.
McCartney soon carved out a vocal niche in the balladry that he was writing. While there are a few numbers on which Macca lets his inner rocker out, ‘Helter Skelter’ and ‘Oh! Darling’ to name a few, it was on the softer moments of The Beatles back catalogue that McCartney’s vocal really shone.
On one particular album, McCartney really let his inner poet shine through and wrote some of his most impressive songs. 1966’s Revolver saw a few notable compositions from Macca but one stands out as quite possibly his best ever, the wonderful ‘Here, There and Everywhere’.
The track has ubiquitous appeal even for the cantankerous John Lennon, who said of the song: “This was a great one of his,” before adding: “That’s Paul’s song completely, I believe. And one of my favourite songs of the Beatles.”
McCartney himself later remarked that it “was the only song that John ever complimented me on.” And he deserved the compliment too. Inspired by ‘God Only Knows’, McCartney’s favourite song of all time, the song is achingly beautiful. “It’s actually just the introduction that’s influenced. John and I used to be interested in what the old fashioned writers used to call the verse, which we nowadays would call the intro – this whole preamble to a song, and I wanted to have one of those on the front of ‘Here, There and Everywhere.’ John and I were quite into those from the old-fashioned songs that used to have them, and in putting that [sings ‘To lead a better life’] on the front of ‘Here, There and Everywhere,’ we were doing harmonies, and the inspiration for that was the Beach Boys.”
Adding: “We had that in our minds during the introduction to ‘Here, There and Everywhere.’ I don’t think anyone, unless I told them, would even notice, but we’d often do that, get something off an artist or artists that you really liked and have them in your mind while you were recording things, to give you the inspiration and give you the direction – nearly always, it ended up sounding more like us than them anyway.”
But there was another direct source of inspiration for the ethereal tone of the track as Macca admitted he tried to sound like one of the ‘it’ singers of the time; Marianne Faithfull. McCartney has often employed other singers as his muses for studio sessions, admitting at times he’s tried to emulate Ray Charles or Frank Sinatra.
“When I sang it in the studio I remember thinking, ‘I’ll sing it like Marianne Faithfull,’” Paul said in Many Years From Now. “[It’s] something no one would ever know. You get these little things in your mind. You think, ‘I’ll sing it like James Brown,’ but of course it’s always you that sings it.”
“So that one was a little voice,” Paul said. “I used an almost falsetto voice … my Marianne Faithfull impression.”
Listen to Paul McCartney’s Marianne Faithfull impression on The Beatles’ ‘Here, There and Everywhere’ below.