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Music

Watch Paul McCartney discuss the early "incentive" behind The Beatles

Bar the esteemed Bob Dylan, there can be no doubting that Paul McCartney is the finest songwriter alive. One half of the greatest musical partnerships to have ever graced the earth alongside the late John Lennon, together the pair’s creative genius allowed The Beatles to rise in such a meteoric fashion and changed the course of popular culture forever. 

It’s a testament to Paul McCartney that the effect of his work isn’t only restricted to songwriting. It helped bring society forward by changing attitudes and through innovation in areas ranging from the technical to the aesthetic. 

A true modernist, Paul McCartney’s contributions to civilisation have been manifold, and without this one man, life today would be very different. It’s a genuinely astounding feat that will continue to be discussed and analysed for many generations to come. 

It’s certain that for future generations, when we have long since passed from this mortal coil, McCartney, Lennon, and their Beatles bandmates, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, will be revered in the same respects as the great composers of the classical era, Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach.

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When considering the songs that McCartney wrote in The Beatles, you notice just how dextrous of a songwriter he is, equally as able to write a sugary pop song such as ‘Love Me Do’ or stripped-back ballads such as the universally appealing ‘Yesterday’, and even hard rock masterpieces such as ‘Helter Skelter’. McCartney has a gift when it comes to songwriting, and the partnership that he and Lennon had produced countless iconic moments that have endured the test of time. 

When The Beatles formed in 1960, I don’t think anybody, not to mention the band members, could have believed that within the next five years, they would have become the biggest band in the world. Over the latter half of the decade, they would enact changes of such gravitas that they’d still be the biggest band on the planet some 52 years after they eventually called it a day in 1970.

Whilst The Beatles were understandably dedicated to their craft, as their decision to stop touring in 1966 to concentrate on music reflects, when McCartney sat down for his first interview since the death of John Lennon with BBC Nationwide’s Sue Lawley in 1982, he revealed one nugget of information that proved that The Beatles’ songwriting wasn’t always completely focused on artistic enlightenment. 

Discussing the relaxed writing process of his album Tug of War, McCartney touched on the incentive behind The Beatles in the early days: “I could’ve sort of just dried up, ‘coz there’s no incentive, ‘coz that was the early incentive you know, if you’re honest about it,” he said. Adding: “For most people, it is just to be successful, to earn money. I mean, we used to talk about writing a swimming pool, it was one of those between John and I, just like: ‘You need a pool here, we better go and write it’, you know? ‘Ching ching ching’. We’d try and write hits for things he needed or whatever.”

However, McCartney caveated his point by saying: “But, that’s not really the incentive, actually. I mean, I think if I didn’t get paid for it, I think I’d still do it.”

Watch the interview below.

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