Paul McCartney and Damon Albarn are two men who have a whole bunch of common ground. They played crucial roles in two of the seminal groups in British history, with both Blur and The Beatles epitomising their respective eras. Without The Beatles, the whole musical landscape would have been an ugly beast, and it likely wouldn’t have included Blur, but the words of advice that Paul McCartney once gave Albarn was more critical than any piece of music.
The two great artists both know what it’s like being in a hugely successful outfit and how much of a lonely place it can be. McCartney and Albarn both have been open to experimenting, rather than staying loyal to one sound for the entirety of their careers which is precisely why the two are kindred spirits. They look out for each other, and the Gorillaz man even offered his own words of advice out to Paul McCartney in 2015, when the former Beatle teamed up with Kanye West, but, Macca refused to listen.
“I’ve got a problem with that abusive collaboration. Kanye West trapped Paul McCartney,” Albarn told French publication Nouvel Obs. He added: “I see Paul McCartney in the video. But I don’t hear Paul McCartney on the track. Before he decided to work with Kanye West, I sent a text message to McCartney saying, ‘beware’, but he ignored it, he does what he wants, it’s Paul McCartney. Kanye West is one of those people who feed on other people.”
“I love the respect someone like Damon is attributing to me, but I’m not that fussed,” McCartney responded to GQ. “If I want to go somewhere else from where I normally go or where I’m expected to go, I’ll go. And if I enjoy it, that’s enough for me. The great thing is, all sorts of hysterical things come out of it. I mean, there’s a lot of people think Kanye discovered me. And that’s not a joke.”
Albarn’s kindhearted advice came from words of wisdom he was, in turn, given by McCartney some years before, which he thought the former Beatle needed to hear. In 2019, Albarn answered Huck Magazine when they asked what the most memorable thing that another artist ever said to him was and shared a gem that McCartney once dished out.
“Paul McCartney said, ‘Always think about what it’s going to look like tomorrow.’ What you say, what you do – just think about the consequences before you do it,” Albarn stated. “Be present when you make the decision. You can’t control everything. But the point is if you know why you’re doing something, there’s more of a chance that – come tomorrow – you’ll be able to justify it.” All that the Blur frontman was attempting to do when he warned McCartney about working with West was to remind himself to practice what he preaches.
Looking back at the collaboration five years later, Albarn probably was right to tell Macca to be ‘beware’. If you didn’t know, you’d never guess that McCartney even featured on ‘FourFiveSeconds’ or ‘Only One’ and the collaboration allows Kanye West’s ego to boost even further. Then again, Paul McCartney is Paul McCartney, and he can quite rightly do whatever the hell he pleases.