Paul McCartney is not the most political songwriter going but he does occasionally dabble in mixing music and politics. On the odd occasion that he has blended these two worlds, his attempts tend to be on the covert side of things. But when he aimed one tune at Donald Trump, the former Beatle didn’t try to hide his contempt for the most powerful man in America.
McCartney has always been rather coy about politics; he hasn’t aligned himself to one political party and seems not to be a believer in party politics being a force for change, at least publically. Instead, he has used his platform to campaign about issues he duly cares about and believes will make the world a better place. Vegetarianism is a cause that he has famously used his platform for — an issue that he thinks will benefit the world in multiple ways, including helping the climate. When Donald Trump dismissed climate change, Macca couldn’t bring himself to stand idly by without saying anything.
Speaking to Prospect Magazine in 2009, McCartney waxed lyrical about his optimism about President Barack Obama coming into office: “This is why a lot of us hope for a change in US politics with the election of Obama. He is the man for the job. I was very impressed by his decision to work on the south side of Chicago after getting his degree rather than take a lucrative job on Wall Street. I’m so glad he won. I think he will make a great president.”
Obama was someone he had a ton of respect, and he was then replaced by somebody that McCartney never truly aligned with. After keeping his mouth shut on Donald Trump for a while, he channelled his frustration and anger into the song ‘Despite Repeated Warnings’ which featured on his 2018 album Egypt Station.
The seven-minute gentle beating of Trump contains lyrics such as “despite repeated warnings of dangers up ahead, the captain won’t be listening to what’s been said”, and “those who shout the loudest, may not always be the smartest”.
“Normally I go along taking notice of politics but not really feeling I have to get involved,” he admitted to the Evening Standard. “But when Trump said climate change was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, I just thought: ‘Woah, wait a minute. That’s a leader of one of the most powerful countries in the world… That just sounds like a mad man. Just like mad talk.'”
Expanding on his writing process on the track, McCartney later said: “I thought, OK, it’s a sea captain, and he’s steering a boat, and he’s gonna to go towards the icebergs, but he’s been warned, and he’s going because he thinks he’s right, and he thinks they’re all making too much of it. The usual arguments, you know.
“So that’s what it’s about. It’s a sort of story like the Titanic. If they’d have been warned, hey, you’re going to sink from icebergs, and if the captain says, ‘It’s doesn’t matter, it’ll be fine.’ So it’s that, using that kind of idea, so that it’s a sort of mad, daft captain, and then there’s all the people on the boat who know he’s got it wrong. So it’s very symbolic for what’s going on in some areas of politics, in my mind.”
Climate change is something that McCartney truly cares about and, unlike some of his counterpart, has actually poured time and money into trying to make the world a more sustainable place. To see somebody in a position of power use their status to undo this work and create a darker future for the world was something that McCartney couldn’t stand. Whilst ‘Despite Repeated Warnings’ is far from Macca’s magnum opus, it came from the heart and struck a chord that still resonates today.