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How Prince influenced two Paul McCartney songs


Prince was an artist like no other, an irreplaceable beacon of creativity and an enigma to his very core. His influence on popular culture stretches far and wide, with even Paul McCartney admitting two of his songs were influenced by ‘The Purple One’ himself.

If truth be told, Prince was never a Beatlemaniac. Even though he regularly covered ‘Come Together’ during his concerts, remarkably, he never listened to the band until 1984. He didn’t have a primal obsession with ‘The Fab Four’ in the same way as his peers did, and it was clear that Prince wasn’t a disciple of The Beatles — but McCartney adored everything he did.

Prince only first listened to the band when he was touring Purple Rain. The moment arrived after Revolution members Bobby Z, Dez Dickerson and Matt’ Dr.’ Fink piqued his interest when they started playing Sgt. Pepper’s on the tour bus. Bobby Z later told Diffuser about his former colleague’s reaction to ‘Good Morning, Good Morning’, recalling: “He said, ‘What’s that?’ We said, ‘That’s Sgt. Pepper.’ He went, ‘The Beatles. Ehhh? Really?’ You know, it was just like that.”

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“I think he realised that the Beatles were more than he thought,” he added. “He just kind of swallowed them up. You can tell that Around the World in a Day — I’m just assuming a lot, and he’d probably get mad — but I’m assuming that by swallowing up Magical Mystery Tour and Sgt. Pepper that Around the World in a Day is definitely influenced by it.”

While Bobby Z’s comment about The Beatles’ influence on Prince is based on a well-educated assumption, McCartney made the admission himself about how his love for ‘His Royal Badness’ helped him conceive two solo songs. During a Twitter Q+A to promote his album Egypt Station in 2018, the former Beatle was asked: “You mentioned that Prince inspired the song ‘Hunt You Down’ on the new album. I also recall you saying he inspired the song ‘If You Wanna’ on Flaming Pie. Has Prince inspired other songs, and were you a big fan?”. In response, McCartney wrote, “I can’t think of other songs he has inspired, but those two definitely. I was always a big fan. I went to see him in concert a few times and wrote to him saying how much I enjoyed his guitar playing particularly. I met him a few times. The last time was a couple of New Year’s ago, when he played a New Year’s gig. I’ve always been a big fan.”

Prince evidently meant a lot to McCartney, and following his sudden death in 2016, Macca labelled him as a “creative giant’ in a social media post. “Saddened by Prince’s death. Proud to have seen in the New Year with him. He seemed fine and played brilliantly funky music. God bless this creative giant. Thanks, Prince,” he wrote.

Compliments don’t get much more distinguished than Paul McCartney using you on more than one occasion as a creative muse, and the world has got a lot less funky since Prince deserted the planet in 2016. A divine talent, who lives on through his music, and his undeniable influence.

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