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Music

The reason why Paul McCartney doesn't listen to albums by The Beatles

Paul McCartney is responsible for a list of songs that have soundtracked the lives of countless people around the world. However, understandably, his relationship with past creations is a complicated one, and McCartney never revisits his library unless work permits it.

The revelation was made by his collaborator and superstar producer, Rick Rubin. Although the pair have never teamed up in the studio, the former Beatle did recruit Rubin for his documentary, McCartney 3, 2, 1, which captured the pair of musical heavyweights chewing the fat about his catalogue of creations.

It was a novelty for McCartney to revisit the collection of songs he’s amassed over the last 60 years, and Rubin was thrilled to be the person he divulged the information to. As a life-long Beatles fan, the producer lived out a childhood fantasy in the documentary and understood why Macca chooses to avoid listening to his songs unless it’s necessary.

Rubin shares a similar approach to his craft and discussed his similarities with McCartney on the Talk Is Jericho podcast, which professional wrestler Chris Jericho hosts. “If you think about it, there’s no reason – I don’t know if you ever go back and watch your old [wrestling] matches but I never go back and look at anything I worked on,” he explained.

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The producer continued: “I might hear it somewhere at a party, I’ll recognise I produced that song, but I don’t go back and listen to my old work, as I’m always making new work.”

Once he has concluded his part in the studio, it’s no longer his possession, and Rubin has moved on to a new project which is getting his creative juices flowing. Besides, as a perfectionist, he’s likely to only hear room for improvement in the song, and it’s best to move on for sanctity of the mind.

Rubin isn’t alone in thinking like this, and McCartney is cut from the same cloth. He explained to Jericho: “And same with Paul – he has no reason to go back and listen to it unless maybe he’s going to go on tour and he’s teaching the band a song they haven’t played before, they listen to it together, but he’s never analysed the tracks, that’s why. Why would he ever do it?”

McCartney’s job is solely to make the songs, and the analysing is left to everybody else. Therefore, when the opportunity arose for Rubin to hear Macca’s unfiltered opinion on his career, the producer jumped at the chance, and the opportunity didn’t disappoint.

He continued: “We were listening to the individual tracks, and I could see his surprise, and again, we take it for granted because it’s The Beatles, and he was there in the room, but even for him now looking back, it’s miraculous – he is miraculous.”

McCartney is reminded daily about the importance of The Beatles’ music and its gift to the world. However, even at 80, he remains focused on looking ahead to his next project rather than living in the past.