The Beatles were never shy about discussing ways in which Bob Dylan single-handedly forced them to rethink their approach to songwriting, making each member of the band look in the mirror and add substance to the words they beautifully delivered. However, Dylan has remained a constant source of envy for Paul McCartney specifically, who even admitted on one occasion that he wishes he was more like his contemporary.
The two first met back in New York on August 28th, 1964, a date that now is carved into music history as the two titans collided to get suitable high in each other’s company to break the ice. Music journalist Al Aronowitz is the man to thank for this meeting and, considering the growing gravitas of each of the respective stars at the time, the importance of this union can never be underplayed.
At the time, Dylan was coming off the back of his stunning album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, and The Times They Are A-Changin’ and was arguably the most trusted voice in a generation. Likewise, The Beatles were still pumping out chart-topping singles like a bonafide hit factory. However, with a view on the future, the Liverpudlians were keen to take their music to the next level.
Reminiscing on that special evening, McCartney once commented: “It was a crazy honour to meet him, we had a crazy party the first night we met. I thought I’d found the meaning to life that night.”
Dylan remains the only person on earth that makes Paul McCartney feel starstruck. It must be a surreal feeling for the former Beatle, who has been making knees go weak in every room he walks in for the last half a century, yet Dylan still makes him feel that way. In 2019, Macca recounted: “There’s one or two people who I would be quite nervous about. Bob Dylan would make me go, ‘Oh my God, what am I gonna say?’ I did see him, we did Coachella… I got to talk to Bob there and he was really nice. I don’t know why I would’ve been nervous, but you get that with some people.”
2020 was a year that saw both McCartney and Dylan prove that their talent was still ripe despite their age. During the press run for McCartney III, the former Beatle spoke about his contemporary and candidly revealed why he’s envious of Dylan’s attitude, more so than anything else.
“I always like what he does,” McCartney told Uncut. “Sometimes I wish I was a bit more like Bob. He’s legendary… and doesn’t give a shit! But I’m not like that.”
He continued, “His new album? I thought it was really good. He writes really well. I love his singing – he came through the standards albums like a total crooner. But, yeah, I like his new stuff. People ask me who I’m a fan of and Bob Dylan and Neil Young always make the list.”
Although Bob Dylan has never spoken about McCartney’s love in such a glowing manner, there’s great mutual respect between the two of them. Few souls have managed to spend almost 60 years evolving as an artist in the public eye, changing the course of music forever, and both these two are at the top table of that exclusive club.