Paul McCartney Best Songs According to 80 Musicians

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Steven Van Zandt: “We can do it”, 1965


I love that this might be one of the last things he and John did. I know John worked on the bridge, and learned from reading Paul’s lyrics book that George suggested the three-quarter waltz time in the bridge. It’s a wonderful combination of those three guys, and of course Ringo too. It is something for me that is sentimental in addition to being an excellent composition. The quality of his voice was simply spectacular on a few songs at that time. This, “The Night Before” and “Another Girl”. Maybe it was a different microphone, or whatever he was doing that day or night. I also like these pre-synthesizer keyboards; they had their own personality.

The Beatles were the start of my life. I was just drifting off in search of my identity, like you do when you’re young. I was not particularly attracted to any of the options offered to me. No interest in college, the military, or sports. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. When they appeared on February 9, 1964, on a variety show the whole family watched on the only television in the house, it was the introduction of a whole new world. The Beatles were amazing. When we met them, they were halfway through their careers and extremely sophisticated. Everything about them was perfect – the hair, the clothes. Songwriting had reached a new level by then. They introduced this new world that I desperately needed. They literally saved my life in that sense. Then four months later, the Rolling Stones come to play another variety show, hollywood palace, and they are more casual, they wear what they want. Their hair isn’t perfect except for Brian Jones. They made it look easier than it was. They were sort of the first punk band. The Beatles introduced us to this new world and the Rolling Stones invited us to it.

The Beatles were the first British band to pave the way for all who followed and introduced the band concept. It was a new idea for us. You haven’t seen four or five guys playing and singing. If you went to your high school prom, it was an instrumental band. I missed the 50s so I didn’t know who the Crickets were at that time. Most of them were Somebody And The Somebodies. But the Beatles introduced us to a new communication. That’s what made me want to do it. I was not interested in show business. I was not interested in being in the spotlight. But it wasn’t about me-me-me like most artists were. It was we. It was the gang, the team. It was friendship, community. That’s what attracted me. I was never interested in anyone except Bob Dylan. Everything else is a band, to me.

My relationship to his solo stuff is an entirely different thing. By the time the 70s rolled around, I had everything I needed for five lifetimes. I wasn’t looking for entry. I started this process of developing my own style and my own career. Find my way as a producer, as an arranger. The 60s was all I needed honestly. I logged in from time to time, but I didn’t make it a point to study all the solo stuff – that’s true for all of their solo records. For me, it was always the thing in the band that mattered the most and stimulated my interest.

You catch some nice things along the way. He was doing great things all along. Not much of Paul’s stuff is overlooked, but there’s a song from a video game called “Hope For The Future.” I imagine it’s a song that a lot of people haven’t heard. It’s from a game called Fate, so if you’re a gamer, you might have heard it — but most of my generation probably haven’t heard it. I think it’s an amazing song. I think it’s one of his best songs.

When you meet him, just think of him as a fellow musician. You have to really compartmentalize. Put aside the fact that it was the first album you ever bought, how important it was in your life. I met him briefly in the Hall Of Fame, I think when we were inducted. He got on stage with the E Street Band in Hyde Park, which was pretty exciting – until they unplugged us. Paul invited me and Bruce on stage with him at his show at Madison Square Garden.

But one of the great moments in my life was when he came on stage with me and my band, the Disciples Of Soul. It was probably the the biggest time of my life. For him, endorsing my music and coming to compliment my band is quite another thing. It’s in a club. It’s not serious. I’m not that famous, my band isn’t famous, we don’t have big hits. We’re a bar band on the go, really. Let him go on stage without rehearsal, trusting me completely. Luckily, just in case, I had prepared a Little Richard version of “I Saw Her Standing There” just in case he got on stage. It came. He had seen the whole show, sat down with his wife and my wife. He liked it so much he wanted to come with us. What an incredible thrill. The circle was complete for me. Absolute closure. That’s why I finished my book there – basically I start and end it with the Beatles. It really is like that. I feel like I don’t need to do much else. I’m doing well.

As said in Stereogum

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