Conversation at Rollins College • Thursday, October 23, 2014

AppearanceBy Paul McCartney
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Rollins College

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From Rollins Winter Park Institute | Rollins College:

On October 23, 2014, Sir Paul McCartney visited campus at the invitation of Billy Collins, Winter Park Institute Senior Distinguished Fellow. At McCartney’s request, the event was a low-key affair in an intimate setting, organized primarily for students who won coveted seats through a lottery earlier in the day. For an hour on stage at Knowles Memorial Chapel the songwriter discussed his influences, his education, and the creative process in a lively exchange guided by Collins, two-term U.S. Poet Laureate.

The audience in Knowles Memorial Chapel was privy to a rare glimpse into the creative forces of a modern musical and cultural icon. Through Sir Paul’s continued generosity, we are all now able to view this remarkable evening. The College, Rollins Winter Park Institute, and the community remain the fortunate beneficiaries of the presence of Billy Collins and the line-up of remarkable friends he has encouraged to share with us their talents and their wisdom.

From Rollins Winter Park Institute | Rollins College

From, October 27, 2014:

“Doing this for the students was such a special buzz for me. I hope it was for them too.”—Paul McCartney

At the behest of two-term US poet laureate and senior distinguished fellow at the Winter Park Institute Billy Collins, Paul spoke last Thursday night to a few hundred students at Knowles Memorial Chapel on the campus of Rollins College in Winter Park, FL.

Kept secret until the morning of the event, Paul’s visit prompted so much interest that students had to win tickets in a lottery system.

“I’d say, ‘It’s getting better all the time,’ and he’d say, ‘It can’t get much worse,” McCartney told the students of his creative chemistry with John Lennon. “I would have never thought of that.”

When asked whether lyrics or music come first, he replied, “I tell students all the time, ‘Look, I don’t know how to do this.’ Every time I approach a song, there’s no rules. Sometimes the music comes first, sometimes the words – and if you’re lucky, it all comes together.”

Paul described how his inspiration for ‘Yesterday’ came in a dream. Certain an old melody was stuck in his head, he went around humming the tune, asking if anyone knew it. “After two weeks,” he said, “I claimed it.”

Collins brought up how Paul’s songs have been covered by countless bands, prompting Paul’s gratitude. “If someone on the street corner is reading one of your poems,” he asked Collins, “is it going to bother you?”

Asked about The Beatles’ musical evolution in the late 1960s, Paul drew applause and laughter recalling “a natural growing up we developed – and drugs.”

“At the beginning of The Beatles,” he said, “you’ve got to remember, we were a boy band. … It was all really fan-oriented. It’s not a bad thing, but after a while you felt like you wanted to move on.”

Paul and Collins found common ground at the intersection of lyrics and poetry. Sharing how he once read his own poems to a group of scholars in New York City, Paul admitted “It was pretty nerve-wracking” and quite different than playing to record-breaking concert crowds. “I had to respect the silence as a great thing,” he said.

Paul closed the night with a performance of ‘Blackbird’.

“This was a wonderful event provided through the generosity of Sir Paul McCartney,” said Rollins Acting President Craig M. McAllaster. “He wanted it to be intimate and mostly for students. That’s why they filled most of the seats. It’s a wonderful thing to have someone of his stature and significance give us his time and talent to Rollins College.”

Photo by Scott Cook

Rollins College

This was the 1st and only concert played at Rollins College.

Setlist for the concert



Written by Lennon - McCartney


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