Interview for The Sunday Times • Sunday, September 18, 1966

All Paul

Press interview • Interview of Paul McCartney
Published by:
The Sunday Times
Interview by:
Hunter Davies
Timeline More from year 1966

Songs mentioned in this interview

Eleanor Rigby

Officially appears on Revolver (UK Mono)


Officially appears on Woman / Wrong From The Start

Yellow Submarine

Officially appears on Revolver (UK Mono)

Interviews from the same media

Interview with Derek Jewel

Jan 22, 1967 • From The Sunday Times

On Linda

Apr 06, 2008 • From The Sunday Times

Thanks a bunch, Dad

Jan 29, 2012 • From The Sunday Times

A Lucky Man Who Made The Grade

Feb 05, 2012 • From The Sunday Times

Spread the love! If you like what you are seeing, share it on social networks and let others know about The Paul McCartney Project.


In September 1966, Paul McCartney was interviewed by Hunter Davies, who later signed a contract with Brian Epstein to write the first authorized Beatles biography in January 1967.

In 1966, I was working at The Sunday Times when ‘Eleanor Rigby’ came out. I interviewed Paul about it because I thought the words and the music to the song were absolutely brilliant. I wrote a big piece in the paper saying, ‘I thought these were the best lyrics and the best poetry written in the Sixties.’ A few months later, I had written a novel, called Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush, and that was being turned into a film, and I was the screenplay writer. And because Paul had written the soundtrack to The Family Way, I went to see Paul again, this time with the director of Mulberry Bush, a bloke called Clive Donner, at his house in Cavendish Avenue. But, this time I went to see Paul with a different hat on. Rather than being a journalist, I was there as a screenplay writer. We discussed with Paul whether he would do the music. In the end he didn’t. But, it was during that discussion with Paul, that I said, ‘There should be a proper biography on The Beatles.’ […]

Hunter Davies – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

PAUL McCARTNEY was in his new mansion in St John’s Wood. He lives alone. A Mr and Mrs Kelly look after him. Nothing so formal as housekeeper and butler. Their job, he says, is just to fit in.

The house has a huge wall and an electrically-operated black door to keep out non-Beatle life. Inside there is some carefully chosen elderly furniture. Nothing flash, affected or even expensive-looking. The dining room table was covered with a white lace tablecloth. Very working-class posh.

Mr McCartney, along with Mr Lennon, is the author of a song called “Eleanor Rigby.” No pop song of the moment has better words or music.

“I was sitting at the piano when I thought of it. Just like Jimmy Durante. The first few bars Just came to me. And I got this name in my head — Daisy Hawkins, picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been. I don’t know why.

”I can hear a whole song in one chord. In fact, I think you can hear a whole song in one note, if you listen hard enough. But nobody ever listens hard enough.

”OK, so that’s the Joan of Arc bit. I couldn’t think of much more, so I put it away for a day. Then the name Father McCartney came to me — and all the lonely people. But I thought people would think It was supposed to be my Dad, sitting knitting his socks. Dad’s a happy lad. So I went through the telephone book and I got the name McKenzie.

“I was in Bristol when I decided Daisy Hawkins wasn’t a good name. I walked round looking at the shops and I saw the name Rigby. You got that? Quick pan to Bristol. I can just see this all as a Hollywood musical…

“Then I took it down to John’s house in Weybridge. We sat around, laughing, got stoned and finished it off. I thought of the backing, but it was George Martin who finished if off. I just go bash, bash on the piano. He knows what I mean.

“All our songs come out of our imagination. There never was an Eleanor Rigby.

“One of us might think of a song completely, and the other just add a bit. Or we might write alternate lines. We never argue. If one of us says he doesn’t like a bit, the other agrees. It just doesn’t matter that much. I care about being a songwriter. But I don’t care passionately about each song.

“‘Eleanor’ is a big development as a composition. But that doesn’t mean ‘Yellow Submarine’ is bad. It was written as a commercial song, a kid’s song. People have said, ‘Yellow Submarine? What’s the significance? What’s behind it?’ Nothing. Kids get it straight away. I was playing with my little stepsister the other day, looking through a book about Salvador Dali. She said, ‘Oh look, a soft watch.’ She accepted it. She wasn’t frightened or worried. Kids have got it. It’s only later they get messed up.

“I tried once to write a song under another name, just to see if it was the Lennon-McCartney bit that sold our songs. I called myself Bernard Webb — I was a student in Paris and very unavailable for interviews. The song was ‘Woman’ for Peter and Gordon. They made it a big hit. Then it came out it was me. I realised that when I saw a banner at a concert saying ‘Long Live Bernard Webb.’

“We’d need a properly controlled experiment to find out how much our names really mean now, but I can’t be bothered.

“I can’t really play the piano, or read or write music. I’ve tried three times in my life to learn, but never kept it up for more than three weeks. The last bloke I went to was great I’m sure he could teach me a lot. I might go back to him. It’s just the notation — the way you write down notes, it doesn’t look like music to me.

“John’s now trying acting again, and George has got his passion for the sitar and all the Indian stuff. He’s lucky. Like somebody’s luck who’s got religion. I’m just looking for something I enjoy doing. There’s no hurry. I have the time and the money.

“People think we’re not conceited, but we are. If you ask me if I wrote good or bad songs, I’d be thick to say bad. wouldn’t it? It’s true we’re lucky, but we got where we are because of what we did.

“The girls waiting outside, I don’t despise them. I don’t think fans are humiliating themselves. I queued up at the Liverpool Empire for Wee Willie Harris’s autograph. I wanted to do it. I don’t think I was being stupid.

“I can go out and around more than people think, without being recognised. People never really believe it’s you. They don’t really expect to see you in the street, so you can get away with it.

”I think we can go on as the Beatles for as long as we want to, writing songs, making records. We’re still developing. I’ve no ambitions, just to enjoy myself. We’ve had all the ego bit, all about wanting to be remembered. We couldn’t do any better than we’ve done already, could we?”

Last updated on November 25, 2023


Have you spotted an error on the page? Do you want to suggest new content? Or do you simply want to leave a comment ? Please use the form below!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *