Interview for Evening Standard • Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sir Paul McCartney on embracing mistakes, still feeling 30... and playing it cool with Rihanna and Kanye West

Interview of Paul McCartney
Published by:
Evening Standard
Interview by:
Alistair Foster
Read interview on Evening Standard
Timeline More from year 2015

Songs mentioned in this interview


FourFiveSeconds

Officially appears on FourFiveSeconds


Only One

Officially appears on Only One


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Interview

I used to be terrified, as are most entertainers, of making a mistake. Now I realise the audiences don’t mind. In fact — they quite like it. You get these little eureka moments — you make a mistake and go, ‘S***! Christ!

Paul McCartney

Sir Paul McCartney is no longer worried about making mistakes on stage because they can be inspiring “eureka moments”, he has revealed.

Sir Paul, 72, also says he is flattered still to be popular after five decades in music — and amazed younger stars such as Rihanna and Kanye West want to collaborate with him.

He made the comments in an exclusive interview with the Standard ahead of two shows at The O2 on Saturday and Sunday. They will be his 50th and 51st concerts in London since he went solo after The Beatles split in 1970.

He said: “I used to be terrified, as are most entertainers, of making a mistake. Now I realise the audiences don’t mind. In fact — they quite like it. You get these little eureka moments — you make a mistake and go, ‘S***! Christ!

I did one a few years ago in Paris when George Martin and Cilla Black were visiting. I started Penny Lane with the wrong verse and I had to stop the song and start again. We ground to a halt and the audience went mad! They enjoyed it and I said, ‘At least it proves we’re live!’ The review said it was the most marvellous bit. These little things contribute to your understanding of what you’re doing. People say why do you still do it — because of moments like that — it feels good!

He added: “[My O2 show] …  sold out in 10 minutes. And I go, ‘Wow great!’ So I know now that those people are keen to see me — which I didn’t always know.

He has recently worked with West on Only One and FourFiveSeconds, which also featured Rihanna.

He said: “It’s good to connect with different artists. The secret is I keep myself very open to suggestions — I still feel like I’m about 30. I’m lucky that someone like Kanye would go, ‘Yes I would like to work with Paul McCartney’. I was quite flattered — I thought, ‘Why does he want to work with me?’ It was a few months later when I was starting to think, ‘should I ring him and ask him did anything come of the stuff we did?’ But then I thought ‘I can’t do that — that’s too soppy!’ I’ll just leave it and try and act cool. And suddenly he sends me Only One, and then Rihanna’s on the other record.

Sir Paul also believes that bands today have an easier ride because the technology available to them means they do not have to be as well-rehearsed as The Beatles. He said: “We’d rehearse the song for about 20 minutes and then for the next hour and a half, we would make the song. You had to be pretty good to do that, and very concise and not muck around. We didn’t know any better. The Beatles were a really good band! The more I go on, the more I appreciate it.

Last updated on March 4, 2021

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