Paul McCartney on the Rolling Stones: ‘Not as good as the Beatles, but good’

macca RS

Paul McCartney is possibly one of the most accessible “living legends” we have left. He just seems like the kind of guy you could have a conversation with about anything. I was reminded of that when I read through his new Rolling Stone cover story. Paul, like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, still enjoys the everyday hustle of being a jobbing rock star. Paul still loves to be on the road, he still loves to record, and he still loves to talk about music. On one side, he’s got an ego and it’s a well-deserved ego, but on the other side, he’s surprising normal. You can read the full RS piece here, there are SO many great quotes, about John Lennon, Yoko, Kanye West and more. Some highlights:

He wants to be liked: “If you go into music, it’s very rare that you’re trying something that you don’t care if people like it. It surprises me that there are some people who don’t want to be liked – there are certain people, I’m sure, but I think it’s just an image. It’s the line in “Hey Jude” about being cool and making your world a bit colder.

The reality that he’s still touring at the age of 74: “Unimaginable – and unseemly. Mind you, when I was 17, there was a guy in John’s art school who was 24 – who I felt so sorry for. I grieved for him. He was so old. Doris Day, who I know a little bit, once said to me, ‘Age is an illusion.’ I reminded her of it recently – I was wishing her a happy birthday. People say age is a number. It’s a big number the older you get. But if it doesn’t interfere, I’m not bothered. You can ignore it. That’s what I do.”

His relationship with Yoko now: “It’s really good, actually. We were kind of threatened [then]. She was sitting on the amps while we were recording. Most bands couldn’t handle that. We handled it, but not amazingly well, because we were so tight. We weren’t sexist, but girls didn’t come to the studio – they tended to leave us to it. When John got with Yoko, she wasn’t in the control room or to the side. It was in the middle of the four of us….My big awakening was, if John loves this woman, that’s gotta be right. I realized any resistance was something I had to overcome. It was a little hard at first. Gradually, we did. Now it’s like we’re mates. I like Yoko. She’s so Yoko.”

When he sees the Rolling Stones perform now:
“It’s a mirage. I see the little band I always knew. You’ve got Mick, Keith and Charlie, who were always there, and Ronnie – he’s earned his Stone-ness. I see a good little rock & roll band – not as good as the Beatles, but good.”

Working with Kanye West: “We had a few afternoons at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The only deal I made with Kanye was that if it doesn’t work, we won’t tell anyone. I didn’t know his system. I’d heard things like, “He’s got a room full of guys working on riffs, and he walks around going, ‘I like that one.’ ” It reminded me of Andy Warhol, these artists who use students to paint their backgrounds and things. It’s a well-used technique. I thought, “I don’t know how I’m going to fit into that, but let’s see. Here goes nothing.”

Whether he thinks Kanye is a genius: “I don’t throw that word around [laughs]. I think he’s a great artist. Take My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I played it when I was cooking, and it was like, “This is good. There’s some really innovative stuff.” When the word came from his people, through my people [laughs], I thought, “Let’s give it a go.”

He listens to hip-hop:
“I listen to it for, you could call it, education. I hear a lot of it and go to concerts occasionally. I went to see Jay Z and Kanye when they toured. I’ve seen Drake live. It’s the music of now.

How the music industry works now:
“I’ve given up trying to figure it out. You can’t. Like this Pure album – I’ll get rung up: “It’s Number Three.” “Wow, that’s cool, man. What did it sell?” “15,000.” I think inside, “It’s a joke, man – 15,000 a day was not good then.” But that’s the new world in record sales, unless you’re Rihanna or Beyoncé. I’ll put out my next album, but I won’t think I’m gonna sell a lot. I’m putting it out because I have songs that I like. And I will do my best job. The scene has changed, but it doesn’t disturb me, because I had the best of it – selling 100,000 a day on something like “Mull of Kintyre.” I’ve had the joy of that. If I don’t have it now, it’s not just about me. All of my contemporaries, who are still pretty cool, don’t have it, because things have moved on. And you know what? We had it. And it was great.”

[From Rolling Stone]

This was such a good interview, right? I found the end quite sad but philosophical – the music industry has changed so much, but that’s alright, because he got to be successful in a different time. One of the saddest passages in the in piece is when Paul is asked if he feels like he has anyone in the music industry to go to for advice, and he basically says no, because John is dead. John was Paul’s only real contemporary and equal, according to Paul. I really do think that had Lennon lived, they probably would have reunited at some point, probably in the 1990s.


Photos courtesy of WENN.

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34 Responses to “Paul McCartney on the Rolling Stones: ‘Not as good as the Beatles, but good’”

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  1. Jayna says:

    I love Paul.

  2. Jane says:

    It’s amazing how good he looks at age 74.

  3. Esmom says:

    I’m with Paul…the Stones are great but the Beatles were better. Admittedly, I’m a Beatles fan. Some of their stuff, even now, still strikes me as groundbreaking whenever I hear it.

    I’m glad to hear he and Yoko are friends. So much crazy history that must seem like lifetimes ago but it seems silly to hold grudges. I’m glad he can look back at his career with such a appreciation and it’s so cool that he’s still making music. He’s a true artist.

    • Megan says:

      They are very different bands and both great in their own way. I love them both.

    • Rhiley says:

      The Beatles were groundbreaking in many ways. Paul McCartney pretty much invented the modern pop song as we know it. I think George Harrison was a completely brilliant and beautiful human being who doesn’t get enough love.

  4. BengalCat2000 says:

    Unpopular opinion, but I hate the Beatles. Overrated as hell. So many better bands came out of that era IMHO.

    • Zapp Brannigan says:

      Make room for me because I don’t like them either.

    • Sandy says:

      I don’t hate the Beatles, but I don’t really see their music as that legendary. It sounds like slightly sterile pop rock to me. I prefer the Stones more raw sound or even the Animals (truly an unsung band of the 60s) darker, bluesy pre-alt rock sound.

      • SKF says:

        Yes but the Beatles created a new sound – more than once. The Stones (much as I love them) produced a sound that largely came from African American music at the time. Regardless of which style you prefer, The Beatles were groundbreaking and created the biggest pop culture phenomenon we’ve ever seen in music. They created Come Together which was so ahead of its time it still resonates today – it could plausibly be created today and find a solid audience. That’s incredible.

    • Bobo says:

      I’m with you guys… cannot stand them.

    • Rhiley says:

      Just out of curiosity, but who are you comparing them to to declare they are overrated?

      • BengalCat2000 says:

        I mean they have been shoved down our collective throats all these years as “the greatest band ever”. That classic radio stations play their music ad nauseum. That there are SO many other amazing songwriters that came out of that time that were equally as amazing yet get little recognition. I simply find them bland and never cared for Paul’s voice. As I said, it’s just my opinion.

    • LeAnn Stinks says:

      I know quite a few people who don’t like them. Therefore, you are far from alone. I also know quite a few who much prefer the Stones to the Beatles.

      I happen to LOVE the Beatles, but found that comment by Sir Paul, to be a bit arrogant. Guess that is what you get from hanging around Kanye (major eye roll).

    • KiddVicious says:

      I don’t hate them but I do think they’re overrated and get tired of hearing them on the radio. Elton John too. Radio stations play way too much of them.

      I think the Beatles made it so big because it was a new sound, new music. I’m sure I would have loved them if I were a teenager in the 60′s. I love Aerosmith’s and GnR’s remakes that they’ve done, they’re good songs, they just needed heavier rock and roll behind them for my taste.

  5. mellie says:

    Haha…I love Paul. I love both bands, but I love the Beatles thismuch more.

  6. ronaldinhio says:

    I watched him live at Glastonbury. He wasn’t my thing too much dyed hair and thumbs upping or so I thought – the choice was him or the Scissor Sisters and I figured …well when else will I hear a Beatle
    His band were beyond tight, he had 1 million hits to choose from and he sent the band away walked to the front of the stage and sang
    I was standing behind to huge tattooed guys who like the rest of us ended up with tears pouring down our faces. I looked around and it was like nothing I had ever seen before.
    I don’t know if it was Glastonbury but that night, Sir Paul was magical, utterly magical.
    For the rest of the weekend, as people trudged along from one band to another, someone would start up the La la la la la la la from Hey Jude and everyone sang
    I will never forget it and he truly is a living legend

    • susiecue says:

      I saw him last year. AMAZING. He played 40+ songs and was not phoning it in. I’m so grateful for the experience, I too had tears flowing to be in the presence of, to me, the pinnacle of modern music.

    • Dani says:

      Scissor Sisters are sooooo good omg!!

  7. mp says:

    A family friend interviewed him a few years ago when he came to our country, she told us he was sooooo nice and super chill. There were also a lot of pictures of him running near the hotel he stayed, with low key security. Fans approached him, and he was also really nice to everyone. He’s great.

  8. Mia4S says:

    Great interview! I love his attitude, happy as the elder stateman, interested in young artists, good guy living the dream.

    I think you are right that he and John would have teamed up again. They had spent time together in NYC in the late 70s and used to talk on the phone when Paul was back in England. They were getting comfortable as “John and Paul” again, so I imagine “Lennon and McCartney” would have been next. And then…

    Goddamn gun violence.

  9. Rhiley says:

    They are different bands in so many ways so it is hard to compare. Now if Paul had said about The Beach Boys, “Not as good as the Beatles but still good,” then yeah, that would be on the money.

  10. Lucy says:

    They were/are the greatest band in the World. And both he and Ringo seem to live their lives with such joy these days. I’m grateful we still have them both, honestly.

  11. thaliasghost says:

    My favorite Beatle. I hope nobody corrects me, I’m not really up to date with my Beatles history but apart from Jane Asher…then came Linda and from then on he was probably one of about three male rock stars who didn’t cheat. Mainly because he couldn’t because Linda was always there.

    • Jayna says:

      He cheated a lot on Jane Asher at the height of The Beatles fame according to things I’ve read from.books.. Once he settled down and married Linda, that was it. He said in an old interview that he and Linda had gotten a lot out of their system by the time they settled down together. I can’t remember his exact quote.

      He wanted Linda with him all the time, which is rare for a rockstar on the road when younger. I think he was only 26 or 27 when The Beatles split up.

  12. Hazel says:

    Love Paul, loved and still love the Beatles, loved and still love the Stones. Glad we had and still have both bands (their music will never die). I don’t think Paul’s statement was arrogance – I think the two bands were always competitive with each other & still continue that friendly rivalry.

  13. serena says:

    That’s so sad.. anyway I loved this interview, he always has a lot of interesting stuff to say! Oh and ‘I don’t throw that word (genius) around’.. seems like he was shading Kanye a bit to me, lol.