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Paul McCartney Initially Thought the Film ‘Yesterday’ Was a ‘Terrible Idea’

Rolling Stone logo Rolling Stone 11/14/2019 Claire Shaffer
a person standing on a stage: Paul McCartney © Provided by Penske Media Corporation Paul McCartney

In a new cover story published by Billboard, Paul McCartney discussed one of his more memorable collaborations: working with Kanye West.

“I had no idea what was going to happen,” McCartney said of their session. “I didn’t want it to be at his house or my house, because it could be awkward if one of us wanted to leave.”

They decided to meet on “neutral ground” (a cottage at the Beverly Hills Hotel), with a few instruments on hand.

“I was sitting around, strumming the guitar — that’s normally how I start a song — and Kanye was looking at his iPad, basically scrolling through images of Kim [Kardashian],” said McCartney. “So we were telling stories, and at one point I told him how ‘Let It Be’ came from a dream about my mother, who had died years before, where she said, ‘Don’t worry, just let it be.’ He said, ‘I’m going to write a song about my mother,’ so I sat down at this little Wurlitzer keyboard and started playing some chords, and he started singing. I thought, ‘Oh, are we going to finish this?’ but that was that. And it became ‘Only One.'”

McCartney also dove into details on his publishing company MPL — which owns the rights to everything from “The Christmas Song” to the musical Annie — as well as what he thought of the new film Yesterday, which posits what would happen if the Beatles had never existed.

“Richard Curtis, who [directed] Love Actually, wrote to me with the idea,” McCartney said. “And I thought, ‘This is a terrible idea,’ but I couldn’t tell him, so I said, ‘Well, that sounds interesting — good luck.’ I didn’t think anything more of it. Then someone said Danny Boyle would direct it, and I thought, ‘They must think they can pull it off.'”

McCartney eventually saw the film with his wife Nancy at a movie theater in the Hamptons. “Only a couple of people saw us. We were in the back row, giggling away, especially at all the mentions of ‘Paul McCartney.’ A couple of people in front of us spotted us, but everyone else was watching the film. We loved it.”

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