I sort of write ’cause I can’t help it and ’cause it’s a bit of a hobby still for me.
For me sploging music on a piece of paper or onto a record is a great thrill.
For some mad reason I wanted to go back to square one and just do it as we’d done it in the Beatles.
Sort of my best mates in the world, the four of us against the world.
So something like Revolution you know, it meant more than a pair of sneakers.
Sir Paul McCartney’s Top 10 Rules For Success
Evan: He’s an English singer/songwriter and composer.
He gained worldwide fame as a member of the rock band, The Beatles.
He’s been recognized as one of the most successful composers and performers of all time.
He’s Sir Paul McCartney and here’s my take on his top ten rules for success.
Number two is my personal favorite. I’d make sure to stick around all the way to the end for some special bonus clips.
Sir Paul McCartney Rules
- Do it because you can’t help it
- Be different
- Find your drive
- Take it step by step
- Just get out, and do it!
- Fight for yourself
- Produce what you like
- Find your creative process
- Have integrity
- Have fun
- Manage your business well
- Always try to do better
- Don’t worry
Rule #1. Do It Because You Can’t Help It
What’s your inspiration to write? It must be very difficult for you to have any material ambitions.
Yeah but it’s never really been a material ambition. I remember we did used to sit around when we were just starting and we’d started to get our glimpse of number ones. And we did sit round and kid of think, “Okay now we’ll write a swimming pool.” You know, “Let’s write a swimming pool, “let’s write the garage and let’s write a car to go in it.”
But that was never really the big incentive. I don’t think that’s what made us write the songs. So now that part of the incentive isn’t particularly there ’cause I’ve got the car and the garage and that. But I don’t really think it was ever what I was writing for or else I probably wouldn’t write now if I didn’t feel like that.
I sort of write ’cause I can’t help it and ’cause it’s a bit of a hobby still for me. It’s something that if I’m in the mood I really like to just go and do.
Rule #2. Be Different
You guys had that, I heard you say to somebody, maybe in a moment of immodesty, you were a little cleverer than everybody else around.
Yeah a moment of immodesty. Yeah that’s write. It is difficult to talk about that without really seeming big headed. But we were slightly different. It wasn’t so much cleverer, that’s kind of the wrong word, we were slightly more artsy. We were a little bit more like an art group. For instance we did a waltz.
There was a guy called James Ray and we had his album and he had this little song, If You’re Got to Make A Fool Of Somebody and nobody was doing waltzes. But we’d just do this, we’d try to go for the B sides of records, lesser known songs and our whole repertoire was made up of quite weird songs because of that.
So it did make us different and I think with me having gone through grammar school and got a couple of exams and stuff done reasonably well, with John having gone to an art school, George went to the same school as I did too and Ringo went to school for three days, he was something else.
Interviewer: But he was a quick study.
Boy was he a quick study! That’s another story. He was ill a lot when he was a kid. But I think it did give us a little bit of a different attitude, sort of slightly wittier attitude. With someone like John, we were asked, somebody said, “How did the group start?” And instead of saying, “The group started when “the boys got together at Wilton Town Hall in 19,” John sort of started, “We got a vision, “a man came to us on a bun and we had a vision.” You know it was always like that.
Girl: Would you please sing something?
Interviewer: Next question.
Man: But you can sing?
No we need money first.
There’s a question here.
Man: How many are bald that you have to wear those wigs?
All of us!
Oh we’re all bald, yeah.
Don’t tell anyone.
I’m deaf and dumb too.
Tell me, how did you find America?
Third left to Greenland.
Has success changed your life?
I’d like to keep Britain tidy.
Are you a mod or a rocker?
Uh no I’m a mocker.
We developed this little thing in Europe. ‘Cause we’d started to get contact with the press and so we’d started to realize the game here, if you wanted to get invited back, you had to say something, you know? And John was particularly good and Ringo was very good at that too, he always had a lancer, he’s a funny guy.
Rule #3. Find Your Drive
I think the common theme is love of music, love of the thrill of actually doing that thing. It’s like if you like painting, sploging paint on is a thrill. For me sploging music on a piece of paper or onto a record is a great thrill. Basic other incentives have changed because one of the big incentives used to be money.
“We’ll write a swimming pool, no we’ll write a car.” And John and I used to sit around and think that and it was a big incentive man, when you didn’t have a swimming pool. Now I must say, I’m a father of four, I’ve had a lot of fame, I’ve had a lot of money, so that’s not a big priority.
Now it’s trying to get some kind of message over but sort of discreetly so it doesn’t look like I’m preaching. And as I say, but the main reason is just I love doing it.
Rule #4. Take It Step By Step
Interviewer: When you started as a group, did you expect things to go like this?
No. We used to thing of things in stages. Still do I think. When we first started off playing in the cabin and things, I thought first of all, let’s get a record contract. We got a record contract. We said, “Let’s get a number one hit.” Got one of them.
Interviewer: So I hear.
And went on. We do it in stages, we never thought of it being this big.
Interviewer: After you got a number one hit, you hoped for another number one hit.
Interviewer: Then what?
Something like the Royal Variety Performance, something sort of big and things.
Rule #5. Just Get Out, And Do It!
You’ve been in a band for seven years. You could have been a big star as a solo artist but that explains why you put Wings together because you needed people to work with on a live stage.
Yeah I like the idea of a band. People said we can get a big super group, get a load of stars and stuff, but for some mad reason I wanted to go back to square one and just do it as we’d done it in The Beatles. So people said, “Well Linda can’t play keyboards.” And it was true. I said, “Well I know, but we couldn’t play guitar.” John couldn’t play guitar when we started, he was playing banjo chords.
We knew Linda couldn’t play, we knew we didn’t know each other. But she learned. But we had some funny experiences. I mean looking back on it, I’m really glad we did it ’cause it was the way to do it. Like I say, I could have just gone into a super group and just wrung up Eric, Jimmy Page, John Bonham or whatever and just the mates and say, “Come on guys, we’re going to do it.” But for some reason I wanted to go back and it was quite funny, we ended up, as you say, playing universities and graduations to town halls.
It was just funny because I’d been in Shea Stadium quite recently. It was funny. You had to hold your nerve, but then you do in life. There’s all sorts of occasions that throw you and you’ve got to decide, “Okay I’m going under “or I’m going up.” So we just decided to get out and do it. And it was funny. We were in Newcastle Town Hall once and we were doing the song Wild Life and Linda had the intro.
Just three little piano chords, doom doom doom, doom doom doom, doom doom doom. And so I go, “We’re going to do a song now called Wild Life, One two three, one two three.” Nothing. I look around, she’s going. Now the audience loves this. They think this is part of the show. “Hey, hey, love it!” I go, “One two three, one two three.” More nothing.
So I turn round, the audience probably this time will think, “This is great, they’ve worked this out, “this is their comedy bit.” So I go over to the piano, I go, and I can’t remember the notes. Oh no! Suddenly it comes back to her and she goes ging, ging, yes! Wild Life! And we’re off.
Rule #6. Fight For Yourself
Interviewer: The break up, was it hard for you?
Yeah, very difficult yeah.
Interviewer: Why was it?
Well they were sort of my best mates in the world. The four of us against the world. And then suddenly it wasn’t like that. If fact one time it was three against me because I’d decided to not go with this guy, this manager guy, New York guy, Allen Klein. I thought he was robbing us.
And the others didn’t, they were very enamored of him. So I had to do all sorts of horrible things, like sue them, was the most fun thing. ‘Cause I said to my lawyers, I go, “No, can we sue this Allen Klein bloke?” They said, “No he’s not a party to any of the agreements.” He said, “If you want to sue, if you want to get, “you got to sue the guys, your friends.”
What did John say when he found out you were suing him?
No exactly pleased.
Interviewer: Was there a phone call saying, “What are you doing?”
No there wasn’t. It had gone beyond phone calls. Because there was no phone calls. You just didn’t talk to each other for a long time. So it was quite painful. Just trying to save everything we’d ever made to that date. Imagine yourself, everything you’ve ever earned in broadcasting is in a bank somewhere and someone’s about to take it. Well you’ve got to fight pretty hard you know?
Rule #7. Produce What You Like
Interviewer: How do you judge a good song when you’ve written it, by what?
By us liking it. John and I, if we like it and if we think it’s a good one. It’s a combination of liking it and what is commercial, what we think other people will like as well.
Interviewer: Can it be a good song if you like it and nobody was to buy it? That hasn’t happened yet?
Well it always is for us. If we like it, in fact we don’t like bad songs, that’s all there is to it.
Rule #8. Find Your Creative Process
The way I do it is, I think of it in my mind and think of this kind of way I’d like it to be then tell everyone that. And then we do this thing of kicking it around a bit and some little things will start to suggest themselves because of a style someone else is playing that I wouldn’t have thought of. And that sort of gets included, all the good ideas we keep. And we’ll change a thing in the course of recording it from my original idea, but hopefully for the better, something I just didn’t think of.
Rule #9. Have Integrity
You own the publishing rights to a whole lot of music and not all of it is rock and roll. Some of it is Broadway stage shows and others are ballads from years gone by. But Michael Jackson has the rights now to all The Beatles stuff. How much did it bother you when Revolution was used to sell Nike sneakers and things like that.
Heaps. I’ll tell you why, you see, with The Beatles, we had all those offers. Anybody who publishes songs, you get those offers. “Hey can we use this for commercial?” We had the offers from the big soft drinks companies, you know who I’m talking about. Big huge offers to use a Beatles song, to use this and that. But we always turned them down ’cause we believed it’d devalue the whole thing.
We’d be seen to be selling out, which we were keen not to do. We kind of felt that our fans believed in us and we owed them some sort of integrity. We talked to them, we knew what they thought of us. So something like Revolution, it meant more than a pair of sneakers. And I think the danger is, it does devalue it and I think even commercially it’s not that great a decision.
But anyone who knows music publishing, there’s a lot of pressure on you to do that ’cause it’s a big heap of cash, comes in suddenly and it’s very hard to resist for anyone. But I think we shouldn’t do that. I don’t really think we should do that. I think it’s more sense to leave the legend in tact and I think they’ll do great, the songs. I think they’ll continue to do great and I think to commercialize them like that, I think it spoils them.
And having taken that decision with The Beatles, it’s now out of our hands really. We don’t have the authority anymore to do that ’cause it’s now been sold. But I do still think it’s a pity. But I think it’s something we might change, I don’t know, in the future. But personally I also think, as I say, it doesn’t make commercial sense. I think you weaken, weaken, weaken, weaken, you end up with a weak catalog of songs that are thought of as sneakers, automobiles, Snickers bars.
Rule #10. Have Fun
Hello, welcome, welcome. This is backstage at the Brit Awards and we’re going to have some fun tonight. We’ve been rehearsing. We’ve got some exclusive pictures and stuff and video footage and just me saying welcome, stick around, check it out, we love you, I love you, you love me, mmmuah. Tonight I’m going to get a Brit Award. Okay I think I’ll just have it now. Picked!
Evan: Thank you so much for watching. I made this video because Michael Beardmoore asked me to. So if there’s a famous entrepreneur you want me to profile, leave it down in the comments below and I’ll see what I can do.
I also love to know which of Paul McCartney’s top ten rules had the biggest, deepest, most meaningful impact on you and why. Share it in the comments and I will join in the discussion.
Thank you so much for watching. Continue to believe and I’ll see you soon.
Manage your business well
When we first came down from Liverpool, we didn’t think songs could be owned, me and John, we just thought they were in the sky. Just people just listened to them. Well pretty soon you had to get to know they could be owned ’cause someone else knew they weren’t in the sky and he owned them. So that’s what happened to us on the Northern Song Sing which was me and John. Very early on we got managed very well into a little situation so it meant that the lion’s share of whatever songs we did were taken by someone else. Actually one guy we never even met.
Always try to do better
Am I writing better now? Am I writing better then? What’s right? What’s wrong? What records are released? What single and stuff? I’m never really sure of any of that and I never have been. We always used to ask our producer, “Do you think it’ll be a hit?” I’ve never really been a person who, I’m not met any people who’ve been amazingly positive and said, “That’s definitely going to be a hit.” It happens once or twice when you really know it’s going to be a hit. But I find the whole thing pretty inexact. So what I just do most of the time, is just carry on and just always be trying to do something better. Sometimes it’s a flop or sometimes it’ll be a major hit in Britain, Germany, Australia or in certain, Canada and certain places and it just won’t do anything in another territory. I don’t know anyone who knows all those answers. I’ve not met one person who knows exactly what to release, where and when.
Everybody I imagine says to you the pop world is very short lived and everything like that. And what will you do when the phase passes? Do you think the phase will pass? Does it worry you?
No. I couldn’t care less really. I don’t think if we flop tomorrow It’ll be sad but it wouldn’t really worry me.
Interviewer: Could you go back to doing something else?
Oh I don’t know. I’d miss doing this. But I think I’d think of something else to do, something that I’d like to do.
Interviewer: What would you do?
Write songs for other people.
Interviewer: Anything completely different?
Completely different? Retire, that’d be completely different.