Paul McCartney explains why The Beatles were political

When one thinks of former Beatles and Wings legend Paul McCartney, you’re normally met with the image of the unfailingly affable but slightly dithering hero of rock, who has always used his platform for good, pledging his allegiance to a myriad of righteous causes over the years.

There are countless musical reasons why McCartney has been hailed as a hero since he first broke onto the scene with The Beatles in the early 1960s, and, in addition to this, his many extra-musical efforts have only compounded the respect with which he is viewed.

You’d be mistaken for thinking McCartney apolitical, as he’s clearly the opposite, and the causes that he has advocated over the years have shown him to be a lifelong supporter of progressive causes. At his core, he is a champion of the little man, something his humble roots in Liverpool undoubtedly impacted. Unlike many of his peers, McCartney has never forgotten where he came from, and this humble everyman nature has kept him artistically grounded.

In an interview he once gave, McCartney discussed his old songwriting partner John Lennon and revealed that one of Lennon’s songs should have been sung by fans to oust the notorious US President Richard Nixon from The White House, as he was the antithesis of McCartney’s generation.

During the 2002 interview with Hot Press, Macca was asked if he was satisfied with the message of peace and love contained in his music. “I realized that somewhere along the way this idea of giving a good vibe off, giving a good message, crept in,” he responded. “I’m not sure where. It just crept in — we didn’t mean to do it — just something in the ’60s.”

He then suggested that this message might have been subconsciously influenced by ‘The King of Rock’ n’ Roll’ himself, Elvis Presley. “‘Cos we’d been listening to Elvis and ‘Heartbreak Hotel,’” he explained. “It felt great but there wasn’t necessarily, like, a message.”

The Liverpool native then turned his attention to how the fraught political atmosphere of the ’60s bled into The Beatles’ songs: “But then with ‘All You Need Is Love ‘and ‘Let It Be’ and things like that, I think it was probably the turmoil that we were going through and which the generation was going through, that suddenly there came this need for these songs”.

Of this need to spread the gospel of peace, McCartney specifically mentioned The Plastic Ono Band’s 1969 single ‘Give Peace a Chance’, which was written by Lennon but originally credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership. The former Wings mastermind said: “And then when John did things like ‘Give Peace a Chance’ there became very much this physical need for people to have something to sing at the White House and get Nixon out and end the Vietnam War”.

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