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Sir Paul McCartney on NPR

Last month, while driving from my house to my sweetheart's one afternoon, I listened to Paul McCartney being interviewed by Robert Siegel on NPR. Part of what he said really resonated. When asked why he hadn't packed it in and rested on his laurels (pretty much the actual question, by the way), McCartney's answer was (more or less) that he hears other people doing things better than he does, and it makes him want to try harder.

I found it interesting that even at his level of success, he feels that way. It speaks to the universality of the creative mind/experience, don't you think?

There's another song from New, "Alligator," that seems to come from a frustrated place. What's up here?

[McCartney:] I was talking to someone the other day about this: It seems to me that no matter how famous [you are], no matter how accomplished or how many awards you get, you're always still thinking there's somebody out there who's better than you. I'm often reading a magazine and hearing about someone's new record and I think, "Oh, boy, that's gonna be better than me." It's a very common thing.

I'll accept this as a very common thing, as I've heard from any number of illustrious professors — or broadcasters, for that matter — the fear, "I'll be found out." But, Sir Paul McCartney: You have had success in so many dimensions of music. You really feel a competitive insecurity with somebody else that's coming out with a record?

[McCartney:] Unfortunately, yes. One thing that's good about it is, I think it's a good motivator. It keeps you hungry. I think the minute you're full up and have had enough to eat, then that's time to retire. But I agree with you — I should be able to look at my accolades and go, "Come on, Paul. That's enough." But there's still this little voice in the back of my brain that goes, "No, no, no. You could do better. This person over here is excelling. Try harder!" It still can be a little bit intimidating.

Here's a link to the full interview.

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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 24th, 2013 06:54 pm (UTC)
Well, McCartney (as in my McCartney :-)). I do think so. (To answer your question). I think it does appear odd --as the interviewer seems to think-- that someone like McCartney with such huge accomplishments can still feel this way. Like Dylan. It's cool to see artists will always be artists and that they just "can't stop" until they die. It must be hard though to compete with yourself when those pieces of art (as in McCartney's and Dylan's song) are so huge. I'm glad I'm small potatoes. It might be crazy, otherwise.
Nov. 25th, 2013 03:54 pm (UTC)
I was surprised by how competitive McCartney was, and heartened to know that he deals with the same insecurities as the rest of us.
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Nov. 25th, 2013 03:54 pm (UTC)
I know, right?
Nov. 24th, 2013 10:13 pm (UTC)
Very interesting interview. And I like that he needs to know that his audience is really keen to see "him," so he'll ask the promoter to only sell one show at a time. :)

I think what's kept me admiring Paul is that he obviously doesn't need the money but he continues to make records and perform. He's a true creative and musician who's about challenging himself and refining his art. He doesn't seem to take things for granted -- as you mentioned, he's aware of others doing better than him and it makes him try harder.
Nov. 25th, 2013 02:36 pm (UTC)
Paul AND Bob seem to be in that same boat. Ain't about money. It's creativity.

And Paul use to have John to make him try harder (and vice versa).
Nov. 25th, 2013 03:57 pm (UTC)
Paul seems to want to try harder all on his own, though - he was certainly without John for longer than he was with him! Still, in some ways it's hard for him to top some of that collaborative material from way back when in some ways.
Nov. 25th, 2013 03:56 pm (UTC)
I found a lot of reassurance in there, as well as a bit of inspiration (and a teensy bit of "cut me a break!", if I'm being honest, but that is perhaps just my skepticism peeking through).
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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