The enduring influence of Paul McCartney

A few days ago I met up with some good friends for lunch at a terrific pub outside Dorking. It was a pleasant 90-minute drive on a warm and sunny day from Newbury via Guildford and through the Surrey Hills.

To make the journey even more pleasant and very relaxing, I listened to the Spotify playlist of the songs in Paul McCartney‘s headline session at Glastonbury Festival last weekend. The 90-minute return journey gave me the time to listen to almost all of the 36 songs he performed.

If you’re in the UK, you can freely watch a recording of his three-hour Glastonbury gig on BBC iPlayer for the next three weeks or so. He played to a crowd of over 100,000 plus millions worldwide watching on live TV. The bigger and highest-definition your screen, along with great audio, the better will be your experience.

Indelible markers

Listening to the songs made me realize what a giant Paul McCartney is. His song-writing has been a huge and indelible influence on popular music from his start over 60 years ago. The Quarrymen, The Beatles, Wings, and solo, his influence is writ large across so many music genres. Not only that, he has embraced others’ creations to influence his own works.

The songs triggered many memories mainly of The Beatles in my youth during the 60s and 70s but also much in contemporary times.

Here’s the playlist for you to listen to the songs, reflect, and enjoy!

Also, see 64 Reasons To Celebrate Paul McCartney, an excellent and insightful assessment of McCartney’s career and achievements published in 2020:

This is a good moment to take a step back, the better to observe something astonishing: Paul McCartney has been writing and performing music more or less continuously since 1956. That’s sixty-four years. For the best part of a century, he has been creating songs that people sing in the shower and belt out in the car; songs to which people dance, run, cook, kiss and get married; songs we sing in crowds; songs we get stoned to; songs we sing with our kids; songs that wrap themselves around us when we’re down; songs that fill us to the brim with joy. His finest work is undoubtedly frontloaded by the miraculous accident of The Beatles, but there are gems scattered throughout his career, right up to the present day. For sheer fecundity, I can’t, with the exception of Bob Dylan, think of any other songwriter who comes close. There are very few artists in history, in any field, who have produced so much work at a high level over such a span. His achievement is immense, historic, and will be remembered for centuries if anything will.

Thanks to Ewan Spence for sharing that article.

(Photo of Paul McCartney via Glastonbury Festival. An earlier version of this post was published on Facebook on 29/6/2022.)