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Paul McCartney Said He Often Does a ‘Disappearing Trick’ When Writing Songs



Paul McCartney said he often does a “disappearing trick” when writing songs. He likes to pretend to be other artists when he doesn’t want to write a Paul McCartney song. Suddenly, there’s no pressure.

Paul McCartney often does a ‘disappearing trick’ when writing songs

In his book The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, Paul wrote that he often does a “bit of a disappearing trick” when writing a song. For example, he imagines it having been recorded by another artist. In the case of The Beatles’ “The Long and Winding Road,” Paul thought of Ray Charles.

Sometimes, Paul doesn’t feel like writing songs as Paul McCartney. He doesn’t want it to be a Paul McCartney song. So he imagines he’s another person writing a tune. “This is a strategy for keeping things fresh,” Paul wrote.

The singer-songwriter uses the same tricks in his painting

Paul uses the same disappearing trick in his painting. For years, he simply couldn’t bring himself to paint, even though he liked drawing and had “a bit of talent.” The thought of a blank canvas was so daunting to him that he could never take it up.

Then, he met Willem de Kooning at his studio. The abstract expressionist gave Paul a little picture, and it took all the courage Paul had to ask, “Bill, what is it?” Thankfully, Kooning was a patient person. He replied to the former Beatle, “Oh, I don’t know. It looks like a couch.”


Suddenly, Paul realized that all his worries about the significance of what a painting might be about weren’t the issue at all. So, he went out and bought tons of painting supplies and proceeded to paint about 500 pictures.

He did a disappearing act. For instance, Paul imagined that a friend who owned a restaurant commissioned a picture for his alcove. So, Paul thought of a picture for Luigi’s alcove. Suddenly, there was less pressure. “It was all tricks,” Paul wrote.

Paul has pretended to be many artists while writing songs

In Paul’s songwriting, he’s pretended to be many artists. He often pretended to be Buddy Holly in The Beatles’ early days. Then, Paul and the band started writing songs that sounded like they had come out of Motown. Into the mid-1960s, The Beatles pretended they were writing like Bob Dylan.

When Paul needed a “little voice” or wanted to invoke old Hollywood vibes, he pretended to be Fred Astaire and other greats from that era. He did that on songs like “Here, There, and Everywhere” and “Honey Pie.”

“There’s always someone else you can invoke,” Paul wrote. “You can put on a mask and a cloak as you’re writing something, and it takes away a lot of the anxiety. It frees you up. You discover as you get through it that it wasn’t a Ray Charles song anyway; it was yours.”

Paul said sometimes a song takes on its own character and leads you down a road somewhere you never expected. Thankfully, a force led Paul and The Beatles down the road to success many times.


Source: Cheat Sheet

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