Paul McCartney says he still doesn’t know how to write songs


Paul McCartney is one of the most successful songwriters in rock history, but he insists that even at age 73 he still doesn’t have the hang of it.

In an interview with NPR, McCartney was speaking about teaching a class at his music school, the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, and said that he told the students there that he doesn’t have any sort of foolproof system for writing songs.

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“Nearly always the first thing I go in and say [is], ‘I don’t know how to do this,'” McCartney said. “You would think I do, but it’s not one of these things you ever know how to do. You know I can say to you: Select the key. We will now select a rhythm. Now make a melody. Now think of some great words,’ That’s not really the answer.”

It might be surprising to hear someone say that who has written or co-written 32 number one songs, but McCartney says the songwriting process is something that’s always evolving.

“There is no sort of point you just think, ‘Okay, now I can do it, I’ll just sit down and do it.’ It’s a little more fluid than that,” McCartney said. “You talk to people who make records or albums and you always go into the studio thinking, ‘Oh, well I know this! I’ve got a lot of stuff down, you know, I write.’ And then you realize that you’re doing it all over again you’re starting from square one again. You’ve never got it down. It’s this fluid thing, music.”


Photo credit: By Eddie Janssens (Wikiportrait) [CC BY 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

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