When asked if he ever reflects on the "uniqueness" of his position as a musical icon and beloved pop culture figure, McCartney offered an enthusiastic, "Do I ever!"
The two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer tells GQ that he's always happy to reminisce about his experiences and to hear others' stories about how music he made affected their lives. The conversations give him new, cherished perspectives on his own work, and bring back fond memories of old friends, he says.
But being so deeply involved in something can inhibit your perspective. McCartney credits one longtime friend with a crucial observation about what made The Beatles so unique.
"I remember Keith Richards saying to me, 'You had four singers. We only had one!'" McCartney recalled. "Little things like that will set me off and I think, 'Wow, that is pretty uncanny.' And writers. Not just singers, but [The Beatles had] writers."
What are the odds, McCartney wondered, of songwriters like himself, John Lennon and George Harrison all finding each other? And how did those three find a foil as perfect as Ringo Starr to join them in creating something greater than they could have possibly imagined?
All that talent and serendipity is one thing, but the ability to make it work for as long as they did was quite another, Macca pointed out.
"I mean...the thing is, we were pretty bad at the beginning," he added. "I mean we weren't that good. But with all the time we had in Hamburg [Germany], we just got good. We became good."
Richards and The Rolling Stones have been close to The Beatles for their entire careers. Lennon and McCartney penned one of the Stones' first original singles, "I Wanna Be Your Man."
When asked this spring about the biggest difference between the two iconic bands, Mick Jagger said it was that The Beatles never had the opportunity to do a big arena tour, whereas the Stones have lived in stadiums for much of the past 40 - 50 years.
Photo: Getty Images