Paul McCartney says that the Beatles were simply cashing in before the group began to understand that they were creating something important.
“When we first got out of Liverpool, it was money,” he admits in an interview promoting his new book The Lyrics with Barnes & Noble C.E.O. James Daunt. “We were kids without jobs. Suddenly here was a job, and so we wanted to get paid — and the more money, the better.”
Confirming youthful statements he and John Lennon made about the value of their songs, McCartney said: “It was kind of a joke, a half-joke, once we started to get a hit and knew what kind of money a hit could bring in. We said, ‘Well, let’s write a swimming pool! You need a new extension – let’s write it!’”
McCartney said the Beatles eventually started to think differently. “It was only later that we discovered that what we were doing was art, and [that] there were things like muses.” he said. “You then start to think, ‘Oh, is it more noble if we don’t write for money and we just write for art or love?’ But that comes in anyway. It’s not like it’s excluded because you’re accepting money. What we wanted was a guitar, a car and a house. … That was the height of our ambitions. Then you suddenly could get them.”
He argued that “most people in the world” were comfortable with accepting money for their work, so he didn’t think there was “something dirty” about it. He also noted how success can lead to charitable works.
“You don’t just use money for yourself,” McCartney said. “There can be someone who’s in desperate need of an operation who you work with, or you’re very friendly with, and you can say, ‘Look, get up to Harley Street, get that operation. I don’t want you waiting around. It might take months.’
“To be able to donate to great causes so you can see things changing, you can see how you can help people,” he added. “There’s plenty of good stuff about money; you don’t have to just take it all. You can distribute it.”
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