When Paul McCartney dreams, they’re often about fellow Beatle John Lennon. “And they’re good dreams,” McCartney told Stephen Colbert in a lengthy new interview on “Late Night With Stephen Colbert.”
McCartney was on the show to promote his new children’s book, “Hey Grandude!” But his reminisces about The Beatles were priceless.
Lennon died tragically of gunshot wounds outside his apartment building in Manhattan in 1980. He was only 40.
Paul’s relationship with John has been the subject of wide speculation for years, from their intense collaborations on a multitude of hit songs to The Beatles’ fabled breakup in 1970.
“When The Beatles broke up, a lot of the talk was like I was the villain, and that John and I really didn’t get on well,” he recounted. “There was a lot of down talk about it because everyone was sad; The Beatles broke up and all.”
The controversy played into Paul’s thoughts, and he admits, “I kind of bought into it.”
“I had to do a lot of, sort of, wrangling with it: “Was I? Wasn’t I? ‘Did I really know John?’ ‘We’re we really friends?'”
But a long ago photo of the two working together, which Colbert held up for the audience, proved to be very special to McCartney.
“That photo, when I saw that, it’s like ‘Yes! We were friends,'” he pronounced. “It a beautiful photo for me; it just reminds me of working together, and how cool it was.”
The reminiscence about John was one of several touching moments during the interview. It showed Paul had real compassion and kinship when his bandmate.
Even nearly 40 years after Lennon’s death, Paul said he still thought about him “quite often.”
“I dream about him,” he revealed. Many of the dreams are about being in the band.
“They’re crazy. I’m often with John, and just talking about doing something,” he said. One dream took a bizarre turn when Paul said he reached for his bass and discovered it was covered in sticky tape.
“I have a lot of dreams about John and they’re always good.”
Paul also revealed he’d written songs in his dreams. One in particular, “Yesterday,” has become the most covered song in history.
“I woke up one morning and there was this tune in my head,” he said.
The piano in his small apartment was near his bed, so he began sounding out the tune. “What is this? I thought it was just an old tune my dad must have played, or I just heard it yesterday (literally).”
Paul said he asked around with his friends and bandmates and ultimately his producer, the late George Martin. None of them had ever heard it.
“So after about a couple of weeks, I decided it was mine,” he quipped.
McCartney wrote the song, but shared credit with Lennon. At the time, most Beatles songs had a Lennon-McCartney writing credit no matter who penned the tune.
It was first released on the album Help! in August 1965 and as a single that September in the United States. It went straight to No. 1 on the US charts. It was included in the U.S. release of the album Yesterday and Today, in June 1966.
The song has been covered more than 2,000 times by such artists as Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.
The song title is also the title of a new movie “Yesterday.” The romantic comedy directed by Danny Boyle and starring Himesh Patel as struggling musician.
He’s the only person in the world who knows about The Beatle’s song catalog, makes them his own and becomes wildly famous.
Among other topics, Colbert asked McCartney about losing his mother at the age of 14. McCartney said Lennon’s mother had also died when he was a teenager.
“So we had a kind of bond that we both knew about that, we knew that feeling,” he said. “And I never thought that it affected my music until years later.”
McCartney explained that people connected the lyrics from “Yesterday” to his mother’s death. “I certainly didn’t mean it to be. But it could be, you know those things can happen.”
McCartney also talked about the Beatles’ songs, the band’s feelings about first tour in the United States and the nervousness everyone felt during their first live television appearance on the old “Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964.
Ironically, Colbert tapes in the theater now, which was vaguely familiar to him.
Click below to see the entire interview.