Photo Credit: Marc Millman
This week, Paul McCartney linked up with comedian Conan O’Brien for a special episode of the talk show host’s weekly podcast, Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend. During their hour-long conversation, fittingly entitled “Sir Paul McCartney,” the iconic Beatles bassist and songwriter reflected on his career from the early ‘60s to the present day.
Notably, O’Brien and McCartney discussed the evolving culture around live performance, including changing expectations for set lengths. McCartney acknowledged that the expansive shows he has become known for as a solo artist are in stark contrast to his early gigs with The Beatles.
“We used to do a half-hour that was like The Beatles’ thing,” he reminisced. “Half an hour, and we got paid for it!” According to McCartney, these quick frames were determined by the sheer number of people included on each bill. “I think, if you were a comedian, the promoter would say, ‘How long can you do?’” McCartney noted. “‘Four minutes?’ The guy would say yes, so they would do four, and so we thought, ‘Well, half an hour–that’s epic.’ That was it. A big Beatles show we were on and off like that. It didn’t seem strange.”
However, McCartney also playfully pointed fingers at 73-year-old singer-songwriter Bruce Springston for setting a precedent– or in Conan’s words, “ruining it for everybody”– with his drawn-out, high-energy sets. “Now people will do three, four hours,” the rocker exclaimed. “I blame Bruce Springsteen. I’ve told him so. I said, ‘It’s your fault, man!’”
During the episode, Conan and McCartney also examined the photo series in McCartney’s new book, 1964: Eye Of The Storm, which chronicles The Beatles’ first transatlantic adventure as an ensemble. Fans can access the entire conversation here.