Paul McCartney on the “Challenge” of Writing Songs for Ringo Starr

Paul McCartney is one of the most prolific living songwriters. But even he’s faced his share of struggles when it comes to songwriting, especially for one of his Beatles bandmates.

Though McCartney and John Lennon were the primary vocalists and songwriters for the Beatles, they did let drummer Ringo Starr take the lead on a pair of noteworthy tracks, “With a Little Help From My Friends” and “Yellow Submarine.” McCartney admits that writing for Starr’s voice posed a bit of a challenge for him and Lennon.

“I always saw those as the equivalent of writing a James Bond film theme,” McCartney described of writing for Starr in the book Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now, according to Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “It was a challenge, it was something out of the ordinary for us because we actually had to write in a key for Ringo and you had to be a little tongue in cheek.”

The music legend also shared how the joyful “Yellow Submarine” was written with Starr’s personality and his affection for children in mind. “He was very good with kids so we knew ‘Yellow Submarine’ would be a good thing for Ringo to sing,” he said.

While “Yellow Submarine” was more childlike and playful, in regards to “With a Little Help From My Friends,” McCartney shares the NSFW intent behind the lines, What do you see when you turn out the light? I can’t tell you but I know it’s mine. “It could have been him playing with his willie under the covers, or it could have been taken on a deeper level; this was what it meant but it was a nice way to say it, a very non-specific way to say it,” he remarks. “I always liked that.”

McCartney recently revealed that one final Beatles song featuring the voices of all four members – with a little help from AI – will be released later in 2023.

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