Gripping her vinyl copy of The White Album, Miola Aganović ‘17 was spellbound by her most beloved musician and admitted that she sobbed during his performance of “Blackbird.”
Sitting in the front row, a couple feet away from Paul McCartney was the most special thing that has happened to me,” Aganović said. “My dad and I only ever listened to the Beatles when I was growing up so that moment was incredible. I’m still in shock to be honest.”
Sir Paul McCartney spoke Thursday night to a happy few, a small gathering of 550 Rollins students, faculty and staff. The campus visitor was kept secret until the morning of the event, and attendees had to win their golden tickets through a lottery system. The news caused such a frenzy around campus—proving that a boy band from the 60s can still make fans weak at the knees half a century later.
I thought it was really cool how they kept it secretive the whole time,” Lauren Chisner ’15 said. “Even though he is such a big star, it was such a small and honest event.”
While making his grand entrance on the altar of Knowles Memorial Chapel, the rock ‘n’ roll legend was donned in black and strumming an air guitar with an infectious grin. Naturally comical and humbly confident, the ex-Beatle is not a traditional knight in any sense, but he immediately captivated the capacity audience and received a standing ovation before even saying a word.
During an hour-long discussion with former U.S. poet laureate and Winter Park Institute speaker Billy Collins, McCartney divulged about his upbringing in Liverpool, views on song covers, collaboration with John Lennon, and shared tips on the creative process.
The knight strummed guitar chords to illustrate his inspirations for songwriting and reveal the defining moments behind some Beatles’ classics. A guitar shop owner hooked on jazz influenced the melody for “Michelle,” and a Bach composition inspired the intro for “Blackbird.” Drive My Car” came into fruition over tea with John Lennon, and “Yesterday” came into being through a dream.
That was one of the most magical things for me. I dreamt that song,” McCartney said. “It came in a dream perfectly formed as a melody, and that is the song that has been covered the most.”
When asked about the extensive amount of Beatle covers, he replied, “It’s a tribute no matter how bad it is. I like covers of my songs. I am amazed that people would even bother.”
Collins referred to Sir Paul as an “800 hit wonder,” and the two artists found common ground when discussing the ties between lyrics and poetry. While attributing the Beatles’ musical evolution to “a natural growing up we developed—and drugs,” McCartney described poetry as a more personal experience.
I think of writing poetry like writing in a diary, because you are just trying to get an understanding of what’s around you,” McCartney said.
The night ended on a reflective note with a solemn performance of “Blackbird,” a song co-written with John Lennon that alludes to race issues in America. The intimate song was a perfect choice for an intimate night with Paul McCartney.