Paul McCartney on how Bob Dylan influenced The Beatles: “I was steeped in him”

"I had one of his first LPs at home before The Beatles."

Paul McCartney has discussed how Bob Dylan influenced some of The Beatles‘ earliest songwriting.

Speaking in a new BBC Radio 2 documentary to mark John Lennon‘s 80th birthday, McCartney was asked about the band’s “interpersonal, reflective” song-writing and whether it had been influenced by the US icon’s earlier work.

He told Sean Lennon: “We certainly got a lot from Dylan and I know I had one of his first LPs at home before The Beatles. I used to play that quite a lot so I was steeped in him and I think your dad was too, but that was just one of the influences.

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“There’s an awful lot more because ‘Strawberry Fields’ and ‘Penny Lane’, those are very much us remembering our youth. And it’s a funny thing we used to say when we were little older, I mean, older, like 20 or something even – really young, like babies, you know – but we thought we were kind of men of the universe and big men by then as we get a little bit older.

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, The Beatles
The Beatles’ John Lennon and Paul McCartney CREDIT: Fox Photos/Getty Images

“If ever there was like a problem with a song or recording, we’d often say, ‘What would our 17 year old self think?’ and we like refer back because that was the wisest age we reckoned, you know, ‘17 years, nah, it’s a load of crap!’”

After going on to become musical contemporaries with Dylan, The Beatles met him for the first time at New York’s Delmonico Hotel in 1964. It is widely believed that Dylan introduced the band to marijuana for the first time during their fateful meeting.

The two-part BBC documentary has also seen McCartney reflecting on the first time he met Lennon, as well as his relief at managing to reconcile with the singer before his death.

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You can listen to McCartney’s interview in full on John Lennon At 80 on BBC Sounds now.

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