Elvis, Death Cab & Black Keys Pick Paul Favorites

Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, Elvis Costello, Joe Elliott of Def Leppard and Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie are among the 80 artists who picked their favorite Paul McCartney songs to help mark his 80th birthday on Saturday.

The full list appears on Stereogum. Here are a few highlights. 

Dan Auerbach of Black Keys – “Eleanor Rigby.” “I was totally addicted to “Eleanor Rigby” when I was a kid. It has that magical quality. You don’t have to be a musician to connect with it. It has that pop thing. That’s what I think about pop — it’s the part of music where you don’t have to be a musician to appreciate it. It goes beyond that. Those guys just did that so often. They made it seem easy.”

Lindsey Buckingham – “Here, There and Everywhere.” Revolver was perhaps [The Beatles’] high watermark in terms of composition, and ‘Here, There and Everywhere’ is a paragon among many masterpieces on that album.”

Elvis Costello – “For No One.” “To me it’s his best lyric, not that there aren’t many others after that and before. It’s the one where, I think, you could make a case for how unique a lyricist he is. It’s not a song anyone else has written. Not even remotely like a song I can think of. And not really many since, the way it’s laid out.”

David Crosby – “Eleanor Rigby.” “You know, if I’m driving on a sunny afternoon I want to hear ‘Day Tripper.’ But if I want to be moved emotionally, man, ‘Eleanor Rigby’ really does it for me. I love ‘She’s Leaving Home’ also. I think that’s another very brave song from around the same time. Very emotionally mature, very grown-up, very beautiful. He dealt with very emotional stuff very bravely.”

Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie – “Here, There and Everywhere.” “That song just holds a lot of sentimental value. My dad always had this nylon string guitar leaned up against the wall, and he would entertain himself and to a certain extent us by playing through this Beatles fake book. I remember being 10 or 11 years old and hearing my dad play this song. He would always play it to my mom as a torch song of sorts. The melody is very beautiful.”

Shirley Manson of Garbage – “Venus and Mars (Reprise).” “It was Scotland in the ’80s and four of us schoolgirls were huddled around a record player, pouring over one of our dad’s record collections. We were all short skirts and long legs thrust into tucker boots, smoking Winston cigarettes and drinking weird mixtures of sneakily appropriated alcohol from our parents’ drink cabinets. That was when I heard ‘Venus and Mars’ for the first time. I’ve never really figured out what the lyrics mean. I don’t care. I just like how the words sound together and the gorgeous, wistful melody.”

Graham Nash – “Misery.” “​​The Hollies were playing with The Beatles in the north of England. After The Beatles’ soundcheck, where they did ‘Little Child’ with John on harmonica, Paul came up to me and he goes, ‘Hey, do you want to hear a new song?’ I said, ‘Are you kidding? Do I wanna hear a new Beatles song?’ Nah, why would I want to hear a new Beatles song. I said, ‘Of course I would! Come on!’ He gets John on one side of me and himself on the other, and they sing ‘Misery’ for me, Paul in my left ear and John in my right ear. That was an incredible musical moment for me.”

Maggie Rogers – “Darkroom.” “Early in the pandemic, I got completely obsessed with McCartney II. I’d go for long walks by the cliffs in Maine alone where I was quarantining and oscillate between sobbing and solo dancing. ‘Darkroom’ is an easy favorite.”

Kim Thayil of Soundagrden – “Blackbird.” “[It] was always encountered by me throughout various experiences in life: love, loss, joy, sadness, worry, hope, pride, grief. It was appropriately emotive and meaningfully significant within all of these contexts and many more. This song has an unusual ability to provide depth of perspective both with internal examination, as well as offering external understanding through its flexible application as a metaphor. This song is simply beautiful musically, lyrically, sonically and emotionally. I’ve grown into this song as much as it attached itself to me.”

Richard Thompson – “Penny Lane.” “The lyrics are very visual, and create a little three-minute drama, an enclosed world of vivid characters that bleed out of the edges of the song into surrealism. It seems less like the real Penny Lane, and more like a remembered dream. I’m not sure there is a true antecedent for all the remarkable threads that come together to make this recording.”