During his formative years in Liverpool, Paul McCartney found Elvis Presley’s music to be nothing short of a revelation. The American artist’s musical prowess not only thrilled McCartney but also served as a profound inspiration for his own musical journey. McCartney fondly recalled a specific Elvis song that never failed to lift his spirits whenever he was feeling down.
Paul McCartney Reveals His Favorite Elvis Song
In his formative years, McCartney, much like his peers, had a fondness for movies and television shows. However, it was music that held the key to his greatest escapism. Reflecting on this, he expressed in The Beatles Anthology, “But it was music that I loved. There have been times when I’ve been feeling down, and then I’ve heard a particular song, and it has lifted me.
He shared that he and a childhood friend shared a deep appreciation for Elvis’s “Don’t Be Cruel.” Whenever they found themselves feeling down, the remedy was simple: they’d play the song. Recalling those times, McCartney explained, “Me and my teenage mate Ian James both had fleck jackets with a little flap on the breast pocket, and we’d knock around the fairgrounds and places. If we were feeling lousy, we’d go back and play an Elvis 78 — ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ — and we’d be right up there again. It could cure any blues.
As a child, Paul McCartney regarded Elvis as a revolutionary figure
While McCartney singled out “Don’t Be Cruel” as a favorite, his admiration extended to all of Elvis’s early music. “I remember being in the assembly hall at school one day—it was a free period, and all us kids were hanging out together,” McCartney recalled. “Somebody pulled out a music paper, and there was an advert for ‘Heartbreak Hotel.’ Elvis looked so great: ‘That’s him, that’s him—the Messiah has arrived!’ Then when we heard the song, there was the proof.”
McCartney’s affection for Elvis deepened with the first album, an enduring love he would later draw upon for inspiration in his own musical journey. “That was followed by his first album, which I still love the best of all his records,” he shared. “It was so fantastic we played it endlessly and tried to learn it all. Everything we did was based on that album.”
Expressing a clear preference for Elvis’s early era, McCartney stated, “I like him best around 1956 when he was young and gorgeous and had a twinkle in his eye; when he had a sense of humor, plus that great voice. He was an incredible vocalist. Try and do it sometime—we all have—and he is still the guvnor.
He mentioned that over time, his enthusiasm as a fan waned
After 1956, McCartney’s admiration for Elvis began to diminish. He believed that Elvis lost some of his edge after serving in the army. “I went off Elvis after he left the army,” McCartney stated. “I felt they tamed him too much. It was all wrong—GI Blues and Blue Hawaii. I know they have kitsch value to a lot of people now, and I have also heard people say that they liked Elvis best when he was fat and bloated in Vegas because there was an edge, a fear that something was going wrong, which they could be voyeuristic about.” Nevertheless, McCartney experienced sheer delight when he had the opportunity to meet Elvis in 1965.