In a recent Q&A with fans, a student studying for an MA in popular music in Liverpool asked Macca what he thought about college courses focusing on the Beatles as a means of learning pop music. The usually cheery Beatle wasn’t too keen on it.
“For me it’s ridiculous, and yet very flattering,” McCartney wrote in response. “Ridiculous because we never studied anything, we just loved our popular music: Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, etc. And it wasn’t a case of ‘studying’ it. I think for us, we’d have felt it would have ruined it to study it.”
The former Beatle and Wings man made it clear that he’s not against learning about popular music — simply that he doesn’t think you can learn to make great music from a college course.
“I don’t think that by studying popular music you can become a great popular musician; it may be that you use it to teach other people about the history, that’s all valuable. But to think that you can go to a college and come out like Bob Dylan? Someone like Bob Dylan, you can’t make… You can’t tell [people] how to become a Bob Dylan or a John Lennon, because you know, nobody knows how that happens.”