Here Are Paul McCartney’s 8 Desert Island Discs

Words by Riley Fitzgerald
Graphic by Press

In 1982 Paul McCartney sat down to talk with Roy Plomley, host of popular BBC radio segment Desert Island Discs. Much to his interviewer’s surprise, the former Beatle revealed himself to be somewhat hopeless when it came to maintaining his own record collection. (In fact, he didn’t even have copies of many of his old Beatles records.) Nevertheless, Paul did provide a list of eight songs he would take with him were he to find himself isolated on a deserted isle.

1. Elvis Presley’s ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ 

First was Elvis Presley‘s ‘Heartbreak Hotel’. “It takes me back to when I was first buying records,” Paul revealed. “I remember being at school when this record came out.” He also shared that first wife Linda McCartney would later gift him the acoustic bass used by Elvis’ band to record the single as a birthday present.

2. Chuck Berry’s ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’

With Chuck Berry, I choose ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ because it is sums him up for me,” McCartney added. “To us, he was a magician making music that was exotic, yet normal, at the same time,” Paul McCartney later shared after Berry’s  death in 2017 “We learnt so many things from him which led us into a dream world of rock ‘n’ roll music.”

3. Benjamin Britten and the Julian Bream Consort Orchestra’s ‘Courtly Dances’ 

My preference will always be for rock’n’roll,” Paul noted of his unlikely choice. “But I do like a lot of classical music. I don’t know much about it but I like the great tunes in classical music… There’s just something special about it, I’ve loved it for years.

4. Gene Vincent’s ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula’

The first song I ever bought was Gene Vincent‘s ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula’,” McCartney recalled. “Those are the kind of things that justs sent tingles up your spine. To me [rock ‘n’ roll] seemed like a whole new direction of music… All these people in crazy clothes with guitars and slicked-back hair!” Paul would later meet his idol while performing in Hamburg with the Beatles during the early 1960s.

5. John Lennon’s ‘Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)’

I haven’t chosen any Beatle records,” Paul shares. “I haven’t chosen any of my records. So to sum up the whole thing I’ve chosen one from John Lennon‘s Double Fantasy, which I think is a beautiful song. It’s very moving to me.”

6. The Coasters’s ‘Searchin”

Now this is one we used to do at the Cavern [Club],” Paul enthused. “There were to girls called Cris and Val and they used to say, ‘Sing Searchin” Paul. That used to be the big request from Cris and Val so we always used to do this one. It was a big favorite with the group.”

7. Little Richard’s ‘Tutti Frutti’

Again I’ve just chosen one to sum him up,” the Beatle then added.  “He’s a friend of mine from the Hamburg days.” McCartney may have been being modest. Little Richard is widely cited as one of Paul McCartney’s greatest influences.

8. Wings’ ‘Walking In The Park With Eloise’

This one was one written by my dad,” Paul shared of his last selection. McCartney would surprise his father James by recording the song with two of his father’s favorite artists Chet Atkins and Floyd Kramer in 1974. Jim, who passed away in 1976, was reportedly very pleased with the effort. “He really used to love this one,” Paul reminisced.

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