Paul McCartney’s blunt swipe at Bob Dylan’s ‘don’t give a s*** attitude’

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The Beatles legend has known Dylan for more than half a century after they first met during the Fab Four’s first visit to the US. He claimed the singer-songwriter was “very ordinary” around friends and completely unlike the “suspicious and contrary” facade he is known for. Sir Paul, who is being interviewed tonight by Idris Elba on the BBC, admitted that he admired Dylan for not giving into fans’ demands and performing whatever songs he wanted to. 

Sir Paul first met the Like a Rolling Stone singer at the Delmonico Hotel in New York in 1964 – a moment that “went down in pop cultural history”.

The Beatles were having a drink when Dylan arrived and quickly introduced himself before “he vanished into a backroom”. 

They presumed he “must have been busy” and thought nothing more of it – but Ringo Starr followed him into the private suite, only to emerge moments later with a “dazed and confused” look.

When they asked what was wrong he explained that Dylan was “smoking pot back there” and that he had tried the drug for the first time. 

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Sir Ringo described how it felt like the “ceiling… [was] sort of coming down a bit” and The Beatles “dashed into the backroom to partake in the ‘evil substance’”.

Sir Paul revealed that in later life, Dylan wasn’t “keen on being labelled as the guy who turned The Beatles” onto cannabis, which is considered a Class B drug in the UK. 

Despite his apparent regret over that decision, their friendship endured and Sir Paul, now 78, revealed his admiration for the singer.

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But in a cheeky swipe, he said: “I always like what he does, sometimes I wish I was a bit more like Bob, he’s legendary and he doesn’t give a s***.”

Sir Paul went on to explain that he was referring to how the singer performed, during an episode of The Adam Buxton Podcast, which aired last week. 

He said: “You have always got a choice with your audience to be cool or give them what they want. 

“I try to give them what they want and at the same time, do some stuff for myself that I think is cool.”

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However, when Sir Paul went to watch Dylan perform in New York last year, the singer didn’t appear to follow that same unspoken rule.

He explained: “To tell you the truth, I couldn’t recognise the songs and they were songs that I knew well.

“Then when I suddenly heard a bit of a lyric, I [would] go ‘Oh it’s that one, Like a Rolling Stone’ – I knew that one but he just changes the melody.

“I kind of have to admire him, [there’s] something brave about that.”

Sir Paul recalled Dylan having a “room full of people who loved him” and wanted to hear their favourite tracks, only for him to play them in a completely different way. 

He continued: “Like, that’s not it Bob! You know, if he was in a talent contest he would get booed-off but I love his uncompromising stance.”

Paul McCartney featured on The Adam Buxton Podcast, which was released on December 11 and is available to listen to here. 

Idris Elba Meets Paul McCartney airs tonight at 9.20pm on BBC One.

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