Paul McCartney Used to Be the Guy at the Party with the Acoustic Guitar

"Michelle" was inspired by the times he tried to look French at art school parties

Photo: Mary McCartney

BY Alex HudsonPublished Apr 10, 2024

The Guy at the Party with the Acoustic Guitar is famously one of the worst guys around. Nobody likes that guy! Well, unless he's Paul McCartney, of course, who has described his time hanging out at art school parties while trying to look interesting by playing guitar in the corner.

Speaking on the podcast McCartney: A Life in Lyrics on iHeartPodcasts, McCartney recalled the days when he would tag along to parties with John Lennon, who was two years older.

"One of the things you used to do was you would go to a party and you'd take your guitar with you," McCartney said. "John, being older and at arts school, would go to art school parties, which me and George normally wouldn't have an entrée into. But I remember going to one, and I took my guitar."

This is where things, frankly, get a little bizarre.

"So I'm sitting enigmatically in the corner with my black polo-neck sweater on, trying to look French," he remembered. "Trying to look interesting to this older crowd. One of the weapons that I used was to play this sort of French-y sounding song, and make guttural noises ... kind of half thinking that someone will think, 'Well, he's French probably.'"

That all sounds absolutely mortifying to witness — but, incredibly, McCartney's goofy French impression planted a seed that, a few years later, led him to write the Beatles' "Michelle," a Rubber Soul cut that became a chart-topping hit and won a Grammy Award for Song of the Year.

So next time some guy is playing an acoustic guitar at a party, maybe listen a little closer, since he just might be the next Paul McCartney. Hear the episode below.

Latest Coverage