Skip to main content

Some stars had an influence on classic rock so pervasive they managed to inspire the old guard. Case in point, David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” was an inspiration for one of Paul McCartney’s solo albums. Paul made the album with one of Bowie’s 1970s punk peers. On the same token, Bowie discussed how The Beatles influenced his lyrics for “Space Oddity.”

Paul McCartney was thinking of David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ while working with Elvis Costello

Paul worked with punk singer and producer Elvis Costello on the record Flowers in the Dirt. During a 2017 interview with The Washington Post, Paul discussed his mindset while crafting “Press to Play” from Flowers in the Dirt. “Sometimes you get caught up in trying to be the current flavor, trying to go along and flavor your cooking with the food of the month, and I think ‘Press to Play’ was certainly that,” he recalled. “Press to Play” features a lot of yuppie synthesizers.

“I remember the records I listened to,” Paul added. “‘Let’s Dance.’ Or ‘Drive’ by The Cars. Records that were of the time and I probably just thought, ‘Yeah, it’d be quite nice to get into a bit of that.'” Paul didn’t write many dance songs for The Beatles. For that reason, it’s surprising he was so taken with 1980s dance music.

Paul McCartney compared Elvis Costello to 1 of The Beatles

Paul discussed the collaboration process. “We just sat on these couches,” he remembered. “Each of us got an acoustic guitar. Sat across from each other.

“I said to him, ‘The way I’m used to working with a collaborator is really, mainly with John,'” he added. “And the way we used to do it is sit opposite like this. And the thing for me that was kind of nice … because I was left-handed and he was right-handed, as was the case with Elvis, too, it was as if I was looking in the mirror.”


How The Beatles’ ‘Twist and Shout’ Inspired David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’

How The Beatles paved the way for David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’

While Paul drew inspiration from Bowie, Bowie drew inspiration from The Beatles. During a 1973 interview in the book Bowie on Bowie: Interviews and Encounters with David Bowie, the singer discussed the line “Here (am I sitting in my tin can)” from “Space Oddity.” He said the lyric was inspired by the puns in the Fab Four’s songs. Similarly, he admitted to reusing the vocal line from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band‘s “Lovely Rita” in his tune “Star” from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

Bowie said he would “interplay” with the music of other artists. If he didn’t do that, the singer felt he would have been more of an individual. It’s strange to think that an artist as cutting-edge as Bowie saw himself as a follower. Bowie’s comment is a testament to The Beatles’ impact on the underground scene.

In a perfect musical equilibrium, Flowers in the Dirt wouldn’t be the same without Bowie and “Space Oddity” wouldn’t be the same without The Beatles.