Paul McCartney Explains How He Helped Inspire Kanye West’s 2014 Track ‘Only One’

When Paul McCartney and Kanye West first collaborated together on the rapper’s 2014 song, “Only One,” the two instantly clicked. Not only did they bond over their mutual love for music, but things between the artists got quite personal when they connected over the losses of their mothers.

Paul McCartney and Kanye West
Paul McCartney and Kanye West | Kevin Mazur/WireImage

‘Only One’ was inspired by The Beatles’ ‘Let It Be’

It might not seem like it, but West and McCartney have a lot more in common than anyone would have expected.

Not only are they both the most notable musicians in the music industry, McCartney and West know the unique grief of losing their mothers, which is something they bonded over while collaborating on Kanye’s single “Only One,” in 2014.

West lost his mother in 2007 after she suffered complications following a plastic surgery procedure. McCartney’s mother, Mary, passed away from an embolism following tumor-removal surgery when the singer was in his teens.

To honor her memory, the former Beatle wrote “Let It Be” after she came to him in a dream, saying, “Don’t worry it’s all going to be fine, just let it be.”

While collaborating with West in 2014, the singer shared the chart-topping track’s backstory with the rapper, which ended up serving as an inspiration for “Only One.”

“We sat around and talked an awful lot just to break the ice,” McCartney said in an interview with The Sun, via Rolling Stone. “One of the stories I told him was about how I happened to have written ‘Let It Be.'”

“My mum came to me in a dream when she’d died years previously…” he continued. “And I woke up and thought, ‘Woah’ and wrote the song… [Kanye] said, ‘I’m going to write a song with my mum.’ So then I sat down at the piano.”

While West and McCartney have adopted the same way of channeling their pain into music, that isn’t the only thing they’ve found to have in common.

During the interview, the singer revealed that he and the rapper employ a similar process that he and John Lennon used when it came to writing songs.

“When I wrote with John, he would sit down with a guitar. I would sit down. We’d ping-pong till we had a song,” McCartney said. “[Working with West] was like that.” 

West and McCartney collaborated on more than one song

Following the success of “Only One,” McCartney and West went on to collaborate on a few more songs together, including “All Day” and the hit track “FourFiveSeconds,” featuring Rihanna.

The songs opened McCartney up to a whole new audience of millennials and Generation Z-ers, who thought he was one of West’s discovered talents.

“The great thing is, all sorts of hysterical things come out of it,” McCartney said in a 2018 interview with GQ. “I mean, there’s a lot of people think Kanye discovered me. And that’s not a joke.”

Though they haven’t collaborated on a new song in a few years, we’re sure McCartney and West wouldn’t be opposed to getting back in the studio together, especially since the singer enjoys creating tracks with the famed rapper.

“Oh, it was great, man! It was really exciting. I didn’t know what was going to happen from one minute to the next,” McCartney of West while speaking to Rolling Stone at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2015. “But then he’d send me these hits! Suddenly I’m working with Kanye – and then suddenly I’ve got a hit with Rihanna! But it’s cool!”