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When Paul McCartney was growing up in Liverpool, Elvis Presley felt like a revelation to him. The American artist’s music thrilled him and inspired him to pursue a music career of his own. McCartney said there was one Elvis song in particular that he could put on whenever he felt down. It always cheered him up.

Paul McCartney shared an Elvis song he loved

While growing up, McCartney, like all of his friends, loved movies and television shows. He found his biggest escape in music, though.

“But it was music that I loved,” he said in The Beatles Anthology. “There have been times when I’ve been feeling down, and then I’ve heard a particular song and it has lifted me.”

He said that he and one of his childhood friends both loved the Elvis song “Don’t Be Cruel.” Whenever they felt down, they put on the song.

“Me and my teenage mate lan James both had fleck jackets with a little flap on the breast pocket, and we’d knock around the fairgrounds and places,” McCartney explained. “If we were feeling lousy, we’d go back and play an Elvis 78 — ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ — and we’d be right up there again. It could cure any blues.”

Paul McCartney said that Elvis felt revolutionary to him as a child

Though McCartney pointed to “Don’t Be Cruel” as a favorite, he loved all Elvis’ early music.

“I remember being in the assembly hall at school one day — it was a free period and all us kids were hanging out together,” McCartney said. “Somebody pulled out a music paper, and there was an advert for ‘Heartbreak Hotel.’ Elvis looked so great: ‘That’s him, that’s him — the Messiah has arrived!’ Then when we heard the song, there was the proof.”

McCartney fell in love with Elvis’ first album and would eventually use it to inspire his own music.

“That was followed by his first album, which I still love the best of all his records,” he said. “It was so fantastic we played it endlessly and tried to learn it all. Everything we did was based on that album.”

He said that Elvis’ early era remained his favorite.

“I like him best around 1956, when he was young and gorgeous and had a twinkle in his eye; when he had a sense of humor, plus that great voice,” McCartney explained. “He was an incredible vocalist. Try and do it sometime — we all have — and he is still the guvnor.”

He said he eventually became less of a fan

After 1956, McCartney’s love of Elvis began to wane. He felt that the army had stolen Elvis’ edge.

“I went off Elvis after he left the army,” he said. “I felt they tamed him too much. It was all wrong — Gl Blues and Blue Hawaii. I know they have kitsch value to a lot of people now, and I have also heard people say that they liked Elvis best when he was fat and bloated in Vegas, because there was an edge, a fear that something was going wrong, which they could be voyeuristic about.”

Still, McCartney was thrilled when he met Elvis in 1965.