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Paul McCartney thinks it’s hilarious that Bob Dylan said he doesn’t improvise in concert. The Beatle is friends with the “Like a Rolling Stone” singer and has seen him perform many times. There’s no way Dylan doesn’t make it up as he goes.

Paul McCartney performing at Glastonbury in 2022.
Paul McCartney | Harry Durrant/Getty Images

Paul McCartney and The Beatles first met Dylan in 1964, and he gave them pot

In The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, Paul wrote about the time Dylan introduced The Beatles to marijuana. He said “it blew our tiny little minds.”

Dylan and his roadie turned up at The Beatles’ hotel room in New York City in the summer of 1964. He’d recently released Another Side of Bob Dylan, and The Beatles were starstruck. They’d admired each other from afar for years.

The Beatles and Dylan began ordering a few drinks, and a little party commenced. Then, Dylan disappeared into the back room. The band thought he’d gone to the toilet. However, drummer Ringo Starr returned from the room and looked “a bit strange.”

Ringo said, “I’ve just been with Bob, and he’s got some pot.” The band asked, “Oh, what’s it like?” He said, “Well, the ceiling is kind of moving; it’s sort of coming down.”

That was enough for the rest. They practically ran into the back room to Dylan, who gave them each a puff. Paul said that The Beatles might’ve had too much of Dylan’s marijuana. After one puff, they thought it wasn’t working. So, they kept smoking. Then, suddenly, it hit them in the face, and they ran amuck.

“We were giggling, laughing at each other,” Paul wrote. “I remember George trying to get away, and I was sort of running after him. It was hilarious, like a cartoon chase. We thought, ‘Wow, this is pretty amazing, this stuff.'”

Paul McCartney thinks it’s hilarious that Bob Dylan said he doesn’t improvise in concert

For the most part, Paul and Dylan remained friends while treading down their respective paths in music. However, there is something the musicians will never agree on.

In The Lyrics, Paul wrote that he’d recently read that Dylan thinks he does his songs pretty much as they sound on his records. Paul disagrees.

Paul said he attended one of Dylan’s concerts recently. During the performance, it was “sometimes difficult” to recognize the songs. Paul explained that the New York Times quoted Dylan saying he doesn’t improvise.

“I laughed my head off when I read that,” Paul wrote. “I thought it was the funniest thing I’ve read for a while. He’s a great guy, but you don’t know whether he’s being tongue-in-cheek.”


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Paul said the singer-songwriter is brave for improvising

Whether Dylan improvises or not, this isn’t the first time Paul has spoken his mind about his fellow singer-songwriter and his improvisations.

During an interview for Uncut (per NME), Paul said he always likes what Dylan does and sometimes wishes he was a bit more like him. “He’s legendary… and doesn’t give a s***! But I’m not like that.”

After the Uncut interview, Paul talked more about Dylan on The Adam Buxton Podcast. He explained that he’d recently seen Dylan perform. He couldn’t understand Dylan during that performance, either.

“Tell you the truth, I couldn’t recognize the songs,” Paul said. “They were songs I knew well. When I suddenly hear a bit of lyric, I go oh, it’s that one. ‘Like a Rolling Stone,’ I knew that one but he just changes the melody.

“So I kind of have to admire there’s something brave about that. He’s got a room full of people who love him and are coming to hear him do that song that they love but he just goes, ‘Like a rolling stone, Like a rolling stone.’ It’s just like that’s not it, Bob. If he’s on a talent contest, he’d get booed off but I love him. I love his uncompromising stance.”

Years earlier, John Lennon claimed Paul was jealous of Dylan and didn’t respect him. So, who knows what Paul and Dylan really think of one another. Whatever they say might be tongue-in-cheek anyway.