The Song Paul McCartney Thought People Would Think Was About The Beatles’ Split

After writing his song “Confidante,” Paul McCartney realized people would think it was about The Beatles’ split. Paul said they weren’t exactly wrong. He liked when fans read too much into his songs.

The Beatles at the launch of 'Sgt. Pepper' in 1967.
The Beatles | John Downing/Getty Images

Paul McCartney said The Beatles’ split felt like an original sin

In The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, Paul explained that The Beatles’ split felt like an original sin. Toward the end of the group’s lifetime, their music became less important. All they did was go to business meetings that were “soul destroying.”

“We’d sit around in an office, and it was a place you just didn’t want to be, with people you didn’t want to be with,” Paul wrote. “There’s a great picture that Linda took of Allen Klein, in which he’s got a hammer like Maxwell’s silver hammer. It’s very symbolic.”

Eventually, Paul said those last months and The Beatles’ split weighed on him heavily. It came down to original sin. The Beatles weren’t born perfect. “That whole period weighed on me to such an extent that I even began to think it was all tied in with the idea of original sin,” Paul wrote.

“Even though my mum had christened me as a Catholic, we weren’t brought up Catholic, so I didn’t buy into the concept of original sin on a day-to-day basis. It’s really very depressing to think that you were born a loser.”

Paul thought people would think ‘Confidante’ was about The Beatles’ split

One day, Paul realized he hadn’t played his guitar in a while and decided to pick it up. Then, “Confidante,” from 2018’s Eygpt Station, came out. It’s about how telling your secrets to your guitar results in songs.

“At that moment, when you’re alone, the guitar is your confidante,” Paul wrote. “You cradle it. It also looks like a woman. There’s lots of stuff going on there… ‘My underneath the staircase friend.’

“I just liked the idea that with this guitar I could tell them how grateful I was for having a confidante who could come with me on far-off journeys. That’s how I feel about a guitar.”

Paul realized that the song had morphed into a love song. Forgetting about his guitar, his confidante turned into a lost romance. Then, Paul also realized that some people would think he was talking about his love of The Beatles. They’d also assume he was talking about their split.

He explained, “The song begins with ‘You used to be my confidante’, but by the time you get to the end, it’s ‘But I fell out of love with you / And brought our romance to an end.’

“What I like is that you write a lyric, and it suggests different things to different people. I don’t think I was thinking about ending my relationship with the object of the song – the guitar – but I like using language that can be interpreted in different ways and allows people to attach their own meaning to a lyric.

“So, to many listeners this line in the song could naturally echo the end of a relationship. At the time I thought, ‘Oh, people are going to think this is about the breakup of The Beatles. About my guitar standing beside me when my band-mates didn’t.’ And I suppose at the back of my mind that was true, and sort of what I was thinking.”

Related

Paul McCartney Said the Sound Effects Library at Abbey Road Studios Liberated The Beatles During Their Experimental Phase

‘Confidante’ has a more direct reference to The Beatles

Paul wrote that there’s another, more direct reference to The Beatles in “Confidante.”

The lyric, “Serpents turn to bits of string,” refers to “something that happened” when The Beatles were meditating with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh, India, in 1968.

“Every evening, people would meet and talk, and the Maharishi would field questions, and one thing in particular stuck in my mind,” Paul wrote. “People always used to say, ‘Just meditate. Don’t worry; it’s all cool.’ And there was this guy who said, ‘Maharishi, I’m from New York and I have to tell you, I’m scared of snakes.’

“The poor guy had a phobia about them. He said, ‘I was meditating, and I saw this snake come towards me in the meditation. I was really scared, but I remembered what you said: just look at it and meditate. And it turned into a little piece of string.’ I always thought that was a great image, and I remembered it.”

So, Paul’s time with The Beatles influences his songs whether he’s consciously doing it or not.