The Beatles: Paul McCartney Once Felt He Could Never Perform This ‘Sgt. Pepper’ Song Live

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band features many of The Beatles’ most famous songs. Notably, Paul McCartney thought he could never perform one of the tracks from Sgt. Pepper live for a very specific reason. Subsequently, he decided to add the song to his setlist, though he said this was difficult to do.

The Beatles' Paul McCartney with a guitar
The Beatles’ Paul McCartney | PA Images via Getty Images

How Paul McCartney’s philosophy about performing Beatles songs changed

During an interview with The New York Times, Caryn Ganz noted Paul used to refrain from performing Beatles songs live after The Beatles broke up. Now, Beatles songs make up a large portion of Paul’s live set. Ganz asked Paul why this is the case.

“I never used to do anything unless it was something that I had done the main vocal on,” Paul responded. “Which is still true, most of the songs, but now I’ve started to do things like ‘A Hard Day’s Night,’ which was mainly John’s vocal. That I would have called a John song, but you know, I helped write it, and it’s a similar thing for a song called ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!’ In the end, it’s just down to whether it’s a good song to do.”

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Why Paul McCartney plays this song from The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’ live even though it’s difficult

Paul gave fans more insight into his feelings about “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!,” a track from Sgt. Pepper. “I had always said I could never do that song because it’s got such a complicated bass part that it’s almost impossible to sing the melody, which is kind of contrapuntal,” Paul said. “But in the end, I thought, stop being a wimp, let’s try and see if you can do it. And I manned up and learned it.”

During an interview with Rolling Stone, Paul discussed why “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” is so difficult to perform live. He said he has to sing a melody that’s very different from the baseline of the song. Paul finds this is fun but challenging. He said any bass player who sings would have a difficult time with “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!”

Paul said he likes revisiting “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” because it’s a fun and strange song to add to his setlist. Furthermore, he noted The Beatles never played that song live. 

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The Beatles weren’t the only musicians who recorded ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!’

“Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” had a legacy beyond Paul singing it onstage. Peter Frampton, the Bee Gees, and George Burns covered it for the film Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Meanwhile, Maynard James Keenan, Puscifer, and Sunbears! covered it for the Beatles tribute album With a Little Help From My Fwends. “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” seemed to resonate with other musicians even if it’s difficult to play during a concert.