Why Paul McCartney Joked Barack Obama Would Punch Him Out

As a Beatle, as a member of Wings, and as a solo artist, Paul McCartney has proved himself to be a world-class artist. It only makes sense he would be asked to perform at the White House. Paul got the chance to perform there for former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama back in 2010.

One of the songs Paul played for the Obamas was the Beatles’ hit “Michelle.” It certainly seemed like an appropriate song to sing at the White House, given the First Lady’s name. However, Paul joking expressed concern the president might punch him!

U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama | Gary Fabiano – Pool/Getty Images

Why it could be awkward to sing ‘Michelle’ to Michelle Obama

First, a little background. “Michelle” is a love song from the Fab Four’s classic album Rubber Soul. It is a simple, pretty composition. It’s certainly not as groundbreaking as other Beatles tracks like “Wild Honey Pie” or “Helter Skelter.” However, it stands alongside “She Loves You” and “Something”  as one of the Beatles’ most beloved love sings.

Paul said he was “itching” to sing “Michelle” at the White House. He apologized to the president before he sang it. Why? Well, “Michelle” is a song about being in love with a woman named Michelle.

If President Obama took Paul’s performance of the song the wrong way, he might think Paul was flirting with the First Lady! Of course, the president seemed to understand Paul’s performance of the song was simply a performance. Despite this, Paul still joked about the situation. He said he might become the “first guy ever to be punched out by a president.”

How the the Obamas felt about Paul McCartney and vice versa

“Michelle” by the Beatles

The First Lady was reportedly happy to hear Paul sing for her. She said that, when she as a little girl, she never would have imagined that a Beatle would sing to her as the First Lady of the United States. There were certainly many girls named Michelle in the 1960s who wished Paul would sing “Michelle” to them. Imagine having that dream come true!

Despite Paul’s joking reservations about singing the song, President Obama was happy to have Paul at the White House. He praised Paul’s musical prowess, saying Paul “helped to lay the soundtrack for an entire generation.”  The president said the Beatles weren’t the first rock group ever, but they helped pave the way for many rock groups to come.

Paul McCartney performing “Michelle” at the White House.

The president noted how, although the Beatles were a British band, they had a profound effect on American culture. “That’s right, we stole you, Sir Paul.” The president’s comments make so much sense, as everything from the Beach Boys to The Simpsons owe the Beatles a debt of gratitude. On a similar note, Paul jokingly said he’d like to perform in the United States daily.

Specifically, Paul said he liked performing at the White House and wanted to sing there every day. “I don’t think there could be anything more special than to play here. Lunchtimes, we could come around. We’re cheap.”

Also see: Beatles: Why Bob Dylan Said ‘Yesterday’ & ‘Michelle’ Are ‘Cop-Outs’