“I think people who create and write, it actually does flow-just flows from into their head, into their hand, and they write it down. It's simple.” ~Paul McCartney
This past February 9, I watched the CBS special, “The Beatles: The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute.” So for the second time in my life, I watched the televised "first appearance" of The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show—or at least parts of it. The first time I saw this event I was seven. I recall sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of my dad, who was sitting in his chair, both of us watching the spectacle in front of us. I was fresh out of the tub and in my pajamas, my hair still damp. As Ed Sullivan announced, "Here they are…the Beatles…" I had no idea what to expect. What happened was…well, historic. Never had I heard such music! But as I said, I was only seven.
What followed was decades of extraordinary music and lyrics from four talented musicians. I have often wondered how they could be so prolific. Even after The Beatles were no longer The Beatles, they continued to write and record individually. After watching this salute, I became curious about whether Paul McCartney (yes, my favorite "Beatle") had ever had bouts of insecurity regarding his ability to continue writing the lyrics that millions of fans now count among their favorites. This is what he said, in an interview with "Drowned in Sound" in 2012:
Looking back on it, the writer’s block that I would have occasionally, would just be getting hung up on a phrase. You know, ‘sweet little long-haired lady’, ‘fine little long-haired baby’, and you’d just go on for hours on this one phrase. What I’d do now - and I was just saying this up in Liverpool to some of my ‘songwriter students’ - is that if you ever get a block, just steamroll through it and fix it later.
So the answer is, in a word, "No." Or "Occasionally." Now he advises budding songwriters who have a block to "steamroll through it and fix it later." That's what writers do sometimes; we steamroll through it. We know how important it is to keep going, even as we struggle for that perfect phrase. While I never thought to compare myself to Paul McCartney, we do share an historic moment—even if he is unaware of it. And here we are 50 years after that appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. He’s still writing great lyrics, and I’m, well—steamrolling through it.