Paul McCartney has revealed in a new interview that he and Kanye West‘s collaborative single “Only One,” written from the perspective of the rapper’s late mother Donda West, was inspired by the Beatles‘ classic “Let It Be.” Speaking to The Sun, McCartney also said that he and Kanye employed a similar process that McCartney and John Lennon used when they wrote Beatles songs together.
“When I wrote with John, he would sit down with a guitar. I would sit down. We’d ping-pong till we had a song,” McCartney said. “[Working with West] was like that.” From there, McCartney and West just chatted – at one point, West asked, “What was pussy like in the Sixties?” – before the topic eventually turned to “Let It Be.” “We sat around and talked an awful lot just to break the ice,” McCartney told The Sun. “One of the stories I told him was about how I happened to have written ‘Let It Be.'”
McCartney, who like West lost his mother at a young age, told the rapper, “My mum came to me in a dream when she’d died years previously. I was in a bit of a state – it was the Sixties and I was overdoing it. In the dream she said, ‘Don’t worry it’s all going to be fine, just let it be.’ And I woke up and thought, ‘Woah’ and wrote the song.” After sharing that anecdote, “[Kanye] said, ‘I’m going to write a song with my mum.’ So then I sat down at the piano,” McCartney said, and “Only One” was born.
A representative for McCartney confirmed the accuracy of the quotes to Rolling Stone. In the interview, McCartney also admits he was initially apprehensive about working with West. “My first thought was, ‘Woah, what am I going to get into here,'” the bassist wondered. “He is amazingly talented but controversial and can make eccentric moves. I realized if it didn’t work out we’d just say so and shake hands and leave.” Instead of leaving, the duo crafted “Only One” and later teamed with Rihanna for “FourFiveSeconds.”
Speaking to Rolling Stone at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, where he enshrined his Beatle bandmate Ringo Starr, McCartney said of working with West, “Oh, it was great, man! It was really exciting. I didn’t know what was going to happen from one minute to the next. But then he’d send me these hits! Suddenly I’m working with Kanye – and then suddenly I’ve got a hit with Rihanna! But it’s cool!”