Thousands of different artists have covered the Beatles throughout the last 60 years, and sadly, the vast majority have failed to do the band justice. Usually, most acts try to make an impression of The Beatles, and Paul McCartney‘s favourites are when artists instead put their own unique spin on a song from the canon of the ‘Fab Four’.

McCartney has been asked about his favourite covers of their work on a plethora of occasions throughout his career, and one of his answers has remained consistent. During a Twitter Q&A in 2014, the former Beatle told one of his fans: “There are so many that I love it’s difficult to say, but Esther Phillips’ version of ‘And I love HIM’ comes to mind.”

Additionally, during a discussion with Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in 2018, McCartney commented: “The earliest one that really caught my ear was by Esther Phillips, R&B Singer. She did a female version of ‘And I Love Her’ called ‘And I Love Him’, which is really great. I love it.” Phillips released the cover in 1965, just a year after The Beatles released the original version.

Macca then named Ray Charles’ version of ‘Eleanor Rigby’, which he says, “I loved”. He also commented on the phenomenon of ‘Yesterday’, the most covered song in history, and revealed his favourite versions of the classic track.

He continued: “I was lucky when I came up with ‘Yesterday’. Because that’s got covered like about 3000 times. And I think 3000 people, maybe over that have recorded that. So I was always amazed ‘3000, wow. That is so great.’ But I thought, ‘Who are these people?’ So I said to one of our guys ‘Johnny, can you get me like the top 10? Just give me the sort of top ten best ones’. So I listened to all of them. They were great. It was like Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Marvin Gaye – very cool, Ray Charles, and the list went on. Amazing people, amazing versions.”

Following the death of legendary Sheffield musician Joe Cocker, McCartney heaped praise upon his cover of ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’. He said in a statement: “I remember [Cocker] and Denny Cordell coming round to the studio in Saville Row and playing me what they’d recorded. It was just mind-blowing … [he] totally turned the song into a soul anthem, and I was forever grateful for him for doing that.”

From McCartney’s comments, he’s seemingly happy for musicians from across the spectrum to put their own spin on his creations regardless of genre. Instead, McCartney wants to see ingenuity applied and artists add a new dimension to the track, which clearly differentiates it from the original rather than lazily attempting to replicate The Beatles.

Listen below to ‘And I Love Him’ by Esther Phillips.


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