The Post Where I’m Forced to Defend the Dipsh*t Kids Who Don’t Know Who Paul McCartney Is

The Beatles were the greatest band of all time.  Period.  Full stop. Don’t waste my time saying anything contrary because you’re f**king wrong.  It’s as immutable as the speed of light.  And if you’re of a certain age and/or musical persuasion, you know all about the Beatles and the four personalities that lay within. That means you’re well aware of Paul McCartney, one of the greatest songwriters planet Earth will ever seen.

When Kanye West released a song just before New Year’s that featured contributions from Macca, tweets like this started appearing.

Who is Paul McCartney tweets


The Twitterverse was deluged with similar queries after McCartney made an appearance on the Grammys a few years back.

Tweets About Paul McCartney


Naturally, the Internet threw up on itself as people wondered what the hell was wrong with today’s kids.  I thought exactly the same thing–but I’ve since reconsidered.  First, I blame parents for not taking time to educate their kids about music.  Second, I blame the Beatles themselves.

If you’re under 25 today, chances are you get almost 100% of your music online. YouTube is your go-to site, but you might also stream music through Rdio, Spotify or some other service. And while there is plenty of Beatles to be found on YouTube (I just did a quick search that returned 7,690,000 results), the Beatles’ organization hasn’t okayed any of their music for streaming.  If you’re not making your product available to your audience, it’ll never, ever be discovered. Hence the above tweets.

This isn’t unprecedented, either.  When the CD was introduced in late 1982, it tool until early 1987 before any Beatles albums turned up in the new format.  The organization held back until they were sure that CDs were a good thing.  And when they finally acquiesced, sales of CDs exploded. Such was the power of the Beatles’ blessing.  The same thing happened with iTunes. The Beatles stayed on the sidelines for years, refusing to allow iTunes to sell anything from their catalogue.  But once a deal was struck, whoosh! Apple roared to a 70% global market share of digital music sales. Thank you, Beatles.

So now we’ve evolved towards streaming.  The Beatles are, as always, being cautious and waiting for the right deals.  Once they make their music available for streaming, they’ll extend their reach and influence once again.

But they can’t wait too long.  Someone somewhere in the Beatles empire must realize that in order to keep the people top-of-mind for another couple of generations (and to keep generating the billions of dollars they’re used to), they’re going to have to bend to the wants and needs of music consumers.  Until then, though, we’ll see more and more kids tweeting their puzzlement at this guy who is “hella old.”



Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38516 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

12 thoughts on “The Post Where I’m Forced to Defend the Dipsh*t Kids Who Don’t Know Who Paul McCartney Is

  • I blame The Beatles lateness on English conservatism.

  • The Beatles are bigger and better than Yeezus

  • While I’m personally not a Beatles fan, to not know who they are shows a willful ignorance of even the most rudimentary music history. One can only hope these dolts don’t actually aspire to a music career of they own.

  • In all fairness, the Beatles are these kids’ grandparents music. The same way I had no interest in Bing Crosby, Glenn Miller or Lawrence Welk growing up in the 80’s and early 90’s, these kids will not know the key artists of 60’s or even 70’s unless it’s featured in a commercial, a huge movie or TV show or sampled by a contemporary artist and plastered all over Youtube.

    For us it’s blasphemous that kids under 20 don’t know who McCartney is, but most of the people that this comes as a shock to are only 1 generation removed from this musical era. The majority of teens probably don’t even listen to “rock” music.

    Mind you the Beatles should be required listening like Mozart or Beethoven, but I would never expect a 15 year old to know their individual names.

  • I think you completely hit the nail on the head with this one Alan. I’m sure kids under a certain age could recite lyrics to the newest top 40 dance hit as it’s played over and over again on the radio. And those stations wouldn’t even touch the Beatles as it doesn’t fit their format. I’ve been a fan of the Beatles for a long time, but when I wasn’t interested in certain styles of music, and I was young, I never fully understood the impact of their music until I started to listen them and then, start to read up on them. Even then, it took years to appreciate everything they wrote, and completely understand their influence on music. Period.

  • A few years ago, put together a school spring concert with classes from grades 5-8. I took the Beatles Love album, removed a few songs and assigned 2-3 songs per class. Kids came up with a little dance and we performed it for the parents. Prior to this, most students were disappointed that they weren’t performing to the crap that they listen to nowadays. But by the end of the show, there wasn’t one student who didn’t have an appreciation for the Beatles…and the parents loved the show too. I have to admit…it was the best school concert that I’ve ever participated in.

    Point is, you have to give the kids a chance to experience the music, not just listen to it if you want them to have an appreciation it. To this day, students who I run into talk about that show and the new love they have for the Beatles.

  • I knew about itunes blowing up when the Beatles signed off on it, but I didn’t realize the same thing happened with CDs. It’s kind of amazing to think of a band having so much power in that sense.

  • Although a huge Beatles fan – I suspect most of these “kids” were showing typical millennial sarcasm…

  • Agreed with the post. Eric totally made the points I was going to make.

  • Yes, but… It would take the same amount of effort to Google McCartney as it would to tweet one’s ignorance. Same goes for most topics, of course. That’s the part I don’t get — why complain about your ignorance in the same medium which could be used for enlightenment?

  • You missed the joke – the majority of the “who is Paul McCartney?” tweets were meant to be sarcastic.


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