The Beatles, as I’m sure has been said before, boast remarkable staying power. Some artists come to define a particular moment in our lives but perhaps don’t endure beyond those years. In contrast, the Fab Four have a remarkable ability to stick by our sides through thick and thin.
The only thing that changes, it would seem, is who we regard as our favourite member. Angsty John Lennon, for example, was my teenage self’s favourite Beatle, but in my 20s, I started to develop an affinity with George Harrison, whose penchant for inner exploration offered an alluring counterpoint to the new and bewildering world of adulthood.
More often than not though, once these two important phases have passed, people tend to realise that, while he may not be the coolest or most zen member of The Beatles, Paul McCartney is by the far the best. Not only did he write some of the Beatles’ most enduring hits, but he was also – as Peter Jackson’s Get Back documentary demonstrates – the one trying to keep the band afloat and to make his friends smile. As actor Emma Stone recounted in 2010, this wholesome desire to comfort those around him has stayed with Paul McCartney right up to the present day.
Speaking in an interview with David Letterman following the release of Easy A, Emma Stone opened up about her intimate connection with one of Paul McCartney’s most endearing hits: “[My mom’s] favourite song is ‘Blackbird’ by Paul McCartney, and it’s my favourite song as well,” the actor explained. “And she just went through a pretty crazy two years. Two years ago tomorrow, she got diagnosed with breast cancer. And she’s out of the woods now, which is amazing.”
“I wrote a letter to Paul McCartney asking him if he would draw two little bird feet, because he wrote the song, and yesterday he sent them to me,” Stone revealed. “He’s drawn little bird feet – blackbird feet – and so I’m getting a tattoo right there and she’s getting one too. Custom tattoos designed by Paul McCartney! Isn’t that wild?”.
The tattoo, which is etched onto Stone’s left-hand wrist, is charmingly simple. The two stick-like bird’s feet, drawn by McCartney’s own hand, capture the brilliance of The Beatles. So many years after their split, their music is able to form a bridge between generations. That is a rare and wonderful thing.