Listen to What the Man Said: Paul McCartney Answers Kids’ Questions

Lyndsey Parker
Maximum Performance

This week, Paul McCartney celebrated the release of New (his 16th studio album and first full album of all-new original material since 2007) with an exclusive Yahoo Screen concert stream of his "iHeartRadio Album Release Party," shot live at the prestigious Frank Sinatra School for the Arts in Queens, New York. (Check out Yahoo Screen's Music channel for videos.) And while his surprise performance for the delighted students was a major treat in and of itself, so was the kids' talk with Sir Paul via a rare, intimate Q&A session.

How many art pupils ever get the opportunity to learn directly from a music master like this? Gather 'round and check out what the wise Beatles legend had to say about life, loss, and facing his critics.

On his biggest obstacle:
One student named Enrique asked the Beatles legend about the obstacles he's overcome (after pausing to say what an honor it was to talk to Macca, of course). Paul answered, "The main obstacles, you don't want to get caught up, would be the critics." When Paul puts out an album, he explained, it can sell well and "the kids love it," but then a critic comes along and says "it's a load of rubbish. And you've got to deal with that. We've had that a few times. Funny enough, a New York Times critic [Richard Goldstein] said Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was a load of rubbish. The next week it went to number one and he took it all back."

On what he would change, if he could go back in time:
Another student, freshman Amy, asked him this great question — then accidentally said she was "fine" after he said hello. (Cue cute awkward moment.) "Wait a minute, I didn't ask you how you were, but I know you are good," Paul chuckled, before answering: "What I would change, which is impossible, is losing your loved ones." But the rest of his creative life and work, from Beatles to Wings to now? "I wouldn't change any of that."

On his greatest life lesson:
Answering another question by a junior named Francine, Paul talked about learning to forgive his own performance mistakes. "One is when I first started, I was terrified of doing anything wrong onstage. If I made a mistake, I beat myself up. I got to learn that people don't mind. In fact, people kind of like it. If you are onstage and make a mistake, people go, 'I was at that one show where he made the mistake!' It doesn't matter as much as you think. You can relax a bit more. That would be it, that would be the main lesson."

On if he ever knew how far he'd get:
Senior Krista, understandably "still getting over the shock" of talking to Paul, asked him if had any idea, back when he was playing "pubs in Germany," that he'd ever be this successful. "No, not at all," he admitted. "As young kids, we thought [we'd last] two years. Then 10, then 20..."

On how he first knew he'd "made it":
"I was 20, 21 and heading in the car from London on the way to Liverpool, and 'Love Me Do' came on the radio," Paul recalled, answering a question from junior Kristen. "I rolled down the windows and said, 'This is me!' I knew I'd made it."

On how fame has affected his art:
Paul told senior student Addison, "Fame gives you freedom. You start out doing stuff you think other people want to hear. Then you move on and go, 'I can give then stuff they don't know they want yet.'"

On why he keeps going:
Paul said this wasn't the first time he'd heard this question, asked this time around by a senior named Brandon. "My question to you is why you continue to do what you do? Is there something you feel you haven't shared with the world? People say, 'You've done enough, just retire.' People ask me that. I say, 'Thank you very much…No.' The truth is that I really love it so much. I could be home watching TV, and I'd rather be here. I say to people, 'Come along to one of our concerts and you'll know why I do it.' It's just so warm. I love it so much."

Stay tuned for exciting new on Yahoo Screen's next live stream concert, coming next week!