As four working class boys from Liverpool without jobs, The Beatles were more than happy just to cash in on their success for the first few years.
In a new conversation surrounding his new book, The Lyrics, Paul McCartney tells Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt that John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and himself were just trying to make a living at first.
"When we first got out of Liverpool, it was money," Macca admits of the Fab Four's initial motivation. "We were kids without jobs. Suddenly here was a job, and so we wanted to get paid — and the more money, the better."
McCartney continued, saying that he and Lennon used to half-joke during songwriting sessions about what they wanted to buy with the proceeds from their next hit.
"We said, 'Well, let's write a swimming pool! You need a new extension — let's write it!'" he recalled.
Coming from an era of here-and-then-gone pop stars, the Beatles had no expectation that their career would span multiple albums or that they'd be able to sell records into the later part of the decade. As the years went on, the band realized the impact they could have.
"It was only later that we discovered that what we were doing was art, and [that] there were things like muses," McCartney said. "You then start to think, 'Oh, is it more noble if we don't write for money and we just write for art or love?' But that comes in anyway. It's not like it's excluded because you're accepting money. What we wanted was a guitar, a car and a house. ...That was the height of our ambitions. Then you suddenly could get them."
Money actually served to heighten the Beatles' ambitions, McCartney suggests, both from artistic and charitable perspectives.
"You don't just use money for yourself," he continued. "There can be someone who's in desperate need of an operation who you work with, or you're very friendly with, and you can say, 'Look, get up to Harley Street, get that operation. I don't want you waiting around. It might take months.
"To be able to donate to great causes so you can see things changing, you can see how you can help people. There's plenty of good stuff about money; you don't have to just take it all. You can distribute it."
You can watch the full conversation via the player above!