The Real Story Behind Paul McCartney’s “Carpool Karaoke” Episode

via The Late Late Show with James Corden / Youtube

James Corden has hosted several iconic musicians on his popular segment, Carpool Karaoke, but Paul McCartney stands out as the most legendary among them. Despite McCartney’s appearance on the show, Corden revealed that the former Beatles nearly backed out several times before eventually committing.

Carpool Karaoke, which involves Corden and a guest driving around and singing various songs, has produced several viral moments and memes that have garnered millions of views online. In the episode featuring McCartney, the two drove around London and visited locations in the former Beatle’s hometown of Liverpool. Despite McCartney initially committing to the episode, Corden admitted in an interview with The Paley Center for Media that he continued to change his mind, causing uncertainty about the episode’s occurrence.

“He said, ‘I’m in, I’ll do it, I can’t wait,’” Corden recalled. “About a month later, the message came through to us that he’d canceled, he didn’t want to do it. He’d got cold feet for some reason. Then he was back in again two weeks later. [A]bout eight or nine days before we were due to fly to Liverpool to do it, it was one of those nights where I woke up around 1 a.m. … and there was an email saying, ‘Look, I’m sorry, I don’t know how to write this – Paul has changed his mind. He just feels this is the wrong sort of thing for him right now. He’d still like to do it one day.’”

The two visited McCartney’s childhood home in Liverpool, which has been transformed into a museum.

Although the visit resulted in a touching moment, McCartney was initially hesitant about going there, which contributed to his reluctance to appear on the show. Despite his reservations, McCartney ultimately decided to go through with the episode, and Corden assured him that he wouldn’t be forced to do anything he wasn’t comfortable with.

“He told me… in this hotel room, ‘I don’t want to go into my [childhood] house. I haven’t been there since I left. I feel uncomfortable with it,’” Corden shared. “I just went, ‘Paul, your only day’s work today is to have a great time… and if you have a great time this is going to work.’”

James Corden was determined to get Paul McCartney to appear on Carpool Karaoke and was disappointed when the music legend kept hesitating.

Corden even sent a letter to McCartney expressing his frustration and calling his uncertainty “unacceptable.” The host explained that the show’s team had invested time and money into researching and preparing for the segment, and McCartney’s indecisiveness was causing them to lose money. Despite Corden’s letter, he was eventually able to convince McCartney to shoot the show, resulting in one of the most popular episodes of Carpool Karaoke to date.

“I just wrote him an email saying, ‘I think that this is unacceptable… I completely respect your decision not to do it,’” Corden stated. “But I need you to understand what the knock-on effect is for our show.’”

After sending a letter expressing his disappointment and frustration, Corden was ultimately successful in convincing McCartney to appear on Carpool Karaoke. The musician responded with a definite yes shortly after receiving the letter, and the episode was filmed, becoming one of the most memorable in the show’s history.

“I guarantee you, I promise you, that it will be great. And the reason it will be great is that you are Paul McCartney,’” Corden wrote in his letter. “And the next day [McCartney] said, ‘Alright. I’m sorry. I just had a wobble. I’m back in. I’ll do it.”