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Paul McCartney: 'My fans say my music heals them'

By Emily Wither for CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sir Paul McCartney reveals to CNN what it means to be a music icon
  • The ex-Beatle says his fans tell him his music heals them
  • McCartney says making music can be a "spiritual" experience

Editor's Note: Sir Paul McCartney features on CNN International's arts and culture show, icon, this month. Watch the show and find out more at CNN.com/icon.

London, England (CNN) -- Paul McCartney, by some accounts the most successful songwriter of all time, has told CNN that his fans say his music appears to have a healing quality about it.

The 68-year-old music icon has been speaking out about what music really means to him and his fans all over the world.

The former Beatle says people have shared stories with him of situations when his songs and music have helped them through difficult times.

"I'm very blessed," McCartney told CNN. "People come up to me and say, 'I was going through chemo or I was going through this or that and your music got me through.' That's kind of wow!" he said.

Video: Paul McCartney on Les Paul guitars

McCartney continued, "I heard recently about a guy who had been in a coma and 'Hey Jude' came on the radio and he woke up and said, 'That's "Hey Jude!"'"

"For me you can imagine what's that like, it's so emotional and so gratifying, because the great thing is I don't even know how I do it," he added.

Paul McCartney says that it's stories like these that bring him the greatest satisfaction about working in music.

"Some kid from Liverpool comes out, gets in a group, we're trying to make money, we're just trying to get a job, we suddenly do this stuff that's reaching out to people, that other musicians want to cover -- and finally its greatest pay-off is that it's actually healing people physically," he said.

That "kid from Liverpool," as he calls himself, has come a long way from his modest upbringing in Northern England. According to the Guinness Book of World Records 2009 edition, McCartney is the world's most successful songwriter of all time. He's written or co-written a phenomenal 188 UK-charted records, of which 91 reached the British Top 10 and 33 made it to No.1.

People come up to me and say, 'I was going through chemo and your music got me through.' That's kind of wow!
--Musician Sir Paul McCartney
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But what does it take to pen a world-wide hit record? The superstar told CNN that for him it's something that comes from above.

"You get an idea and you follow the trail," he said. "Sometimes it can be even more spiritual than following that trail, sometimes you find an idea just coming to you," he continued.

Take the song "Yesterday," for example. The most copied song of all time, with over 3,000 recorded cover versions, apparently sprung from a dream that McCartney had one night.

"I just woke up one morning and just had this song in my head, and the melody was fully formed," he told CNN.

"If I ask myself where did that come from, I think you do have to think it's some sort of higher place, some sort of spiritual place that just delivered it to me," he continued. "That song has been covered by some three thousand people, so maybe they feel this spiritual thing too," he added.