The Beatles song John Lennon said he could’ve sung better than Paul McCartney
John Lennon and Paul McCartney have shared the writing credits on countless songs for The Beatles. But, in truth, the pair rarely worked so strictly together, instead preferring to get advice on near-finished pieces rather than work together on the foundations.
It meant that the duo rarely wrote songs for one another. In fact, they never did. Such a clear difference must’ve helped towards the group’s eventual split as their rivalry intensified.
That didn’t mean the duo didn’t write songs for the other members of the group. Lennon penned ‘Do You Want To Know A Secret’ for Harrison’s vocal range while John and Paul’s ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’ was always destined for Ringo’s tone, the duo never wrote a song for one another.
In 1980 though, as John Lennon and Yoko Ono were readying themselves to release Double Fantasy, the bespectacled Beatle sat down with the Playboy journalist David Sheff in what is a now-iconic interview. In the conversation, Lennon takes pointed aim at paul McCartney and the rest of The Beatles, highlighting a plethora of tracks he didn’t like — largely Paul’s creations — as well as a list of songs of Macca’s he loved.
However, there was one song which Lennon believed was not only a great track but that he wished he had sung on, suggesting he would’ve done a better job, Abbey Road’s ‘Oh! Darling’. He told Sheff: “‘Oh! Darling’ was a great one of Paul’s that he didn’t sing too well,” he said. “I always thought that I could’ve done it better.”
Acknowledging that the duo didn’t operate in that way: “He wrote it, so what the hell, he’s going to sing it,” Lennon said, he also suggested it was more in his style. He recalled to Sheff, “If he’d had any sense, he should have let me sing it.” Though it’s remarkable to read it was just one of many salacious comments.
It’s hard to imagine anyone else taking on the vocal of ‘Oh! Darling’, McCartney’s performance is a pure one but one heavily engineered. The singer actually began to damage his vocal cords as he continued to provide takes for the hair-raising song, then opting to sing the track at the beginning of every nose-to-the-grind session.
“Every day we’d be treated to a hell of a performance as McCartney put his all into singing the song all the way through once and once only, nearly ripping his vocal cords to shreds in the process,” engineer Geoff Emerick recalled in Here, There and Everywhere. “Paul’s ego prevented him from ever giving John a stab at singing the lead on ‘Oh! Darling,’ despite the fact it was probably better suited to Lennon’s voice,” Emerick wrote.
Of course, unless you’re John Lennon, you probably think the song turned out great. But we can’t help but wonder what Lennon on the vocal of ‘Oh! Darling’ would’ve sounded like.