The partnership of John Lennon and Paul McCartney is one that hardly needs any introduction. The duo was the source form that most of The Beatles classic tracks have sprung and, therefore, their contribution to music as a whole is undeniable. Their solo careers would also produce some truly incredible songs, but when they worked together, they chartered the band’s meteoric rise to the top.
Together, especially in the early days of the group, Lennon and McCartney would write their songs “eyeball to eyeball”, and it produced some of their most cohesive work. However, that didn’t stop the pair from enjoying, or perhaps enduring, a torrid competitive streak when writing their songs. Back in the Fab Four’s early days, McCartney wrote one song that would earn Lennon’s respect once and for all.
John Lennon was a cantankerous man during his career, like any true artist, he was never quite happy with his past work. As happy to be scathing as he was mystical, the mercurial figure of John Lennon was never afraid to make his opinions be known. It’s often left Paul McCartney suggesting that there were only ever a few songs that he had written that Lennon actually liked.
Despite the competition in the latter parts of the band’s career, Lennon and McCartney had once worked very closely with one another: “We wrote a lot of stuff together, one on one, eyeball to eyeball,” Lennon once famously said. But there was one song that let the bespectacled Beatle know that Paul McCartney’s songwriting skill was growing and, as a musician, Macca was on the charge.
In 1963, McCartney wrote ‘All My Loving’ and showed John Lennon that he was as good as anybody when it came to writing pop songs. “I never wrote words first, it was always some kind of accompaniment,” McCartney said in his official biography Many Years From Now. “I’ve hardly ever done it since either. We were on a tour bus going to a gig so I started with the words.”
Arriving at the venue and without a guitar, McCartney headed for the nearest piano to get the track down: “I didn’t have a guitar, it was probably with our road manager,” he recalled. But soon enough, Macca sat backstage and began composing one of his most treasured songs. It certainly impressed John Lennon.
Sitting down with David Sheff for his infamous 1980 Playboy interview, Lennon was open about his admiration for the song. During the interview Lennon was running through classic Beatles tracks and offering up his opinion, “‘All My Loving’ is Paul, I regret to say,” he told David Sheff. But why did he regret to say it? “Because it’s a damn good piece of work.” It’s not the usual remark Lennon had for McCartney’s work at the time, usually prefer to write those songs off as “throwaway” or “rubbish.”
That’s about as large a compliment as you’d ever get from Lennon. The singer had a habit of making his hurtful points bigger than ever and his compliments just footnotes. But it seems ‘All My Loving’ certainly earned Lennon’s respect—John described it as “one of [Paul’s] first biggies.”
The only other song, that Lennon openly commented on to Paul McCartney was the ethereal ‘Here, There and Everywhere’ telling Macca, “really good song, lad” during its creation. It shows the kind of relationship the duo shared and that they often behaved like brothers.
McCartney remembered that, though it was his song, it was a DJ who helped make the track truly famous: You know, that was on the album and the first person I heard single it out was the disc jockey David Jacobs, who was pretty hip. Still is actually – he knows pop music. He was always quite an expert, for one of the older generation. I remember him singling it out on his radio show and I think from that moment it did become a big favourite for people. And I heard it differently. Till then I’d heard it as an album track. But when he played it on his radio show, and it went over to however many million people on network BBC, it was like ‘Woah! That is a good one’. I always liked it.”
Below listen to the first Beatles song written by Paul McCartney to gain John Lennon’s respect.