The rivalry between John Lennon and Paul McCartney may well have been heightened by increased press pressure. It may have also been largely manifested by those around them. But it’s worth remembering that it did exist.
McCartney and Lennon may well have been songwriting partners but by the end of their working together within The Beatles, very few tracks were jointly created by the Liverpudlians. Normally songs were brought in by each member, tried and tested then possibly recorded.
All the combining factors meant that if Macca had a new song he wanted to share with the public, he would first have to try it out in the studio and get it by the band. It was no mean feat—just ask George Harrison—and turned the art of songwriting into a competitive sport within The Beatles.
In a new intimate profile interview with 60 Minutes from back in 2018, reporter Sharyn Alfonsi spent a few days with McCartney during sessions at his recording studio. In the conversation, Macca details working with his Beatles bandmates and claims that Lennon only ever complimented his songwriting once.
It’s no surprise looking back. The singer had a caustic wit capable of wobbling any confidence and he wasn’t shy about sharing his thoughts on the fluffier side of The Beatles, once sharing 10 songs that he hated form the band. But while he was forthcoming with critiques he, wasn’t as good at complimenting his bandmates.
Apparently, the only time this happened was on the Beatles is the seventh studio album Revolver. It’s the moment on record that the Fab Four began truly experimenting and breaking free from their boyband image. “It was ‘Here, There and Everywhere’,” McCartney explains in the interview.
“John says just as it finishes, ‘That’s a really good song, lad. I love that song.’ And I’m like, ‘Yes! He likes it!’” When asked as to whether he was openly complimentary with Lennon, he says he did, but that “you’d normally have to be a little drunk.”
It rings true. It’s not often at this time that a working class lad from Liverpool would get too sentimental about their friends’ work. But while Lennon only ever complimented McCartney once, we’re sure his favourite songs include a few McCartney numbers.