Although they maintained at least some occasional communication following the breakup of The Beatles, Paul McCartney and John Lennon most infamously relayed messages to each other through songs during the 1970s. Whether it was McCartney criticising Lennon for “preaching practices” on ‘Too Many People’ or Lennon telling McCartney “the only thing you did was ‘Yesterday’” on ‘How Do You Sleep?’, the barbs were traded in the most public way possible.
By the time the two reached 1973, the war of words had de-escalated. Both had found solo success, and both were reaching a point where enough time had passed since their initial breakup that cooler heads began to prevail. Still, that didn’t stop McCartney from being accused of ripping off Lennon.
That came on ‘Let Me Roll It’, the soulful rocker from Wings’ third album Band on the Run. Meant as a bluesy R&B track similar to ‘Oh! Darling’, ‘Let Me Roll It’ found McCartney employing generous amounts of reverb and echo to his voice, something that critics pointed out was a signature of Lennon’s own production style.
However, when asked about the similarities, McCartney denied that he was purposefully invoking Lennon. “‘Let Me Roll It’ was not really a Lennon pastiche, although my use of tape echo did sound more like John than me,” McCartney said in an issue of his fanclub letter Club Sandwich. “But tape echo was not John’s exclusive territory! And you have to remember that, despite the myth, there was a lot of commonality between us in the way that we thought and the way that we worked.”
Lennon never commented on the possible attempt to replicate his style, but he did incorporate a riff similar to the central guitar riff of ‘Let Me Roll It’ into his instrumental track ‘Beef Jerky’ from his 1974 LP Walls and Bridges.
McCartney was more amicable to the comparisons in later years but continued to deny that ‘Let Me Roll It’ had any explicit roots in ripping Lennon off. “I still don’t think it sounds like him [John Lennon], but that’s your opinion,” McCartney told author Paul Gambaccini in the book Paul McCartney In His Own Words. “I can dig it if it sounds that way to you.”