Paul McCartney opens up about his fascinating working relationship with John Lennon
At a time when millions of people are forced to remain home amid strict social distancing measures, we’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine archives for a moment of nostalgic relief. Looking back in the vault, we’re picking up from an interview which saw Paul McCartney reminisce about the working relationship between him and former Beatles bandmate John Lennon.
The duo, who were so in sync with one another when writing groundbreaking material, endured a difficult relationship when Lennon decided to leave the band when McCartney was just 28-years-old. Having remained together since their early teenage years, the end of the Fab Four was a turbulent affair. That age in itself, 28, is quite spectacular. The thought of dealing with such a high-pressure situation, having already achieved so much, is a daunting one, to say the least.
McCartney, who has continued to work the prolific passion, released his most recent album Egypt Station in 2018. Solo writing is, for McCartney, a run of the mill job these days. However, it hasn’t always been that simple: “Oh yeah, you know. Working with John was great. Those are the kinds of things you remember,” he told the NME when reminiscing about the Beatles.
“In a film, you remember that bit where the guy says ‘Hasta la vista, baby’ or whatever, and John definitely did have those withering put downs, you know, but it was two percent of who he was and it’s the two percent people remember,” he added.
Between 5 October 1962 and 8 May 1970, the songwriting partnership of Lennon and McCartney created around 180 jointly credited tracks. Famously remembered as the most successful musical collaboration of all time, the duo sold well over 600 million records worldwide.
Macca added of Lennon: “Most of the time he was very generous, very loving, very easy to work with. But both of us had this sardonic streak that we could bring to each other’s things. I’m writing, ‘It’s getting better all the time’ and he chips in with, ‘Couldn’t get much worse’. And the song keeps moving ahead because of that. But he was a very warm guy actually, John. His reputation, cos of things like that, has gone a bit the other way.”
Lennon himself was always very open about his relations with McCartney and, as part of his infamous 1980 Playboy interview, he said: “[Paul] provided a lightness, an optimism, while I would always go for the sadness, the discords, the bluesy notes. There was a period when I thought I didn’t write melodies, that Paul wrote those and I just wrote straight, shouting rock ‘n’ roll. But, of course, when I think of some of my own songs—’In My Life’, or some of the early stuff, ‘This Boy’—I was writing melody with the best of them.”
In 2003, McCartney reflected: “I’m happy with the way it is and always has been. Lennon and McCartney is still the rock ‘n’ roll trademark I’m proud to be a part of – in the order it has always been.”