Paul McCartney and John Lennon were, for a time, two halves of the same whole. An undefeated songwriting partnership and the best of friends, the duo created some of the most timeless pop hits in existence with The Beatles. But as time passed, their fame burned like wildfire, and the money kept rolling in, The Beatles began to tear themselves apart, and Paul McCartney and John Lennon were at the centre of the ill-feeling. Their creativity had bonded them, but their drives were now tearing them apart.
Arguably, by the time The Beatles officially split, the group were already working as four separate solo artists. Certainly, Lennon, McCartney and now George Harrison had all begun to craft songs more singularly, working on tracks on their own before bringing them to the group semi-completed. Their individual sounds became more and more apparent with every passing record. When the group disbanded, the members went off into the sunset and began working on their own music, seemingly untarnished by their time in The Beatles; the musicians headed for greener pastures. Or so it seemed, at least.
With a little bit of digging, it soon became clear that The Beatles couldn’t quite get over being one-quarter of the Fab Four even if they were now out on their own. On all of their solo efforts, the group members took shots at the band that had afforded them their success. Some were wistful; others were filled with pure resentment. For Paul McCartney, a musician who had been more isolated by the break-up than most, the songs about his former band seemed to all revolve around one man — John Lennon.
It resulted in some not-so-subtle barbs being thrown across the airwaves. Of course, the song ‘Too Many People’ from McCartney would elicit its own response from Lennon in ‘How Do You Sleep?’ hinting that the duo who had been so resolute were now firmly broken up. It was clear that the two lads from Liverpool were no longer on speaking terms.
Though McCartney’s first two solo efforts had been drenched in The Beatles’ fraught tension and the explosive resentment of McCartney, the first Wings album also pointed back at the Fab Four. ‘Dear Friend’ is perhaps the first moment that McCartney decided enough was enough, and he needed to bury the hatchet with his old pal.
Lennon had found some success with the Plastic Ono Band, and it seemed as though McCartney was keen to meet him there and developed his own band in Wings. Their first record Wild Life, would be bursting with a brand new sound, but one song was speaking about the same friend. Previous outings may have seen Macca taking shots at his old mate, but this was the first olive branch sent across the airwaves.
Like speaking to an ex only when you’ve found a new partner, McCartney tells Lennon that he would like to patch things up because they have both moved on. It doesn’t necessarily matter that ‘Too Many People’ had only really been released for a few months when he tried to make amends, though we imagine it must have still stung Lennon. This is the song in which McCartney attempted to reach out to his fellow Beatle and establish a new relationship.
It would be a few years before they eventually let bygones be bygones, apparently reconnecting in the mid-’70s and almost reuniting for Saturday Night Live in 1975. John Lennon would be sadly killed a few years later, something that shook McCartney to his very core, thankful for only one thing: that he had once again become friends with his buddy.