John Lennon has been dead for 35 years, but that hasn’t stopped his former Beatles bandmate Paul McCartney from talking about the dead singer and rehashing some of the same issues that tore the band apart back in 1970.
In a new interview with Esquire, McCartney opened up about Lennon’s assassination and revealed that he initially resented how popular culture wanted to present Lennon as the main voice of The Beatles following his death.
“When John got shot, aside from the pure horror of it, the lingering thing was, ‘OK, well, now John’s a martyr. A JFK,'” McCartney said. “I started to get frustrated because people started to say, ‘Well, he was the Beatles.’ And me, George and Ringo would go, ‘Er, hang on. It’s only a year ago we were all equal-ish.'”
He continued: “Now the fact that he’s now martyred has elevated [Lennon] to a James Dean, and beyond. So whilst I didn’t mind that — I agreed with it — I understood that now there was going to be revisionism. It was going to be: John was the one.”
The 73-year-old singer discussed how Yoko Ono, Lennon’s widow, exacerbated the revisionism of Beatles history by saying “strange things” about Paul’s place in the band.
“Yoko would appear in the press,” McCartney said, “and I’d read it, and it said [comedy Yoko accent], ‘Paul did nothing! All he did was book the studio…’ Like, ‘F— you, darling! Hang on! All I did was book the f—ing studio?”
In the interview, McCartney also brought up the disputes he had with Lennon over whose name would be first in their songwriting credits, though they eventually settled on the famous “Lennon/McCartney” moniker.
“[Lennon] said, ‘OK, what we’ll do is we’ll alternate it: Lennon and McCartney, McCartney and Lennon.’ Well, that didn’t happen. And I didn’t mind,” McCartney said.
But in the case of songs like “Yesterday,” which Paul wrote himself and “which John actually had nothing to do with,” McCartney wished the credit had gone to “McCartney/Lennon.”
“The original artwork had ‘Yesterday’ by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and a photo of John above it,” McCartney said. “And I went, ‘Argh, Come on, lads.'”
And in the digital age, McCartney feels even more slighted by the “Lennon/McCartney” handle than he did before.
“You know how on your iPad there’s never enough room? So it’s kind of important who comes first,” McCartney said. “Late at night I was in a hotel room looking online and I happened to see this music book, which has got all the songs in it, and it was ‘Hey Jude’ by ‘John Lennon and…’ and the space ran out.”
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