Saturday, October 10, 2009

Lennon & McCartney - Common Misconceptions

By Johnny Moon

(#1) Paul McCartney wrote the music, John Lennon wrote the lyrics.

This was very rarely the case. "In My Life" was probably (although there is some contradiction on this) Paul's melody and John's lyrics. And certainly sometimes John would add lyrical ideas to Paul's songs (such as "It couldn't get much worse" on "Getting Better") and Paul would add musical ideas to John's songs (Paul's consistently awesome bass parts are the most obvious examples). But in general Paul and John wrote both the music and the lyrics for their own songs.

(#2) John Lennon was The Beatles, the rest of the guys were just his back-up band.

As someone who really loves The Beatles, this particular misconception really annoys me. I guess it's not surprising considering the tragic end to John's life that this completely baseless idea has grown since his death, but it still must be corrected.

The fact is that by most reasonable accounts McCartney was just as important to The Beatles music as was Lennon. In many ways he was even more important (McCartney was easily the most skilled musician of the band and the most knowledgable about advanced musical compositional theories).

Many of The Beatles most famous songs were McCartney's including "Hey Jude," "Let It Be," "Yesterday," "Get Back," "When I'm 64," "Eleanor Rigby," "Yellow Submarine," and "Back In The USSR."

(#3) Lennon was the "avante-garde" Beatle, the others "played it safe."

While "I Am The Walrus," "Strawberry Fields Forever," and "Revolution #9" (and "What's The New Mary Jane?" on Anthology 3) do make the case for this idea pretty strongly, one should consider that it was actually McCartney who was most into avante-garde music originally (his "Carnival of Light" was recorded before "Revolution #9" but it has never been released).

It was also McCartney who brought the tape loops to "Tomorrow Never Knows" and that was a big part of what gave that song it's unique sound.

One should also consider that it was Paul who wrote "Helter Skelter" which definitely pushed the envelope as far as "heavy music" was concerned.

Abbey Road: Lennon Vs. McCartney. A track by track breakdown of The Beatles last album that answers the question of who contributed more to it; John or Paul?

The Beatles White Album. Find out who (John or Paul?) wrote more songs on The Beatles 1968 double album.

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