A lot of people
seem to think
that Paul McCartney and John Lennon
hated each other – were competitive, and
the band broke up, and that Yoko was a pesky
nuisance as well.
The Yoko thing? That’s mostly racism. And sexism too.
Paul and John are on the record as having had
a bit of hang time through the 70s, a spectacularly
awful drunken jam – a night where they watched SNL
together, thought about going to the studio to
claim the joke-cheque ($3000 or whatever it was) that
Lorne Michaels held aloft
but just got high instead.
John and Paul would fire some barbs at
one another, or get the press to
do it on their behalf.
But they also visited and talked and thought – often
– about recording together again…
John heard “McCartney II” – or at least heard
‘Coming Up’. He pulled to the side of the road.
Loved it. Said something like “Paul’s Back!”
John would be back too. Soon. He’d be ‘Starting
Over’ – the sadness of course was that was number
one with a bullet…
But the real thing no one talks about is how
George and Ringo kinda grew to hate Paul the
And I know why.
And here’s the theory.
They were the ones that Paul could do without. He
could replace them. He could at the least approximate them.
They knew it. Kinda. He knew it. Certainly.
He played drums on some Beatles tracks – Dear Prudence
and Back in The USSR are good starters. He played some
killer lead guitar too – fucking Taxman mate. Fucking owning
He had, more than once, told George and Ringo how to
play their parts. He came up with suggestions, arrangements,
and it drove them crazy.
And then when they were all cast as Professional Beatles in the
docos you could sometimes see they were seething.
Paul struts in like David Brent or Noel Edmonds, doing a dance with
the camera. Says ‘allo Georgey-boy, ma love. And toussles his hair to
remind him – even in his 50s, he’s still and always two years younger.
George grimaces through the hug, shrugs,
says, “I didn’t know they
made vegetarian leather jackets”.
In another scene, Ringo is tapping on his knees as Paul and George
mug it up on the ukes. Ringo says that he just likes hanging out. He’s
got his pals. Prior to this he was not-doing-coke-anymore with the Fat
He’s heartfelt, he fucking means it.
Paul talks over him. Makes a gag.
(Makes George gag).
Now Lennon was a rough-as-shit guitarist, but he had something
when he’d hit at those strings. The baggage. The grit. A cynicism.
And such wit. He was a wife-beater, he even hid that inside a song.
He tried a few mea culpas. And far too many margaritas. He was
a drunk. He was hurting. He was a child for far too long.
But he was punk-as-fuck. And he was – when it suited – the leader
of the band.
Paul never forgot that.
Just as Ringo and George never forgot that Paul,
bless him – bless him, a genius, the greatest melodicist,
a jobbing writer to put all others to shame –
had told them they were not only nothing, they
were something he could do himself.
They smiled for the photos, threw peace
signs – Ringo’s doing it still. But I reckon
there’s more than one reason he always
And George went to his grave never
turning up at a McCartney jam.