Crisstti wrote:I think JJS has a good point.
It is strange, let's say, that the beatle that is supposed to be the experimental one complained that Paul was the one who wanted to experiment on his (John's) songs, even considering that as sabotaging. He certainly gives the impression that Paul was more willing to experiment and that much of the experimentation on John's songs might have been because of Paul.
As for changing opinions, we should note that this idea of John was one he kept since the early 70's until his death. He talked about it in the Playboy interview (saying that there was a period when he thought that maybe he was being paranoid). His opinion about it didn't really change much.
As for John liking mainstream guitar rock... I think the problem is with the use of the word "mainstream" (which seems to be a bad word...). John stated that he liked "straight forward rock and roll" (I believe those were his words, someone correct me if I'm wrong). And I would agree that that is mostly what he did in his solo career, in different ways. John didn't release an album as experimental as McCartney II. And his albums didn't have the variety that Paul's did.
Now, we should remember that John said that he liked "straight forward rock and roll" as opposed to the concept albums ideas that Paul liked (not to music that was more experimental), and that he seemed to dislike... though it seems to me that Plastic Ono Band is a concept album, pretty much.
And as for Paul not experimenting until the The Fireman albums... what about McCartney II?. And that one was with his own name. Though I don't think that it has anything to do with the argument that he has released those albums under a pseudonym. It's still the same person doing them, and the argument is about how experimental Paul and John are/were, so... The Fireman is still Paul experimenting.
There's more to it than just the points you bring up.
For example, people seem to have a narrow view of what "experimental" means. To some it means nothing more than making "music" from non-music. 45 minutes of non-musical sounds is "experimental", anything done with tape loops is "experimental", (even though most have no idea what "tape loops" really means.) 45 minutes of recorded body noises is "experimental."
But when you're talking about the Beatles as an "experimental" band, it's not because they released all of 3 songs
with non-musical elements and/or tape loops. It's because they "experimented" with different sounds in the studio. By this I mean getting different sounds on vocals, drums, and instruments with all sorts of tricks and techniques. They helped redefine and expand what a "rock and roll" band could do. They "experimented" with different genres that was until then unheard of in a pop/rock band. They "experimented" with blending musical instruments from different genres and cultures into pop/rock music, also unheard of in a pop/rock band. They "experimented" with rearranging song structures in unusual ways for pop/rock music. And so on.
I think one of the reasons people now have a narrow view of what "experimental" means, is because all of the above has now been done and overdone to the point that it's now the norm. It's hard (or maybe impossible) for us to listen to "Revolver" or "Sgt. Pepper" in the context of it's time
. It's easy to see how 'Revolution #9" can be called "experimental" because it's non-musical and has been far less frequently imitated. It's hard to see how "Sgt. Pepper" can be called "experimental" because it's been imitated in excess ever since.
As for Paul "experimenting" with John's songs...
If you listen to "A Day In the Life", and mentally remove the middle part and the orchestral climax, you basically have a straightforward, typical Lennon song... structurally and harmonically somewhat
Like 'God'. McCartney came up with the orchestral climax idea (very "experimental", and very often credited to Lennon) and the idea to inject the "Woke Up..." part in the middle of the song.
Now the point isn't whether or not these additions made the song better
, or whether John could have refused the additions if the wanted to. But these were McCartney's ideas, and one could argue that they were certainly risky ideas, and that he was never so bold with his own songs. If one was indeed paranoid, one could look at this song as a perfect example of Paul "subconscious sabotage"... "Experimenting" with John's otherwise simple and straightforward song it in risky ways that he wouldn't do to his own songs. John also had this complaint about Paul's treatment of "Across the Universe."
People see the evidence... They can read John's words about the kind of songs he preferred. They can also listen to his solo records and hear what kind of songs he chose to produce. They can listen to a song like 'A Day In The Life' and hear the simple, straightforward song underneath the elaborate, ornate decorations. They can learn the source of those ornate decorations. They can read John's complaint about how he didn't care for the way Paul "experimented" with his songs... but the whole thing falls apart in their tiny heads, because it's contrary to what they WANT to believe.
They see and hear the evidence, but OJ is innocent.