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John Lennon: Paul McCartney was a knockout, actually

Dear Paul, actually you were fab. John Lennon has delivered a surprising revision of his thoughts on his fellow Beatle from beyond the grave in a series of previously unpublished taped interviews.

The murdered musician recants the scorn he displayed for Paul McCartney’s songwriting skills and admits he sometimes relied on him to teach him how to play guitar.

The lost Lennon tapes — found in a Pickfords removal box and dissected for the first time today in The Sunday Times Magazine — also confirm that it was Lennon, not McCartney, who decided the Beatles had to break up.

“I want a divorce,” Lennon told McCartney in September 1969, but was forced to keep quiet in case it damaged sales of the group’s next album, Let It Be. McCartney announced the split seven months later.

n the fallout that followed, Lennon wrote the vitriolic song How Do You Sleep? on his Imagine album in which he rounded on McCartney with the lyrics: “The only thing you’ve done was Yesterday” and “The sound you make is Muzak to my ears.”

For almost 40 years McCartney has borne the brunt of fans’ anger for the split and the jibes of music lovers who thought Lennon had dismissed his songs as pop ditties.

Lennon’s nasal twang is unmistakable on the hoard of C-60 cassette tapes rediscovered by Ray Connolly, a journalist who interviewed some of the biggest names in rock in the Sixties.

“Paul and me were the Beatles,” said Lennon. “We wrote the songs. I didn’t write much material early on, less than Paul, because he was quite competent on guitar. Paul taught me quite a lot of guitar, really.”

Lennon describes how much he admired McCartney songs such as For No One from the Revolver album. “That was one of the good ones,” he said. “All his semi-classical ones are best, actually.”

He added: “I suppose it was a bit hard on him ... I only ever asked two people to work with me as a partner. One was Paul McCartney and the other Yoko Ono.”

At the same time he was dismissive about his own songs. “I Am the Walrus didn’t mean anything,” he said — shattering the illusions of Beatles fans who believe they have correctly interpreted its lyrics.

Connolly said McCartney never criticised Lennon in the interviews he did with him. “The image is that John was always sarcastic about Paul’s songs. But John was quite complimentary about Paul when he wasn’t ranting tongue-in-cheek to American journalists.”

The tapes also prove it was Lennon who decided to break up the Beatles during a row at their Apple headquarters in London. Lennon said: “At the meeting Paul just kept mithering on about what we were going to do, so in the end I just said, ‘I think you’re daft. I want a divorce’.”

Two years later, Lennon said in another taped interview: “The whole thing died in my mind long before all the rumpus started. We used to believe the Beatles myth just as much as the public, and we were in love with them in just the same way. But basically we were four individuals who eventually recovered our own individualities after being submerged in a myth.

“Actually, our best days were before we got that big, when we used to play for hours in clubs.”

Last Updated: 09/06/09 09:22

view comments Comments (4)

4 people have commented on this story so far. Tell us what you think below.
by Gregory Johnson : Raleigh,NC September 10, 2009 6:36 PM EDT (Guest)  click to register
No revelation here about John wanting to break up first. I thought every big Beatles fan knew that already.
 Reply to this comment -
by danielpessoa : Rio de Janeiro, Brazil September 9, 2009 12:06 PM EDT (Guest)  click to register
Every Beatle`s fan must read it before express any kind of negative opinion about Paul McCartney.
 Reply to this comment -
by Celia : Rio de Janeiro, Brazil September 8, 2009 12:30 PM EDT (Guest)  click to register
I feel the same way, Alysha.
 Reply to this comment -
by Alysha : Arizona, United States September 6, 2009 5:28 PM EDT (Guest)  click to register
I find this a bit depressing. Truthful, but sad. :(
 Reply to this comment -

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John Lennon: Paul McCartney was a knockout, actually

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News Summary

Dear Paul, actually you were fab. John Lennon has delivered a surprising revision of his thoughts on his fellow Beatle from beyond the grave in a series of previously unpublished taped interviews.