Can you help resolve this discrepancy in my mind? In the podcast 2B, you can hear Paul say, “I’d rather do it (write) myself” and he was handing out his music to the other 3, like their marching orders. Then we see Linda said later, “Paul was DESPERATE to write with John again!”? Which way was it? It surely can’t be both, can it?Our Tumblr Asks
Thank you for this very interesting question!
I think there are probably several issues at play here but the most relevant is how they defined writing together. We know that Paul and John didn’t really need each other to write songs, and as they progressed they wrote nose-to-nose less often, however occasionally they did (i.e. notably, during Sgt. Pepper, on songs such as A Day In The Life, Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, A Little Help from My Friends, Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite).
But even though they weren’t always co-writing songs they remained “writing” collaborators — in that they were each other’s editors, sounding boards, co-writers, second opinions, producers and overall contributors to each other’s work. They were also emotionally invested in their joint output. I suspect this is what Linda was referring to when she made this comment.
Regarding the quote “I’d rather do it myself”: Paul made this comment specifically about the challenging nature of having to collaborate with John while Yoko was sitting next to him. He even clarified that it wasn’t anything Yoko was saying or doing per se; rather it was the impact of her presence on his own thinking that made things difficult – because it made HIM feel self-conscious and judged. And being self-conscious, while trying to be creative is the kiss of death! So he backed off.
Perhaps Paul (understandably) took John’s need to have her there, next to him every day, as an indication that John wasn’t interested in collaborating with him anymore. And there IS something very odd about what John was doing — by putting his creative partner (Paul) in a situation where he was not able to perform well. What exactly WAS John doing? What was he trying to achieve? We flagged this behavior in one of our episodes because we think it deserves more analysis and exploration. Traditionally, writers have lacked any interest or insight about this behavior, assuming it was simply reflective of John’s obsession with Yoko and lack of interest in Paul. But I think it could be read as either passive-aggressive behavior — intended to hurt Paul (perhaps in the way that John felt?) or a reflection of just how fragile John felt at that time, i.e. he needed an emotional support blanket/advocate (Yoko) beside him at all times.
John made the point, years later, that Paul just seemed to WANT to do things on his own at this time. John’s apparent lack of awareness of how much his own actions may have affected Paul was perhaps a reflection of John’s own insecurity and lack of sensitivity to the situation he was putting Paul in -most likely because he was too focused on his own feelings to notice anyone else’s. (In fact, I think this is an issue that all the Beatles had at this time: They all started taking things too personally and stopped being able to recognize each others’ palpable hurt and pain).
I WISH John could have seen that Paul always wanted to work with him; and that it was only when given the choice of having to write with John WITH YOKO BY HIS SIDE that Paul chose to write on his own (for the most part, they did continue to collaborate throughout ‘69).
Also, I can imagine that Paul’s actions might have ALSO stemmed from a sense of wounded pride: i.e. if you don’t want to work with me anymore, then fine, I will do it on my own. And he could. And he did. Perhaps this is what was worrisome to John? That Paul didn’t seem to NEED him? Maybe John wanted him to say, I need you, but Paul had an ego too and wasn’t about to do that.
Nevertheless, Paul seems to have always WANTED to work together if the original premise of Lennon/McCartney was available to him. He never seems to have wanted their partnership to end (until the breakup/Klein). In fact, John and Paul were apparently still working together while in India, so whatever happened was likely something interpersonal, not creative (as is often claimed).
But back to your question. Linda’s comment about Paul being desperate to work with John again came from an interview in the 80s. But it is unlikely that he was “desperate” for inspiration as Paul never seemed to lack inspiration, productivity or innovativeness (to put it mildly). Linda makes the point, in that same conversation, that if John had had writer’s block Paul could have helped him! I think Paul was desperate to write with John again simply because he loved their partnership. He knew their chemistry was so good that they could create magic together. And if John needed inspiration, he knew he could give it and he wanted to give it.
As for your point. “he was handing out his music to the other 3, like their marching orders”—well I have no idea where this is from, but it certainly isn’t supported in any evidence I have seen (except by authors with agendas and no evidence). All three Beatles were bringing in songs to work on during the LIB/Abbey Road period, during which Paul was very collaborative and supportive. You can listen to the LIB tapes – there were no “marching orders.” While he might have had a point of view of how he wanted his songs to sound, so did John and so did George. I would encourage you to listen to the tapes yourself if you doubt us!
But to summarize, I don’t think there is a dissonance in Paul’s actions. Paul always seems to have treasured his partnership with John and didn’t want to end it, but when John made it difficult for them to work together in the late 60s, Paul acted somewhat reasonably by backing off and writing on his own. When John needed help in the late 70s, Paul was eager to work with him again. Not out of need, out of desire.
-Diana and AKOM
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