OMG Thank you so much. You have pretty much hit the nail on the head for what I think happened and articulated it SO WELL.Our Tumblr asks
Thanks, Joan (great url!). We’ve been studying them and considering all angles for a really long time. It’s great to hear that our take is resonating!
– the AKOM crew
“Of course this fandom loves to attribute Paul’s EVERY emotion to John Lennon…” I LOVE YOUOur Tumblr asks
And we love you too, listener! 🙂 Thanks for tuning in!!!
– the AKOM crew
Since there’s evidence to show John’s interest in Paul (in that he feels rejected by him), what do you think of the evidence suggesting Paul maybe felt similar feelings, if not to a lesser “interested” degree? Similar to how Philip Norman’s phrasing of “bohemians should try everything” minimizes John’s feelings for Paul, I feel like the dude-fandom-writers “romanticizing” of Paul’s pining for John (so that John is seen as the strong one/hero) has actually washed down Paul’s true feelings as wellOur Tumblr asks
This is a great question. You make an excellent point- that the fannish tendency of writers (looking at you Doggett and Lewisohn!) to position Paul as forever smitten by and pining for an indifferent, dismissive John probably obscures Paul’s true feelings as well.
Having said that, we aren’t aware of any evidence that suggests Paul had “similar” (i.e. sexual) feelings for John. Of course it’s possible, but entertaining this idea would be pure speculation. However, if you know of any evidence whatsoever (i.e. testimony from Paul or his intimates) that Paul wanted an affair with John, please let us know.
Paul is SO much more publicly forthcoming about his love for John than vice verse. We see this as both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, Paul’s testimony is very informative about the depth of their relationship. On the other hand, it gives a lopsided impression of their feelings for each other, and gives ammunition to those who wish to see the relationship as lopsided.
As we point out on the podcast, 95% of Paul’s loving comments were made after John’s death. But even in 1970, as Paul was attempting to finalize the divorce, he was able to articulate to the press several times (i.e. to John, through the newspaper) that he loved John. To our ears this doesn’t sound “desperate” or “thirsty” but quite the opposite! To us it sounds like Paul is trying to soften the blow of his departure, reassuring John that despite the mess of the break-up, John is still valued and loved. Again, YMMV, but to us this sounds like it comes from a place of maturity and true, deep compassion.
One thing we do believe is that Paul did cherish being the most important person in John’s life and perhaps Paul’s (romantic, possessive) feelings may have gotten murky by ’68 when Yoko entered the scene and Paul realized his position as #1 might be threatened. By 1970 (when he commits to the divorce), Paul is able to articulate that he was jealous of Yoko when she first arrived, indicating that he is aware of his feelings and capable of taking responsibility for them.
By 1985, Paul understands and is able to say aloud that he was “like (John’s) girlfriend” so he recognizes that they are like a couple (in terms of intensity of emotion). However he also makes the point that he couldn’t fight for John because he was “not a girl.” While this is somewhat open to interpretation, it sounds to us as if the stumbling block in Paul’s mind is mismatched gender; they love each other but are both guys, so therefore it doesn’t work (at least in Paul’s heterosexual mind). Maybe in another lifetime, another incarnation… But not this one. So Paul stepped aside.
Whereas John seemed to have loved and wanted Paul as he was. i.e. John loved Paul the man, as a man.
Is it possible there’s more to the story? Sure. But if there is, we simply don’t have those details. And we believe the way both John and Paul continued to struggle with comprehending and defining their relationship throughout their lives was genuine. Our best evidence is that while they weren’t lovers, they were something more than friends and they probably existed in this indefinable middle ground for a long time. Paul seems to have dropped enough hints/taunts (on RAM, for example) to indicate that he was aware of some underlying sexual tension between them, and that he was aware of John’s desire for him. So even if Paul wasn’t interested in or willing to pursue a sexual relationship, he did seem willing to fan the flames and probably greatly enjoyed being desired, and sometimes deliberately stoked the heat between them.
Ultimately, John and Paul reached some sort of impasse in 1968-69, and we DO know that John contemplated an affair with Paul (and was deterred because he believed Paul was straight and therefore uninterested). This is the actual information we have, and therefore what our assumptions are based on.
We definitely believe Paul loved and missed John throughout the 70s, and continues to love and miss John now. We also believe that John & Paul had a special connection that they both found impossible to replicate. Again, the main difference is that Paul is (at least now) much more able and willing to articulate these things without shame.
Which gets to the bigger point. We find the major difference in what John and Paul are willing to admit about each other somehow involves internalized shame. Paul simply doesn’t exhibit the shame John does on this subject. Paul’s ability to wax poetic about how John had beautiful hands, for example, reflects to us a lack of embarrassment about his feelings. John’s ability to speak openly about his love for Paul was much more compromised, often coinciding with his level of comfort with his own sexuality. (You can do the math on that one). And vitally, what John said behind closed doors about Paul (to Yoko, to Harry Nilsson, to his own diaries, etc) was often more revealing than what he said in public.
I sometimes feel like the fandom displays an overwhelming desire for equivalence in this area, I guess because this is more palatable? But John and Paul were of course, individuals with separate identities (sexual and otherwise) and by the time they broke up we do believe they wanted different things. Also, fans and authors alike tend to show resistance towards allowing Paul to have multiple and complex emotions like they allow for John. So while we do think John was the center of Paul’s universe in the 60s, we also think Paul had other interests, attractions, and loves and this is seldom acknowledged. So although we always consider their love deep and mutual, we do acknowledge that their wants and needs occasionally fell out of sync and caused hurt feelings on both sides.
Also, the fandom seems to underestimate Paul’s incredible powers of seduction, and his natural inclination to flirt. And the authorship (who is apparently 24/7 horny for Lennon) seems in literal denial about Paul’s desirability. We feel this also drastically skews the read on the Lennon/McCartney dynamic.
Really love what you guys are doing! I recently started listening to the breakup series and one thing I wonder after listening to the first two, why do you think Paul let his relationship with Jane fail? Do you think he let her catch him in bed with another woman on purpose? Was he just being careless? If they were so important to each other I don’t understand why he acted that wayOur Tumblr asks
I’ll be honest, I used to think Paul let himself get caught by Jane in a sort of death-by-cop scenario (since this is how it’s portrayed in EVERY Beatles book), but I’m no longer so sure.
This is a topic we at AKOM have discussed amongst ourselves many times.
First, we’re not even sure we can believe that story 100% since it comes from a dubious source (Francie Schwartz) who over-inflates her relevance. Did Jane stumble upon Paul in bed with Francie? Perhaps. But why would FS be the proverbial back-breaking straw? We all know that Paul had a ton of affairs, and that Jane was still discovering some of them in 1968 (Marijke from the Fool, for example). The point is that the story itself might be a convenient excuse and close enough to the truth that neither Paul nor Jane bothers to correct it. Obviously neither wants to offer details of their relationship, and after all these years “caught in bed with another woman” is vague enough to tie up loose ends and discourage further digging. And since the Beatles authorship shows about 0-2% interest in Jane at all, this works.
We definitely believe Jane and Paul were very, very important to each other and that Paul was crazy about her. Everyone around them comments on it, all the way to Hunter Davies and Paul Saltzman (the 3rd person observer who was in Rishikesh). Paul himself is responsible for downplaying Jane. I think the reasons why are probably two-fold. Barry Miles revealed that the only parts of Many Years From Now Paul requested him to edit out were the multiple references to Jane (and some of Maggie McGivern). This was out of respect/deference to Linda who was terminally ill at the time. Miles also said that when Linda and Paul married, Linda distanced Paul from the old mutual friends he had with Jane, indicating that there may have still been residual jealousy from Linda at that point. (Don’t forget that Paul began seeing Linda when he was still engaged to Jane!). And there is that (possibly sketchy?) story of Linda’s editor taunting her with Jane’s cookbook as late as the 90s (!?). Again suggesting that Linda is fully aware (and slightly competitive) of how deep Paul and Jane’s bond was before she came along.
The other reason Paul downplays Jane is maybe that she broke his heart, simple as that.
We’re not talking about their break-up specifically, just their general collapse as a couple. We believe she was likely the inspiration of some of Paul most heartfelt and brilliant Beatles songs; some of his most beautiful (And I Love Her, For No One) some of his most asshole-ish (Another Girl, You Won’t See Me) and everything in between (We Can Work it Out, etc). His emotions for her, as reflected in his music, were real and complex and ALL the evidence suggests their relationship was tumultuous, full of passion and frustration.
Furthermore, Jane and the Ashers were hugely influential on Paul’s development as a person and an artist. Paul bonded with the entire family and learned so much from them in terms of culture and lifestyle. The lack of curiosity about Jane and Paul in this fandom is somewhat predictable, but the lack of curiosity amongst the authorship is reprehensible. Even worse, they have somehow managed to spin Paul’s relationship with this extremely strong-willed, independent, young career woman (who refused to “settle down” whenever Paul tried to wife her up) as evidence that Paul is an egomaniac who needed a weak groupie to worship him (like Linda, of course). When it actually suggests the opposite, that Paul likes intelligent women who can (and will) hold their own against him.
The rub, of course, is that Jane won’t talk about Paul and Paul won’t talk about Jane. Our guess is that their mutual loyalty and respect extends to this day.
But back to your question- why did Paul behave like a dirtbag in ’68 if he wanted to stay with Jane? Our understanding is that one of the recurring issues in their relationship was Jane’s availability; meaning Jane was away from Paul for long stretches of time (usually due to work) which Paul HATED and they fought constantly about it and Paul would act out whenever Jane was gone. Which is not to say he cheated on her for “revenge,” but let’s put it this way… As a highly desirable rock star, Paul had 24/7 access to any kind of sex he wanted and I think, basically, he wanted sex… if not 24/7 then at the very least on a regular basis! In the end I think he just wasn’t willing to be chaste and faithful in Jane’s absence (especially given his incredibly easy access to free sex whenever he wanted it). YMMV, but this makes sense to us. Not from the standpoint that he “deserves” more because of his rock star status, but simply because everyone deserves a relationship that can satisfy his/her needs. Of course Jane deserves the mate she wants TOO, which is why we think ultimately it was an amicable split, each understanding they just couldn’t be what the other person needed.
Because Jane and Paul won’t talk about their relationship, we have to rely on other people’s accounts. Nearly everyone in their circle was shocked and sad when they broke up. Thanks to Allistair Taylor we know Paul wept and moaned about Jane. We think besides being his girlfriend, Jane was most likely Paul’s primary confidant in the Beatle years and it must have been beyond devastating to lose her at such a pivotal time in his life. And I definitely think it would’ve contributed to the overall soul-searching and depression he exhibited in the next couple of years. Of course this fandom loves to attribute Paul’s EVERY emotion to John Lennon, but it’s always important to remember that Paul had other people and things in his life.
Thanks for the great ask!
-Phoebe and the AKOM crew
Thanks so much for the podcast. I’ve devoured each episode voraciously the past week and it’s been such a source of enjoyment. Your characterization of John is spot on. Definitely not some macho guy nor a sincere revolutionary. While I’ve had the same take on him for years as y’all, I’ve never connected the dots between his personality traits and the breakup. The sequence of events you lay out and your analysis of it MAKES SENSE.Our Tumblr asks
Thank you so much, listener! 🙂 We really appreciate this and we’re so glad thst you’re enjoying the show!
– Thalia and the AKOM crew
Congrats on Episode 3! I agree on your reading of the Ballad, and the how and why of its construction. I also remember in one of the first episodes, how you mentioned the way John would anticipate being rejected & preemptively push people away or offend them so he would not be the one passively abandoned (for no reason). John’s obsession with Paul hurting him, leaving him – it’s all a self fulfilling prophecy, isn’t it ? And he could never get over it. (1/2)Our Tumblr asks
Hi there, and thanks so much for the comment! 🙂 We’re glad you enjoyed Episode 3! I (Thalia) enjoyed it so much as well!
I’ve always thought it strange how the fandom and authorship just sort of accepted the idea that John and Yoko have some otherworldly love that we mere mortals just can’t understand, something more special than we could ever fathom. I always joked that they marketed themselves as the loveliest lovers who ever loved (in the history of love)! And that their art is so important, and of such a high purpose, that of course most people just aren’t high-minded enough to understand it.
I do agree that this myth was built by John and Yoko for multiple purposes: partially to promote them as a couple with a higher purpose and help him form a new identity and satisfy Yoko’s desire to be famous, and partially it’s what John had to tell himself to keep from feeling hurt (didn’t work) and to protect his public image (I don’t want to look like the dumped one, that’s embarrassing). I think Diana and Phoebe are also right in acknowledging that there was a love between John and Yoko, and that all these factors coexist.
But at the end of the day, John’s legacy was built within Lennon/McCartney, and you really can’t compare Lennon/McCartney to Lennon/Ono (and I think Ono knows this, which is maybe why she feels threatened to this day). They are two completely different kinds of partnerships. For this comparison to continue into present day is extremely unfair to McCartney (and to the Lennon/McCartney relationship).
Thanks so much for writing in! We hope you continue to join us!
– Thalia and the AKOM crew
Something I’m curious about is whether or not drug use had a hand in not just John’s pre-breakup behavior, but Paul’s too (not trying to attribute the interpersonal issues solely to drug use or excuse any Beatle’s actions). But JJ’s attribute a lot of John’s actions to heroin (and therefore Yoko’s “bad influence”), but Paul was doing a lot of drugs at that time as well. Not calling Paul out or anything, he’s my fave Beatle, but I wonder if it made him less sensitive. Love this podcast, btw ♥️♥️Our Tumblr asks
Hi there, we’re really glad that you’re enjoying our podcast! 🙂
That’s an interesting question! It’s hard to track whether or not Paul’s drug use made him less sensitive during the breakup, because there is a lot more to Paul than him being a hyperfocused workaholic who puts a shell around himself. A lot of other facets of his personality are missed when it comes to how the JJ’s analyze him.
What we do see is that the main 2 drugs he chooses to indulge in over a long period of time are alcohol and pot. Pot likely has a mellowing and relaxing effect, and alcohol seems to loosen him up. I would imagine that his brief period of dabbling in cocaine use would hype him up and urge him to be more productive, but the use of uppers wasn’t anything new to the Beatles, and he seems to have dropped that as soon as Linda and Heather were in his life.
Just citing one occasion, alcohol was the reason he and John were able to experience “the night we cried” in Key West and were able to be so emotionally unbound with each other during that experience. And Paul has mentioned in more than one interview that being able to be more emotionally vulnerable with the other guys was easier with alcohol. So if Paul’s main drugs of choices are pot (which mellow him out) and alcohol (which loosens him up), it’s really difficult for me to conclude that Paul’s drug use was a huge factor in him being less sensitive during the breakup period. Thanks so much for listening and for reaching out!
– Thalia and the AKOM crew
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In episode 3A, it said that John was paranoid Paul would leave him, even though Paul was known to still be very committed to the Beatles, and I’m curious if John was ever sorta “right” in those feelings. Because I do wonder why Paul felt the need to be more musically isolated during the White Album, or was that perhaps Lennon just being paranoid? Always felt like something went down in their relationship, before that album, after the India trip. And I love your show — finally a fresh take!Our Tumblr asks
Hello listener! Thanks so much for reaching out!
Yes, in 1980 John (finally) verbalized his suspicions that Paul might have wanted to leave the Beatles in 1968. At another point (in the epic Playboy interview), John suggests he was considering leaving the band as early as 1966 (whilst in Spain filming How I Won the War) and actually says Paul might’ve been considering the same thing then! (The aforementioned part about John contemplating his departure in 66 is oft-quoted by the Lennon Estate, but the rest of the sentence about Paul thinking the same has been thoroughly buried or ignored by authors).
Considering how “Yesterday” – a song John (and the other Beatles) had no part in either writing nor recording – became an instant classic upon its release in 1965, it’s not a stretch to imagine that this would trigger John’s paranoia about Paul’s talents and his ability to successfully go solo. Add to that a variety of contributing factors such as Paul’s refusal to move to the suburbs with the other Beatles, his growing interest in the London art and avant-garde scenes, his cultivation of friends outside the Beatles circle, his refusal to do acid with the others Beatles, etc….It’s actually pretty reasonable for John to be “paranoid” about Paul’s propensity and ability to stray.
Never mind the fact that Paul is famously a one-man band who has played all the instruments on at least three of his own albums.
Having said that, John was paranoid and had major (well-documented) abandonment issues. So whether or not Paul was a true flight risk is hard to gauge. One thing does seem clear to us – that no matter how much Paul may have loved the Beatles, he did not like being artistically muzzled any more than John did and would fight back as hard or harder if pushed into a corner. In the end, John (backed by lieutenants George Harrison, Yoko, Klein and to a lesser extent Ringo) tried this approach and it backfired.
If you haven’t listened to Episode 1 of the Break-up series, we recommend that you do! 🙂 We discuss 1968 in detail there.
This was an amazing episode. The further you go in this series the more baffling it is that no one has seriously broken down John’s love for Paul in a prominent Beatle’s book. I really liked that you pointed out how Paul now uses hyperbole to try to explain his relationship with John. I hope you guys are getting enough appreciation and not too much push back, this is a really refreshing series with some very important points that I hope continues for a long time.Our Tumblr asks
Thank you so much! Your words mean a lot to us, and it is very reassuring to know that someone out there is listening and appreciating the hours (lifetime!) of research and thought we’ve put into this analysis.
To be perfectly frank, we haven’t gotten ANY pushback on any of our analysis about the Beatles. The only pushback we’ve gotten thus far has been about our criticism of Mark Lewisohn. (None of it was substantive, however, it was all of the generic, “hey, he’s a good guy!” variety)
As to pushing back on actual substance… we encourage it! We can defend all our viewpoints, they are all based in logic, common sense and facts, so are open to challenge and debate.
I think I screamed a bit after seeing your podcast was made up of women. Finally got a media outlet that reflects a huge portion of the fanbase. And I was not disappointed – because you’re very fair and balanced when analyzing the Lennon/McCartney brand. You neither condescend nor embellish, or hero-worship to an insane degree, which is something usually occurring in Beatles documentation. Instead, it seems you’re simply getting down to the emotional truth. Thank you for your hard work!Our Tumblr asks
Thank you so much for this amazing comment! We are very grateful for this feedback.
We think perhaps that being women (of a different generation) helps us see the story through a new/different lens. We aren’t as emotionally attached to the original story and frankly, we think we can see through men’s posturing a little better than many men! Maybe our collective years of experience dating a variety of men have helped us see through their games a bit… in a way that isn’t so obvious to the typical Beatles authorship? 🙂
We don’t think anyone has totally uncovered the emotional truth of the story yet but think we can get closer, so we are digging, and as we do so, we are seeing a different and much more compelling story emerge. We hope you stick with us to see it unfold!
I truly appreciate your podcast, keep it up!! Me and my brother both really enjoy it 😊Our Tumblr asks
We’re so glad you and your brother are enjoying the podcast! Thanks for reaching out, and keep listening…we have a lot of other very exciting topics in the pipeline!
-Thalia and the AKOM crew
Can you explain what exactly you guys mean by the term “jean jackets” and how it came about? Great podcast – a much needed antidote to the biographies written by emotionally blunted male rock critics. 😉Our Tumblr asks
Hi there, thank you so much for reaching out, and we’re so glad you’re enjoying our podcast!
“Jean jackets” was invented by Phoebe as a term to reference members of the rock music press, critics, and fans who hold dear the (false) idea that John Lennon was the only Beatle who really mattered and regard Paul McCartney as a lesser or sidekick to Lennon. In other words, people who have a vested interest in keeping the standard narratives about the Beatles story intact. The “uniform” of the 70’s rock critic, “jean jackets and ponytails,” is an evocative reference for both a group of influencers over fandom discourse AND a mentality. Phoebe gives some explanation of the term in our first episode, “The Minds Behind Another Kind of Mind.”
Thank you so much for listening, and we hope you stay tuned!
– Thalia and the AKOM crew
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