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