Listen to our Breakup series: If I Ran Away from You (and our other episodes, too)!
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.