How Paul McCartney Dealt With “Revisionism” After John Lennon’s Death

SHINDIG - Airdate: October 7, 1964. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) THE BEATLES (L-R: PAUL MCCARTNEY;JOHN LENNON)

Perhaps one of the most important moments in the history of pop culture is the day two boys from Liverpool, named John and Paul, crossed paths and unknowingly started the path of The Beatles.

However, the relationship between Paul McCartney and John Lennon was not on the best terms after the breakup of The Beatles. When the band disbanded, the songwriting leaders saw their differences exacerbated and everyone took individual directions. While some grudges were still in the air, many things were said through songs like “How Do You Sleep?” (1971), in which John directed unfriendly phrases at his former partner. The same year Paul wrote a song for John but with a different approach and called it “Dear Friend”.

The track was part of Wings’ Wild Life album and an exclusive Q&A was shared from McCartney’s official website in which he talks about its re-release within the framework of its 50th anniversary and refers specifically to this song. The years have passed, but this song still has a very deep meaning for The Beatles bassist as he admitted that he gets “very emotional listening to it”.

Paul revealed that he was lucky to have written songs with John Lennon

“I was thinking the other day about the achievements people want in life,” Paul told Rolling Stone in 2001. “It was sort of shocking as I started to think of some of mine. Let’s say, imagine being the guy who wrote with John Lennon? Jesus Christ, I mean, what about that? The guy.

“Let’s just go over this again: The guy that wrote with John Lennon. Are you kidding? I have such an admiration for John, like most people. But to be the guy who wrote with him — well, that’s enough. Right there, you could retire, and go, ‘Jesus, I had a fantastic life. Take me, Lord.’”

It was in Peter Jackson’s documentary The Beatles: Get Back that many of the rough edges between the two singers and the rest of the band could be seen. Although after the end of the Fab Four McCartney and Lennon distanced themselves, before the death of the latter they were able to rebuild their relationship being in another moment of their lives.

Paul admitted that “Revisionism” occurred and fans tried to put him down

After the tragic death of John Lennon 1980, Paul become aware of fans treating him differently. Rolling Stone remarked during Paul’s 2001 interview. “It seemed that after John died, people often felt that part of praising him meant putting you down,” they said.

“The minute John died, there started to be a revisionism,” Paul explained. “There were some strange quotes, like, ‘John was the only one in the Beatles.’ Or ‘Paul booked the studio’ — I don’t want to get into who said what, but that was attributed to someone who very much knew better.

“‘John was the Mozart; Paul was the Salieri.’ Like, John was the real genius, and I was just the guy who sang ‘Yesterday’ — and I got lucky to do that. Even with John in that song [‘How Do You Sleep‘], when he sang, ‘The only thing you done was yesterday.’

“I tried to ignore it, but it built into an insecurity. People would say, ‘Paul, people know.’ I said, ‘Yeah, but what about fifty years in the future?’ If this revisionism gets around, a lot of kids will be like, ‘Did he have a group before Wings?’ There may come a time when people won’t know.

“It was only after we’d stopped working together it even reared its ugly head — the whole idea of who wrote what.

“Really, John once said to me, ‘I wonder how I’ll be remembered.’ I was kind of shocked. I said, ‘I’ll tell you how you’ll be remembered: You’re great. But you won’t be here. It won’t matter to you, so don’t worry about it.’ And I thought, ‘Why’d he get into that?’ But now I understand.”

Although they had their differences, the two were close friends until Lennon’s death.