January 13th, 1969: As Paul and Neil Aspinall discuss John and Yoko’s persistently conjoined state and how difficult it is to speak with John on a personal level, Paul brings up a failed attempt to write alone with John - and Yoko. While Paul contends that Yoko didn’t interfere with them at all, he admits that the very fact of her being there affected his ability to work and engage with John. Deflecting, Paul maintains that he is no position to tell John what he can or can’t do within their partnership, and explains that they’ve been falling out of tandem with each other since The Beatles stopped touring. (Note: This dialogue follows directly after this post.)
LINDA: I don’t know, but that’s what I—
NEIL: Yes, I think a lot of people get to have the impression that whenever John talks these days, it’s like, oh – Yoko’s talking to [for] him.
NEIL: Or he shuts up, and that’s it, he doesn’t do it for you. And then that becomes a dream. [inaudible]
NEIL: Not ever, like, talking to him – like I’m talking to you now. Like now I’m talking to Paul, I’m not talking to Linda.
NEIL: But when you’re talking to John, you always – these days, anyway – tend to think that you’re talking to Yoko more than you’re talking to John. And that’s when it becomes a drag.
PAUL: That’s why I say writing a song with him is a bit embarrassing, because I do think it sort of – I mean, I start examining my emotions, with Yoko there… And it’s probably silly of me! It’s probably silly, because like, Yoko’s not what we’re all sort of thinking she is.
NEIL: You see, I wouldn’t mind if she would just… wouldn’t say as much. Otherwise.
PAUL: [weary] Well, that – of course that would be great, you know.
|—||Paul McCartney, Many Years from Now|
August, 1980: John declares himself a chameleon.
JOHN: I’m a chameleon. I’m influenced by whatever’s going on, you know. It’s the same as, if Elvis can do it, I can do it. If The Everly Brothers can do it, me and Paul can do it. If Goffin and King can do it, Paul and I can do it. If Buddy Holly can do it, I can do it. So whatever it is, I can do it.
August, 1980: In an interview with Playboy writer David Sheff, John doesn’t take kindly to having his former bandmates’ talents underestimated.
SHEFF: Critics would criticize Ringo’s drumming by saying, you know, “If he wasn’t a Beatle—”
JOHN: Ringo’s a damn good drummer. He was–he was always a good drummer. He’s not technically good—
SHEFF: But critics used to criticize him all the time.
JOHN: Well–yeah. I think Ringo’s drumming is underrating– underrated, the same way as Paul’s bass-playing is underrated. Paul was one of the most innovative bass players that ever played bass. And half the stuff that’s going on now is directly ripped off from his Beatle period. He was always… uh, coy about his bass-playing. He’s an egomaniac about everything else about him, but his bass-playing he was always a bit coy about. He is a great musician who played the bass like few other people could play it.
Now if you compare Paul’s bass-playing with The Rolling Stones’ bass player’s bass-playing, and you compare Ringo’s drumming with Charlie Watts’, they’re equal to, if not better. But the credit has always gone to, uh, Bill and Charlie, and Paul and Ringo didn’t get it. But we got other credits that must have made them feel bad, too, so it all equals out in the end. But I always objected to the fact that because Charlie came on a little more arty than Ringo, and knew jazz, and did cartoons, that he got credit. And I think that Charlie’s a damn good drummer and the other guy’s a good bass player, but I think Paul and Ringo stand up anywhere, any– with any of the rock drummers. Not technically great, and none of us were technical musicians, none of us could read music, none of us can write it, but–but as pure musicians, as–as inspired humans to make the noise, they’re as good as anybody.
|—||Paul McCartney on John Lennon’s death|
May 13th, 1989: Paul talks to DJ Mike Reed about second-guessing his relationship with John in the wake of John’s death.
PAUL: We’d been slagging each other off a lot, over the years coming up to it, and in fact we’d–we’d got on quite well personally, what turned out to be towards the end. But there had been a lot of slagging off and business stuff. John would’ve been sort of saying, “Oh, he just does all that,” “Oh, bloody hell,” “Oh, he’s like this…” and this sort of attitude, you know. [And] me sort of feeling like I had to, “No, well, uh, I’m not that bad! I mean, uh, I’ve done that, and I’ve done that…” Feeling like I had to justify myself to him. It was just not very pleasant, because you kind of thought, he’s bluffing. He’s–he’s just doing that sort of very… bluffy thing he does. He’s just being very upfront, and he’s sort of— I always got the impression that he was trying to clear the decks for Yoko, and get rid of us lot. ‘Cause he had to devote all his attention to her. Which is fair enough, you know. I always sort of cherished the hope that I’d be able to kind of say to him, “Oh, come off it. You didn’t mean that, really, did you? I know you went a bit overboard, but–you don’t think it’s like that, do you, really?”
And I heard, in fact, little bits from Yoko, who was kind of nice enough after he’d died to sort of clue me in on that. Realizing, perhaps, that those w- would be the kind of things that would hang me up, forever. “Did he, or didn’t he… hate what I did?” And she said some very nice things. She told me once that he’d sat her down with one of my albums, and they’d sort of be sat down, and he’d be having a bit of a sort of cry about it, and he’d sort of be saying, “Ah… you know, I– I like him, really.” Because John was like that, you know. He could come at you, but really–he’d just lower his glasses a bit and sort of say, “It’s only me.” It was very two-sided like that. I like that about him. It’s a very interesting part of his personality, really. But as I say, it was nearly gonna hang me up. This whole idea.
“I never know what my own feelings are anyway…”
|—||Paul McCartney, Many Years from Now|
August, 1980: In his interview with Playboy writer David Sheff, John’s spurious account of the authorship of ‘Eleanor Rigby’ reveals an insecurity with his partnership with Paul at the time, and its perceived exclusivity.
JOHN: Rigby’s, um, his first verse, and the rest of the verses are basically mine. But the way he did it was–uh, was he had the song, and he knew he’d got the song. So rather than ask me, “John, do these lyrics,” because by that period, he didn’t want to say that… to me. Okay? So what he would say was, “Hey, you guys. Finish off the lyrics.” While he was sort of fiddling around with the track or something, or, or arranging it, in the other part of the giant studio in EMI. Now, I sat there with Mal Evans, a road manager who was a telephone installer, and Neil Aspinall, who was a not-completed student accountant who became our road manager. And I was insulted and hurt that he’d thrown it out in the air, but I wanted to grab a piece of it, and I wrote it with them sitting at the table. So. There might be a version that they contributed, but there isn’t a line in there that they put in.
But that’s how it–he just sort of— ‘Cause that’s the kind of insensitivity he would have, which made me upset in the later years, because to him that meant nothing. But that’s the kind of person he is. So he threw ‘em out and said, “Here, finish these up,” like–to anybody, who was around, but actually he meant I was to do it, but–you know, Neil and Mal were sitting there, and…