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Holy Shit

Paul McCartney Opens Up About Frustrations With John Lennon's Legacy

"When John got shot, aside from the pure horror of it, the lingering thing was, OK, well now John’s a martyr. A JFK."

What do you do when you're one quarter of arguably the greatest rock band of all time, and you break up on top only to have your former songwriting partner murdered by a crazed fanatic? Paul McCartney can attest to the weight being daunting. He recently sat down with Esquire to walk through his and the Beatles' forever intertwined legacies. It's a great interview, and Paul is unafraid to walk through some of the knottier points of his career, like feeling as though he was unfairly put in competition with a sainted martyr after John Lennon's death: "I mean, if you just pull out all his great stuff and then stack it up against my not-so-great stuff, it’s an easy case to make."


On Lennon's legacy shifting in the immediate aftermath of his passing: "When John got shot, aside from the pure horror of it, the lingering thing was, OK, well now John’s a martyr. A JFK… John did a lot of great work, yeah. And post-Beatles he did more great work, but he also did a lot of not-great work. Now the fact that he’s now martyred has elevated him to a James Dean, and beyond. So whilst I didn’t mind that – I agreed with it – I understood that now there was going to be revisionism."

On Yoko Ono trashing him in the papers: "Yoko would appear in the press, and I’d read it, and it said [comedy Yoko accent], 'Paul did nothing! All he did was book the studio…' Like, 'Fuck you, darling! Hang on! All I did was book the fucking studio?'"

On seeking top billing in the "Yesterday" songwriting credits for the Beatles' 1996 Anthology: "Well, what happened was there was a backlash from people who didn’t see where I was coming from. 'Dancing on a dead man’s grave' was one of the phrases that came up. 'What a bighead!' 'Why does he want his name in front of John’s?' But it was nothing to do with bighead. It’s just to do with identifying who wrote what."

Read the full interview here.

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