When people hear the name “The Beatles” most people think oflead singer, John Lennon. However, the role of Paul McCartney isoften overlooked. It was McCartney, not Lennon who was thedriving force behind the Beatles.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney were in many bandstogether before the forming of the Beatles. In 1962, along withRingo Starr1 and George Harrison, they formed the rock groupknown as “The Beatles”. The group featured a modern rock that wasnew and popular during the period with John and Paul composingand doing the leads on most of the songs. They were backed byGeorge on rhythm and bass guitar and Ringo on drums. George andRingo also assisted on backing vocals.When they first began playing, the main influence inside theband was John Lennon, who had an uncanny ability to compose songsat a moments notice with an inspiration that others missed. Hepushed the members of the band during their touring years and wasable to achieve the best possible results from the group.
The band began playing in a Music Hall style that is veryeffective for the audiences but was lacking on their albums.Together with Paul, John began to evolve the band. As the yearsbegan to pass, the band was obviously beginning to growmusically. They had moved from simple lyrics like “Love me Do” toharshly aware reflections of life in their home country in”Eleanor Rigby”2. There were attempts, some more successful thanothers, to incorporate the other Beatles into the idea stage.George Harrison made this leap successfully with such tracks as”I want to tell you”, “TAXMAN”, and the psychedelic “Love youto”.
Ringo was featured in the humorous “Yellow Submarine” As thegroup matured, their creativity began to rely more on the effectsand manipulations that they were able to produce in the studio.The Beatles agreed to end their touring career after an Americantour of large halls that they failed to fill. It was around thistime, that John Lennon began to search for himself. He beganusing any means that he thought might help him connect.
This erawas marked by the Beatles visits to the Maharashi Mahesh Yogi,and the beginning of heavy drug use 3. As Lennon began to use LSDin greater and greater quanti-ties4, the other Beatles began tohave more and more influence in the production of the albums.Lennon began to become almost reclusive, and often delayedrecording sessions.By the time that they were recording Sgt.
Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967, Lennon would simplypropose songs and themes, and McCartney was left to execute theplans and tie together whims. They began to make demands ofthe crew:Beatles songs were quite simple in the early days, youcouldn’t play around with them too much. But by 1967 we werebuilding sound pictures and my George Martin role had changed-it was to interpret the pictures and determine how best to getthem down on tape. Paul was fine-he could express what he wanted,the sounds he wa nted to have.
But John…would make whooshingsounds and try to describe what only he could only hear in hishead, saying he wanted a song to ‘sound like an orange’.5 As soonas the Sgt. Pepper album was underway, Paul McCartney came upwith the idea of actually creating a band and preforming thesongs as that band. They took the Idea from there and Sgt.Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band came into existence, never tosee the outside of studio 2 at Abbey Road.
They spent nearly ayear recording various tracks for the album and John’s state ofmind was steadily declining. In 1969 when they issued Abbey Roadit was no longer difficult to distinguish between the writings ofPaul and John . John was producing works like “I want you (she’sso heavy)” which had the lyrics:I want you so bad it’s driving me madShe’s so heavy6And the more musical and thoughtful work of McCartney, such as”Golden Slumbers” which was almost a lullaby:Once there was a way to get back homewardOnce there was a way to get back homeSleep pretty darling do not cryAnd I will sing a lullabyGolden slumbers fill your eyesSmiles awake you when you rise Sleep pretty darling do notcryAnd I will sing a lullaby7The writing of the material on The Beatles8 seemed more balancedas Lennon began writing more cogent songs, and collaborating on asong-by-song basis with McCartney. Their songs varied from a slowballad in McCartney’s “Blackbird” to the bizarre and intriguing”Revolution #9) by Lennon. Yet McCartney was needed to controlLennon when he recorded the original version of “Sexie Sadie”with the verse:You little twatWho the fuck do you think you areWho the fuck do you think you areOh, you cunt.9Fortunately McCartney prevented the track from proceeding anyfarther than rehearsal. He ended up suggesting that the song takea more sympathetic note and, eventually, Lennon agreed.
Duringthis time, one almost constant presence in the recording studiowas Yoko Ono, John’s wife. This was against an unspoken codeamongst the Beatles not to allow wives and girlfriends into thestudio. Yoko had a large affect on John, almost completelyaltering his style, and inspiring such songs as “I wanther (she’s so heavy)” and “Revelation #9”. Many of the othersongs that Yoko and John created were rejected by the group, buther presence changed John’s behavior and performance. The Beatlesfinal album together was Let It Be released in 1970.
The albumwas not in any way spectacular and exhibited many of the traitsthat are associated with the Beatles writing. The title track,”Let It Be” is one of the most famous tracks recorded by thegroup. The music on the album was a last chance effort to keepthe group together, and although the album was well received, itwas not what the group had in mind. The Beatles did not makeanother recording after that date, though there were rumors ofthe group reforming until the shooting of Lennon in 1980.One of the most obvious indicators of the heavy hand thatwas often kept on Lennon is the progress of his band which heformed after the breakup of the Beatles.
The Plastic Ono Band wasan only moderately successful group that took the popularpsycedalia a few steps to far and lost most of its popularity.Lennon attempted to enter theater, but it was quickly obviousthat he was no actor. He lived a bizarre and drug ridden lifesecluded in his apartment with his wife Yoko Ono and his son.Both he and his wife were reported to have serious heroinaddictions and were often said to be high in the presence ofvisitors.
After the breakup, McCartney launched a moderately success-ful solo career. He has released many recordings both in theUnited States and abroad. His most recent accomplishment was the”Liverpool Oratorio” which is no small feat considering thatMcCartney never learned to read music. The songwriting styles,the studio records, and the individual careers all show thatthere was a very large influence in the group, and in the music,by Paul McCartney. Equal to Lennon in the beginning, butsurpassing him at the conclusion of the relationship. Two keyfactors that probably caused this are his affection andinfatuation with Yoko Ono, and the heavy use of hallucinogenicdrugs. On some occasions, both of those factors may have givenLennon inspiration for his music, but they greatly reduced hiscontrol and influence in the band.