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Lennon and McCartney wrote some songs that “weren’t very good”, but you haven’t heard them

By | Published on Tuesday 29 September 2020

The Beatles

Hey Beatles fans, there are some Beatles songs out there that you haven’t heard. Although that’s probably for the best, because – according to Paul McCartney – they “weren’t very good”. Yes, even worse than ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’.

McCartney’s comments are part of upcoming BBC Radio 2 documentary ‘John Lennon At 80’, which will air this weekend, presented by Lennon’s son Sean. Asked if the Lennon/McCartney songwriting duo started knocking out the hits from the moment they first began writing together, he admits that, no, they did not.

“There were a few songs that weren’t very good”, he says. “There were a few that were clearly [by] young songwriters who don’t quite know how to do it. There was one called ‘Just Fun'”.

Luckily they did eventually work it out and, although they still knocked out some clangers along the way, for the most part when they worked together they also acted as sounding boards for each other, providing some quality control for the finished product. Something that, McCartney adds, continued even after they stopped working together, and indeed after Lennon’s death in 1980.

“Ever since The Beatles broke up and we didn’t write together or even record together, I think each one of us referenced the other”, he says. “When we’re writing stuff, I often do it. I’m writing something and I go, ‘Oh, god, this is bloody awful’. And I think what would John say? And you go, ‘Yeah, you’re right. It’s bloody awful. You’ve got to change it’. And so I’ll change it”.

I don’t know what this says about ‘The Frog Chorus’. Anyway, McCartney goes on: “I know from reports that he did similar things to that. If I’d have a record out, he’d go, ‘Bloody hell… got to go in the studio. Got to try and do better than Paul'”.

Of course, sometimes that same rivalry resulted in things like ‘How Do You Sleep?’, a scathing Lennon song about McCartney written in response to his track ‘Too Many People’, which in turn contained references to Lennon, Yoko Ono and the break-up of The Beatles.

But then there’s ‘Here Today’, an imaginary conversation between the two songwriters penned by McCartney two years after Lennon’s death. Although there’s some disagreement between them in that too.