Artist News

Researchers say Paul McCartney “misremembers” writing Beatles song

By | Published on Monday 30 July 2018

The Beatles

The exact authorship of various Beatles songs remains up for debate. However, we may now have an answer to whether John Lennon or Paul McCartney contributed more to at least one song, ‘In My Life’. And it’s all thanks to mathematics.

Mark Glickman, senior lecturer in statistics at Harvard University, and Jason Brown, Professor Of Mathematics at Dalhousie University, have created a computer model which breaks Beatles songs down into 149 different components. From this, it creates a musical fingerprint for each songwriter, which can then be used to identify each member’s work across the band’s oeuvre.

McCartney maintains that Lennon put lyrics over his music on ‘In My Life’, a track from 1965 album ‘Rubber Soul’. Although Lennon reckoned McCartney was only responsible for the middle-eight and harmonies. The researchers have sided with Lennon, saying that there is only a one in 50 chance the whole composition is a Macca original.

“We wondered whether you could use data analysis techniques to try to figure out what was going on in the song to distinguish whether it was by one or the other”, Glickman tells The Telegraph. “The basic idea is to convert a song into a set of different data structures that are amenable for establishing a signature of a song using a quantitative approach”.

“The probability that ‘In My Life’ was written by McCartney is .018”, he says. “Which basically means it’s pretty convincingly a Lennon song. McCartney misremembers”.

The division of labour between Lennon and McCartney on other Beatles songs – including ‘Help!’ and ‘Eleanor Rigby’ – remain contested. The researchers haven’t yet given a definitive answer on those, but they do reckon that another ‘Rubber Soul’ track – ‘The Word’ – is actually a McCartney composition, despite being credited to Lennon.

Anyway, McCartney refuses to comment and Lennon is dead, so who knows?