The Song That Made John Lennon So Angry At Paul McCartney
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The Beatles’ domination of the 60’s was nothing short of spectacular. The whole world bent to the Fab Four’s musical prowess, a scorched earth musical policy in action. All this the band enjoyed to excess, as anyone should. But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. As the seventies came in, The Beatles saw their undoing. A cessation of touring, numerous personal interests, internal conflicts, among others, gradually affected the band, leading to their eventual breakup.
The member’s worsening relationships between each other were subtly notable, but nothing topped Lennon and McCartney’s clash. Petty or moved by deeper motives, the former friends used their musical gifts to curse each other. McCartney took the first hit with his album, Ram. His digs were subtle throughout, but the most noticeable track aimed at Lennon was “Too Many People“. It didn’t seem like it at first glance, but if you prodded deeper, McCartney injected the venom rather well.
Too many people going underground
Too many reaching for a piece of cake
Too many people pulled and pushed around
Too many waiting for that lucky break
This was McCartney’s way of telling Lennon he was a hypocrite. It’s clear that McCartney hasn’t moved on yet, but who are we to blame? The Beatles were on a landslide, and he points all fingers at Lennon for the disbandment. He takes another dig, this time at Lennon’s newfound love, Yoko Ono. John had divorced his former wife Cynthia prior to this, and began bringing Ono to recording sessions, much to the distaste of the other members, most especially McCartney.
That was your first mistake
You took your lucky break and broke it in two
Now what can be done for you?
You broke it in two
Lennon, fully aware of McCartney’s insulting jabs, didn’t take it lightly. “Too Many People” was slander enough for Lennon, and decided to take matters into his own hands. He wrote “How Do You Sleep” as a reply to McCartney, and boy was he pulling no punches. Lennon decided being straightforward was the way to go, catching McCartney by the throat. George Harrison played guitar for the track, speaking volumes of how he saw McCartney. However, Harrison suggested Lennon to mellow down on the lyrics, causing the end product to be less rabid than the original. It’s still a gut punch to McCartney’s person though, make no mistake.
So Sgt. Pepper took you by surprise
You better see right through that mother’s eyes
Those freaks was right when they said you was dead
The one mistake you made was in your head
Lennon starts by criticizing McCartney’s “weak” songwriting skills, unable to keep up with him during the later Beatles’ albums. He also references the fan conspiracy of his “death” in 1966. Another jab at McCartney’s songwriting is Lennon saying “Yesterday” is the only good song Paul wrote, and “Another Day” was just “another” song.
The only thing you done was yesterday
And since you’re gone you’re just another day
John Lennon closes the song with this verse, making further references to Paul’s mediocre composition skill. Muzak is a term coined for background music played at commercial establishments.
The sound you make is muzak to my ears
You must have learned something in all those years
Lennon took every chance to be the opposite of McCartney, his candid method to Paul’s subtlety included. It took several years before the rift between the two was mended. Crazy what the industry does to its patrons.