We Realized That There’s One Paul McCartney That’s So Misunderstood
via The Howard Stern Show / Youtube
Paul McCartney and his jolly buddies known as The Beatles are known for skillfully infusing hidden messages and themes into their music. Although he received acclaim for these endeavors during his time with the Fab Four, his solo career presented a unique challenge in conveying his intended meaning.
This challenge became particularly evident during Macca’s highly publicized feud with his former bandmate and friend, John Lennon. This led to speculation that McCartney was trying to imitate Lennon’s style in his later solo work, but according to the songwriter himself, this was not the case.
In 1973, when Paul’s most successful post-Beatles project Wings released “Let Me Roll It” as the B-side to their hit “Jet”, some music critics and fans were quick to point out its resemblance to Lennon’s style, a comparison that McCartney vehemently denied.
“To tell you the truth, that was more (about) rolling a joint,” says the Beatle. Though only the “roll” part of the lyrics and title is the only clue he had going, “Let Me Roll It” is really just a love song for pot.
Just another McCartney ode to pot
“That was the double meaning there: “let me roll it to you”. That was more at the back of mind than anything else. “Dear Friend”, that was very much ‘let’s be friends’ to John,” McCartney said in a 2010 interview with Clash.
“Let Me Roll It” is the enigmatic, drawn-out love song from Wings, which he established alongside his first wife, Linda, and Denny Laine after The Beatles disbanded in the late 1960s.
This track is featured on the highly successful third album by Wings, Band on the Run, released in 1973. This album holds the distinction of being McCartney’s most successful post-Beatles album and includes two chart-topping singles, “Band on the Run” and “Jet”.
Inspiration for “Let Me Roll It” can be traced back to a lyric from George Harrison’s 1970 solo track, “I’d Have You Anytime”, off his third album All Things Must Pass.
It’s not for his old bandmate Lennon
Stylistically, there have been allegations by some critics that McCartney sought to imitate John Lennon with this song. They suggest that he emulated John’s style through the use of tape echo, a heavy bass, and wailing lead guitars.
McCartney has addressed this topic on multiple occasions, including a notable 1994 interview with Club Sandwich where he clarified that “Let Me Roll It” wasn’t intended as a Lennon imitation.
““Let Me Roll It” was not really a Lennon pastiche, although my use of tape echo did sound more like John than me. But tape echo was not John’s exclusive territory! And you have to remember that, despite the myth, there was a lot of commonality between us in the way that we thought and the way that we worked,” Macca clarified.
And besides, Paul had another song that was a direct call out to his old friend.
He already responded to Lennon with “Dear Friend”
While many assumed that “Let Me Roll It” was directed at Lennon, Paul McCartney had actually already addressed their feud in his song “Dear Friend”.
The song appears on his 1971 album Wild Life and served as an appeal for a truce with his former songwriting partner. In the interview with Club Sandwich, McCartney explained that he composed the song as a response to Lennon’s actions but didn’t want to publicly criticize him.
“‘Dear Friend’ was indeed written about John,” McCartney clarified. “I have a distaste for conflict and public arguments; they always trouble me. Life is too valuable, even though we occasionally find ourselves falling into such behavior. So, after John publicly criticized me, I had to consider how to respond.
McCartney continued: “It came down to either publicly criticizing him in return, and some inner instinct prevented me from doing that, for which I’m truly grateful. Instead, I focused on changing my approach and wrote “Dear Friend” Essentially, it was a plea to put aside hostilities, to hang up our boxing gloves and seek a resolution.”
“Let Me Roll It” wasn’t the first pot song Macca wrote
The Beatles really love marijuana and its “mind-expanding” qualities, and they were evidently skilled at subtly incorporating references to drugs in their music, as seen in their 1966 song “Got to Get You into My Life” from the album Revolver.
Written by McCartney (of course), the song initially appears to be a typical love song, but McCartney later revealed that it was, in fact, an “ode to pot”.
In Barry Miles’ biography titled Many Years From Now, McCartney discussed how he had developed a fondness for smoking marijuana during his time with The Beatles. He found that the drug had a “literally mind-expanding” effect on him and desired to compose a song expressing his enjoyment of it.
According to Paul, “”Got To Get You Into My Life” is really a song about that, it’s not to a person. It’s actually an ode to pot, like someone else might write an ode to chocolate or a good claret. While we don’t know anyone who writes odes to chocolate, we do get the point.”