The Beatles had two main songwriting brains behind it: John Lennon and Sir Paul McCartney. George Harrison and Sir Ringo Starr also contributed music to the group, but the Lennon-McCartney partnership was behind some of the biggest hits from the band. It is said the band’s songwriters often wrote full songs before presenting it to the band – so which songs did John Lennon write?
John Lennon was a fantastic songwriter, as was his Beatles companion Sir Paul McCartney.
Lennon and Sir Paul met at a local church fete in 1957, where Lennon was performing with a skiffle group called the Quarrymen.
After Macca impressed Lennon with his guitar stylings, he was invited to join the Quarrymen, and soon they brought along their friends to listen to their new song performances, inviting mates such as Nigel Walley and future Beatle George Harrison.
Speaking to Playboy in 1980, Lennon spoke fondly of his bond with Sir Paul and their writing.
He said: “[Sir Paul McCartney] provided a lightness, an optimism, while I would always go for the sadness, the discords, the bluesy notes.
“There was a period when I thought I didn’t write melodies, that Paul wrote those and I just wrote straight, shouting rock ‘n’ roll.
“But, of course, when I think of some of my own songs—‘In My Life’, or some of the early stuff, ‘This Boy’—I was writing melody with the best of them.”
The pair used this medium to communicate many of their feelings, about the world and issues they were facing.
But who wrote which songs?
According to Barry Miles’ book Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now, Lennon and Sir Paul often wrote independently, with many of the songs from the band being mostly the work of one of the two writers.
However, it was rare a song would be completed without both writers taking a look, whether it was to change a melody, add something like a bridge or middle eight, or combining unfinished songs to make a whole.
An example of this is shown in The Beatles Anthology documentary, where Lennon is seen telling Sir Paul not to change a line in his hit song Hey Jude.
The line ‘the movement you need is on your shoulder’ was going to be changed by Sir Paul, but Lennon made sure he kept it, and it soon became an important line in the famous tune.
Despite them both working on songs, many were worked on pretty much as individuals, though which song is which is harder to decipher.
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite from 1967 is an example of this, which Lennon claimed to have written entirely, while Sir Paul later said he was as involved in it as his bandmate.
Similarly, Help! from 1965 was also considered to be a co-written song, while in late interviews Lennon claimed this was entirely his own writing.
These arguments exist with a number of the songs, including Eleanor Rigby and Ticket to Ride.
However, there are some very clear songs which are more Lennon’s work than Sir Paul’s, such as I Am the Walrus, Come Together and Strawberry Fields Forever.
After Lennon’s death, there were reports of Sir Paul attempting to reverse the songwriting credits for a number of Beatles songs from Lennon-McCartney, to McCartney-Lennon.
He entered into a dispute with Yoko Ono, who inherited Lennon’s wealth and certain musical rights, along with his son Sean.
However, in 2003, Sir Paul declared: “I’m happy with the way it is and always has been.
“Lennon and McCartney is still the rock ‘n’ roll trademark I’m proud to be a part of – in the order it has always been.”
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