"Brought together by their common love of rock-and-roll, Lennon and McCartney were psychologically cemented by the harsh coincidence of losing their mothers in their early teens. But though they never lost their respect for each other's talent, their temperaments and egos soon caused them to diverge as songwriters, displacing genuine fifty-fifty collaboration. For most of their career, their partnership was a formal arrangement, each writing the lion's share of his own songs before bringing the results to be checked, and where necessary altered or added to, by the other. That said, their close creative proximity generated the electric atmosphere of competitive rivalry which was the secret of The Beatles' extraordinary ability the better themselves; and where they did not collaborate on equal basis the results were nearly always remarkable, ascending on the tension between their contrasting personalities and gifts". Revolution In The Head - Ian MacDonald.
Where it is true that the fifty-fifty collaboration did diverge into individual composing of songs by the mid-sixties, it is still fact that the true Lennon - McCartney partnership was the principal genius that produced a new wave of songs that burst into the charts, creating what was to be known as Beatlemania. These early hits changed the face of popular music, and from the head-to-head creation of these songs came the encouragement and wisdom to write individually in a friendly rivalry that would shape the phenomenal and innovative Beatles' songs that would be written in the next few years.
Commenting on a film soundtrack written by Paul and arranged by George Martin in 1966, John said: "I copped money for The Family Way, the film music that Paul wrote when I was out of the country filming How I Won The War. I said, 'You'd better keep that.' He said, 'Don't be soft.' It's the concept. We inspired each other so much in the early days. We write how we write now because of each other."
The partnership didn't just cease after a bad falling out, or a mutual agreement. John and Paul had completed their apprenticeship with each other, and were now ready to express their own personal feelings and musical preferences into their own creations. There would still be an amount of consultation and discussion during the making of Beatles songs. Each song would go through the Beatle process, and no matter who wrote the song it would end up a Beatle song on a Beatle LP, a Beatle single or B-side. Throughout the Beatles' relatively short reign, there would be many conferences between John and Paul regarding the creation of a song. They would help each other out whenever it was needed.
The first Lennon-McCartney tracks:
Love Me Do - Love Me Do was the first Lennon-McCartney record that would have any effect on the charts. Incidentally, the writing credit on the first Beatles songs were written as McCartney-Lennon, up until the release of the fourth single She Loves You.
Paul: "Love Me Do was our greatest philosophical song. For it to be simple and true means that it's incredibly simple."
It is said that Love Me Do was written by Paul when he was 16, and being unsure of how to finish it he showed the song to John, who made some contribution to the finished piece.
P.S. I Love You - written mostly by Paul whilst in Hamburg in 1961. Lennon's influence on the song is limited, and inconsequential in comparison with Paul's contribution. However John would have had say in the arrangement, especially as they were performing the song many times a day during their days in Hamburg. He also provided backing vocals.
Please Please Me - written by John at his Aunt Mimi's house, with the inspiration coming from Roy Orbison (possibly 'Only The Lonely') and The Everly Brothers' hit 'Cathy's Clown'.
McCartney provides the vocal alongside John with harmonised voices. The single did so well that the Beatles were called back from a UK tour to record an their first album. Please Please Me became the first Lennon-McCartney number one in the UK.
Ask Me Why - composed mainly by John, with the main influence being that of Smokey Robinson. McCartney backs John on vocals.
There's A Place - the lyrics and music written mainly by John, but the fire and enthusiasm of John and Paul singing together makes the record as excellent as it is. Although John wrote most of the song, they both take turns in leading the vocal.
I Saw Her Standing There - written by both John and Paul in the front parlour of Paul's house.
John didn't like the opening words of the song which Paul had originally written as "She was just 17, never been a beauty queen". So he replaced them with "She was just 17, you know what I mean". This explosive song was part of The Beatles' live act in Hamburg during 1962.
Do You Want To Know A Secret - written mainly by John with some influence from Paul in the middle eight, but given to George to sing. The song was written in minutes and recorded in only a handful of takes.
Misery - this would be the eighth Lennon-McCartney composition on the LP, which was a departure from previous practice for contemporary pop acts. A group that wrote their own songs was revolutionary for that time.
John and Paul wrote this during the tour they were called back from the record the Please Please Me LP.
Hold Me Tight - written mainly by Paul, this song was part of the Beatles' live repertoire. Paul describes the song as "a work song", not a track which either of the composers valued.
The pair decided not to use it the debuting album, but they included it in their second LP With The Beatles.
From Me To You - written by John and Paul on the tour bus on 28th February 1963 - see timeline.
This single went to number one and stayed there for seven weeks.
This song is a prime example of John and Paul writing head-to-head. The collaboration of the song and the melody is intensifying, with John and Paul's voices working in unison. John's harmonica work is instinctive and provides a back bone to the intro, in amongst the "da-da-da's". The melody is steady and addictive. The bridge builds up the excitement, with the pinnacle of which being the rousing "Wooo" from Paul which signals the arrival of the inviting chorus. When performing the song live they would receive what was going to become the customary screaming, and massively hysterical constant ovation. This was the seed of Beatlemania!
Thank You Girl - this was another song written head-to-head by John and Paul.
John and Paul harmonise the vocals. John plays some harmonica again to add life to the song, the B-side of From Me To You.
She Loves You - written side by side in a hotel room after a gig in north east England. At this point the writing partnership had matured considerably since the early days.
The song was even more explosive and energetic than From Me To You, with a climactic melody and ferocious vocals. The song erupts into the chorus from the very start, and continues with great depth, which indicates facets of both the individual characters of John and Paul. The song was recorded only five days after being written.
The single shot to number one and became The Beatles' biggest selling UK single ever. The song announced the image of the shaking mop-tops and the "yeah yeah yeah's" - a vision that would be significant in the rise of Beatlemania world wide.
I'll Get You - this was another fifty-fifty collaboration which found itself on the B-side to She Loves You. This song is dissimilar to the A-side in that it's slower and more softly melodic, showing the song writing diversity of the Lennon - McCartney partnership.
As The Beatles' second LP - With The Beatles - came out on 22nd November 1963, John and Paul were writing more and more as individuals, expressing their own preferences and ideas.
From now on it would be a case of John or Paul writing a song by themselves until it was complete or until something was needed, which is when they'd communicate with each other for further ideas and assistance. Throughout the next seven years The Beatles would build up the greatest discography in the history of popular music.
Shortly after With The Beatles came their third LP, A Hard Day's Night, which would be the soundtrack of the movie. The LP contained thirteen songs, all Lennon-McCartney compositions. This was another great achievement for The Beatles in 1964.
Paul: "When George Martin was scoring A Hard Day's Night (for the orchestral film soundtrack), he said, 'What is that note, John? It's been a hard day's night and I've been work-? Is it the seventh? Workinnnngggg? "John said, 'No.' "George said, 'Well is it workinnnggg?' He sings the sixth. "John said, 'No.' "George said, 'Well, it must be somewhere in between then!' "John said, 'Yeah, man, write that down.' And that's what I love! That's what I find interesting about music!"
The next movie The Beatles made was 'Help!'
John: "When 'Help!' came out in '65, I was actually crying out for help. Most people think it's just a fast rock 'n' roll song. I didn't realise it at the time; I just wrote the song because I was commissioned to write it for the movie. But later, I knew I really was crying out for help. It was my fat Elvis period. You see the movie: He - I - is very fat, very insecure, and he's completely lost himself. And I am singing about when I was so much younger and all the rest, looking back at how easy it was. Now I may be very positive - yes, yes - but I also go through deep depressions where I would like to jump out of the window... Anyway, I was fat and depressed and I was crying out for help."
After 'Help!' came 'Rubber Soul'.
John: "We were just getting better technically and musically, that's all. Finally we took over the studio. In the early days we had to take what we were given, we didn't know how you can get more bass. We were learning the technique on 'Rubber Soul'. We were precise about making the album, that's all, and we took over the cover and everything. That was Paul's title, it was like 'Yer Blues', I suppose, meaning 'English Soul' just a pun. There's no great mysterious meaning behind it, it was just four boys working out what to call a new album."
Revolver sparked a new era for The Beatles, with amazing new creations which would move the group from one platform to another. One of the most critically acclaimed tracks on the LP is 'Tomorrow Never Knows'.
John: "That's me in my Tibetan Book of the Dead period. I took one of Ringo's malapropisms as the title, to sort of take the edge off the heavy philosophical lyrics."
"Often the backing I think of early on never comes off. With 'Tomorrow Never Knows I'd imagined in my head that in the background you would hear thousands of monks chanting. That was impractical, of course, and we did something different. It was a bit of a drag, and I didn't really like it. I should have tried to get near my original idea, the monks singing; I realise now that was what it wanted."
Paul: "That was an LSD song. Probably the only one."
Soon after came the LP which many people believe to be the greatest record ever made - 'Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band'. The last song of the LP - 'A Day In The Life', was one of the best on the album.
Talking about this track, John said: "Well, it was a peak. Paul and I were definitely working together, especially on 'A Day In The Life' that was real... The way we wrote a lot of the time: you'd write the good bit, the part that was easy, like 'I read the news today', or whatever it was, then when you got stuck or whenever it got hard, instead of carrying on, you just drop it; then we would meet each other, and I would sing half, and he would be inspired to write the next bit and vice versa. He was a bit shy about it because I think he thought it's already a good song. Sometimes we wouldn't let each other interfere with a song either, because you tend to be a bit lax with someone else's stuff, you experiment a bit. So we were doing it in his room with the piano. He said 'Should we do this?' Yeah, let's do that. But Pepper was a peak all right."
Commenting on the orchestral parts of the song, Paul said: "Once we'd written the main bit of the music we thought, now look, there's a little gap there and we said oh, how about an orchestra? Yes, that'll be nice. And if we do have an orchestra, are we going to write them a pseudo-classical thing, which has been done before by people who know how to make it sound like that - or are we going to do it like we write songs? Take a guess and use instinct. So we said, right, what we'll do to save all the arranging, we'll take the whole orchestra as one instrument. And we just wrote it down like a cooking recipe: 24 bars; on the ninth bar, the orchestra will take off, and it will go from its lowest note to its highest note."
'Magical Mystery Tour' included some of the greatest Beatles tracks such as: 'I Am The Walrus', 'Penny Lane', 'Strawberry Fields Forever', 'Hello Goodbye', and 'All You Need Is Love'.
Commenting on 'Strawberry Fields Forever', John said: "The awareness apparently trying to be expressed is - let's say in one way I was always hip. I was hip in kindergarten. I was different from the others. I was different all my life. The second verse goes, 'No one I think is in my tree.' Well I was too shy and self-doubting. Nobody seems to be as hip as me is what I was saying. Therefore, I must be crazy or a genius -'I mean it must be high or low,' the next line. There was something wrong with me, I thought, because I seemed to see things other people didn't see. I thought I was crazy or an egomaniac for claiming to see things other people didn't see."
John: "Magical Mystery Tour was something Paul had worked out with Mal and he showed me what his idea was and how it went, it went round like this, the story and how he had it all... the production and everything. Paul had a tendency to come along and say well he's written these ten songs, let's record now. And I'd say, 'Well, give us a few days and I'll knock a few off', or something like that."