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Lennon Against McCartney

Paul wanted to take the skiffle band professional. John wasn’t so sure. Paul pointed out it could get them girls. Nice clothes too. What else could a teenage boy from Liverpool desire?

John went along with it. They made music together.

“[Paul] provided a lightness, an optimism, while I would always go for the sadness, the discords, the bluesy notes.”

Lennon sang blunt truths, Paul melodies.

John got the boys with beards wanting to know the meaning of life, Paul the girls.

Paul wanted perfection, John profundity.

John was the leader but had always been a little loose. Paul was the one that had to be responsible.

When John was volatile Paul made peace.

Both lost their mothers. Paul’s when he was 14, breast cancer and an embolism. John’s when he was 17, run over by a car outside his home.

Let It Be, Julia.

Time marched on. Paul started pushing forward, John started backing off.

Both found partners they needed more than each other. When Paul got married John did too, eight days later.

The Lovely Linda, Oh Yoko.

John lacked discipline, Paul’s was imposing.

John wanted to leave, it wasn’t working. Yet it was Paul who made the call. He informed the others that he was out. It was over. He broke up the band, then he sued them.

Paul hurt John’s ego, John decided to hurt Paul. He unleashed primal screams. Paul grew his beard.

Paul went to Scotland, John New York.

John sang about his struggles, Paul denied them.

Paul was happy to play the Beatle, John was disillusioned. Until Power to the People. Then the revolution was back on.

Paul played the rock star, John a working-class hero.

Lennon’s idealism was impractical, Paul’s invisible.

Paul shared little of himself, John gave it all.

Paul spent a decade on the run. John rarely played live. Didn’t like the repetition.

As John was singing what was on his mind, Paul wrote Silly Love Songs.

At his worst Paul was banal, John crass.

Neither were saints.

John could be bitter with sarcasm, Paul cloying in his sweetness.

Paul wove himself into the fabric of our culture, John tore at it.

John sang with David Bowie, Paul with Michael Jackson.

Both competed.

Happy Xmas / War Is Over, Wonderful Christmastime.

John rejected his MBE, Paul kept it. Both smoked marijuana in the washroom of Buckingham Palace.

On December 8, 1980 John was shot.

Paul said it was a drag. Never could quite believe it.

His grief took years to unfold.

“Sadness isn’t sadness. It’s happiness in a black jacket.”

Neither claimed to be the better man, both found salvation in love.

“All you need is love, love, love is all you need.”

John wrote it, both sang it. Paul never stopped preaching it.

Paul’s life is polished, John’s was raw.

Neither was ever quite complete without the other.

 

By Riley Fitzgerald

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December 7, 2018

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