The Unbearable Banishment: Lennon/McCartney smackdown

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Lennon/McCartney smackdown

Here’s a fine example of the difference between a John Lennon lyric and a Paul McCartney lyric.

In Getting Better off of Sgt. Pepper, we hear:

It’s getting better all the time
I use to get mad at my school
The teachers that taught me weren’t cool

Do you see what he did there? He rhymed school with cool. Right out of the ole’ rhyming dictionary. The teachers weren’t cool. That’s kind of obvious, don’t you think? Can you guess who wrote that? A little later in the same song, we hear:

I used to be cruel to my woman I beat her
and kept her apart from the things that she loved
Man, I was mean but I’m changing my scene

Holy shit! He went from thinking school wasn’t cool to beating his woman! That’s quite a leap, don't you think? I think we can guess who contributed that part of the song. It sure ain’t the guy who would go on to write:

You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love songs
I look around me and I see it isn’t so
Oh no.

More likely, it’s the guy who would later write:

Father, you left me but I never left you.
I needed you but you didn't need me.

15 Comments:

Blogger Emerson Marks said...

Don't get me wrong, I love the Beatles, but Macc's a smug bastard isn't he? Mind you I would be too if everyone I'd met during the last 40years told me I was the's dog's bollocks.

April 2, 2009 at 5:23 PM  
Blogger Digital Fortress said...

Opposites attract and all that. Are there any Beatles songs that include a collaboration of both their lyrical abilities?

April 2, 2009 at 5:35 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

EM: Welcome! The Beatles are one of my favorites and I even like some of McCartney's post-Beatles stuff but, in a way, he can't be blamed for his smugness. People have been blowing smoke up his ass for most of his life. They still do.

DF: Actually, the song I site in my post is a great example whereby they both pitched in lyrics. Lennon wrote the bridge.

April 2, 2009 at 7:32 PM  
OpenID daisyfae said...

i hadn't realized that they did the 'shared lyrics generation' thing - always assumed the dippy-bubbleheaded songs were Mac's and anything of substance was Lennon... fascinating dissection!

April 2, 2009 at 8:46 PM  
OpenID thegnukid said...

oh, man... you toppled an icon of my youth... where's my straight edge razor?

April 2, 2009 at 9:52 PM  
OpenID anniegirl1138 said...

Poor Paul, his sunny side up will always lose to John's Holden Caulfield. it's so much coller to be angry and a jerk than to be polite and clueless.

Don't get me wrong. I love Lennon the Beatle. His stuff was awesome but it is the combo that was great. Alone they always lacked that certain something and frankly, Harrison was far and away the greater soloist because he was a true artist despite his lower profile.

April 2, 2009 at 10:56 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

I, for one, have never understood the hype over Paul. And for just the very reasons you point out here.

Mind you, Lennon lost me when he went all peacenik.

One my favourite lyricists nowadays is Maynard James Keenan. The dude can turn a phrase.

April 2, 2009 at 10:57 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Bastard said...

An interesting point you make. The coming together of two minds on the same piece worked.. until you break it down as you so thoughtfully have.

I've always found with my own ramblings, if I write when I am under the influence it must be finished there and then.

If I come back to it when sober, the piece is lost..

Frame of mind is indeed an important key to writing styles.

April 3, 2009 at 2:35 AM  
OpenID nursemyra said...

Let it Be

:-)

April 3, 2009 at 6:48 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Daisy: I’m actually not convinced there was a lot of “sharing” going on but this is the most blatant example to me.

Gnu: My apologies for knocking him down but Paul always seems to go for the cheap rhyme.

Annie: It’s not so much that it’s cooler to be angry, it just makes for more interesting writing.

Rob: I totally get Paul’s popularity. His stuff is easy to take—and that’s not a slam. Thanks for the Keenan tip. Will follow up on that.

Jimmy: I’d say you were one of the better scribes out there so continue to write to completion because it’s definitely working.

Nurse: Ah, yes. For every clunker, a masterpiece. That song is like Bridge over Troubled Waters, only much better.

April 3, 2009 at 6:59 AM  
Blogger kyknoord said...

Either way, it still needs more cowbell.

April 3, 2009 at 7:26 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Bastard said...

Nice to see you on the up side again my friend.. keep it going, it's hard to keep a good man like yourself down for too long.

All good things come to those who wait.

April 3, 2009 at 3:29 PM  
Blogger Ellie said...

Don't overlook the example of Lennon's poetic prowess in the 2nd example: mean / scene (or do you think Mac jumped in in the end there to help out with that one?)

I agree with Annie. George was the most up my ally. Mac does great melodies. But dippy. Lennon lyrics. But pretentious. Then there's every child at heart's fave: Ringo!

April 4, 2009 at 12:06 AM  
Blogger Husbands Anonymous said...

You can tell them apart- I mean songs like Martha My Dear- apparently written for PM's dog???
I guess the tension was what made it work, somehow.
And then there's Ringo...

April 6, 2009 at 7:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, what's wrong with Macca? Sure he had his moments of dippyness but he had more serious moments as well. Lennon didn't have the monopoly on 'meaningful' songs. Let it Be, Hey Jude, Yesterday and The Long and Winding Road come to mind - some of Mac's most famous Beatle songs and none are particularly cheerful and throwaway, are they?

May 26, 2009 at 8:04 PM  

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