Paul and John — The head versus the heart

Posted: January 27, 2013 in Uncategorized
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One thing that strikes me about the difference between Paul McCartney’s songs and John Lennon’s songs is the general feel that Paul wrote from the head, and John wrote from the heart.

In no way am I downgrading Paul here, for God’s sake, the man wrote “Hey Jude” and “Yesterday” and “Maybe I’m Amazed.”  Paul has nothing at all to apologize for.  But Paul’s songs seem to be more formulaic than John’s.

To illustrate a “formula” of Paul’s, listen to 15 second snippets of “Hey Jude” and “Maybe I’m Amazed” — two of his best songs and two of the best ever.

[audio]  [audio]

Notice the piano is very similar — note/chord/note/chord.  “Let it Be” is very similar.

And for examples of Paul vs. John, from the Revolver album (Ironically enough, in both cases they’re consecutive songs)…

Eleanor Rigby, a gorgeous song:


I’m Only Sleeping, a cool song:


Got to Get You Into My Life, a fine song, but one where you can almost see the nuts and bolts in the background:


Tomorrow Never Knows, a song that was a radical departure, in one chord, and cool as HELL:


And, just so you know I’m not saying Paul COULDN’T be completely cool…

  1. Cyd says:

    my off-the-cuff gut-instinct response is that you are spot on. I’m not familiar enough with who did what within the Beatles, but I know that Lennon’s solo stuff gets me in a way that McCartney’s does not. I’m going to pose this to my die-hard McCartney-loving friend and get her take on it.

    Looking forward to reading more!

  2. Paul is more technically gifted musically, but John had something that is hard to find. Something that draws people in. And where Paul was better at making notes fit perfectly together, John was a genius with words and phrasing that you can only be born with. They had very opposite strengths. Needless to say, although I would love to meet Paul McCartney- I have always been a John fan.

  3. corpuscle2 says:

    That’s pretty much what I was trying to say, 🙂

    And that’s what made them such an excellent songwriting team, when they were working as a team. There’s another post there.

  4. Erica says:

    And after all, the simplicity of that note/chord/note/chord structure is what people STILL find appealing about those songs.

    The video made me smile. It was cool long before Bono wrote “Rock and Roll Stops The Traffic” on that wall.

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