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  • John Lennon didn’t want to elaborate much on a song from The Beatles’ The White Album.
  • The original version of the song was not a hit.
  • Paul McCartney’s solo cover of the song became popular.
The Beatles' Paul McCartney sitting during the 'White Album' era
The Beatles’ Paul McCartney | Fiona Adams/Redferns

In 1968, John Lennon said The Beatles’ The White Album was the least collaborative album in the band’s discography. Despite this, he mentioned one of the songs from The White Album that was a collaboration. Paul McCartney’s solo version of the song was a hit.

John Lennon said 1 song from The Beatles’ ‘The White Album’ ‘was written in the studio from nothing’

According to the book Lennon on Lennon: Conversations with John Lennon, John discussed The White Album during a 1968 interview. “In India, we were writing a bit together,” he said. “But this album we wrote least of all together. Just ’cause of circumstances and all that, y’know. Or maybe we didn’t feel like it. I don’t know what.”

John said there was still some collaboration on The White Album. “But we do it any way, any combination you can think of, we do it, y’know,” he recalled. “From a line, from nothing — like ‘Birthday’ was written in the studio from nothing. ‘Let’s do one like that.’ And we did it.”

Why John Lennon didn’t want to elaborate on the origin of The Beatles’ ‘Birthday’

Subsequently, John didn’t reveal much about the creation of “Birthday.” “There’s no way of describing it unless I’m going into, sort of, ‘And when we wrote this, I was on piano and he was on the guitar,'” he said.

John seemed to dismiss the idea of discussing the way his songs were created. “And then it’s all right, that kind of talk, but I’ve said it all, y’know, somewhere or other,” he opined. “It’s just a bit of a hassle to say it. You know, I can have a verse of a song, and we write it from then.”


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How ‘Birthday’ ‘The White Album,’ and Paul McCartney’s ‘Birthday’ performed on the charts in the United Kingdom

The Beatles never released “Birthday” as a single, so The Official Charts Company reports it never charted in the United Kingdom. The song appeared on The White Album, which topped the U.K. chart for eight weeks. It stayed on the chart for 37 weeks in total.

Paul released a live rendition of “Birthday” in 1990. The Official Charts Company reports the song reached No. 29 in the U.K., lasting on the chart for three weeks. Paul included this version of “Birthday” on the album Tripping the Live Fantastic. The album reached No. 17 in the U.K. and remained on the chart for 11 weeks.

“Birthday” became a hit eventually — just without the involvement of most of The Beatles.