George Harrison Said Paul McCartney Was Writing Songs for a ’14-Year-Old’ Audience

After The Beatles broke up, George Harrison aired his grievances about Paul McCartney and John Lennon. While they had worked together for years, the former bandmates didn’t exactly speak glowingly about one another in the press. Harrison often felt that McCartney and Lennon overlooked his contributions to the band. In one interview, he complained about McCartney’s controlling nature regarding his music. He also said that McCartney was writing music for an audience of teenagers.

A black and white picture of Paul McCartney and George Harrison playing guitar and singing into a microphone.
Paul McCartney and George Harrison | Edward Wing/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Beatles broke up in 1970

By the mid-1960s, Harrison was tiring of his role in The Beatles. They had been the most popular in the world for years, and the pressures of fame were becoming unbearable. He said that he felt a sense of relief when the band broke up in 1970.

“There was a sense of relief after that, getting home [from the final show],” he told Rolling Stone in 1987. “Then we spent what seemed like fifty years going in and out of each other’s houses, writing tunes and going into the studio for Sgt. Pepper and the White Album. But for me, I think for all of us, it was just too much. The novelty had worn off. Everybody was growing up. Everybody was getting married and leaving home, in effect. I think it was inevitable, really.”

Long after the split, people still asked Harrison if The Beatles would ever get back together. The question frustrated him, as he felt it was best to move forward and not continually revisit the past.

George Harrison said Paul McCartney wrote for a teenage audience

In a 1977 interview, Harrison voiced his frustration that McCartney and Lennon often wanted to work solely on the songs they wrote. They wouldn’t help the other members of the band until all their songs were done. 

“The problem was that John and Paul had written songs for so long it was difficult,” he said, per the book George Harrison on George Harrison. “First of all because they had such a lot of tunes and they automatically thought that theirs should be the priority, so for me I’d always have to wait through ten of their songs before they’d even listen to one of mine.”

He said that McCartney was particularly bad about this.

“Paul would always help along when you’d done his ten songs, then when he got ’round to doing one of my songs, he would help,” Harrison said. “It was silly. It was very selfish, actually.”

He said that after the band broke up, the songs McCartney began putting out seemed fitting for an audience of young teenagers. Even in The Beatles, Harrison didn’t think that some of McCartney’s work was particularly strong. He pointed to the song “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” as an example.

“After a while we did a good job on it, but when Paul got an idea or an arrangement in his head … but Paul’s really writing for a 14-year-old audience now anyhow,” he said. “I missed his last tour, unfortunately.”

George Harrison and Paul McCartney reconciled before Harrison’s death

While there was simmering animosity between the two men in the 1970s, Harrison and McCartney had reconciled by the time Harrison died.

“I sat with him for a few hours when he was in treatment just outside New York,” McCartney told Uncut. “He was about 10 days away from his death, as I recall. We joked about things – just amusing, nutty stuff. It was good. It was like we were dreaming. He was my little baby brother, almost, because I’d known him that long. We held hands. It’s funny, even at the height of our friendship – as guys – you would never hold hands. It just wasn’t a Liverpool thing. But it was lovely.”

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