George Harrison Told Paul McCartney He Couldn’t Write Songs Like ‘Martha My Dear’

George Harrison and Paul McCartney didn’t always see eye to eye during their time in The Beatles. However, they admired certain things about each other. George enjoyed Paul’s White Album tune, “Martha My Dear.” Meanwhile, Paul enjoyed George’s songs too.

Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison in the recording studio in 1967.
Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

George Harrison and Paul McCartney didn’t always get along in The Beatles

Once George started writing songs, his and Paul’s relationship started cracking.

Paul, John Lennon, and The Beatles’ producer, George Martin, acted condescendingly when he came forward with his tunes. George felt like a junior member, and Paul started treating him like a glorified session man. Paul told George to play what he wanted, and George was rarely able to give his input. Meanwhile, George had to help Paul do tons of his songs before Paul even considered recording one of George’s.

George never left his place at the back and was constantly treated as a lesser Beatle.

After having a virtually non-existent role on Sgt. Pepper and fighting with Paul over putting guitar on “Hey Jude,” George had had enough of Paul’s bossiness. He was tired of being left out, and his then-wife, Pattie Boyd, saw his struggle.

George saw Paul as difficult,” Boyd told the Daily Mail. “They would tolerate each other, but I think George basically didn’t like Paul’s personality. I just think they really didn’t love each other. Like a little brother, he was pushed into the background. He would come home from recording and be full of anger.”

After fighting with Paul during the Let It Be sessions, on camera no less, George briefly quit The Beatles. He returned, but his relationship with Paul and John was strained until the band broke up in 1970.

Years later, George recognized that he and Paul were the least compatible musically. “Well, now we don’t have any problems whatsoever as far as being people is concerned, and it’s quite nice to see him,” George told Rolling Stone in 1979. “But I don’t know about being in a band with him, how that would work out. It’s like, we all have our own tunes to do.

“And my problem was that it would always be very difficult to get in on the act, because Paul was very pushy in that respect. When he succumbed to playing on one of your tunes, he’d always do good. But you’d have to do fifty-nine of Paul’s songs before he’d even listen to one of yours.

“So, in that respect, it would be very difficult to ever play with him. But, you know, we’re cool as far as being pals goes.”

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George told Paul he couldn’t write songs like ‘Martha My Dear’

Amongst their bickering, George did like some of Paul’s tunes. He liked The White Album‘s “Martha My Dear.” Like “Yesterday,” it doesn’t have any other Beatles.

Paul told Barry Miles in Many Years From Now that it was an exercise. “When I taught myself piano I liked to see how far I could go, and this started life almost as a piece you’d learn as a piano lesson,” Paul explained. “It’s quite hard for me to play, it’s a two-handed thing, like a little set piece.

“In fact I remember one or two people being surprised that I’d played it because it’s slightly above my level of competence really, but I wrote it as that, something a bit more complex for me to play. Then while I was blocking out words you just mouth out sounds and some things come I found the words ‘Martha my dear.’

“So I made up another fantasy song. I remember George Harrison once said to me, ‘I could never write songs like that. You just make ’em up, they don’t mean anything to you.’ I think on a deep level they do mean something to me but on a surface level they are often fantasy like Desmond and Molly or Martha my dear.”

Besides “Martha My Dear,” George told Rolling Stone that he also liked Paul’s melodies. “I’ve always preferred Paul’s good melodies to his screaming rock ‘n’ roll tunes.”

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The ‘Yesterday’ singer enjoyed the ‘Taxman’ singer’s contributions

Meanwhile, Paul liked George’s contributions to his and the band’s songs. On “And I Love Her,” George added a genius riff to it that Paul loved.

In Martin Scorsese’s documentary, George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Paul explained, “We’d go in the studio, 10 in the morning, and this was the first time George and Ringo had heard any of the songs. This is how good they were. On my song, ‘And I Love Her,’ George comes in with ‘doo-doo-doo-doo.’

“Now you think about that [riff]: THAT’s the song! You know, he made that up at the session… I didn’t write that!”

However, George and Paul’s partnership wasn’t always that great. Speaking on The Howard Stern Show, Paul admitted that he and John underestimated George and his songs.

“I think it was easy to underestimate George because me and John had always written most of the stuff and had had most of the singles,” Paul said. “He wasn’t that interested in the beginning. But then he started to get interested and boy, did he bloom. He wrote some of the greatest songs ever.”

There was some tension between George and Paul following The Beatles’ split. However, those wounds healed enough for the pair to work on the band’s Anthology project in the 1990s.

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