Why John Lennon Was ‘Bugged’ by The Beatles’ Songs That Paul McCartney Wrote

John Lennon and Paul McCartney were a dynamic songwriting duo that gave The Beatles several hit songs. However, the two also wrote a few songs alone, with many equally successful. Lennon was reportedly ‘bugged’ by a few of McCartney’s Beatles songs because they possessed a trait that Lennon was envious of. 

Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote many of The Beatles’ biggest hits

Paul McCartney and John Lennon in Australia
Paul McCartney and John Lennon | GAB Archive/Redferns

Many of The Beatles’ biggest hits are credited to the songwriting duo of Lennon-McCartney. While the two collaborated on hundreds of Beatles tracks, the credit often made it seem that both contributed equally to each song. The truth is that many songs were primarily written by one of them, with the other providing some minor notes. 

Beatles’ songs primarily written by Lennon include “In My Life,” “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” “Help!,” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.” On the flip side, a few of McCartney’s songs include “Hey Jude,” “Yesterday,” “Let it Be,” “Blackbird,” and “Eleanor Rigby.” Many of these were massive hits for the band, while others are underappreciated deep cuts. 

Lennon was ‘bugged’ by many of McCartney’s songs

The Telegraph recently spoke with actor Dan Richter, Lennon’s former assistant who, at one time, also lived with him and Yoko Ono. Richter claims that John Lennon was often jealous of Paul McCartney, a remnant of their friendly rivalry during their time with The Beatles. He recalls a time when John looked at a list of Beatles songs he wrote versus a song by Paul, and he became annoyed. 

“John got somebody to make a list of all the Beatles’ songs, and then we had to say which were his and which were Paul’s,” Richter shares. “It bugged him that Paul could write those sweet melodies like ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Hey Jude’. “He couldn’t do that. He was just too acerbic, or too intelligent…”

Lennon wanted to create a hit with ‘Imagine’

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After The Beatles broke up, John Lennon struggled to write songs that would become worldwide hits, while Paul McCartney had more success early in his solo career. In 1971, Lennon released his second album, Imagine, which also contained the song of the same name. Richter says that this was the former Beatle’s attempt at creating a mainstream album that had several hits. 

“John wanted to show that he could do a big mainstream album with a big number one kind of hit on it,” Richter told The Great British Scandal podcast. “And that’s what Imagine was going to be. At that point you have to remember, the Plastic Ono Band albums, that are now considered masterpieces, were doing well in Britain but weren’t doing that well at all in the States. People were thinking, ‘What’s happened to John?’ This was John saying, I Am John Lennon, and I offer you this masterpiece.”