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John Lennon said he had a lot of respect for Bob Dylan — but Paul McCartney did not. In addition, he said Paul was jealous of Dylan. Interestingly, these comments were kept under wraps for decades. Let’s see how accurate John’s comments were.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney in suits
John Lennon and Paul McCartney | Fox Photos/Getty Images

Why some of John Lennon’s comments on Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney remained obscure for many years

In 1971, Rolling Stone’s Jann S. Wenner published a famous interview with John called Lennon Remembers which he later published as a book. The incredibly-wide ranging interview became one of the most famous interviews in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. In the original published version of Lennon Remembers, John discusses his views on Dylan — but not Paul’s views on Dylan.

In 2000, Wenner published a new version of Lennon Remembers which included material excluded from the original publication of the interview. During his introduction to the book, Wenner said some of these tidbits were removed due to “discretion.” He removed others by accident because he transcribed the interview too quickly. He also excised interjections from Yoko Ono.


What John Lennon thought of Bob Dylan

Near the end of the unabridged version of Lennon Remembers, John praises Dylan at length. “And I loved him, because he wrote some beautiful stuff,” John said. “I used to love his so-called protest things. But I like the sound of him, I didn’t have to listen to his words. He used to come with his acetate and say, (imitates Dylan) ‘Listen to this, John.’ And ‘Did you hear the words?’ And I said, ‘That doesn’t matter, just the sound is what counts. The overall thing.”’ 

Dylan has a reputation for being a great lyricist. However, John didn’t think he needed to hear Dylan’s lyrics to appreciate him. “You didn’t have to hear what Bob Dylan’s saying, you just have to hear the way he says it, like medium is the message, all-whatever mix of-but Dylan was like that,” John said.

“Lay Lady Lay”

John Lennon says Paul McCartney felt differently about Bob Dylan

Yoko interjected, saying “But you respect him a lot.” John agreed. “I know Paul didn’t,” he added. “I think Paul was jealous. Paul didn’t like any other artist. But that’s valid. Paul didn’t get hyped by me. I had too many father figures.”

What did Paul McCartney really think of Bob Dylan?

John’s statement that Paul didn’t respect Dylan doesn’t seem to align with Paul’s comments. According to NME, the BBC asked Paul if Dylan influenced The Beatles’ more personal work. Paul said he absorbed much of Dylan’s early music. In addition, he cited Dylan as one of his influences.

“Penny Lane”

The Singer John Lennon Said Was as Important as Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan Combined

On the other hand, John’s comment that Paul was jealous of Dylan seems more grounded. Paul has said he wishes he could be more like the “Lay Lady Lay” singer. John made some interesting comments about Paul, but it’s not clear if they were all true.