John Lennon Said ‘Get Back’ Was Paul McCartney’s Rewrite of This Beatles Song

John Lennon said The Beatles‘ “Get Back” was Paul McCartney’s attempt to rewrite an earlier Beatles song. During an interview, John compared “Get Back” to its supposed inspiration. One of the songs was far more popular than the other.

The Beatles' John Lennon and Paul McCartney sitting next to each other
The Beatles’ John Lennon and Paul McCartney | Fox Photos/Getty Images

A picture inspired Paul McCartney to write a famous song

During an interview with National Geographic, Paul recalled looking at a picture of a mother that inspired him. “She looked very proud and she had a baby … And I saw that as a kind of Madonna thing, mother and child,” Paul said.

“Sometimes you see pictures of mothers and you go: ‘She’s a good mother,'” Paul added. “You could just tell there’s a bond and it just affected me, that photo. So I was inspired to write ‘Lady Madonna,’ my song, from that photo.”

According to the book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, John had mixed feelings on “Lady Madonna.” “Good piano lick, but the song never really went anywhere,” John opined. “Maybe I helped him on some of the lyrics, but I’m not proud of them either way.”

John Lennon felt The Beatles’ ‘Get Back’ was connected to Yoko Ono

At a different point in the book, John discussed the origin of The Beatles’ “Get Back.” “‘Get Back’ is Paul,” John recalled. “That’s a better version of “Lady Madonna.” You know, a potboiler rewrite.”

John said “Get Back” was about Yoko Ono. “You know, ‘Get back to where you once belonged,'” he said. “Every time he sang the line in the studio, he’d look at Yoko.”

John said Paul might not agree with his assessment of “Get Back.” “But maybe he’ll say I’m paranoid, John said. “You know, he can say, ‘I’m a normal family man, those two are freaks.’ That’ll leave him a chance to say that one.”


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The way the world reacted to The Beatles’ ‘Lady Madonna’ and ‘Get Back’

Regardless of whether “Get Back” was better than “Lady Madonna,” one of the songs was more successful than the other. “Lady Madonna” became a more modest hit. “Lady Madonna” peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for 11 weeks. The Official Charts Company says “Lady Madonna” hit No. 1 in the U.K. and lasted on the chart for eight weeks.

“Get Back” was far more popular. “Get Back” was one of The Beatles’ 20 singles to top the Billboard Hot 100. It remained on the chart for 12 weeks. Its parent album, Let It Be, topped the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 66 weeks.

Meanwhile, The Official Charts Company reports “Get Back” was popular in the United Kingdom as well. The track reached No. 1 in the U.K., lasting on the chart for 13 weeks. Let It Be reached No. 1 there, lasting on the chart for 53 weeks. Regardless of whether one song inspired the other, “Get Back” and “Lady Madonna” are classic Beatles songs.