Paul McCartney Reveals Which Beatles Song Was His First John Lennon Collaboration

Even before The Beatles was formed, Paul McCartney and John Lennon were longtime collaborators. Once The Beatles began, the duo wrote hundreds of songs as the Lennon-McCartney duo. The first Beatles song the two wrote together was one of their biggest hits, according to McCartney. 

Paul McCartney explains the songwriting process with John Lennon

Paul McCartney and John Lennon at the Variety Club Showbusiness Awards at the Dorchester, London
Paul McCartney and John Lennon | William Vanderson/Fox Photos/Getty Images

In an interview with GQ, McCartney discussed the origins behind many hit songs by The Beatles and his solo career. The British singer-songwriter started discussing how he and Lennon collaborated, sharing that the two could brainstorm in “3-hour sessions.”

“Mostly, we’d start from scratch, but sometimes one of us would just have an idea, like the first couple of lines, and then we’d just sit down and work it,” McCartney explained. “A lot of it was we came in and started talking about what we might want to write about, and then we’d just sit down. They were pretty quick sessions. It was normally about 3 hours. And we’d finish something from beginning to end with the chords and the melody and the words.”

McCartney says their first Beatles song was ‘I Saw Her Standing There’

“I Saw Her Standing There” emerged in 1963 as the B-side on The Beatles’ first single, with “I want to Hold Your Hand” as the A-side. The song was then the opening track on The Beatles’ debut album, Please Please Me. McCartney said he had different lyrics for the song until Lennon made a better suggestion. This was the beginning of their songwriting partnership with The Beatles. 

“My song started, ‘She was just 17/ She’d never been a beauty queen,’ and we kind of looked at each other, and I said, ‘I don’t really like that line,’” McCartney shared. “So we changed it to ‘She was just 17/ You know what I mean,’ which makes more sense. Even though you probably don’t know what I mean. So, we changed it to that, and that started our songwriting partnership.”

“I Saw Her Standing There” performed well on the charts. In the U.S., it peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained on the chart for 11 weeks. However, the A-side track, “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” performed better, peaking at No. 1 for seven weeks and remaining on the chart for 15 weeks. 

McCartney and Lennon wrote over 300 songs together

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How Paul McCartney Stays Connected to John Lennon and George Harrison: ‘They’re an Ever-Present Presence’

Paul McCartney and John Lennon created many of The Beatles’ greatest hits together, including “Eight Days a Week,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” “Hello, Goodbye,” and “Eleanor Rigby.” McCartney wrote more songs in his solo career, but he said he wrote over 300 songs with Lennon. Today, he has forgotten some of the words to a few of the hundreds of songs he’s worked on. 

“300 was just the ones I wrote with John,” McCartney stated. “Since then, I’ve written lots more. And I do forget them, yeah. And that’s my excuse.”

McCartney, 80, is still writing new music. However, he misses being able to bounce ideas off of his longtime partner.