Paul McCartney said his 1980 song, “Coming Up,” “shocked” John Lennon “out of inertia.” By that year, John was entering his fifth year of semi-retirement, being a stay-at-home father, and raising his son Sean. He hadn’t released music in years, but hearing Paul’s song made him jump into action.
John Lennon spent five years raising his son Sean
After falling out with his wife, Yoko Ono, and going on a multi-year bender infamously called his “Lost Weekend,” John finally returned home. The couple had their only son, Sean, on John’s birthday, Oct. 9, 1975.
All John cared about was being home with his family. So, he entered what would become a five-year semi-retirement where he didn’t release any music.
“The number one priority is her and the family,” he told Playboy (per Biography). “Everything else revolved around that.”
However, once John heard Paul’s “Coming Up,” the need to make and release music again arose.
Paul McCartney said ‘Coming Up’ ‘shocked’ John Lennon ‘out of inertia’
In The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, Paul wrote that “Coming Up” is a “very positive” song. “Things are going to be good,” he wrote. “And that reflects my very positive attitude.” According to Paul, John must have heard that positivity.
“The phrase ‘coming up’ works mostly in the sense of a film trailer. ‘Com-ing soon’ to a theatre near you,'” Paul wrote. So, good things were coming soon, and John must have felt that too.
“John described ‘Coming Up’ somewhere as a good piece of work,” Paul explained. “He’d been lying around not doing much, and it sort of shocked him out of inertia. So it was nice to hear that it had struck a chord with him.
“At first, after the breakup of The Beatles, we had no contact, but there were various things we needed to talk about. Our relationship was a bit fraught sometimes because we were discussing business, and we would sometimes insult each other on the phone. But gradually we got past that, and if I was in New York I would ring up and say, ‘Do you fancy a cup of tea?'”
John said hearing Paul sing ‘Coming Up’ on the radio drove him ‘crackers’
According to Salon, John did spring into action after hearing Paul sing “Coming Up” on the radio one afternoon.
“To Lennon’s ears, it was simply infectious. Indeed, while he had tended to dismiss much of Paul’s recent work as empty-headed instances of bubblegum pop, this new tune had truly caught his imagination,” Kenneth Womack wrote.
“Quite suddenly, Lennon found himself entranced by the staccato beat of McCartney’s new sound. For the life of him, Lennon couldn’t get ‘Coming Up’ out of his head. ‘It’s driving me crackers!’ he said, as he experienced the jarring return of the old competitive energies of his Beatles-era songwriting rivalry with McCartney.”
“I thought that ‘Coming Up’ was great,” John said. “And I like the freak version that he made in his barn better than that live Glasgow one.”
Paul released “Coming Up” in April. In October, John released his single “(Just Like) Starting Over,” ahead of the November release of his comeback and final album, Double Fantasy.
So, hearing the cheerful song could’ve inspired John to get back into music. Hearing “Coming Up,” it’s hard not to be happy about something.