Paul McCartney Summons John Lennon’s Spirit When Writing Songs

Writing hits songs doesn’t always come easy for Paul McCartney. Sometimes, he needs a little help from beyond the grave. When Paul first started writing songs, he did it with the help of his friend John Lennon. They’d strum their guitars at each other until one of them found a useable melody. Soon enough, they formed one of the best songwriting partnerships in rock history, even though they were mostly opposites of each other, sweet and sour.

However, years after John’s death, Paul still imagines he has his buddy to help him when he gets stuck on a particular tune. He summons John’s spirit and imagines what he’d say about them.

Paul McCartney and John Lennon in suits backstage in London, 1963.
Paul McCartney and John Lennon | Val Wilmer/Redferns

Paul McCartney summons John Lennon’s spirit to help him write songs

Many people have come and gone in Paul’s life. According to CTV, he takes great pains to remember each of the people he’s lost over the years. When he goes one stage, he remembers an expression his father used to say to him: “Get stripped, you’re on next.”

But writing songs is always when Paul remembers John the most. CTV wrote that Paul “summons” John’s spirit and imagines they’re back in a room working on lyrics together. “I imagine myself back into a room with John, and I’ll think (about a lyric), ‘Ugh, that’s no good.’ And I’ll imagine him saying, ‘No, can’t do that.’ So I’m using him as a sort of judge of what I’m doing,” Paul said.

Paul can’t help wondering what John would say about his new songs

In an interview with Uncut (per NME), Paul reiterated that he “consults” John during the songwriting process. Paul said it’s more like an instinct than anything else because they’d worked together for so long.

“We collaborated for so long, I think, ‘OK, what would he think of this? What would he say now?’ We’d both agree that this new song I’m talking about is going nowhere,” Paul explained. “So instead of sitting around, we’d destroy it and remake it. I started that process yesterday in the studio. I took the vocal off it and decided to write a new vocal. I think it’s heading in a better direction now.”

During the BBC radio special, “John Lennon at 80,” Paul explained to John’s son Sean that he and John collaborated so well because they virtually lived together in the early days of The Beatles. They spent so much time together on tour, in hotels, cars, and planes, that it was hard not to write songs together all the time.

“You know, the reason we originally wrote separately was because we were living separately,” Paul said. “In the early days, we’d been on tour all the time so we were kind of living together. Once the touring is off, and we might have one tour a year or something, there would be plenty of time to be at home.”

Paul or John would write separately most of the time, but they’d come together to polish it off at the end. There were never any “dry sessions” where they went away without writing something.

After The Beatles, Paul and John still considered each other’s oppinions

Speaking about what it was like to lose his songwriting partner after The Beatles broke up, Paul said that he and John still continued to consider each other’s opinions when they wrote music.


Paul McCartney Says John Lennon Doubted Whether People Would Remember Him

“The interesting thing is that, ever since The Beatles broke up and we didn’t write together or even record together, I think each one of us referenced the others,” Paul continued to explain to Sean. “When we’re writing stuff, I often do it, you know. I’m writing something and I go, ‘Oh, god, this is bloody awful.’ And I think what would John say? And you go, ‘Yeah, you’re right. It’s bloody awful. You’ve got to change it.’ I know from reports that he did similar things to that. If I’d have a record out, he’d go, ‘Bloody hell… got to go in the studio. Got to try and do better than Paul.'”

What was great about Lennon-McCartney was that they each brought something new to a song. “My attitude would be, ‘This is what I want to do.’ And then John would bring another edge to it. So the great thing was the combination of those two attitudes, and I look back on it now like a fan. You think, ‘Wow, how lucky was I to meet this strange Teddy boy off the bus who turned out to play music like I did. And we get together!'”

John and Paul were sweet and sour, yin and yang, but that’s what made The Beatles so interesting and successful. So it’s no wonder Paul likes to revisit that feeling of writing songs with John.