Paul McCartney Thought John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Famous Message Wasn’t ‘Entirely’ Truthful: ‘It’s a Great Sentiment’

Paul McCartney once said he thought “so much” of what John Lennon and Yoko Ono “held to be the truth was crap.” And that included one of their most widespread messages. Which famous Lennon line did he say he didn’t think was “entirely true,” and where did it come from? Plus, what did he say was really behind The Beatles‘ split?

(L-R) Yoko Ono, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney at the premiere of "Yellow Submarine"
(L-R) Yoko Ono, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney | Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images

John Lennon and Yoko Ono started a peace campaign with the message ‘War is Over’ in 1969

In 1969, Lennon and Ono were behind a worldwide peace campaign that saw posters, billboards, pamphlets, and other anti-war messaging spread far and wide. The simple message read: “War is over! If you want it,” and the couple signed, “Happy Christmas from John & Yoko.”

They then turned that line into one of the most-loved Christmas songs of all time, despite the political message behind it. They released “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” in 1971, and stars like Miley Cyrus have covered it since.

Paul McCartney thought John Lennon and Yoko Ono held ‘crap’ to be the truth, including their ‘War is Over’ message

McCartney said Lennon “turned nasty” after the band split, and they eventually took aim at each other through lyrics. McCartney wrote a song called “Too Many People,” which was “the 1970s equivalent of what might today [be] called a diss track,” he shared in his book The Lyrics: 1956 To The Present (per Guitar.com).

He added, “The idea of too many people preaching practices is definitely aimed at John telling everyone what they ought to do. I just got fed up with being told what to do, so I wrote this song.”

“The thing is — so much [Lennon and Ono] held to be the truth was crap. ‘War is over,’ well, no, it isn’t. ‘If enough people want the war to be over, it’ll be over’ — I’m not sure that’s entirely true,” he explained. “But it’s a great sentiment.”

Paul McCartney said neither he nor Yoko Ono split up The Beatles — that was John Lennon

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McCartney has also cleared the air on longstanding rumors that he or Ono broke up The Beatles. He said it was Lennon’s choice. “I didn’t instigate the split. That was our Johnny,” he said in an interview with BBC. “I am not the person who instigated the split.”

“John walked into a room one day and said I am leaving the Beatles. And he said, ‘It’s quite thrilling, it’s rather like a divorce,'” McCartney offered. “And then we were left to pick up the pieces.”

McCartney said he “couldn’t argue” with Lennon’s decision. “The point of it really was that John was making a new life with Yoko and he wanted… to lie in bed for a week in Amsterdam for peace,” he explained.

But he added, “It was the most difficult period of my life.”

“This was my band, this was my job, this was my life,” he shared. “I wanted it to continue. I thought we were doing some pretty good stuff … and I thought we could continue.”