Paul McCartney Wrote a Goodbye Song to The Beatles

Paul McCartney is one of the best songwriters in the music industry. He was the other half of The Beatles songwriting duo Lennon-McCartney, which gave fans songs like “Hey Jude” and “Yesterday.” In his solo career, Paul gifted us with hits like “Band on the Run” and “Maybe I’m Amazed.” However, while each McCartney song comes with its own interesting back story, one song doesn’t exactly bring up good memories.

Yoko Ono, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney at the premiere of 'Yellow Submarine.'
Yoko Ono, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney | Larry Ellis/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Beatles split up in 1970

Going into 1970, The Beatles were not on good terms with each other. Ultimately, many factors contributed to the band’s demise after being together for most of the 1960s.

Things started going downhill when their manager Brian Epstein unexpectantly died in 1967. Then the band started to feel that Paul was controlling everything, John Lennon was bringing Yoko Ono to the studio, and each of the members thought the band would be better if they left. Tensions mounted while they were filming Let It Be. Eventually, John told the group he was leaving, and Paul announced he quit in April 1970, which started a media frenzy. The rest of the band quickly started their own solo careers, but Paul had already recorded his first solo album.

“The event is so momentous that historians may, one day, view it as a landmark in the decline of the British Empire,” reported CBS News (per the Independent). The Beatles are breaking up.”

In 1970, Paul released McCartney, but he couldn’t start his solo career without truly grieving the end of his time as a Beatle first. So he hid a goodbye song in the album.

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Paul McCartney wrote a goodbye song to The Beatles

Before The Beatles officially broke up and before the band had finished recording Let It Be, Paul recorded “Man We Was Lonely” for his new album.

According to Express, the song was Paul’s way of writing a Johnny Cash song. It’s sad and for a good reason. Paul wrote “Man We Was Lonely” to say goodbye to The Beatles, which helped him become famous.

“It wasn’t that easy when I left the Beatles. ‘Man We Was Lonely,’ I think, was a little bit of a reflection of those times,” Paul said in 2001.

With lyrics like “Man we was lonely, yes we was lonely. And we was hard pressed to find a smile. Man we was lonely, yes we was lonely. But now we’re fine all the while,” you can imagine what was going through Paul’s mind at the time. The Beatles were doing their own thing within the band, so it probably was really lonely.

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However, what made McCartney awkward wasn’t that it contained a goodbye to The Beatles. It was awkward because Paul and the rest of The Beatles had a bit of a row over Paul releasing his first solo album around the time they were releasing Let It Be. Ringo Starr came to Paul’s house to deliver a letter from the rest of the band demanding Paul not release McCartney simultaneously, but Paul threw him out.

Later, Paul had to sue his bandmates to end the band formally. “It was the last thing in the world I wanted to do, but it was pointed out to me that it was the only way to do it,” Paul said. “I knew I had to get out [of the Beatles], and I knew I would apologise to them, and I knew once I got out, they’d get out. So if I got out of prison, I’d free them.”

“It was a very difficult call. I went through a lot of tough times emotionally, so something like Man We Was Lonely reflects that,” Paul concluded.

“Man We Was Lonely” was the first song Paul McCartney worked on with his wife Linda

One of the good things about “Man We Was Lonely” is that it is the first song Paul ever worked on with his late wife, Linda McCartney. Linda helped Paul with the finishing touches.

In 1970, Paul said, “The chorus [to Man We Was Lonely] was written in bed at home, shortly before we finished recording the album. The middle was done one lunchtime in a great hurry, as we were due to record the song that afternoon. Linda [McCartney] sings harmony on this song, which is our first duet together. The steel-guitar sound is my Telecaster played with a drum peg.”

So “Man We Was Lonely” is bittersweet. Sometimes songs can hold stories and feelings an artist doesn’t want to look back on. No wonder Paul doesn’t play “Man We Was Lonely” live.