The Beatles: John Lennon Said Paul McCartney and George Harrison Overshadowed Him on This Song

The Beatles’ John Lennon was one of the most acclaimed musicians who ever lived; however, he once felt Paul McCartney and George Harrison upstaged him. Specifically, he felt Paul’s and George’s guitar playing on one of The Beatles’ songs took the spotlight away from his musicianship. Here’s a look at the history of the track.

The Beatles' John Lennon, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney standing around a microphone
The Beatles’ John Lennon, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney | Keystone Features/Getty Images

The Beatles’ John Lennon felt he didn’t play guitar the way critics preferred

In Jann S. Wenner’s book Lennon Remembers, John spends quite a bit of time discussing the other Beatles. At one point, he said he was a better guitarist than George. Despite this, he didn’t think he was the sort of guitarist critics appreciated.

“Most critics of rock ‘n’ roll and guitarists are in the stage of the ’50s where they wanted a technically perfect film finished for them and then they would feel happy,” he said. “I’m a cinéma vérité guitarist-musician. You have to break down your barriers to be able to hear what I’m playing.”

The Beatles' John Lennon strumming his guitar while sitting down
John Lennon | Max Scheler – K & K/Redferns

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Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and John Lennon took turns playing guitar on 1 of The Beatles’ songs

For context, cinéma vérité is a style of documentary filmmaking. John said one of The Beatles’ songs contained his cinéma vérité guitar playing. “There’s a nice little bit I played on Abbey Road,” John said. ”Paul gave us each a piece, a little break where Paul plays, George plays, and I play. When you listen to it, you know … ”

Wenner asked John which song he was discussing. “There’s one bit, one of those where it stops, on ‘Carry That Weight,’ then suddenly it goes boom-boom-boom on the drums and we all take it in turns to play,” John responded. “I’m the third one on it. I have a definite style of playing, always had. But I was overshadowed. They call George the invisible singer, I’m the invisible guitarist.”

The fact that “Carry That Weight” is a collaboration between three of The Beatles is somewhat ironic. According to the book The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Write, the Fab Four recorded the song during a time when the band was falling apart due to arguments over finances and management. John, Paul, and George weren’t getting along — even if they could work together as guitarists.

The Beatles’ “Carry That Weight”

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How the world reacted to The Beatles’ ‘Carry That Weight’

The Beatles never released “Carry That Weight” as a single, so it didn’t chart on the Billboard Hot 100. On the other hand, its parent album, Abbey Road, was a success. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

Subsequently, the Bee Gees covered “Carry That Weight” for their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the soundtrack of the musical movie of the same name. Like the original version of the song, the Bee Gees’ cover was not a single. On the other hand, its parent album reached No. 5 on the Billboard 200

John felt Paul and George outshined him on “Carry That Weight.” Regardless, versions of the song still appeared on commercially successful albums.