Why George Harrison’s Book Hurt John Lennon So Much
The tensions of the late Beatles years are almost too numerous to count. Both George Harrison and Ringo walked out on the band while recording their last albums. Though both returned after an absence, it was obvious the band had serious problems.
By then, John Lennon and Paul McCartney had already begun their own heavyweight feud. While recording “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” the two old songwriting partners nearly broke into a fistfight in the studio.
The following year, John and George actually did get physical following a disagreement. Their problems revolved around band finances and personal resentments between them. Though John and George became close again, their friendship didn’t stay strong through the ’70s.
By 1980, following the publication of George’s I Me Mine, John went on the record saying how hurt and offended he was by the book. Yet it wasn’t anything George wrote. It was quite the opposite: George never mentioned John Lennon at all.
John felt hurt by the ‘glaring omission’ of being left out of ‘I Me Mine.’
After the Beatles breakup, there were plenty of mean songs written about one another. Paul wrote “Too Many People” to send a message to John. In response, John sent a haymaker Paul’s way with “How Do You Sleep at Night?” Even Ringo took some shots at Paul with “Back Off Boogaloo.”
Yet George mostly stayed above the fray. On All Things Must Pass, he delivered the exquisite “Run of the Mill,” expressing regret and sorrow (not bitterness) about the band’s demise. In short, George was not one to be petty about a feud (real or imagined).
But that was exactly what John took away from his lack of mentions in I Me Mine. “By glaring omission in the book, my influence on his life is absolutely zilch and nil,” John told Playboy’s Davif Sheff (in interviews later collected in All We Are Saying).
“Not mentioned,” John continued. “In his book, which is purportedly this clarity of vision of each song he wrote and its influences, he remembers every two-bit sax player or guitarist he met in subsequent years. I’m not in the book.”
While Yoko suggested maybe his editors told him not to discuss John, he wouldn’t listen to the suggestion. He said he was genuinely hurt, and offered a reason why.
John suspected resentment in George toward him for leaving The Beatles.
When asked by Sheff why he thought George left him out of I Me Mine, John has several answers ready. For starters, he noted how their relationship began with George as his “young follower” and “like a disciple.” John described George hanging around like a fan in the early days.
Next, John connected that thought with the Beatles’ breakup. “It’s a love-hate relationship, and I think George still bears resentment toward me [10 years later] for being a daddy who left home … I was just hurt. I was just left out as if I didn’t exist.”
If you look at the book’s contents, Yoko might have had a point. Of its 400-or-so pages, only a small part contains autobiographical content — and some of that was written by someone else. Indeed, it’s a glaring omission, but he may have had his reasons.
A very animated John Lennon didn’t want to hear about George’s reasons in 1980. And he didn’t want to pretend it didn’t hurt him, regardless.