romantic and willfully misinformed tales of idealism and near-religious fervor

In a Playboy interview in the ‘80’s, Linda McCartney opined that “John was biting, but he was also sentimental. Paul was sentimental, but he could be very biting. They were more similar than they were different.”

I have never thought of the relationship of McCartney and Lennon that way until I read those words recently. I, like almost everyone else in the world, I assume, bought into the media’s default position that they were polar opposites, not just in their personalities but in their songwriting. Closer examination of their solo work will reveal more similarities than differences, if you look hard enough and between the lines. Lennon and McCartney said the same things (love, bitterness, confusion, songs about domestic bliss, etc) in their songs, the difference being that Lennon said them in a very blunt way while McCartney used metaphor’s and veiled references to get his point across.

If we’re all honest here, both artists were wildly hit-and-miss with their albums, save but a couple of perfect one’s: John had Plastic Ono Band and Imagine and McCartney had RAM and Band On The Run. Pick up those 4 LP’s and a “greatest hits” compilation from each and you’ve got pretty much everything consequential the duo released as solo artists. Yes, perhaps you could make an argument for both boys later day work (McCartney’s Tug Of War (’82) and Lennon’s Double Fantasy (’80), but I’ll tell you that the key stuff is on those aforementioned ‘comps’.

Of course the solo output of these two could never reach the highest highs they achieved with the Beatles. That’s not the point. The solo years are fascinating not just for the handful of treasures available on those great albums but to also understand and feel a little compassion and understanding for the absolutely impossible task of trying to leave the past behind and forge something independent and new.

Advertisements