Monday, October 10, 2005

Lennon and McCartney

I was over at Yahoo News and saw this story where apparently Yoko Ono dissed Paul McCartney while giving an acceptance speech for an award given to John.  And that’s just crap.  Who the hell is Yoko Ono to be dissing Paul McCartney?  And while accepting an award for someone else, no less!!

But even worse, some know-nothing jackass on the message board stated that John was the better songwriter.  And his explanation was because Paul’s solo lyrics were bad.  And that just pissed me off.  I’m a big big Beatle’s fan and I don’t take to no dissing of the Beatle’s (I even like Ringo’s songs).  I’m a Lennon guy and really dislike some of Paul’s fluffier Beatle’s songs, but you can’t knock the guy’s songwriting skills.  He might have written lightweight material, but even the fluff was well-written and better than most.  And thus my response:

That's just crazy.  Paul was a waaaay better songwriter than John.  He lacked soul and depth, but his songs were clearly more professional and refined.  And that's what made them so good together.  John wrote raw songs that needed refining, and Paul wrote well-crafted songs that lacked depth and feeling.  That's why almost any Beatles song is superior to any of their solo work.

And you can see this in John and Paul's solo stuff.  Paul's stuff is empty but well-made; often combining four different songs together, just for kicks.  Just to show how easy it was for him to write songs.  He wasn't trying to save the world; he just wanted to write songs.  Even if you don't like the songs (many of his Beatle's songs really bug me), you have to admire the craftsmanship.  

And John's solo stuff is terribly incomplete, many of which are just long choruses that slightly change; but lack a beginning or middle section.  Look at his song list and note how many of them use the name of the song as the first words of the song.  He did that because he was starting with the chorus.  Like he couldn’t figure out the rest of the song and only wrote the “good” part.  Like my four-year-old daughter who only likes cake frosting, but won’t touch the cake.  But I strongly suspect that John didn’t have a choice, and this is the best he could do.  Even the good songs, like Instant Karma, are clearly just long choruses which lack beginnings or middles.  Paul did not have that problem and literally wrote songs in his sleep.

And sure, John’s lyrics were more meaningful than Paul’s, but lyrics are the least part of any song.  They're like the icing on the cake, but aren't necessary.  If a song can't stand up without lyrics, then it's nothing but a poem put to music.  And if a poem requires music to make it good, it's not a very good poem.  And there are tons of John songs which would not exist had John not written lyrics for them.  

In fact, many of them even sound like karaoke; as if he hadn’t even been in the studio when they recorded the music (not that I’m saying he did it like that).  But too many of them sound as if he heard the finished song, and grabbed his lyric list to find something that would fit (Disclaimer: I write songs and have used this technique on more than one occasion; then again, I’ve used the same lyrics for multiple songs, as I find it easier to write songs than decent lyrics (extra disclaimer, my lyrics are almost entirely meaningless, except to the ear of the beholder)).

And worst of all, most of John’s solo lyrics lack any kind of subtlety; but rather bang you repeatedly over the head with the message.  Like he was tired of people misinterpreting his lyrics, and decided to spell out everything, rather than leave anything to chance.  That’s why I prefer Paul's lighthearted/silly solo stuff, like Uncle Albert, over John's preachiness.

Paul wasn't trying to be deep, he just liked writing songs.  But a lot of John's solo lyrics were just essays put to music.  In too many cases, he was clearly struggling to fit all of the words into the song phrasing.  And that's just wrong.  If you want to write an essay, write an essay.  But if you're writing a song, you write a damn song.  And if the words don't fit, you pitch the words.  John knew that once, but somehow must have forgotten.  Perhaps he just needed a blog to rant in.

John was my favorite Beatle, but his solo work was self-indulgent crap.  I really wish they could have somehow gotten back together.  They really needed each other.  Fuck Yoko.


a-train said...

You are right there are people who knock McCartney and they are idiots. But there is something about the dichotomy of Lennon and McCartney. You are forced to decide whether you are one side or the other.

a-train said...

dr. some extended comments here.