John. Paul. George. Ringo. Probably just about the four most iconic names ever who happen to make up the best band of all time. The Beatles shattered the concept of music. Even though their career mostly ran from 1960 to 1970, the geniuses still created 13 groundbreaking albums together in their short-lived career, which could add to the parable of why their legacy is strong and secure. While many people may argue between whether groundbreaking bands such as The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, or The Grateful Dead are superior, but the Beatles did, indeed, start a Revolution (No pun intended) in music. Their music was beyond unique, and they essentially created the foundation of pop music and added a whole new meaning to rock n roll by implementing Indian, hard rock, slow ballads, and psychedelic into their works. While I am obsessed with The Grateful Dead, and I most definitely put the Stones, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin in my top 20 artists/band list, at the end of the day, I realize one cannot argue with the legacy of the Beatles.
With the cutting-edge legacy of The Beatles, the next question that comes into mind, who is the greatest mastermind behind the four? While the shy, spiritual George often gets tossed up into the debate about the best Beatle, the Lennon-McCartney songwriting duo can be deemed as the valid argument for the best. John and Paul wrote countless hits together, and many people stem their liking for one over the other from the perception of John as the intelligent one and Paul as the charismatic, cute one.
John Lennon has always held the role of the “smart” Beatle. Lennon was indeed intelligent, along with being a rebellious, “dreamer.” John’s distinct glasses-faced trademark is a recognizable face in history, and when thinking of the Beatles, his face my be the first thing to come to mind. He held a rebellious nature and sarcastic humor in his music and speech, and later become controversial through his politics and activism for peace. John turned around the Beatles concept of being that mop-top “boy band” in 1965 during the Rubber Soul era and grew up faster than any of the other Beatles.
His growing-up-fast wise guy perspective could have been accredited to his childhood. John’s childhood was rough. When John was just 5, his separated parents asked him which one he wanted to be with: at first, he said his dad and went with him, but as soon as he left he went running back to Julia, and that was the last time Lennon saw his father for years. John and Julia’s relationship was a little hairy, as well. Julia was a happy, cheeky lady whose mind was just not in the place to be a mother. So for most of his life, he lived with Julia’s sister, Aunt Mimi. Julia was still a beloved person in John’s life, and she sadly died when Lennon was 17, by getting stuck by a car while crossing traffic after she visited John at Aunt Mimi’s.
John’s activism was impeccable. He used his platform to communicate his ideas about the world and challenged the way people thought about things in the 70s. He pushed and shocked the world, the press, the government, with his anti-war and peace activism. His famous striking, the Bed-Ins for Peace, with his adored wife, Yoko Ono, was groundbreaking. The two would “peacefully protest,” talking about anti-war movements and how the world can get closer to peace. With his bed-ins and songs like “Give Peace a Chance” and “Imagine,” John essentially created the peace movement.
With all this being said about Lennon’s childhood and movement, controversy pops up when talking about his legacy because of things that he did in his past can be seen as the opposite of his peace movement. In 1958, John started cheating on his first wife, Cynthia, with his beloved second wife, Yoko Ono. Cynthia came back from a trip one morning to their house in Liverpool and was greeted with Yoko wearing her robe drinking tea with her husband. Along with that, John neglected his first son, Julian, when he left Cynthia. Their relationship was nonexistence or very shaky throughout John’s life.
Even though some people argue that the man who created this peace movement does not have peace in his own life, I really do believe John was reaching an equilibrium right before he was shot and killed in 1980. His last album was a relief of peace for John. His last album, “Double Fantasy,” had the powerful track “Watching The Wheels.” In this song, Lennon expresses he’s “just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round,” meaning that he accepted his past and the hatred that can be brought about from the world and that he was finally merely enjoying life. Nobody can put labels on what experiencing life should look like. I believe that John was reaching a new point in his life, and if he were still in the world, he would have made peace with everything he should have made with from the past.
John’s legacy is powerful, and he is an inspiration. His sarcastic personality was needed for the band. The Strawberry Fields writer evolved the Beatles and their overarching legacy. Overall what we can learn from John is that he challenges us to recognize the world without the borders and divisions that religions and nations can create within society and look at it from the whole overarching perspective that there should be love and peace in humanity.
Claiming Paul as your favorite Beatle can be seen as not as ~trendy~ in the public eye as favoring Lennon, but McCartney should not be contained into the category of just being the cute, surface-level face of The Beatles. Paul’s charisma gave the heart to The Beatles, and he was also the most musically gifted out of the whole band.
The insanely talented lead bassist was not only gifted and known for his writing, voice, and cute looks. A reporter once claimed to ask John Lennon: “Is Ringo the best drummer in the world?” Even though it was later proven the question was never asked, this misattributed question remains a hot topic of discussion. John seemingly replied, “he’s not even the best drummer in The Beatles.” Ringo Starr most definitely has been looked up to in the world of drummers, but Paul McCartney was simply that musically gifted. McCartney was a genius with any instrument that he picked up. When McCartney and Lennon first met in Liverpool, John was super impressed with how well the young McCartney could play the guitar and master the vocals. The mastery of musical instruments and his pure voice is why McCartney is accredited to giving The Beatles its’ traditional melodies such as “Let It Be,” “Hey Jude,” and “Yesterday.”
After The Beatles Manager Brian Epstein died, Paul can be recognized for “taking charge” of The Beatles and mainly leading their later, more mature albums such as Abbey Road, The White Album, and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band. Being as musically talented as Paul was, he added a lot of non-traditional instruments like the trumpet and harmonica into many of the Beatles melodies.
Like John Lennon, Paul McCartney also lost his mother at a young age. Mary McCartney was suffering from breast cancer and died after complications from surgery. Mary supported her family career-wise as a nurse, as a loving mother, and as a caring wife. “Mother Mary” was beloved by Paul, and he was absolutely crushed with the loss of his influential mother.
Paul’s traditional melodies and his guidance of “holding the Beatles together” in the end during their most celebrated works, may be why The Beatles’ legacy is so strong and why it lives on. With McCartney’s solo career and his band The Wings, he exemplified somewhat of the Beatles tune and loves touring, unlike Lennon. Paul McCartney has carried out the legacy of The Beatles after the band broke up, and many fans are thankful he has done this for us.
Overall, I think Paul has a lot of answers in his life. Reporters, celebrities, everyone who meets or sees Paul cannot say one bad thing about the man. Although he may not have been as avant-garde as John was, McCartney was most definitely just as artsy and intelligent as John was. McCartney sees beauty and potential in anything and gave love and charm to the band. Paul is simply a man with common sense, living without anger, and is sincerely happy. While these three things do not necessarily correspond with the word intelligent, I think if you have those qualities answered/mastered, you’re pretty damn smart with life.
Now it comes to my answer, who is my favorite Beatle out of the Lennon-McCartney songwriting duo. The answer is…
I actually do not have an answer; it literally changes all the damn time, I am a cop-out haha
I could debate my likings for John and Paul all day, but I think we can learn and appreciate both of their contributions to the world of art and music as both massive impacting changes that we can admire separately. Without Paul, we might not have such a strong legacy of The Beatles, and without John, we would not have had that vast creativity and activism. Overall, the two are simply geniuses, and I think if we incorporate the life wisdom of John and Paul both into our lives, we would all be a little bit happier! 😀