Friday, April 3, 2020

John Lennon and Paul McCartney: Masters of Songcraft

It appears that there is a campaign to discredit the original Beatles. In recent articles, George Harrison's guitar-playing skills have been attacked. Now, a new video claims that the Beatles did not write their own songs. Of course, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary, some of which is in this video. Deliberate disinformation will not go unchallenged. 

People have contacted me regarding the false allegations. Some have offered their insights into the motives for the disinformation: It could be intended to discredit the Fab Four and diminish from their accomplishments. It may also be geared towards discrediting the PID/Paul is Dead theory by putting out incorrect information that can be easily debunked. I have attached a link to a pre-emptive video that I published when I first learned of the intentions to malign the Beatles' song-writing abilities. (Of course, I did not know exactly what his claims would be at that point.)

Other people have poked holes in the narrative that the Beatles did not write their own music (there are enough holes to fill the Albert Hall). Lewis Carroll, a Plastic Macca co-blogger, contacted me about the disinformation, and sent the following comments regarding the new video:

"Have you seen the Mike Williams’ epic, 4-hour video trying to prove The Beatles didn’t write their own music? I’m banned from commenting on his channel, but he didn’t prove anything. He says the production timeline for Rubber Soul is the ‘smoking gun.’ That’s his strongest argument. He says they couldn’t have written and recorded that album in 30 days. Wikipedia says they had from August to mid-November 1965 to write and record the album and that it was the first album they worked on without distracting appearances and other commitments on their schedule. So, they had plenty of time to write and record the album.

"His other main argument is that he and his friends are songwriters and musicians and they couldn’t write all those great songs in such a short time. Well, Mike and his friends are not Rogers and Hammerstein or Lennon and McCartney or Johnny Mercer or Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell or Elton John, etc., so no, since Mike and his friends are not that talented (at all), and certainly not in the same league of all the great songwriters, then of course they’re not able to write an album as good as Rubber Soul in a couple of months. The music on Mike’s channel is garbage. He’s wondering why Lennon and McCartney can write a number one album and two hit singles in a couple of months and he can’t? Well, because he isn’t Lennon and McCartney. They were known for writing and recording hit songs and number one albums fast. That’s what they did and that’s why they became so famous and legendary.

"Yes, I believe Paul was killed and replaced. But Mike tries to say the original Beatles didn’t write their own music. I watched the whole 4 hours and he didn’t make a strong case. Lennon and McCartney weren’t good enough to write and record Rubber Soul between August and Mid-November 1965? Wrong. They were that talented and they came up with their songs relatively effortlessly because of what… TALENT! One of Mike’s friends in the comments says that half of the songs he writes are trash, yeah well… lack of talent! The other half of his songs aren’t that great either, I would imagine. Mike Williams is a failed songwriter and wants to compare what Lennon and McCartney could do with what he can do… what an ego trip!"

Alan W. also offered his observations: "MW counts a few hours on stage as a day gone. There are 24 hours in a day and when a gig is done, there are plenty of hours to chill out and write a tune. Also 200 records in 4-5 years is a song from either JPM or John EVERY FORTNIGHT... and JPM was writing before 1962, anyway."

Indeed, the Beatles had already written 100 songs in 1962. This is a quote from the Beatles' first radio interview in October 1962.

Paul: "We’ve written over about a hundred songs but we don’t use half of them, you know." 

Rubber Soul was singled out in the new video. J. P. believes that "Rubber Soul is loaded with great songs by great writers. And these great writers were also very fine musicians. I believe I read were George Martin had said that they became good in the studio, working quickly. By that time they had played together long enough, in terms of hours playing and knew each other well musically, that I'm sure it didn't take long for them to lay down a good rhythm track. Recording was different back then, as they recorded on four track machines so there wasn't lots of lots of overdubs and layering of instruments. Probably 4 to 6 instruments per song. The songs are great but not too terribly complex. 'I've Just Seen A Face' has a great intro. That had to take a little time to work out. So production and post-production itself didn't really take that long. All this to say, I'm quite certain The Beatles had the ability to put out a good record in that short amount of time. And they wrote their own songs."

("I've Just Seen A Face" was on Help! in the UK.)

S. S. adds, "The album [Rubber Soul] is not that complex, considering most bands in the U.K. in the 60s could record a 45 hit in a day. Also you are working with a genius producer [Sir George Martin] who will direct proceedings to a viable timescale as with studios time is of the essence, you have to be in and out quickly. I don’t buy into this everything is up for questioning including their musical skills. They were the f*ckin' Beatles for crying out loud - have some respect."

John Lennon's hand-written lyrics for "In My Life," a song that MW mistakenly claims Faul wrote. 
There are other samples of lyrics written by the Beatles online

Indeed, the Beatles' talent is legendary. C. P. noted that "the original Beatles really were that talented (might be why they became so famous)! They were lightening in a bottle!" Rubber Soul was the product of highly talented musicians. Of course, inferior musicians would not be capable of such an achievement. 

TW had this to say: "I watched the entire 4 1/2 hour video which attempts to convince us that not only did the Beatles not write their own songs on their 1962-1965 recordings, but they did not play their own instruments either; they merely sang on them. The Achilles heel of this effort - aside from its preposterous conclusion - is that it focuses on 1962-65. A fair presentation would cover 1962-1970, right? No, this is an obvious attempt to discredit the Beatles when the real Paul was in the band and to make Sir Faul the rescuing hero. I should have expected this with Memoirs, right? Only when Sir Faul joined the band did John, George and Ringo play their own instruments in the studio we are to believe. One post-1965 album is analyzed: the White Album. I wonder why Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour, Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road and Let It Be were ignored? No proof is offered of the ghost songwriters' identities. Would they have not wanted any credit for their work? The thesis is speculation based on the metrics of time: John, Paul, George and Ringo he contends simply did not have the time to write their own songs in addition to recording them, their concerts, and other activities. From 1962-70 the band recorded 13 albums consisting of 167 original songs. But another band accomplished a similar feat: the Beach Boys. From 1962-1969 the band recorded 14 albums with 139 original songs. Yes Brian Wilson is a genius, but then so were John, Paul and George. No doubt George Martin played a critical role as producer, orchestrator, and even writer (he is credited with the instrumental tracks on Yellow Submarine), and the Beatles' records would not have been nearly as good without him. The Beatles proved themselves to be great musicians when they performed in concert. TV appearances and film footage Eight Days a Week prove that. It is impossible to believe they did not play on their earlier records. And they proved to be great writers with all their solo albums. It is not believable that that they did not write any of their earlier recorded songs."

Here is a link to the pre-emptive video countering the disinformation that the Beatles did not write their own music: Oh, Yes It Is the Beatles' Own Music ~ Tina Foster (video)