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The Beatles Essay, Research Paper

The Beatles

When people hear the name “The Beatles” most people think of lead

singer, John Lennon. However, the role of Paul McCartney is often

overlooked. It was McCartney, not Lennon who was the driving force behind

the Beatles.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney were in many bands together before

the forming of the Beatles. In 1962, along with Ringo Starr1 and George

Harrison, they formed the rock group known as “The Beatles”. The group

featured a modern rock that was new and popular during the period with John

and Paul composing and doing the leads on most of the songs. They were

backed by George on rhythm and bass guitar and Ringo on drums. George and

Ringo also assisted on backing vocals.

When they first began playing, the main influence inside the band was

John Lennon, who had an uncanny ability to compose songs at a moments

notice with an inspiration that others missed. He pushed the members of the

band during their touring years and was able to achieve the best possible

results from the group.

The band began playing in a Music Hall style that is very effective

for the audiences but was lacking on their albums. Together with Paul, John

began to evolve the band. As the years began to pass, the band was

obviously beginning to grow musically. They had moved from simple lyrics

like “Love me Do” to harshly aware reflections of life in their home

country in “Eleanor Rigby”2. There were attempts, some more successful than

others, to incorporate the other Beatles into the idea stage. George

Harrison made this leap successfully with such tracks as “I want to tell

you”, “TAXMAN”, and the psychedelic “Love you to”. Ringo was featured in

the humorous “Yellow Submarine” As the group matured, their creativity

began to rely more on the effects and manipulations that they were able to

produce in the studio. The Beatles agreed to end their touring career after

an American tour of large halls that they failed to fill. It was around

this time, that John Lennon began to search for himself. He began using any

means that he thought might help him connect. This era was marked by the

Beatles visits to the Maharashi Mahesh Yogi, and the beginning of heavy

drug use 3. As Lennon began to use LSD in greater and greater quanti-ties4,

the other Beatles began to have more and more influence in the production

of the albums. Lennon began to become almost reclusive, and often delayed

recording sessions.By the time that they were recording Sgt. Pepper’s

Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967, Lennon would simply propose songs and

themes, and McCartney was left to execute the plans and tie together whims.

They began to make demands of the crew:Beatles songs were quite simple in

the early days, you couldn’t play around with them too much. But by 1967 we

were building sound pictures and my [George Martin] role had changed-it

was to interpret the pictures and determine how best to get them down on

tape. Paul was fine-he could express what he wanted, the sounds he wa nted

to have. But John…would make whooshing sounds and try to describe what

only he could only hear in his head, saying he wanted a song to ’sound like

an orange’.5 As soon as the Sgt. Pepper album was underway, Paul McCartney

came up with the idea of actually creating a band and preforming the songs

as that band. They took the Idea from there and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely

Heart’s Club Band came into existence, never to see the outside of studio 2

at Abbey Road. They spent nearly a year recording various tracks for the

album and John’s state of mind was steadily declining. In 1969 when they

issued Abbey Road it was no longer difficult to distinguish between the

writings of Paul and John . John was producing works like “I want you

(she’s so heavy)” which had the lyrics:

I want you so bad it’s driving me mad

She’s so heavy6

And the more musical and thoughtful work of McCartney, such as “Golden

Once there was a way to get back homeward

Once there was a way to get back home

Sleep pretty darling do not cry

And I will sing a lullaby

Golden slumbers fill your eyes

Smiles awake you when you rise Sleep pretty darling do not cry

And I will sing a lullaby7

The writing of the material on The Beatles8 seemed more balanced as Lennon

began writing more cogent songs, and collaborating on a song-by-song basis

with McCartney. Their songs varied from a slow ballad in McCartney’s

“Blackbird” to the bizarre and intriguing “Revolution #9) by Lennon. Yet

McCartney was needed to control Lennon when he recorded the original

version of “Sexie Sadie” with the verse:

You little twat

Who the *censored* do you think you are

Who the *censored* do you think you are

Oh, you cunt.9

Fortunately McCartney prevented the track from proceeding any farther than

rehearsal. He ended up suggesting that the song take a more sympathetic

note and, eventually, Lennon agreed. During this time, one almost constant

presence in the recording studio was Yoko Ono, John’s wife. This was

against an unspoken code amongst the Beatles not to allow wives and

girlfriends into the studio. Yoko had a large affect on John, almost

completely altering his style, and inspiring such songs as “I want her

(she’s so heavy)” and “Revelation #9″. Many of the other songs that Yoko

and John created were rejected by the group, but her presence changed

John’s behavior and performance. The Beatles final album together was Let

It Be released in 1970. The album was not in any way spectacular and

exhibited many of the traits that are associated with the Beatles writing.

The title track, “Let It Be” is one of the most famous tracks recorded by

the group. The music on the album was a last chance effort to keep the

group together, and although the album was well received, it was not what

the group had in mind. The Beatles did not make another recording after

that date, though there were rumors of the group reforming until the

shooting of Lennon in 1980.

One of the most obvious indicators of the heavy hand that was often

kept on Lennon is the progress of his band which he formed after the

breakup of the Beatles. The Plastic Ono Band was an only moderately

successful group that took the popular psycedalia a few steps to far and

lost most of its popularity. Lennon attempted to enter theater, but it was

quickly obvious that he was no actor. He lived a bizarre and drug ridden

life secluded in his apartment with his wife Yoko Ono and his son. Both he

and his wife were reported to have serious heroin addictions and were often

said to be high in the presence of visitors.

After the breakup, McCartney launched a moderately success-ful solo

career. He has released many recordings both in the United States and

abroad. His most recent accomplishment was the “Liverpool Oratorio” which

is no small feat considering that McCartney never learned to read music.

The songwriting styles, the studio records, and the individual careers all

show that there was a very large influence in the group, and in the music,

by Paul McCartney. Equal to Lennon in the beginning, but surpassing him at

the conclusion of the relationship. Two key factors that probably caused

this are his affection and infatuation with Yoko Ono, and the heavy use of

hallucinogenic drugs. On some occasions, both of those factors may have

given Lennon inspiration for his music, but they greatly reduced his

control and influence in the band.


Bates, Norman “The Beatles Recording Sessions” Harmony Publishers London c.

EMI Records Ltd. 1988

The Beatles Abbey Road EMI Records Ltd. 1969

_____ ____

The Beatles Let it Be Capitol Records 1970

___ __ __

The Beatles Revolver EMI Records Ltd. 1966


The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band EMI Re____ ________ ______

______ ____ ____

cords 1967

Cameron, Gail; Cutner, Naomi; Griffin, Nancy Waters, Celia. “The Beatles”

LIFE Feb. 1984

Coleman, Ray “Lennon” McGraw-Hill, NY 1984

“John Lennon: In the Hard Day’s Light” excerpted from “The Lives of John

Lennon” Goldman, Albert in People Weekly Aug. 15, 1988

Loder, Kurt “It was twenty years ago today….The story behind the making

of ‘Sgt. Pepper’” Rolling Stone #502 June 18, 1987.

“The Beatles” Music Review in Rolling Stone #507 Aug. 27,


“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” Music Review in

Rolling Stone #507 Aug. 27, 1987


1. Ringo Starr was originally named Richard Starkey. His

name was changed to allow for better press marketing.

2. All titles composed by either Lennon or McCartney are

credited to Lennon-McCartney.

3. It was also at this time that Lennon divorced his wife

Cynthia and associated himself with Yoko Ono.

4. Lennon is reported to have done more than 1000 “trips”.

5. George Martin, from The Beatles Recording Sessions

6 . “I want you (she’s so heavy)”, The Beatles, Copyright

EMI Records Ltd. 1969

7. “Golden Slumbers”, The Beatles, Copyright EMI Records

Ltd. 1969

8. The Beatles was also referred to as “The White Album”

9. “Sexie Sadie” was written for Maharishi Mahesh Yogi after he was

discovered seducing one of his followers.

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