The Beatles song Paul McCartney disputed was John Lennon’s creation

Being part of one of the greatest songwriting partnerships in the history of music has its ups and downs. Generally speaking, most duos are split between one half of the team creating the lyrics and the other half the music, with Elton John and Bernie Taupin or Mick Jagger and Keith Richards as prominent examples. The Beatles‘ own John Lennon and Paul McCartney, however, had a slightly more complex arrangement.

Quite rightly seen as astute songwriters in their own right, the duo shared the responsibility of writing Beatles songs during the salad days of the Fab Four’s career. Often writing songs “eyeball to eyeball” and with a truly mesmerising regularity, the partnership provided some of pop music’s finest moments, with songs written some six decades ago that still land with aplomb on the airwaves today.

As the band grew from Liverpudlian cult legends to global superstars, the need for a regular stream of pop hits grew to an immeasurable height. Then, as they languished in their album artistry, the pace of creativity slowly subsided. By the end of the group’s lifespan, all four members of the band were writing songs, and, largely, they completed this process separately before bringing a near-completed tune to the band for rubber stamping and recording.

However, while the band may have all written their own songs, Lennon and McCartney would still share the same writing credit they had always done, meaning “Lennon-McCartney” was the name in small font underneath the band’s song titles throughout their career, whether they were written as a partnership or not. It meant that after The Beatles’ heyday, the duo were regularly asked to denote a particular tune’s author.

One such moment occurred when McCartney was challenged with the idea that The Beatles’ song ‘Rain’, the 1966 B-side to ‘Paperback Writer’, was a John Lennon-penned ditty. The track is more often than not credited to Lennon. However, McCartney disputed this fact, suggesting it was far closer to a co-written number: “I don’t think he brought the original idea, just when we sat down to write, he kicked it off,” he said.

McCartney noted that the track’s origination was the least interesting thing about it, though: “Songs have traditionally treated rain as a bad thing and what we got on to was that it’s no bad thing. There’s no greater feeling than the rain dripping down your back. The most interesting thing about it wasn’t the writing, which was tilted 70-30 to John, but the recording of it.”

The recording is comfortably considered some of the band’s best innovations. As well as going down as one of Ringo Starr’s favourite drum pieces for the band, the track also includes one of Lennon’s most innovative recording techniques, adding backward vocals to the song’s coda at the end. However, that idea came to him while smoking marijuana. “I got home from the studio, and I was stoned out of my mind on marijuana, and, as I usually do, I listened to what I’d recorded that day,” he told David Sheff.

“Somehow, I got it on backwards, and I sat there, transfixed, with the earphones on, with a big hash joint,” he continued. “I ran in the next day and said, ‘I know what to do with it, I know… Listen to this!’ So I made them all play it backwards. The fade is me actually singing backwards with the guitars going backwards. [Singing backwards] Sharethsmnowthsmeaness… [Laughter] That one was the gift of God, of Ja, actually, the god of marijuana, right? So Ja gave me that one.”

Listen to The Beatles’ song ‘Rain’ below.

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