John Lennon didn’t want to help George Harrison with The Beatles song ‘Taxman’

Although former Beatles legends John Lennon and George Harrison no longer inhabit this earthly realm, when they departed, the two artists left the world in a much better place than when they first broke onto the scene in what is a clear testament to the gravitas of their work.

Lennon is arguably the greatest songwriter of all time, and the creative partnership he struck up in The Beatles with Paul McCartney was so fruitful that it gave the world a vast amount of iconic tracks. The extent of their work ranged from the sugary pop of their early days with songs such as ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ to more consequential pieces in the shape of ‘Helter Skelter’.

However, The Beatles were not just Lennon and McCartney. George Harrison also had a significant hand in establishing the group as the act that is universally hailed as the most distinguished of all time. Whilst his influence wasn’t as prominent as Lennon and McCartney, Harrison still penned some of their most lauded tracks, including ‘Something’ and ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’. It goes without saying, Harrison continued to dazzle the music industry with his excellence after the band’s demise in 1970.

One of the most treasured pieces he wrote is the rollicking ‘Taxman’ from the 1966 album Revolver. One of the greatest grooves in The Beatles’ back catalogue, this was the moment when the band went stratospheric. However, writing the song wasn’t as straightforward as would be expected. Harrison struggled to complete it and, becoming desperate, turned to Lennon and asked for help. Initially, though, Lennon didn’t want to contribute for one specific reason, but luckily, he soon changed his mind by adding one-liners to the lyrics.

The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono features an interview with Lennon from 1980, per Cheat Sheet. In it, Lennon recalled: “I remember the day he called to ask for help on Taxman,’ one of his first songs,” he said of the track. “I threw in a few one-liners to help the song along, because that’s what he asked for.”

Lennon explained that Harrison came to him because McCartney didn’t want to contribute to the song. “He came to me because he couldn’t go to Paul, because Paul wouldn’t have helped him at that period,” he revealed. “I didn’t want to do it.”

However, Lennon couldn’t resist helping his friend, desperately not wanting to hurt him with rejection. “I thought, ‘Oh, no, don’t tell me I have to work on George’s stuff. It’s enough doing my own and Paul’s,’” he expressed. “But because I loved him and I didn’t want to hurt him, when he called that afternoon and said, ‘Will you help me with this song?’”

“I just sort of bit my tongue and said ‘OK,’” Lennon concluded. “It had been John and Paul so long, he’d been left out because he hadn’t been a songwriter up until then. As a singer, we allowed him only one track on each album.”

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