Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s Songwriting Sessions Only Lasted 3 Hours: ‘After That Your Brain Goes a Bit’

Paul McCartney and John Lennon‘s songwriting sessions were short. You’d think that they took their time pouring over lyrics or extracting The Beatles‘ early hits from their brains was hard work. However, their songwriting sessions only lasted about three hours. After that, they couldn’t think anymore.

Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s songwriting sessions were only three hours

In The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, Paul wrote that he and John used to go to each other’s houses for songwriting sessions, which only lasted about three hours.

Paul wrote that it wasn’t that they set a strict time limit; “it was just that by three hours, we’d had enough, and we learnt that by then we could polish it off. That two to three hours is a kind of natural period. It’s why most classes or seminars and most recording sessions are two to three hours. After that your brain goes a bit.”

It’s also worth pointing out that The Beatles’ early songs were simple; they used the same chords. Although, one of their most simple songs, “Good Day Sunshine,” puzzled classical composers. It’s interesting because they didn’t know how to read or write music.

Paul and John’s songwriting sessions were always fruitful, but they almost had one dry session

The pair wrote a song daily and took a week to record an album. Once The Beatles started getting hits, their songs came effortlessly. In The Lyrics, Paul wrote that the nearest he and John ever got to a dry songwriting session was with a song called “Golden Rings.” They stalled on the lines “You can buy me golden rings / Get me all that kind of thing.”

“We kept singing that over and over and couldn’t get beyond it because it was so shockingly bad,” Paul explained. They already had a diamond ring in “Can’t Buy Me Love.” “Golden rings” was unoriginal and uninspiring, but they couldn’t get past it.”

Eventually, the pair left the song for a bit and mulled over it, having a cup of tea. When they returned to the song, they came up with a new story.

“Once you get into creating a narrative and storytelling, it’s so much more entertaining,” Paul said. “It draws you forward so much more easily. Now we were dramatising the interviewing of a chauffeur; we got over that dry moment and finished the song.”

The result was “Drive My Car,” and it became “one that didn’t get away.”

The bandmates suggested things that made their songs magical

A dry songwriting session was rare for Paul and John because they knew how to work together. If one were stuck, the other would know how to help.

“A lot of what we had going for us was that we were both good at noticing the stuff that just pops up, and grabbing it,” Paul wrote. “And the other thing is that John and I had each other. If he was sort of stuck for a line, I could finish it. If I was stuck for somewhere to go, he could make a suggestion.

“We could suggest the way out of the maze to each other, which was a very handy thing to have. We inspired each other.”

Many times, one of them would add something that made the song perfect. “One of us would come up with that little magic thing. It allowed the song to become what it needed to be,” Paul said.

Paul and John’s songwriting sessions were integral to The Beatles’ success, but George Harrison soon started contributing his songs. Whether it took them three hours or three days, The Beatles were churning out the hits.

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