The Beatles song that saw John Lennon criticise Paul McCartney’s vocals: “He should have let me sing it”

From day one, John Lennon was vicious towards most of his work with The Beatles. Ever since the breakup of the iconic band, Lennon was known to be particularly savage towards any of the Fab Four’s greatest hits, even spitting bile towards his own compositions. Of all the wonderful songs that the band has written, Lennon regretted one track greatly because of a faltering vocal performance.

Then again, Lennon was always self-conscious about his voice when he was in The Beatles. For most of their career together, Lennon insisted on having every single vocal take double-tracked because he wasn’t confident singing with only one voice on the final product.

While Lennon was getting comfortable in his own skin towards the end of the group’s run, the band’s plan to create Abbey Road never sat well with him. Although he did have praise for several of his songs like ‘Come Together’, Lennon had no time for the medley on side two of the vinyl, thinking that it was completely unnecessary compared to the rest of the material.

Before getting to the grand finale, each member brings their A-game to their own songs, with George Harrison sparkling on the song ‘Something’. Though every other member of The Beatles moaned through Paul McCartney’s ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’, Lennon thought that ‘Oh! Darling’ had the potential to be much better than it turned out.

Going for the sound of the blues singers they idolised as kids, McCartney employs a searing scream for most of the song, featuring a few pained shrieks towards the end of the track. Though Macca may have given it his all, Lennon thought it was never suited to McCartney’s tone.

When asked about the song later, Lennon had a few regrets about not singing the song instead, recalling, “’Oh! Darling’ was a great one of Paul’s that he didn’t sing too well. I always thought that I could’ve done it better—it was more my style than his. He wrote it, so what the hell, he’s going to sing it. If he’d had any sense, he should have let me sing it.”

While Lennon wasn’t fond of the final result, McCartney thought that he captured just the right emotion he was looking for in the song. Since the song is supposed to be from the perspective of a soulful singer, McCartney tried several passes at the song to give the impression that he had been singing it at a club for weeks.

McCartney would later refute Lennon’s claim, saying, “I tried it every which way and finally got the vocal I was reasonably happy with. It’s a bit of a belter, and if it comes off lukewarm, then you’ve missed the whole point. It was unusual for me – I would normally try all the goes at a vocal in one day.”

This raw performance style also turned up later in McCartney’s solo catalogue, becoming a fixture in songs like ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ and later ‘Call Me Back Again’ from Venus and Mars. Although McCartney may have unlocked a voice he didn’t know he had, the thought of Lennon singing this belter feels like a match made in heaven.

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