John Lennon wanted to re-do everything The Beatles ever made

For every one of The Beatles’ musical adventures, George Martin was always by their side. Outside of the maligned production job that Phil Spector brought to their final album Let It Be, Martin was the production guru who helped translate most of the Fab Four’s ideas into some of the greatest music of the 1960s. While John Lennon may have written some of the greatest songs of his era, Martin said that he didn’t necessarily look back on his records fondly.

Then again, Lennon always used to be the biggest cynic regarding his work. Throughout The Beatles’ tenure, Lennon would go on to call some songs like ‘Hey Bulldog’ and ‘Dig a Pony’, each with lyrics that he thought were below average. Despite his work on the group’s projects, Lennon always thanked Martin for helping them translate their ideas, saying: “He had great musical knowledge and background. He taught us, and I’m sure we taught him a lot through our primitive musical ability. Which I still have. I can’t always translate what I’m trying to say all the time”.

While Martin always looked back fondly on his work with the group, he mentioned that Lennon wanted to scrap every song The Beatles ever made and redo them in a different context. When speaking to Robert Sandall, Martin remembered him having plans for certain songs as well, recalling: “We were just chatting about old times, and he suddenly came out and said, ‘I’d like to everything we’ve done over again’. And I said, ‘You don’t think we did anything right?’ He said, ‘Most of what we did was crap.’ I said, ‘Well, what about ‘Strawberry Fields’?’ and he said ‘ESPECIALLY ‘Strawberry Fields’”.

When The Beatles unleashed ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ into the world, Lennon had created something unprecedented in pop music. While being as simple a folk tune as Bob Dylan’s material, the experimentation across the track ushered in the Summer of Love in England, as fans were more than happy to tune in and head down to Lennon’s wonderland.

Lennon might have been labelled a perfectionist because of how perfect he needed to be, but he also pointed to Paul McCartney’s perfectionism getting in the way of his tunes. Shortly before he died in 1980, Lennon mentioned the implicit sabotage that he thought McCartney would do to his songs, telling Playboy, “Usually we’d spend hours doing little detailed cleaning-ups of Paul’s songs; when it came to mine, especially if it was a great song … somehow this atmosphere of looseness and casualness and experimentation would creep in. He’ll deny it because he’s got a bland face and he’ll say the sabotage doesn’t exist”.

Lennon’s strive for the perfect artistic statement was already creeping in before the group even split up, offering up three separate versions of the song ‘Revolution’ featuring a hard rock version, an acoustic version, and an avant-garde sound collage that was meant to be listened to in the listener’s mind. There’s no telling what the music world would look like if Lennon hadn’t been murdered, but there’s a good chance Fab fans could have gotten separate versions of their greatest hits.

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