Paul McCartney Says Yoko Ono’s Presence During Beatles Studio Sessions Was Workplace ‘Interference’

The musician opened up about his feelings toward John Lennon’s wife in the studio, for a new episode of his ‘McCartney: A Life in Lyrics’ podcast

Paul McCartney is remembering the “period of change” in the Beatles’ history when John Lennon would invite his wife, Yoko Ono, to the studio.

In a new episode of his McCartney: A Life in Lyrics series on iHeartPodcasts, the Grammy winner, 81, opened up about the group’s feelings toward Ono, now 90, joining them during the recording process.

As McCartney explained, it was during a time when the band was “heading toward” a breakup while recording 1968’s The White Album (also known as their self-titled ninth studio LP).

“John and Yoko had got together and that was bound to have an effect on the dynamics of the group,” McCartney shared with poet Paul Muldoon.

“Things like Yoko being literally in the middle of the recording session [were] something you had to deal with,” he later added. “The idea was that if John wanted this to happen, then it should happen. There’s no reason why not.”

When Muldoon mentioned to the “Let It Be” singer that group was meant to be working when recording, McCartney added: “Anything that disturbs us, is disturbing.”

“We would allow this and not make a fuss,” he said. “And yet at the same time, I don’t think any of us particularly liked it. It was an interference in the workplace. We had a way we worked. The four of us worked with George Martin. And that was basically it. And we’d always done it like that. So not being very confrontational, I think we just bottled it up and just got on with it.”

McCartney then shared that ultimately, for the Beatles, spending time in the studio was part of their jobs.

“It was the idea of the Beatles, it was also just this straight, practical thing of ‘This was our job.’ This is what we did in life,” he said. “We were the Beatles. That meant if we didn’t tour, we recorded. And that meant if we recorded, we wrote.”

In late 2021, during the BBC Radio 4 interview series This Cultural Life with John Wilson, McCartney elaborated on the cause of the legendary rock quartet’s split. As he shared at the time, he didn’t cause the demise of the Beatles himself.

“I didn’t instigate the split. That was our Johnny,” McCartney said of the band’s 1970 breakup, when McCartney, Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr decided to go their separate ways.

“I am not the person who instigated the split. Oh no, no, no,” he added. “John walked into a room one day and said, ‘I am leaving the Beatles.’ Is that instigating the split, or not?”

McCartney added that he felt Lennon was “always looking to break loose” of the band, as he reflected on what “could have been.”

“The point of it really was that John was making a new life with Yoko. John had always wanted to sort of break loose from society because, you know, he was brought up by his Aunt Mimi, who was quite repressive, so he was always looking to break loose,” McCartney said of Lennon, who himself shared in a 1970 interview with Rolling Stone that he told McCartney he was “leaving” the group.

McCartney still reflects fondly on his late friend, who was shot and killed outside his Manhattan apartment on Dec. 8, 1980 at age 40. Earlier this week, the Wings frontman remembered Lennon on what would have been his 83rd birthday.

“Celebrating the birthday of my wonderful friend and collaborator, @johnlennon,” McCartney wrote on Instagram, signing off with “Paul.”

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