Paul McCartney and John Lennon fought over control of The Beatles, and they each had different approaches to leadership. McCartney admitted that he liked to think and plan, whereas Lennon liked to act on instinct. McCartney said he wished he was more like Lennon in this way. If he had been, though, The Beatles might have fallen apart.
The Beatles bassist said he came across as calculating
McCartney said that because of his father, he was always a little cautious in everything he did.
“I’m more careful in everything,” McCartney told GQ in 2018. “My dad is a very strong factor in this. He was an ordinary working-class guy, very intelligent, very good with words, but his whole philosophy was to think it out a bit. So that, that turned out to be my sort of way.”
While this is a good quality, he thought it made people think he was cunning and calculating.
‘‘It happened the other day at Ringo’s wedding,” McCartney said, per the book The Beatles: The Authorized Biography by Hunter Davies. “I was saying to Cilla [Black] that I liked Bobby [her husband]. That’s all I said. Bobby’s a nice bloke. Ah, but what do you really think Paul? You don’t mean that, do you, you’re getting at something? I was being absolutely straight. But she couldn’t believe it. No one ever does. They think I’m calculating all the time.”
Paul McCartney wished he could be more like John Lennon
While McCartney’s cautious nature could be helpful, it also stressed him out.
“Paul does look ahead, seeing what might happen, working out the effect of certain actions, but he often ends up tying himself in knots, not necessarily getting what he thought he wanted,” Davies wrote. “I think, basically, there is some insecurity in Paul’s nature, which makes him try so hard, work so hard.”
McCartney explained that because of that, he didn’t like this side of himself.
‘‘I don’t like being the careful one,” he said. “I’d rather be immediate like John. He was all action.”
He also appreciated that Lennon’s impulsive nature didn’t seem to set him back, either.
“John was always the loudest in any crowd,” McCartney said. “He had the loudest voice. He was the cock who crowed the loudest. Me and George used to call him the cockerel in the studio. I was never out to screw him, never. He could be a maneuvering swine, which no one ever realized. Now since the death he’s become Martin Luther Lennon. But that really wasn’t him either. He wasn’t some sort of holy saint. He was still really a debunker.”
The Beatles wouldn’t have worked if Paul McCartney and John Lennon were too much alike
While McCartney might have wished he had a more impulsive, cunning side, it’s good that he didn’t. If he and Lennon had constantly been acting on instinct and trying to outmaneuver each other, The Beatles would have fallen apart long before they were famous.
Lennon’s personality might have propelled them forward, but McCartney’s allowed them to look at things from every angle. Because of this, he was more business-minded and looked into decisions before finalizing anything. In addition, not all of Lennon’s ideas were good ones — he once tried to convince McCartney to drill a hole in his head. McCartney and Lennon balanced each other out. The Beatles would not have survived by following impulse alone.