Why McCartney Can Never Win
Back in 2002 there was a lot of controversy, stirred up by Yoko Ono, about Paul McCartney’s way of writing the composer’s credits on his concert releases Back in the U.S. CD, the international version Back in the World and the DVD version. The “Lennon – McCartney” songs were credited “Composed by Paul McCartney and John Lennon”. You’d think that was a pretty accurate way of putting it, but someone in the media thought that this was “tampering” with the original positioning of the names. They thought it should be “Lennon-McCartney”, like it used to be on the old Beatles records. Yoko got wind of this, and had her lawyers “look into it”. Lots of people sided with Yoko on this, and I wrote an article chronicling the events, trying to set the story straight.
In 1969, when John Lennon released his single, “Give Peace A Chance”, he decided to put “Lennon – McCartney” as composers. McCartney really had nothing to do with this composition, just as Lennon had no input into the song “Yesterday” four years earlier, it was just that they used to put both names on any composition made by one or the other of them.
In 1998, Yoko Ono released a compilation of John Lennon’s best known songs, called Lennon Legend: The Very Best of John Lennon. “Give Peace A Chance” was naturally a part of this CD, but this time the song was credited like this: “written by John Lennon”. In 2003, a DVD of the same name was released, with the same credit for “Give Peace A Chance”. In 2006, a documentary called The U.S. vs. John Lennon was released, with “Give Peace A Chance” again making an appearance, once again credited only to John Lennon.
In 1990, McCartney performed a version of “Give Peace A Chance” in Liverpool, which was then made available as a bonus track on a CD-single. The medley of “Strawberry Fields Forever”/”Help!”/”Give Peace A Chance” was credited to Lennon-McCartney on that release. The medley was only performed a few times during that tour.
In 2008, again in Liverpool, McCartney revived “Give Peace A Chance”, this time in a medley with “A Day In The Life”. Yoko Ono was in the audience that day. The medley has been kept as part of the set list in McCartney’s live performances ever since. When McCartney released his new live DVD+CD Good Evening New York City, he must have taken notice of Yoko’s removal of his name on those Lennon releases from 1998/2003 and 2006, because the credit there now reads “written by John Lennon”.
Imagine my surprise when I read in a Beatles forum that one fan thought this was “rude of McCartney, trying to distance himself from the song”!
To me, this kind of reaction proves that whatever McCartney does, he can’t ever win. It’s like Sting says, History will teach us nothing.