Paul McCartney, John Lennon: Who had the most talent?

I was watching the Presidential Gershwin Music Awards, this it year, it went to Paul McCartney. The Jonas Brothers performed, "Drive My Car" and was a great cover of this famous Beatle #1 song in 1965. Other artists paid tribute to Paul doing nearly all "Beatle" songs, i.e., Lennon & McCartney compositions, only a few did, "Paul McCartney" compositions, i.e., post-Beatle.

I found this ironic. Nowhere in the whole event did President Obama ( a baby when The Beatles crushed the world in 1964), Paul or anyone else, mentioned the songs were co-authored by John Lennon. Obama did mention the Beatles and how they broke all barriers for future rock bands to emulate. As the camera panned the crowd, you could see Beatle fans in just about anyone over 45, there was that childhood gleam in eyes of sitting close to a Beatle (like Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House). However, Yoko Ono or none of John's kid's were present, yet Paul's were.

Jerry Seinfeld did his comedy thing using titles from Beatle songs, many were clearly written by John (Help!) yet paid tribute to only Paul. I felt that Paul was being given an award that should have gone to both and rightly so. Sure, John is dead, but the award is for outstanding musical contributions and without John, Paul's own success would have been less, and it is true to John also. Paul is 67, and if he did not color his hair, he would look the role. John would be 70 now.

Who was the more talented? One can support their arguments with all kinds of proof, totally subjective, for either Paul or John. The comparison is somewhat unfair now because who knows what John may had done from 1980 to now. Paul was still with his band Wings, which did produce a lot of crap music and a couple of hits. Of course, John hadn't produced much either from 1975 and just completed an LP, Starting Over, in 1980, before being shot. That, too, was not a success.

Even for John and Paul, their post-Beatle days paled in success when compared to the magic of The Beatles from 1963-69. Paul's LPs from 1980-now, remain barely successful compared to the Beatles'. Much can also be said of George Harrison's. Fact is, none of the Beatle's were as successful in post-Beatle days. When apart, playing with others, they sounded like anyone else and nothing all that special. Yet, together, the synergy and magic carries over into the music.

However, when Paul joined John in 1957, John then and in post-Beatle interviews, has always said that he realised Paul was a great asset to himself, he was a better guitar player, he improved his own vocals with harmony. They bonded well and like brothers were musically competitive, each challenging the other to go to the next level. John's wit with lyrics added value and meaning to an otherwise sappy, silly, yet catchy McCartney melody.

As to the most talented, up to 1980, I would say- neither. If you look from 1963-69, I would say the Beatles to 1966 was John. From 1966-69, Paul. Their talents shined brightest during these years. Of Course, Paul did become a "Sir" and knighted by the Queen, went on to support the Liverpool School of Music, wrote concertos for opera, was main man behind the plethora of Beatle DVDs and Outtake recordings in the 90s, has played for numerous political leaders etc.

I just think the Gershwin award belongs to Lennon & McCartney. They belong together like Rogers & Hammerstein. I think even Paul know's this.

More by this Author


Comments 29 comments

I am DB Cooper profile image

I am DB Cooper 6 years ago from Whereabouts unknown at this time

Lennon was absolutely just as talented as McCartney, if not more so. I haven't been a huge fan of McCartney's solo career, or even his stuff with Wings. Lennon, on the other hand, showed great promise of becoming a legendary solo artist.


Deerwhisperer profile image

Deerwhisperer 6 years ago from Bradenton, Florida

It was a team effort, and none of the Beatles were exemplory without the others. I am a Beatles fan, not a McCartney or Lennon fan, but if I had to choose, I would say that McCartney is better.


perrya profile image

perrya 6 years ago Author

I have to agree with both 100%. who knows what John may have created. I just think giving the award to only Paul, without a mention that john co-wrote most of the songs sang, was in bad taste.


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 6 years ago from US

My husband and I both agree it would absolutely have to be a tie. I only had eyes for Paul for many years but Lennon was good, I didn't like his idiot times with Yoko but it didn't hurt his music, I loved him most around the time he was killed. And George was great too but he was only slightly behind. Poor Ringo, he could play the drums and surprised me with a few good ones like "Photograph" but he never once made me look twice.

Polly


perrya profile image

perrya 6 years ago Author

By themselves, both Paul and John showed musical extremes, which is why their solo LPs were never that great. Togther, the balanced the extremes and improved each other's music.


pineywoods songwriter 6 years ago

THE BEATLES WHERE A GROUP INSPIRIED BY THE TIMES AND ATMOSPHERE OF LIFE DURING THEIR DAY. THEY SHOULD HAVE ALL HAD AN AWARD. I FOR ONE WOULD NOT HAVE ACCEPTED AN AWARD UNLESS MY ACCOMPLISHMENTS WHERE SOLO.


Lisa 5 years ago

Paul McCartney has proven he is better with Wings and in his solo career. Look at him now! As a young kid in the early 70s, I only remember hearing Paul's music on the radio. Watching the Beatles films and documentaries, it always appeared to me that Paul was the lead singer with more personality and the more talented one. They were not equal as some say. John was too busy with his Yuko and his strange manners that he adopted after he met her and his outspokenness. I would have preferred if he remained a performer during those years instead of preaching his beliefs.


perrya profile image

perrya 5 years ago Author

Lisa, you recall the late Beatles. Unlike any other band, The Beatles had defined periods in their dress, manner and music. They all were charming, witty, cool in 1963-65. John had the wit, Paul the charm, ringo the humor, george the rebel. John was the talent in this stage, Paul took over from 1966 on, and it shows. Wings was a family affair for Paul and his music shows-trivial, silly. Had john lived, who knows what great things may had occurred.


Hiran 4 years ago

If you guys understand a little about music and performance on stage, you all have to agree with me that Paul was far more accurate on stage than John; John made lots of errors while performing, though they all laughed about it. John's voice often faulted on higher notes. Whereas Paul was so solid, relaxed , sang beautifully and always threw a great show. Some have said that John was better in 62-66 and Paul was better in 67-70. I disagree. Paul was better from 1957 to now. Had John not died, I honestly don't think he would have produced great hits. His voice and talents were fading by 1980.


perrya profile image

perrya 4 years ago Author

well, hiran, what you does ring true to a degree, no doubt. If either had been a contestant on The Voice show, I think, Paul would get it. John maybe-depending on the song he sang.


spartucusjones profile image

spartucusjones 4 years ago from Parts Unknown

I would argue about John Lennon's solo LP's not being great (but will agree with you concerning McCartney). John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band LP from 1970 is a true landmark (and it made it to #22 on Rolling Stones list of the 500 Greatest Albums). The follow up to that album, Imagine is also a classic and made it to #76 on Rolling Stones list.Both Shaved Fish and Double Fantasy (which won the Grammy for album of the year) are both superior albums as well.On his own Lennon wrote and recorded many of the best socially conscious and insightful songs of all time including "Working Class Hero", "Imagine", "Instant Karma", "God", "Watching The Wheels". Even though Paul had some hits with Wings, his songs were not merely as meaningful. While those Lennon songs that I mentioned are among some of the best ever. Even if you where to exclude his work with The Beatles, what he accomplished was legendary. You can not say the same about Paul.


perrya profile image

perrya 4 years ago Author

It would have been interesting to see what John might had done after 1980. Yes, John was always into lyrics and meaning than Paul was. Paul was, without a doubt, a master tunesmith and improved many of Lennon's songs in subtle ways. My fav post-beatle john song was 'Whatever gets you thru the night" and "Cold Turkey". I think it can best said they are equal.


thomas smith 4 years ago

IMAGINE paul without john to many silly love songs and IMAGINE by john might be the greatest song ever written both were great though!


Tim Johnson 4 years ago

The Prize is for lifetime achievement in music. Remember Paul also had #1 albums after the beatles was amazing for a musician to create a new band within 2 years of the beatles splitting up. He creating WINGS 14 top-10 singles (including six #1's) in the United States. All 23 singles credited to Wings reached the US Top 40, and one double-sided single, "Junior's Farm"/"Sally G", reached the Top 40 with each side. Of the nine albums credited to Wings during the group's life, all went top 10 in either the UK or the US, with 5 consecutive albums topping the charts. And then we have his solo work and so on and so on. When Paul McCartney was receiving a grammy award for album of the year in 1974, John was all washed up


Jean Bakula profile image

Jean Bakula 4 years ago from New Jersey

Hi perrya,

In the last few months my interest in the Beatles has been renewed. In some of the harmonies their voices are so beautiful, you can't even tell which one you are hearing. I wrote a piece I began on HP but continued onto my own blog because I speak about John and Paul's personality conflicts, through Astrology. I think George was the best guitarist, and wrote about him on Wizzley.com. I think John gave one of his medals back to the Queen, lol. But I wonder how John would have evolved had he lived longer. He was only 40. Paul seems stuck in the past, although I always thought he was talented too, I don't like this "crooner" album he put out for Valentine's Day.


perrya profile image

perrya 4 years ago Author

@jean, Yes, how would John do had he lived? Paul and John had such a bond, their divorce really did hurt John more emotionally. It was another lost love, even though he was only temporarily relieved. Paul's recent album is something he did to get it out of his system. It is lousy, IMO. I think privately, paul misses his mates badly. His recent rolling stone magazine interview reflects his thoughts well.The greatest truth of John and Paul was that, both made the other sound better, added key elements to their songs and without the other, their talent was less. I am sure Paul's memoirs will be fascinating!


Norberto 4 years ago

Lennon was the best songwriter, Mc Cartney was the best singer, Harrison was the best musician, Starr has the best personality.


perrya profile image

perrya 4 years ago Author

There is A lot of truth to the lennon-Mccartney songwriting team, but more subtle. Even though L or M might have written 90% of the song, both always had some input that actually did make it even better. A great example is Come Together-John had the words and basic structure, but without Paul's bass riff, the song would be far less effective than it is now.


Aunt Jemima 4 years ago

Everyone knows that Ringo made the band.


perrya profile image

perrya 4 years ago Author

Well, he was the last important ingredient-the humor. John had wit, paul had style, george had cockiness


Carl 4 years ago

I'm still shocked about John's affair with Mick Jagger


Jean Bakula profile image

Jean Bakula 4 years ago from New Jersey

I think they all added something special. I read that sometimes John and Paul would alternate lines while writing a song. They had such good energy together. I never thought of the group's breakup in a love kind of way, but your're right, it must have felt that way to all of them. Friends who go through so much together have a love kind of bond. I also read that sometimes when J & P were stuck, Ringo would often come up with a lighthearted lyric which would save the day.


perrya profile image

perrya 4 years ago Author

True. It was ringo of course who gave John the title to the iconic, A Hard's Days Night. It was Ringo, who gave Paul's Get Back that galloping drumbeat, before that, it was just a rock song. George gave his guitar licks . It was Ringo who gave John's, Ticket to Ride, a unique drum. He did it again on Tomorrow Never Knows.


LuvMusic 4 years ago

There's isn't' just ONE Gershwin Prize. Multiple artists can receive this. Stevie Wonder also was a winner. However you have to be alive to have someone hand it to you. Had Lennon been alive, he too may have received one. That said, both Beatles have written songs that moved me deeply or made me cry or laugh or I though were brilliant. Unfortunately many people used to think it was Lennon and the other three beatles because of the name order on the albums. Paul had to fight against this. If you look up the ones written by him, the best ones, are more instrumentally and harmonically creative and complex.

After growing up, learning how to write music/produce etc (I''ll never be as good as any Beatle but my ear seems to hear everything), and 40+ some years I think it tips slightly in McCartney's favor. Not because he lived longer, but more of the most brilliant songs in terms of structure + melody + harmony and even lyric have been Paul's even though some of John's lyrics are amazing.

In terms of losing the magic, this is true. It seems to happen to ALL artists for some reason. However, with Silly Love Songs, I believe he recaptured the magic. Paul was probably trying to recapture that magic, and without the other Beatles, it was likely very difficult. But each Beatle could compose their own music and if he worked hard, he could do it. I thought "Let 'Em In" came close. In a way it was good enough to be one of the better Beatle's songs had it been done earlier. Everything else was just either good, or filler.

But I tried hard not to over rate, or over do it. I still think Silly Love songs has the "magic". And we were lucky to get this tune. It's obviously a BIG effort on his part. It's melodically beautiful, the lyrics flow, the parts intertwine, the rising strings and horns were just what were needed. The bass flies all over the place like this happy thing that fills the sub conscious. True hit songs like this are very rare and when then happen it truly is like "magic" for lack of better works. Most people are just captivated and want to hear it again, and again and again. It was pretty much the song of the summer in 1976, spending 5 weeks at #1. If not for Donner summer punching a hole in it, it would have been 6. I played it death, LOL.. And that was before I learned anything about music.


LuvMusic 4 years ago

(please use this one instead of the other comment before I signed up. Thanks.)

There's isn't' just ONE Gershwin Prize. Multiple artists can receive this. Stevie Wonder also was a winner. However you have to be alive to have someone hand it to you. Had Lennon been alive, he too may have received one. That said, both Beatles have written songs that moved me deeply or made me cry or laugh or I though were brilliant. Unfortunately many people used to think it was Lennon and the other three beatles because of the name order on the albums. Paul had to fight against this. If you look up the ones written by him, the best ones, are more instrumentally and harmonically creative and complex.

After growing up, learning how to write music/produce etc (I''ll never be as good as any Beatle but my ear seems to hear everything), and 40+ some years I think it tips slightly in McCartney's favor. Not because he lived longer, but more of the most brilliant songs in terms of structure + melody + harmony and even lyric have been Paul's even though some of John's lyrics are amazing. John at points, of course did some things better than Paul, including lyrics. The two of them made the Beatles brilliant instead of just great. And while I might tip it in one direction, it's only a little as I could just as easily retract it because there's no denying BOTH of them were amazing. So it's hard to just say one is a little better.

In terms of losing the magic, this is true. It seems to happen to ALL artists for some reason. However, with Silly Love Songs, I believe he recaptured the magic. Paul was probably trying to recapture that magic, and without the other Beatles, it was likely very difficult. But each Beatle could compose their own music and if he worked hard, he could do it. I thought "Let 'Em In" came close. In a way it was good enough to be one of the better Beatle's songs had it been done earlier. Everything else on that album was just either good, or filler.

Also I tried hard not to over rate, or over do it. But I still think Silly Love songs has the "magic" left over from the Beatles. And we were lucky to get this tune. It's obviously a BIG effort on his part. It's melodically beautiful, the lyrics flow, the parts intertwine, the rising strings and horns were just what were needed. The bass flies all over the place like this happy thing that fills the sub conscious and is what Paul is great at. True hit songs like this are very rare and when then happen it truly is like "magic" for lack of better words. With hit songs like this, most people are just captivated and want to hear it again, and again and again. It was pretty much the song of the summer in 1976, spending 5 weeks at #1. If not for Donner Summer punching a hole in it, it would have been 6. I played it death, LOL.. And that was before I learned anything about music. I just knew it was amazing.


perrya profile image

perrya 4 years ago Author

I tend to agree, a slight edge to McCartney. But the truth is, they really needed one another to balance their styles.


gio gison 3 years ago

The two beatles are equally talented and their talents are obiously defferent to each other. John is to rebelious, Paul is to fancy and the talent of his is awriting lovely songs. if you are social oriented and rebelious you will like John but if you are looking for a guys next door image you will choose Paul.


Casteglione 3 years ago

The most emblematic McCartney song, in my opinion, is "Silly Love Songs", it´s title couldn´t be more appropriate.


perrya profile image

perrya 3 years ago Author

I agree and most heavy rock he did is shows his versatility ,Helter Skelter

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working