This Historic Day In Music: Paul McCartney

“Eight Days A Week,” “Nowhere Man,” “Hey Jude,” “I Should Have Known Better,” “Blackbird,” “I’ve Just Seen A Face,” “Help,” “Rocky Raccoon.”

As you, my knowledgeable reader, knows; these are all titles of songs recorded by The Beatles.  And, if you were to look each of them up in a Beatles’ songbook, you would find that their (original) publishing company Northern Songs credits them all as having been written by John Lennon & Paul McCartney.

The truth of the matter is that, except at the very beginning, John and Paul did not actually write songs together. As producer George Martin told Lennon  biographer Ray Coleman in 1985: “They never really collaborated. They were always songwriters who helped each other with little bits and pieces. One would have most of a song finished, play it to the other, and he’d say: ‘Well, why don’t you do this?’ That was just about the way their collaboration worked.”

In 1989, author William J. Dowlding wrote Beatlesongs. In his book, Dowlding chronicles every song written and recorded by The Beatles and claims to be “the first attempt to quantify the contributions they (John, Paul, George and Ringo) made.” More specifically, as Dowlding explains in the book’s introduction: “Credit for each song’s creation is apportioned based on all the information that could be amassed.”

For instance, according to Beatlesongs, “Eight Days A Week” is 70% by Paul and 30% by John. “Blackbird” is 95% by Paul and 5% by John. “Nowhere Man,” “I Should Have Known Better” and “Help” are 100% by John. “Rocky Raccoon,” “Hey Jude” and “I’ve Just Seen A Face” are 100% by Paul.

The songs on the list at the beginning of this post have one other thing in common: they are all songs that I use often in my teaching. Year after year, I continue to find that (amazingly and thankfully) they are also songs that budding teenage guitarists are still excited to learn how to play. Among the songs that I most frequently introduce to my students are “Eight Days A Week,” “Blackbird” and “Rocky Raccoon.”

In a recent guitar lesson, after putting the finishing touches on “Blackbird” in preparation for performing the song in an up-coming student concert, a student asked me: “What did guitar students learn how to play before The Beatles?”

As I put the finishing touches on this blog post here in New Hampshire, it is Monday evening, June 18, 2012. Wherever he is in the world, Paul McCartney turned 70 years old today.

Happy Birthday Paul.

Thanks for the songs!

P.S.: Do you, dear reader, have a favorite “Paul song?” Leave a comment!

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