The Beatles' Paul McCartney on grieving John Lennon’s death and writing Here Today

Virgin Radio

22 Dec 2022, 11:46

Paul McCartney discusses processing John Lennon’s death by writing Here Today

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Paul McCartney has opened up about dealing with the death of music legend John Lennon and finding it hard to process after his Beatles bandmate was killed in 1980.

During an interview with SiriusXM’s The Beatles Channel, McCartney said: “It was difficult for everyone in the world, ’cause he was such a loved character, and such a crazy guy. He was so special.

“It had hit me, so much so that I couldn’t really talk about it. I remember getting home from the studio on the day that we’d heard the news he died, and turning the TV on, and seeing people say, ‘Well, John Lennon was this,’ and, ‘What he was was this,’ and, ‘I remember meeting him then.’ It was like, ‘I don’t know, I can’t be one of those people. I can’t just go on TV and say what John meant to me.’ It was just too deep. It [was] just too much. I couldn’t put it into words.”

McCartney said how 'once the emotions had sort of settled a little bit' he poured his emotions into Here Today and in the song lyrics: “If I say I really knew you well, what would your answer be, if you were here today?” McCartney asks on its opening verse. “Well, knowing you, you’d probably laugh and say / that we were worlds apart, if you were here today / But as for me I still remember how it was before / and I am holding back the tears no more.

The Beatle continued: “I was in a building that would become my recording studio, and there were just a couple of little empty rooms upstairs. So, I found a room and just sat on the wooden floor in a corner with my guitar, and just started to play the opening chords to Here Today.”

On the lyrics “the night we cried“, he explaining that they were inspired during a trip to Florida. He said: “For some reason, I think it was like a hurricane, something had been delayed, and we couldn’t play for a couple of days.

"So, we holed up in a little motel. So, what would we do? Well, we’d have a drink, and we would get drunk. We didn’t have a play, so we did. That night, we got drunk and started to get kind of emotional,” McCartney continued. “It all came out.”

“But on the way to that, there was a lot of soul-searching. We told each other a few truths. ‘Well, I love you. I love you man.’ ‘Oh, I love that you said that. I love it.’ And we opened up. So, that was kind of special to me. I think that was really one of the only times that ever happened.”

During an event to launch his book, The Lyrics, McCartney said about his old friend: “[Life] was like walking up a staircase, and we both went side by side up that staircase. It was very exciting,” he replied. “Now that The Beatles’ recording career has finished, I’m like a fan. I just remember how great it was to work with him and how great he was.”

In 2020, McCartney said he still struggles with Lennon's 'senseless' murder. “It’s very difficult for me, and I occasionally will have thoughts and sort of say, ‘I don’t know, why don’t I just break down crying every day?’ Because it’s that bad.

“I now will often think, if I’m writing a song, ‘OK, John – I’ll toss it over to you. What line comes next?’ So I’ve got a virtual John that I can use.”

Watch Tom Odell’s live session here - featuring a cover of The Beatles’ Real Love.