In an interview with Esquire, Paul McCartney was asked about the famous “Lennon/McCartney” songwriting credit and why he has suggested in the past that some songs should be credited with the reverse, “McCartney/Lennon.”
(Without getting overly technical, it has to do with limitations of metadata on digital music files.)
On some of his live albums (Wings at the Speed of Sound, Back in the US), McCartney has reversed the traditional Lennon/McCartney to McCartney/Lennon. In the 1970s, when Speed of Sound came out, it doesn’t seem that anyone cared. In 2003, when Back in the US came out, Yoko Ono had Issues with a capital I, she vented in the press, and McCartney ended up looking like a villain.
I think McCartney has a point, and I’d like to think that McCartney and Ono could sit down like adults and come to an agreement — these songs get the standard “Lennon/McCartney,” these songs get “McCartney/Lennon,” and some special songs get either “Lennon” alone or “McCartney” alone.
I know that won’t happen, however. You see, what I think McCartney fails to understand is that by talking about the issue he’s playing into Ono’s hands. She has an image of John as the singular genius she wants to maintain, and she enjoys tweaking and denigrating McCartney in public, like when she said he was the Salieri to Lennon’s Mozart. A conversation like this, which when you read the Esquire original and not the Rolling Stone quotes which I link to here, is thoughtful and measured (and even, shall we say, resigned), but it gives Ono the opportunity to portray McCartney as insecure. Even though one conversation would bring closure to this issue, it’s in Ono’s interests for there to never be closure.
I don’t blame McCartney for talking about this. He didn’t bring it up. He was responding to a reporter’s question. I agree with him — and I think there are many Beatles fans who do — but I wish he could let it be.