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It would be an understatement to say John Lennon and George Harrison had some issues with each other. John felt he deserved credit for getting one of George’s songs released as the B-side of The Beatles’ “The Ballad of John and Yoko.” The latter song did well despite its edgy lyrics.

The connection between The Beatles’ ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’ and ‘Old Brown Shoe’

The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono features a 1980 interview. During the interview, the “Instant Karma!” singer said he didn’t like his unflattering portrayal in George’s book I, Me, Mine. John recalled times he looked out for George.

“I made sure George got the B-side of ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko,’ I think,” he said, referring to George’s song “Old Brown Shoe.” “And those little things he doesn’t remember. You know, I always tried … It was because of me that Ringo and George got a piece of John and Paul’s songwriting.”

John Lennon helped George Harrison earn more money than he would have otherwise

John discussed George’s financial place within The Beatles. “Under [manager] Allen Klein’s auspices, John and Paul own completely anything that Maclen [Music] published, and I always felt bad that George and Ringo didn’t get a piece of the publishing,” he recalled. “Not bad enough to do anything about it, but slightly guilty about it.

“And under Klein’s maneuvering-and-management period, when the opportunity came to give them only five percent each of Maclen — which is still a lot of money for songwriting — it was because of me that they got it,” he added. “Not because of Klein and not because of Paul, because of me. Paul had to say ‘Yes’ because he couldn’t say ‘No.’ But it was under my instigation that they got it.” John said he still loved George even if he resented the way he was portrayed in I, Me, Mine.


John Lennon Felt George Harrison Plagiarized ‘My Sweet Lord’

How The Beatles’ ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’ and ‘Old Brown Shoe’ performed on the charts

“The Ballad of John and Yoko” became a modest hit. It reached No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for nine weeks. Considering the tune includes some potentially blasphemous references to crucifixion, it did very well. Its success is a testament to the public’s fascination with John and Yoko’s relationship. On the other hand, “Old Brown Shoe” never charted on the Billboard Hot 100.

Both songs appeared on the album Hey Jude. That album is a compilation primarily composed of Beatles tunes that did not appear on their studio albums. The wildly eclectic album also includes the title track, “Paperback Writer,” “Rain,” “Lady Madonna,” and “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Hey Jude reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 36 weeks. The record was never as widely produced as other Beatles albums (including other compilation albums) so vinyl copies of it remain a cool collectors’ item.

John and George didn’t always get along but John did right by “Old Brown Shoe.”