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Paul McCartney and John Lennon grew up near each other, and both dealt with the deaths of their mothers at a young age. Beyond that, though, their upbringings were markedly different. McCartney said that when discussing his childhood with Lennon, he couldn’t help but notice how much warmer and loving his was. McCartney believed that the effects of this type of childhood might have made him seem “uncool” as an adult, but he was grateful for it. 

A black and white picture of Paul McCartney and John Lennon sitting next to each other at a desk.
Paul McCartney and John Lennon | Val Wilmer/Redferns

Paul McCartney said he had a much ‘warmer’ childhood than John Lennon

McCartney’s mother died when he was 14, but his childhood was full of extended family members. He recalled playing piano at parties and laughing at stories. 

He believed Lennon’s childhood was far less warm than his. When Lennon was a child, his parents separated, and he went to live with his aunt and uncle. While he sporadically saw his mother, his father fell out of his life entirely. His uncle died when he was living with them, and while his aunt loved him, she was a chilly figure in his life.

“When I used to talk to John about his childhood, I realised that mine was so much warmer,” McCartney said, per The Beatles Anthology. “I think that’s why I grew up to be so open about sentimentality in particular.”

McCartney said he knew his sentimental side made people think of him as uncool, but he didn’t mind.

“I really don’t mind being sentimental,” he said, adding, “I know a lot of people look on it as uncool. I see it as a pretty valuable asset.”

Paul McCartney and John Lennon balanced each other out as songwriters

Lennon and McCartney wrote many of The Beatles’ songs together and found incredible success as a pair. They approached their songwriting from different perspectives, which is why they were so successful. Lennon used the song “We Can Work It Out” as an example of this.


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“In ‘We Can Work It Out,’ Paul did the first half, I did the middle eight,” he said in the book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview With John Lennon and Yoko Ono by David Sheff. “But you’ve got Paul writing, ‘We can work it out/We can work it out’ — real optimistic, y’know, and me, impatient: ‘Life is very short and there’s no time/For fussing and fighting, my friend…'”

Lennon was more analytical and acerbic, whereas McCartney was romantic and sentimental. The balance between the two is what made their music so great. They had success in their solo careers, but few songwriters have been able to replicate what Lennon and McCartney did while working together. McCartney may have thought he seemed uncool, but it was a major boost to The Beatles’ music.

Paul McCartney said his childhood was filled with fond memories of family

When looking back, McCartney said some of his fondest memories took place during his family’s New Year’s Eve parties. He and his brother were allowed to work the bar, and they spent the night listening to their uncle tell jokes.

“Old Uncle Jack, a wheezy old man, would say, ‘All right, son. Have you heard this one?’ and tell the best jokes ever,” he said. “A really good joke is a great acquisition for me, it’s like gold bullion. I don’t remember Uncle Jack ever coming up with a bad one, they were always killers. There’d be him and my Uncle Harry, drunk out of their minds. And at midnight on New Year’s Eve at Uncle Joe’s house in Aintree, a piper would come in — just a neighbor — and it was lovely; very, very warm.”