John Lennon Told Paul McCartney It Was Okay To “Steal” Lyrics


Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote songs together for decades. Of course, their biggest collaboration was in their band The Beatles, also with George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Growing up, they were influenced by many other artists to write songs and sometimes, Paul worried that he was actually stealing content by writing their songs.

Some of Paul and John’s influences were Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley. Paul was inspired by Chuck with the songs “I Saw Her Standing There” and “Come Together.” Paul once opened up about how he would feel bad, as if he were stealing from another artist, but said that John would often console him.


Paul McCartney and John Lennon would often steal from other songs

HELP!, from left: Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, John Lennon 1965 / Everett Collection

He said that one night they were talking about some new songs. In one of them, Paul used the same lyrics as song from another artist but John reassured him that it was okay as long as he treated it as a quote. Paul said, “I can’t remember what the line was, but let’s say it was from a Dylan song, and I was pretty much stealing it for my song. John said, ‘Well, no, it’s not stealing. It’s a quote.’ And that made me feel better.”


RELATED: Paul McCartney Says This Beatles Song Gave John Lennon The Inspiration For “Imagine”

A HARD DAY’S NIGHT, from left: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison (obscured), 1964 / Everett Collection

Before his death, John added, “In the early years, I’d often carry around someone else’s song in my head. And only when I’d put it down on tape — because I can’t write music — would I consciously change it to my own melody, because I knew that otherwise somebody would sue me.”

HELP!, from left: Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, 1965 / Everett Collection

The Beatles’ George Harrison did get sued for copyright infringement for the song “My Sweet Lord.” He copied The Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine.”

RELATED: What’s Been Covered More? John Lennon’s ‘Happy Xmas’ Vs. Paul McCartney’s ‘Wonderful Christmastime’

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