How a trip to Spain
changed the Beatles'
songwriting history forever
by Trina Yannicos
Celebrating The Beatles 50th Anniversary
On April 28, 1963, the Beatles finally had time for a well-deserved vacation. They had just finished a hectic concert schedule in the UK and were awarded with two weeks off. Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr all headed to Tenerife for 12 days of rest and relaxation. However, John Lennon decided to accompany the Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein, on a vacation to Spain.
No one knows for sure what exactly happened on that trip between Lennon and Epstein, personally or professionally. However, after the trip, one aspect of Beatles history changed forever...
By Bo Trenter (BEATLES early Swedish 1963 EP) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
John Lennon was in an awkward circumstance. Brian Epstein asked him if he would like to join him for a vacation in Spain. But, meanwhile, John's wife had just given birth to their son, Julian, who was born on April 8. While Cynthia took care of the baby back home in Liverpool, John had to decide whether to spend time with his family or escape to a resort to relax.
Cynthia Lennon says in her book, 'A Twist of Lennon', that John asked her if she would mind: "I really didn't take it in properly at first but when it sank in, I suppressed my true feelings and acquiesced. I was well aware that John deserved a holiday." Later, John Lennon recalled: "I wasn't going to break the holiday for a baby. I just thought what a bastard I was, and went."
When word got out that John Lennon had spent 12 days alone with Brian who was gay, all kinds of rumors spread in Liverpool that Lennon was gay. Brian Epstein finally revealed his romantic interest in John on the trip, but John denied that anything had happened between them. The mystery of what occurred on the trip has been a source of interest for Beatles fans for years. A fictional film made in 1991 called 'The Hours and Times', featuring a stellar performance by Ian Hart as John Lennon, explores what may have happened between Brian and John in Barcelona, Spain.
However, some believe that John's motive for going on the trip was more political. Paul McCartney believes that John took advantage of this time alone with Brian to cement his role as leader of The Beatles: "John, not being stupid, saw his opportunity to impress upon Mr. Epstein who was the boss of this group. And I think that's why John went on holiday... he wanted Brian to know who he should listen to in this group, and that was the relationship." (1)
This scenario makes sense especially in regards to the songwriting credits of Beatles songs. Up until that point, all Beatles songs written by John and Paul were listed with the credits "McCartney-Lennon". The Beatles first album, 'Please Please Me', as well as their first three singles listed the songwriting team as "McCartney-Lennon".
It wasn't until after the infamous trip to Spain that Brian had a meeting with John and Paul where Paul was told that the credits, from that point on, would always read "Lennon-McCartney." Starting with "She Loves You", the songwriting credits were listed as "Lennon-McCartney" and remained that way for the rest of The Beatles' career. (2)
As the years went on, McCartney would become bitter about the agreement: "I wanted it to be McCartney-Lennon, but John had the stronger personality and I think he fixed things with Brian before I got there. That was John's way. He was one and a half years older than me, and at that age it meant a little more worldliness." (3)
It wasn't until several years after John Lennon's death, that Paul started disputing the order of the songwriting credits. The issue came up in the 1990s when McCartney asked Yoko Ono for her agreement to reverse the credits on "Yesterday" to "McCartney-Lennon." Not wanting to change history without the consent of her late husband, Yoko refused.
Paul fueled the fire when he reversed the credits for all of The Beatles songs on his 2002 'Back in the US Live' album. Beatles fans were outraged and the public backlash finally helped McCartney realize that it would be better if he just left things alone.
McCartney told the press in 2003: "I am happy with the way it is and always has been. Lennon and McCartney is still the rock'n'roll trademark I'm proud to be a part of -- in the order it has always been." (4)