Considering the differences between two of the most prominent songwriters in modern music that made up the most successful band of all time, the Beatles.
From their formation to their eventual disbanding, the Beatles’ offered one of the most interesting and outstanding songwriting duos: the team of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. In the early stages of their career Lennon and McCartney did not have distinctly different styles, but as the Beatles’ career progressed the two songwriters’ styles deviated. As Lennon and McCartney’s styles departed from one another, so did the members of the band. An obvious tension grew from the differing styles that, in addition to Brian Epstein’s death, lead to the band’s ultimate end. In the following discussion, I will compare two songs off Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and analyze two other songs, also off Sgt. Pepper’s, all suggesting that Lennon’s songwriting style is considerably more pessimistic than McCartney’s.
“A Day In The Life,” off of the Beatles’ album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, is actually two separate songs mashed together masterfully using a 41-piece orchestra. Of the two separate songs, Lennon wrote one and McCartney the other. The song begins with simple strumming of the guitar, and complementing piano riffs playing in a ¾ time signature. Lennon’s cheerless voice then enters, and the first line ends with an exhausted, “oh boy;” the feeling of pessimism and depression is palpable. From here on McCartney compliments Lennon’s sadness with a continually descending bass riff, and Ringo Starr offers a drumbeat that seems to drags along. Then a roar of orchestral instruments crescendos into the song, and when it settles there is nothing but a bouncing piano part playing one chord steadily and a constant bass riff playing in a new time signature, 4/4.
Then an alarm sounds, and Paul enters with a cheerful voice to match the lively movement by the piano. He sings, “I woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head,” and a full sentence later he playfully pants. When McCartney’s jovial contribution is finally complete, there is an epic-sounding orchestra sound on top of Lennon’s “ahhs,” and then the song returns to Lennon’s melodramatic style. The title, “A Day in the Life,” may signify the differences between McCartney and Lennon’s everyday lives. While Lennon is reading sad stories in the newspaper, McCartney is simply preparing himself for the day that lies ahead. Both Lennon and McCartney wrote their portions of the songs individually, and there is an obvious difference in both the lyrics and the aesthetics in these portions that hints at Lennon’s style being more pessimistic.