Ethical Reflections on John/Paul

I’m writing this because the discussion on the “Were John and Paul Lovers?” post has been niggling at me for a while now. Though it was published more than six years ago, it’s one of Hey Dullblog’s most viewed and most contentious posts. And because Michael Gerber and I read every comment as it goes through moderation, we’re aware of movements on the blog in a way others may not be. Given the persistent interest in this topic, I’ve decided that it’s worth articulating my thoughts about it in more depth. 

Backstage at Hey Dullblog can get complicated

I want to emphasize that the frustrations I’m expressing are directed not at any individual or group, but at the larger patterns and tendencies I’ll specify. I value this blog as a place for substantive, respectful conversation, and have no wish to point fingers at anyone in a destructive way.

Michael’s original post posed the question of whether Lennon and McCartney were ever physically intimate or had erotic/romantic feelings for each other. The available evidence makes that a reasonable question. In another post I’ve explained why I think our culture tends to undervalue and oversimplify friendship, and the way that to me the “Lennon and McCartney must have been in a sexual relationship” idea exemplifies that. But here I want to focus on four things that give me qualms about the John/Paul narrative and the reaction to it, and that’s because they reflect larger issues.

1. “Alternative facts”

Making claims with very little evidence, or cherry picking evidence, is a tendency I’m perpetually dismayed to see playing out on a national and international scale. In terms of the Beatles story, the “Paul is dead” conspiracy myth is the most egregious example. Proponents of this “theory” spend time analyzing ear height in various photos but avoid the questions that quickly make nonsense of the story. And at times I believe the “Lovers” discussion has gone in a similar direction.

“In Dreams Begin Responsibilities” is the title of one of Delmore Schwartz’s stories, and in my view we incur responsibilities when we choose which stories to tell and retell. In particular, it makes sense to think about why we are drawn to a particular story, and what consequences, intended or unintended, stem from its telling.

2. Unacknowledged wish fulfillment

In a comment on the “Lovers” thread, I noted that the “John/Paul” narrative closely resembles the slash fanfiction that is found in conjunction with many other pop culture phenomena. Kirk/Spock fanfiction seems to be one of the earliest to surface. Today there is slash fanfiction for a wide range of books, films, and TV shows, including Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, Game of Thrones, and The Lord of the Rings, to name just a few of the more prominent. Available evidence (which is tough to authenticate, since many writers are anonymous) suggests that most slash fanfiction writers are women. Why women choose to write and read stories about men in romantic sexual relationships is a complex question. One relative constant in such stories, however, is the emphasis on emotions and relatively intricate plotting, at least as compared to plain old porn. In slash fanfiction, sexual activity can be quite explicitly depicted or merely suggested.

Writing fiction that is acknowledged as fiction and consumed as fiction is one thing. Presenting a narrative that is at best tenuously supported with evidence as reality is something else again. My own opinion is that there is no problem with anyone writing or enjoying John/Paul fanfiction. It’s when there is a strong investment in believing in an ongoing, intense romantic relationship between them that I disagree. There’s just too much evidence that has to be ignored or explained away for that narrative to be credible. 

3. Writing out women

John and Yoko

A lot of the evidence that has to be ignored or explained away comes from the life and comments of Lennon and McCartney themselves. I’m going to pass over a lot here (the many stories from the touring years about the insatiable skirt-chasing, Lennon’s first marriage and possible affairs, McCartney’s relationships with Jane Asher and others) and focus on their marriages.

Both men were eloquent about their long-term romantic partners. John talked at length about Yoko Ono, as Paul did about Linda McCartney. They wrote songs with and about their wives and repeatedly performed with them. Arguing that the two men’s real passion was for each other doesn’t just imply that they were both liars (more on that in a minute). It also radically deemphasizes the role of a key woman in each man’s life. 

Paul and Linda

There’s already been far too much downplaying of the importance of women in the Beatles story, and I hate to see that trend continue. It’s worth remembering that Yoko Ono and Linda McCartney got roasted by the press and fans for years.  Lennon and McCartney stuck it out with those women in the face of a lot of pressure to do otherwise. Both Yoko Ono and Linda McCartney deserve a great deal more recognition of their central importance to these two men’s lives.

4. Presenting Lennon and McCartney as lifelong liars

Finally, buying the “love of each other’s lives” story about Lennon and McCartney makes them cowardly liars who persisted in falsehood for years. The idea that there was erotic attraction between them that may or may not have been acted on at some point is not what I am talking about here. I’m talking about the narrative that they were each other’s true loves, and the corollary that they concealed their primary same-sex attraction for decades.

Believing this would make Cynthia Lennon, Yoko Ono, Jane Asher, Linda McCartney, Heather Mills, and Nancy Shevell “beards” that Lennon and McCartney used to fool the public into thinking they were straight. It would make all the interviews both men gave about their passionate love for those women a tissue of lies. It would make McCartney, in particular – who has lived long enough to see same-sex attraction and marriage be widely accepted – contemptible in his refusal to be honest.

I believe we have the responsibility to discuss the lives of real people with care. If someone wants to embrace a story about Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson being embroiled in a torrid long-term relationship, it’s hard to argue that anyone is hurt. But the Beatles aren’t fictional characters, however easy it can be to treat them as such.  Speaking for myself, my ability to enjoy the Beatles music would be substantially undermined if I learned that the members of the band had been, for years, systematically misleading the world about something fundamental. There’s a high bar of factual provability that I’d need to see cleared before assenting to believe that Lennon and McCartney, for all their manifest flaws, were complicit in a scheme like that.

And, in the end . . . .

Real talk: I’m seriously worried about where we are heading, both as a nation and as a world community, in large part because of the “alternative facts” trend I noted at the beginning of this piece. Compared to things like climate change, impeachment, and the political misinformation that is rampant on social media, the John/Paul story is very small beer indeed. But here at Hey Dullblog, we’ve always believed that talking about the Beatles is a way to talk also about larger issues.  I’m convinced that the ethical standards we use to decide which stories to tell and give credence to matter, and that’s why I decided to write this post.

Hey Dullblog has always been, and I hope will remain, a place where many opinions are welcome.  Please take this post as my own considered opinion on this topic.

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  1. Avatar Tasmin wrote:

    Well said, and wholeheartedly agree with this Nancy.
    Especially this paragraph:

    “Real talk: I’m seriously worried about where we are heading, both as a nation and as a world community, in large part because of the “alternative facts” trend I noted at the beginning of this piece. Compared to things like climate change, impeachment, and the political misinformation that is rampant on social media, the John/Paul story is very small beer indeed. But here at Hey Dullblog, we’ve always believed that talking about the Beatles is a way to talk also about larger issues. I’m convinced that the ethical standards we use to decide which stories to tell and give credence to matter, and that’s why I decided to write this post.”

    Australia is on fire, sea levels are rising, icebergs are melting, animals are becoming extinct, but people refuse to believe Scientists that these events are occurring because of global warming.

    Paul McCartney has implicitly said that he and John were NOT sexually involved. This is first hand knowledge. Yet people refuse to believe him, and are basically calling him a liar.

    I don’t understand this lack of critical thinking. It would be an interesting experiment to see if those who believe in these sort of Beatle conspiracy theories, are the same people who believe whatever comes out of the Presidents mouth.

    • I suspect those two groups do not overlap, @Tasmin.
      But I do think that people’s beliefs are not just a collation of all relevant facts—they do emotional work for the person.
      So the interesting question is: what emotional work is the “Paul Is Dead” story, or “John ‘n’ Paul” story doing for its adherents?

      • Avatar Tasmin wrote:

        That’s interesting Michael. Why do you think those groups don’t overlap?

        • Because I think the theories service different emotions. People who deny global warming are either very frightened of change, resistant to losing wealth and power, or religiously opposed to the idea that humans could change the environment. So, basically, fear.
          john/Paul folks seem motivated by something different. Not fear. A desire to know? A fascination with male emotional possibility?
          You know how one of the most popular categories of male hetero porn is “lesbians”? (I put it in quotes because it’s usually not actual lesbians.) I’ve long wondered what that was about, and think it may be that, because of patriarchy, men know that womens” sexuality is policed whenever a man is present. So “lesbian” porn is hidden, titillating and more “real”.
          As the power gap between men and women closes, we may find the sexualities getting a bit more similar. And so a new generation of straight women use John and Paul to spin fantasies about what two brilliant, sensitive, powerful, complementary men who love each other get up to when women aren’t around.
          There’s something very dark in most politically charged conspiracy theories. I don’t get a sense of darkness from John/Paul speculation.
          One picks the conspiracy theory that fills one’s precise emotional need. I’m sure if you read widely enough, you’d find one that really intrigued you…which would be reflective of your own makeup.

          • Avatar Tasmin wrote:

            That is right on, Michael. Politically charged conspiracy theories ARE based in fear. Beatle conspiracy theories are not. Thank you.

            I’m a born skeptic, so I’ve never been prone to conspiracy theories. Thankfully!

  2. Well said, @Nancy.
    My own, earlier thoughts on this matter are here:
    As I’ve said, I think the desire to “queer” The Beatles by making John and Paul lovers is probably a desire to make a beloved musical/cultural item feel current and accessible. And I think it seems to fill some genuine emotional need for the people who talk about it, so I’m okay with the post, and the comments. We are living through a time of shifting sexual and gender norms and, if The Beatles are going to thrive, they will be regularly reinterpreted in the light of those changes. Not for nothing is this theory more popular among women than men, and if queering the narrative opens The Beatles up to their fans, I don’t see the immediate harm.
    That having been said, I think Nancy’s point above is well taken: there ARE women in the story, and turning them into beards is another slap at some really long-suffering ladies. To Yoko and Linda, I would add Cynthia and Jane Asher (Jane never gets her due, but she was with Paul from 1963-68, and did any mortal woman have a harder gig?). Cyn and Jane are often seen as lesser for putting up with their fellas’ philandering, and now we can have a go at them for not seeing that John and Paul were having sex with each other, too?
    But that’s not all. Neither John or Paul escaped the rigid gender roles of that time and place, where even expressing deep friendship with a fellow man was considered a sign of secret homosexuality. To the degree that they pushed back on these norms, they did us all a favor. To look at that and conclude, in the face of no other significant evidence, that they were indeed secret homosexuals is — whether one means to or not — to reinforce reactionary gender norms for straight men. If you look lovingly at a friend; if you put your hand on another man’s arm; if you holiday together…you must be screwing.
    (To be clear: I don’t care if they were or not, and I don’t think they could’ve been any closer. A secret cache of love letters between John and Paul wouldn’t really change my reading of their friendship. I’ve had a creative partner, and it’s indeed a love affair, a marriage, and very intense. And I find Yoko’s periodic digs at her husband for being in love with Paul is petty and shitty and deeply sexist.)
    When The Beatles arrived in America, they were called “faggots” for having long hair and singing love songs. Simply because Paul was perceived as “soft,” Paul’s sexuality was constantly the subject of rumors — even in the face of his “pursuing the female hordes.” A 1968 Olympia Press book about the homosexual underground identified him as “a practical homosexual” whatever that means, and as far as we know, it was simply because he didn’t ACT like a real man should act. But with Mr. Brian Epstein managing you? A guy who lived under the spectre of unmasking as a passive, effeminate, “bottom”? I think the only way Paul was allowed to be the least bit feminine was because he was 100% hetero.
    Anyway, we could talk forever. As with so much, this is all about intent, and I don’t get the sense that our commenters on that thread are being either salacious or reactionary. But as Nancy says, go too far down the road and you start getting bedfellows (har) that you probably don’t want.

  3. Avatar Kristy wrote:

    I suspect that your John & Paul discussion on this blog is so popular because it’s (for the most part) a respectful, interesting discussion with some really intelligent viewpoints that aren’t found just laying around everywhere on the internet. There definitely exist those people who ignore the available history and focus on their little corner of evidence to the detriment of the bigger picture—and the Beatles’ women. Just depends on the person and the forum, I suppose, but it’s not universal. There’s a great love for many of the Beatles’ women that I’ve seen.

    Honestly, curiosity about the subject is what brought me to start reading all the available material I could get my hands on, and I’m up to like 20 books or so now and oodles of podcasts. 🙂 Because the history of the band and people, and the different view of those from different authors, is a fascinating subject all on its own.

    And from what I’ve seen, this discussion doesn’t overlap with PID theorists at all. And for me, at least, different thought processes are at work when it’s hobby or real-life stuff. The “emotional work” this has provided for me is a fun discussion of a subject that I love and musicians that I love, and offers a possible clue to what happened (and it’s not a happier history than any other).

    • @Kristy, great comment, thank you!
      I am always shocked when people talk about the rarity of intelligent Beatle talk on the web; I mean, we’ve been talking about something happening between John and Paul in India since the beginning of this blog in 2008–the chronology is just so simple, and I remember being flummoxed that no Serious Beatle Hostorians has ever tried to figure out what had happened between Feb 68 (everything’s fine) and June 68 (NOT FINE!). Similarly the theory that john wasn’t intentionally trying to break up the group, but was lashing out/asking for proof of love — this too is an idea I remember talking about with Devin in the esrly days of the site. That there are now podcasts talking about this stuff is…delightful, honestly, because it’s precisely the kind of “put yourself in their shoes” analysis that I do endlessly with all my various obsessions, not just with The Beatles. It’s a type of thinking — a sort of historical empathy — that I find endlessly fascinating.
      When you wrote it’s a discussion of “a topic you love” to what we’re you referring exactly? Beatle interpersonal relations?

    • Nancy Carr Nancy Carr wrote:

      I’m so glad you find the conversation here respectful and interesting, Kristy. That’s our aim, and 99% of people who comment seem to share it. I agree that the thought process and motivation of the John/Paul theorizing is very different in feeling and apparent motivation from the PID version. What they can share, in my view, is the tendency to cherry pick evidence (and sometimes consider things “evidence” that I don’t think warrant that designation). And with a lot of people in the PID camp and with some — only some — in the John/Paul camp, there’s a degree of conviction that “this must be true” that I frankly don’t get.
      One thing I’ve noticed and wondered about is that some people who comment on the John/Paul thread pretty much comment only on that thread. That’s the only HD post where I’ve noticed this pattern, and I find it perplexing. Do you have any thoughts on that?

  4. Avatar Jesse wrote:

    Nancy, thank you so much for your thoughtful post! You very eloquently put into words what I have been thinking about this topic, and you have been much kinder than I would have been able to as well.

  5. Avatar Nicola wrote:

    Hello. Long time lurker, first time commenter! Think this might turn out to be an essay, so apologies for that in advance 🙂

    I think this post is really interesting. I agree so wholeheartedly with the point about the women in the story being erased by this exploratory narrative, that’s something that’s always bothered me about it.

    The cherry picking evidence point is fascinating. Some of the stuff that’s being picked up on as part of this exploration is information that has been roundly ignored by Serious Beatles Historians over the years. A lot of these things do not constitute hard evidence of course, and anyone presenting it as such is wrong to do so, I think. But some of what’s being added back in to the narrative as a result of this discussion is really useful and makes the Beatles tapestry richer and more balanced, as long as it’s done with care and empathy for the (as you’ve pointed out) very real humans involved.

    I think there are two things that complicate the issue, the first being what everyone has been so lovely and empathetic about in all these discussions on HD, and that’s the fact that male friendships are so badly pigeon holed thanks to unhelpful societal expectations and gender roles. We women aren’t immune to those biases either, so I wonder if some of this “slash” stuff is a result of seeing such obvious affection between John and Paul, observing the charge of their connection and all the heartache that came with it fizzling out, but being unable to frame it with any nuance that doesn’t involve sex. We’re taught that love = sex, John and Paul clearly loved each other, therefore they were sexually involved. I don’t know too much about the slash thing but it does feel like a way to explore sexuality in a safe and anonymous community. It doesn’t have any place in a historic evaluation of the Beatles’ impact or chronology, though, and that’s where things get problematic as you’ve pointed out.

    The other issue I think that complicates this discussion is John Lennon. If you remove Paul from the equation, he still said and did a lot of things in his lifetime that suggest he thought of both his sexuality and his gender expression as somewhat fluid. He didn’t talk about it in those words, which makes it harder to unpick, but there’s a lot there and you don’t have to look to hard to find it, really. If you are willing to explore the idea that John may have been curious about his sexuality, as Yoko and others have hinted at, perhaps where some of this comes from is just that a relationship of some kind with Paul is an obvious (too obvious?) next move.

    I think maybe the last thing I’d weigh in with is just that the idea that John and Paul’s music might be devalued or that the Beatles might be less than what they are now if it turns out they had been lying about a relationship worries me a bit. I don’t actually believe they were, but if they had been, labelling them as liars would be technically accurate, I suppose, but it’s also a label that’s missing an awful lot of the complex difficulties that would have gone along with being a gay couple in that time and in their unique position as Beatles with all the scrutiny and lack of a private life that came with that.

    • Nancy Carr Nancy Carr wrote:

      Nicola, so glad you commented, and hope you’ll continue to do so.
      I think your conjectures about why women may be drawn to John/Paul slash are quite reasonable. I do think it’s an issue that our culture equates love with sex, and really doesn’t know what to do with intense same-sex relationships that aren’t romantic.
      I get what you are saying about lying and the complexities of same-sex relationships, particularly for public figures in the 1960s. But I want to highlight the amount of concealment, deliberate obfuscation, and use of others (women as “beards”) that would be involved if Lennon and McCartney were really hiding a romantic relationship for so long (as opposed to one / a few sexual encounters — that’s a different issue, IMO).

    • @Nicola, welcome! I LURVE new commenters. Thank you.
      I think that what gives McLennon rocket fuel of late is the growing, Yoko-encouraged consensus that if not actually bisexual, Lennon was bi-curious. And happened to be partnered with a man who — though apparently rather butch in person, at least hit some femme notes. Just as it makes intuitive sense that Lennon and Epstein were complementary in a personality way, and thus perhaps in a sexual one as well, and that we can’t and won’t know all of what transpired between them, it makes intuitive sense that Lennon and McCartney — who were compatible in so many other ways — might have been compatible in that way, too.
      And then there is…whatever happened in or directly after India, which seems to express itself first in Lennon’s romantic life. (Not just the postcards to/from Yoko, but also the infamous Air India flight where he tells Cynthia all the times he’s been unfaithful. And then his behavior when he got back to the UK. And then the immediate introduction of Yoko into the mix, replacing the mother of his child.) Lennon’s heart seems to be where all this turmoil is taking place; but as distinct as the breakup of his marriage is a new resentment-bordering-on-rage towards Paul. He’s conflicted about Paul, and thus Beatle-dom, in a way that he simply was not before 1968.
      None of us have been in The Beatles, but most of us have experienced a breakup, so for me it’s a natural thing to wonder, “Was there sex involved in the sudden and disastrous change in John and Paul’s friendship?” Which is why I wrote the post. I want to understand these guys as people, and that seems like a logical possibility; and to preclude it automatically is to 1) ignore the certainty that, if anything did happen, they would have to cover it up, and 2) to take a kind of liberty with those guys that I’m not comfortable with. They were/are whoever they were/are, not who we desire them to be.
      So where McLennon becomes sticky for me is when the poster clearly desires for there to be a secret, forbidden romance — which I’m sure we can all agree is a romantic taste shared by many people. If the poster can acknowledge this desire, and acknowledge that it is driving a shaping of data — a bias — then it’s harmless fun. But when the desire takes over, I think it can do the kind of damage that Nancy mentions in her post.

      • Avatar Nicola wrote:

        Thanks, Nancy and Michael.

        Nancy, sorry – I think I misunderstood what you wrote. Yes, I completely agree with you on the layers of deceit that would have had to go on if that were the case, and that it would certainly change their story significantly. I thought the general assumption would be that if something ever happened between them, whatever it was stopped before Linda and Yoko joined the party, although I guess would have lingered as an ongoing issue for both of them.

        Michael, I think that India has such a lot to do with this newer John + Paul narrative, and the way their trajectory completely changed after the trip. There are areas of Beatles’ history that the ‘official’ story just tells very badly (or not at all) – India, John’s Dakota years, John and Yoko’s final few years of marriage, the break-up as a whole – that people start filling in the gaps with their own theories and ideas. And I think the Lennon/McCartney partnership falls into that category. The evidence (their words and actions as friends and collaborators) and the established Jann Wenner/Rolling Stone, even Anthology, narratives don’t add up – and so people maybe overcompensate, because they feel like something’s being hidden from them.

        I definitely agree that the question of ‘was there sex involved?’ makes perfect sense, and it’s something I’ve definitely wondered about over the years. And Lennon’s swing from rampant homophobia to endorsements in Pride booklets and talking about the restrictions of gender roles in society certainly adds flavour to the discussion on their relationship. I also agree that the gender coding around Paul and his androgyny has always been a bit off. This is always hard for me to articulate well but Paul has always seemed to me as entirely in control of his relationship with John, and he did some of that through taking a ‘submissive’ stance in their interactions – soothing, acquiescing, giving affection, using pet names and funny voices to rein John in and keep him functioning. As John’s chosen confidante and best friend, Paul had an awful lot to cope with. I think anyone who has been in a relationship with a volatile partner, romantic or otherwise, can attest to how much hard work and the emotional/mental gymnastics you have to go through to keep the other person calm and kind. So yes, I think at that time in history, submissive was synonymous with ‘feminine’, and some of Paul’s actions or body language could therefore be read that way. I think that fuels some of the “bottom” Paul stuff you mentioned earlier, but I do think that was an acknowledged part of their friendship. John needed to be top dog, to be the leader, and Paul found a more comfortable way for them to work together than by constantly challenging John.

        But to an observer with an agenda, that could very easily be manipulated into evidence of a romantic relationship with assigned roles.

        • Nancy Carr Nancy Carr wrote:

          Nicola, it’s entirely possible that I was unclear! Here’s what I mean:
          I think it’s possible that Lennon and McCartney had some level of erotic attraction, and possible (though not as likely) that they acted upon it at some point. What I find implausible is their embarking upon a longer-term romantic/sexual relationship, even one that ended before Linda and Yoko came on the scene. A relationship that went on for that long (a few years? five? ten?) is significant enough to require a good deal of work to hide. That’s where the lying comes in. They don’t owe us all the details of their intimate relationships with anyone. But to conceal a connection that important is, in my view, not admirable.
          If you take this further, as some John/Paul proponents do, and see the two of them as each other’s soulmates – and, therefore, as at least strongly drawn to the same sex in an ongoing way – that’s where the “women as beards” issue comes in. And at this point it would make McCartney cowardly for continuing to hide a key aspect of his sexuality into the 21st century. For instance, Elton John has openly avowed his sexual orientation, married a man, and adopted a child with him, helping to ensure that younger people see that this is possible even for someone who grew up in a time when his having sex with another man was illegal.

          • Avatar Nicola wrote:

            Thanks so much for clarifying. I think I was being especially dense so this definitely helps!

            The erotic attraction theory is entirely plausible to me too but I also to agree in terms of the idea it was a long term relationship, that seems unlikely, and yes, requiring them to falsify so many areas of their story at the time and in the years since, which doesn’t necessarily feel right.

  6. Avatar Jesse wrote:

    My feeling is that a lot of the PID devotees just like a good conspiracy theory and enjoy the trolling. They are not even fans of the Beatles much, I suspect.

    However, there is also another group with a different motive, albeit perhaps subconsciously.
    I suspect that some mostly older fans want to believe in either PID or McLennon as it allows them to regain control and freeze “the boys” in a timeframe where the Beatles still appeared to be each others best friends and before they started acting strange.
    They dislike the women John and Paul chose and what they view as these womens disruptive force. They never wanted the Beatles to break up, to end that perfect dream. Coupling John and Paul and denying their wives’ importance to both men allows those people to pursue their fandom undisturbed, especially since they assume that not only they may have had an affair of some sorts, but that John and Paul were each other’s loves of their lives forever. This way the band may have broken up outwardly in 1970, but somehow remains intact, because they allegedly keep writing songs for each other, pining for each other endlessly, in Paul’s case to this very day. Beatles forever!

    Does this make sense? I hope I managed to get my ideas across, as I haven’t fully thought through everything yet and English isn’t my first language, so please bear with me.

    • I think there’s something to this. I think it was the prime driver of the original PID theory — in addition to the assassinations of the 60s.
      Devin has written really well on PID. To me, it’s a product of a period where pop culture and politics were merging, and sometimes ending in death. JFK, MLK, and RFK were all icons of youth culture, and if you liked and connected with them, you usually liked/connected with The Beatles, as well.
      Last night I was talking about “emotional work” — what emotional work does this theory satisfy? By 1969, Beatles fans had endured several very intense emotional shocks — in 1963, 65 (Malcolm X), and 68 (especially 1968) — which changed their ideas of what the world was, what it could be, and what it did to public figures you loved. (Even, for example, Andy Warhol.) Plus you have the very real espionage that members of the counterculture had been encountering since late 1967; their world was full of “narcs” (the paranoia of pot helped with that.)
      So PID is basically tailoring the sunny, hopeful early-60s story of the Beatles to fit with this darker, more paranoid, more desperate and less hopeful world. And this is why PID is taking hold again today.

    • Avatar Tasmin wrote:

      I think you make total sense! When I first became a Beatles fan, (20 years or so ago), I was so sad that John and Paul were no longer best friends. I loved their partnership/friendship. I loved the pictures and videos of them goofing around and clearly very close.

      So, I agree that “freezing the boys” in a time frame before Yoko and the breakup makes perfect sense.

  7. Avatar Kristy wrote:

    “Coupling John and Paul and denying their wives’ importance to both men allows those people to pursue their fandom undisturbed”

    Honestly, I’ve seen very, very very little of this in actual John/Paul pairing fandom spaces. I mean, the Beatles broke up, they married women, and it would require a great deal of denial to demand otherwise. The women are included and often celebrated (perhaps one of the women less than others). And it’s not just older ladies … there are a LOT of people younger than I (and I’m GenX). Plus, I had the general impression that PID theorists are mainly male – but I could be wrong. I don’t mix with them.

  8. Avatar kristy wrote:

    Replying to Nancy: “One thing I’ve noticed and wondered about is that some people who comment on the John/Paul thread pretty much comment only on that thread. That’s the only HD post where I’ve noticed this pattern, and I find it perplexing. Do you have any thoughts on that?”

    Well, if you google “were John Lennon and Paul McCartney in love” or some variation thereof, this site comes up pretty close to the top. 🙂 There just aren’t the fandom spaces so much anymore; tumblr attracts a generally younger crowd, and pictures are at a premium but discussion is difficult. Youtube and Quora are … frightening. So they see that discussion and stick to it, maybe? I started reading all the posts, but maybe not everyone develops a breadth of interest.

    There are definitely people who wear tinfoil hats to keep the undesirable information out of their brains. But honestly, those people seem rare.

    • Nancy Carr Nancy Carr wrote:

      Thanks Kristy, that explanation makes perfect sense. I guess I’m surprised more people don’t go on, as you have, to read and comment on other posts here — I’d expect that breadth of interest to be the default. Do you have a sense of how many J/P fandom participants are also strongly interested in discussing the band’s music and other aspects of its significance? Don’t mean to put you on the spot to answer for a whole group of people—I’m just genuinely curious about this.

  9. Avatar Kristy wrote:

    From Michael: “if not actually bisexual, Lennon was bi-curious. And happened to be partnered with a man who — though apparently rather butch in person, at least hit some femme notes.”

    ::whisper:: I think a good portion of the fandom, from what I’ve seen, actually assumes that Paul is the more, ah, dominant/masculine.

    “When you wrote it’s a discussion of “a topic you love” to what we’re you referring exactly? Beatle interpersonal relations?”

    I meant Beatles in general — history, clothes, music, etc., but interpersonal relations of all types are of course exceptionally fascinating to me. I think emotion makes a lot of the Beatles’ music stand out.

    • LOL! Well that is a surprise, and a welcome one.
      The coding of John and Paul seems to have been very consistent for the first wave of fandom, with Lennon as the dominant force and leader (see Ginsburg’s poem, Portland Coliseum — “Lennon, the captain”) with McCartney as his foil or “second banana.” (Ginsburg was, for whatever this is worth, a homosexual man inclined towards strong, heterosexually inclined men; that he seems to have picked John over Paul isn’t nothing.)
      As I’ve mentioned in the comments, Paul was actually identified as a homosexual — in a book called “The Homosexual Handbook” by someone using the pseudonym “Angelo d’Archangelo,” published by Olympia Press back in 1968. According to this article, it was brought to the attention of J. Edgar Hoover (also identified) by William F. Buckley (ditto). Why do I keep bringing this up? I think it’s a pretty good bet that Paul wasn’t identified as gay because he was perceived as a “top” — he wasn’t a “bear” or dom or leather daddy; it was because to people in the 60s, his generational cohort, Paul seemed to, or was assumed to, embody a more feminine aspect. He was pretty, and as such coded as soft, feminine, subservient, and non-dominant.
      In my own time, the second wave fandom, that wasn’t as prominent a reading of Paul; I think this is because the palette of acceptable behavior for men had broadened. Plus, gay lib had come along and so we all got to see what gay men were like. During the Seventies, Paul was considered 1B to John’s 1A; John had pride of place via age and, well, because it seemed to matter so much to him. After Lennon’s death, Lennon took on a greater significance, by far, and there was a sense that the breakup had been caused by Paul’s overstepping his bounds and trying to dominate John inappropriately.
      So now we have this reading which, to me at least, really demonstrates the female-led quality of the McLennon idea — it gives me some logical clues as to why it’s happening now, and the “emotional work” it’s doing for the fans obsessed by it. McCartney being the dominant/masculine part of the partnership is a genuinely new idea, one that you don’t see in the 60s or 70s, or even the 80s/90s. My guess is that it’s a claiming of space by female-gendered Beatle fans, using the most “female” Beatle as their stand-in. Because there are no female Beatles, to center the narrative in the way they want, they’ve picked Paul. A lot of first-generation fans wanted to love Paul, or sleep with Paul; but as the role of women has changed and broadened, and Paul himself has become grandfatherly, BEING Paul is an increasingly attractive form of communion.
      Hell, I don’t know! What do YOU guys think?
      The more we discuss this, the more I suspect it has a kinship with the ideas of Courtly Love, also a female-dominated idea with a lot of power-inversion in it.

  10. Avatar Kristy wrote:

    “My guess is that it’s a claiming of space by female-gendered Beatle fans, using the most “female” Beatle as their stand-in. ”

    Actually, it’s not just a stand-in scenario that I can see; all the Beatles are seen as objects of desire. Fans want to sleep with Paul and John, not necessarily be them. And Paul’s definitely still considered pretty and some people do want to feminize him, it’s true, but it’s not pervasive.

    I didn’t mean that people see Paul as dominant in every way, it’s just not necessarily a Butch!John/Femme!Paul dynamic. I mean, I could write an essay on shipping (as in relationSHIP) or J/P fandom in general and people’s preferences, but in an attempt to stay on the surface, VERY GENERALLY for those people who prefer a more dominant Paul in interpersonal relations, I’d venture that it’s a combination of the fact that both Paul and John can actually be pretty masculine and heterosexual, but John seems to have a neediness and a tendency to seek out strong people to latch onto to take care of him? And while you can see John’s emotions from space, Paul is often seen as having more of a shell. Also, people in many fandom spaces that I’ve seen do not care in the slightest about the whole John as Leader vs. Paul as Leader thing. It’s seen as very outdated. Most stuff I’ve seen in fandom considers their relationship as Beatles as an equal relationship.

    (Now, arguably, Paul wants someone to take care of him, too, but that’s a whole other conversation.)

    Like I said, this is a generalization and other people have other preferences.

    As for the list of practical homosexuals, I’ve seen it mentioned here but thank you for the fascinating link! I wonder if attendance at all those gay clubs and parties might have contributed to that as well as any perceived feminization?

    I do appreciate your openness in this discussion!

  11. Avatar Bee wrote:

    I think this is a very interesting discussion! I think both Kristy and Michael have made many great points, but I think that his assessment that Paul is being chosen as an outlet of female projection due to his inherent “femininity” is slightly off the mark.

    People in fandom (predominantly young women) usually project onto their favorite male person in fandom as a kind of power fantasy, in order to explore the autonomy of being male (men are inherently considered to be the sexual borderline for society; they are, in a way, gender-less. The have the most agency and power in a patriarchal society. An audience member walking into a movie, or a person reading a book, will usually expect the story to be about a man. It’s just a side effect of an uneven world). Yes, sex is usually a part of this projection, at least in fanfiction writings, but sex is just another form of intimacy which is heavily dictated by gender. The fact that the partner of this character is usually male (even for lesbian content creators) is not for nothing; that partner is also on equal footing. It’s essentially the ultimate relationship fantasy, especially when reality is full of toxic masculinity and objectification.

    To choose Paul as a female stand-in because he’s coded as feminine, or the less dominant Beatle, is counter-intuitive. There are fandom spaces for female-coded projection/empowerment. And accessibility isn’t an issue for fans. You’ll find a fandom for all sorts of bizarre, non-human entities, from furries to supernatural creatures to transformers (and yes, there’s smut for it all). Paul is being chosen for projection BECAUSE he is male. Any mischaracterization that follows has nothing to do with him and everything to do with the author: fans merely likely to select their favorite toys from the box to act out their favorite stories. Sometimes the stories don’t fit at all, and that’s fine. It’s for fun.

    Additionally, even the members of fandom who take this way, way too far, and lose sense of the boundary between reality and fantasy, have yet to be any kind of threat to Beatles fandom as a whole. PID is and has always been a huge issue, but unlike slash it isn’t based in exploration; it’s a conspiracy based in paranoia.

    And lastly, I think it’s actually profoundly sad that slash fandom might become subject to a question of ethics. The vast majority of it is adolescent and teenage girls who, if I remember correctly, are the demographic upon which the fandom was built in the fifties and sixties. For us old people to sit in forums and discuss whether or not to police their enjoyment of the Beatles unironically is disingenuous to me. The Beatles weren’t just a band, they were a sexual revolution, and one that is still ongoing.

    • Nancy Carr Nancy Carr wrote:

      Bee, really important points about the significance of both participants in J/P having power. I think what you say about this kind of fanfiction empowering women makes complete sense.
      To your point about whether slash fandom is subject to questions of ethics: I think that being human and acting in the world involves us in ethical issues, whether we recognize them or not. That emphatically doesn’t mean we should be “policing” anyone. It just means that what we do and say does have a moral/ethical dimension.
      I want to reiterate that I have NO problem whatsoever with what people write or consume in the fictional domain, including fanfiction. From what I can tell from a distance, it seems like a largely healthy space for creators and consumers to explore narrative, sexuality, and power and build community. In fandoms focused on fictional characters, the kind of ethical questions I’m talking about don’t arise. The originator of a set of characters may or may not like the stories fans make up about those characters, but once those characters are released into the wild, I think part of the deal is that anything goes. Of course the originator can still comment on what’s being done with the characters, there is just no right to control what is done with them.
      Fiction about real people that is presented as, and read as, fiction also seems to me largely benign, so long as it’s not focusing on, say, fantasies of killing someone. (Not saying that happens in fanfiction — I don’t know if it ever does — just saying that’s an instance where even a fictional story might be ethically questionable.) It’s at the point when these narratives are presented as true that, in my opinion, an ethical border is in question, whether the originator of the story sees it that way or not. I’m not calling for anyone to be stopped from enjoying particular stories, or to be gone after in any way. I’m concerned about a tendency that sometimes surfaces in the huge comment thread on Michael’s original post, the ultimate expression of which is to insist that Lennon and McCartney were long-term lovers and that people who don’t believe that are motivated by homophobia.
      It’s not people who double down on Lennon and McCartney being each other’s lifelong true loves that really concerns me. Rather, it’s the larger trends in culture I see this kind of story as participating in, although in a much softer and less malign way. In the past few years it’s become crystal clear that deciding which stories to believe and which to reject is a MAJOR responsibility of us all in the 21st century. Once upon a time I thought the fact that Trump had pushed for years the false “birther” story about Obama would lead the Republicans not to nominate him. Well, I was sure wrong about that. And now every day we see more and more misleading narratives that are being told as true, many of them highly toxic.
      And as I’ve gotten more interested in mindfulness, I’ve grown aware that we are always practicing something, whether we see that or don’t. When we wait at a traffic light and get agitated and curse, we’re practicing impatience and cutting that groove in our mind a bit deeper. When we take a few deep breaths at the light and see our tendency to anger without getting caught up in it, we’re practicing patience and making that a bit easier to do next time. In the same way, when we go all-in on a story without asking ourselves critically enough why we believe it and what implications reinforcing it may have, we’re making it a bit easier to go that route the next time we’re presented with a narrative.
      Basically what I want to say to everyone, very much including myself, is: Consider your motivations for believing, disbelieving, or repeating/reinforcing a story. Carefully weigh the evidence. And to the degreee that you’re able, reflect on the consequences that spreading it is likely to have for you and others.

      • Avatar Tasmin wrote:

        “Basically what I want to say to everyone, very much including myself, is: Consider your motivations for believing, disbelieving, or repeating/reinforcing a story. Carefully weigh the evidence. And to the degreee that you’re able, reflect on the consequences that spreading it is likely to have for you and others.”

        Beautifully said Nancy.

  12. Avatar Kristy wrote:

    Replying to Nancy: “Do you have a sense of how many J/P fandom participants are also strongly interested in discussing the band’s music and other aspects of its significance? ”

    Actually, I think a lot of them do, because there’s discussion of the music and how it’s perceived today, and how it makes one feel emotionally. But it seems to me that a good number of them also don’t seek out too much discussion where they don’t trust the sources? Many younger people don’t seem to trust the the published books. And I can understand why, having read a lot myself. So much of the Beatles bibliography is written by men of a certain age, many of who write from a place that assumes John and Paul were hardly even friends, let alone very close friends.

    The books by May Pang and Cynthia Lennon are valued for viewpoints that are more emotionally nuanced. I’ve seen a decent amount of discussion of published biographies by men, but there’s a huge sense of frustration at things the authors just Do Not See. So when we speak of evidence that’s being ignored, it’s because people just don’t seem to trust the “evidence.” Emotional stories like their romances with women and beyond, the reasons behind John’s depression around ’65-’66 and Paul’s depression in ’68-’69, the thoughts and feelings being expressed in Beatles songs, John’s and Paul’s obvious jealousy for and of each other, etc., are not as often explored in the mainstream published books. I feel like the bloggers here on HD do explore those things but they’re not as searchable. 🙂

    (And as for possibly lying about their sexual orientation, which I’m definitely not saying he is, Paul really can’t win that one. Lying about one’s sexual orientation isn’t seen as a betrayal of fans or history, it’s seen as necessary.)

    To anyone curious about the viewpoint, I would suggest watching the Understanding Lennon/McCartney video series on Youtube. It’s a documentary series of clips, photos, and songs, with a very light narrative touch, but a definite narrative structure centered on John and Paul. It’s hours long, professional-level and I can’t imagine how much work went into it. It’s apocryphally noted that this may be the video series Paul referenced watching before he told Ron Howard that he wanted to be sure the Eight Days a Week documentary showed him and John as friends. The creator is also willing to discuss their editorial choices.

  13. Avatar Jesse wrote:

    Kristy, I suppose I should have been clearer in explaining that I was primarily talking about a certain group of older fans, not the slash fiction writers, who indeed apear to be mostly younger and often still struggling with their own sexuality. In regards to those I just find it interesting to note that in a lot of their stories, Paul is indeed the submissive one. Also, whenever the story takes place around the break up, they have him crying non stop. So, yes, to me it looks as if he still is being cast as the female part, Michael. So in that respect I feel he is still being underestimated – *that* to me is interesting about these stories as it reflects on the mainstream overall narrative of the Beatles story. John is still the leader, the strong one, the decision maker. Here the slash community is in synch with the jean jackets. Fascinating.
    Again, I don’t care for slash fiction, but I don’t want to police it either. I have the impression that many of these writers are fully aware that it is just fantasy for the most part. And they are often quite sympathetic to the women involved as well.
    My beef is with the aforementioned older fans creating their own alternative universe without acknowledging that it is fantasy, insisting they have evidence, when it is just wishful thinking or a subjective feeling.
    I probably shouldn’t care, but it irritates me.
    PS: Maybe I should mention that while I don’t believe ( or don’t see any evidence) that they ever had a sexual encounter, I would not be shocked or disappointed to find out they did.

  14. Avatar Bee wrote:

    I appreciated your response Nancy and I agree with many of your points.
    I agree with your point that real life is inevitably a constant battle of ethics on a personal front. We each have to police ourselves on a situation to situation basis, taking care not to think in a binary format and permit questionable behavior as long as it tics certain boxes in our mind (like justifying a toxic and damaging public mischaracterization of Paul as long as it can also be considered self-exploration or art).
    What concerns me is not what people in fandom are saying about the sexuality of the Beatles. I have never heard anyone outside of a Beatles internet chatroom ever speculate as to Paul being anything other than completely heterosexual. To my experience, it’s not even a topic of conversation humorously whispered between adult women after a few drinks. It’s simply not on the radar. I think Paul’s reputation as a heterosexual man is actually one of the safest pieces of Beatles legacy; after all, he worked hard at it.
    What concerns me is that this question and speculation of Beatles sexuality is being singled out as an issue and an irritant despite also being identified as less toxic in comparison to the PID conspiracy and others like it. We can’t have our cake and eat it too. If we can’t show evidence of a thing as toxic, and we can acknowledge that there is only a very specific subgroup of individuals who are taking it too far (and likely have limited power), then where lies the justification in singling it out as a cause for concern? To my knowledge, there is not a single book that takes the J&P lovers theory to any great heights, and yet every time I open my digital book app, Phillip Norman’s Shout! is the first thing advertised to me. If there ever was a published fanfiction of real people, it’s that book.
    If we are going to practice being ethical beings, we have to tread carefully in our assessment of spaces which already face unbelievable amounts of scrutiny and prejudice. I think it should always be our instinct to address the emotional center of the things that irritate us. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to examine a portrayal of someone who means a great deal to you (as Paul and his music does to me) and be perturbed by it. And believe me, I have been disturbed by those portrayals. But I’m less disturbed by the crying, homosexual fantasy of an adult needing an outlet for unresolved issues than I am by the inaccurate and flagrant disregard for Paul’s achievements that continues to proliferate in every single Beatles book I buy.
    I think any fear that Paul might become denigrated to second banana status as a result of hyperactive, sexualized fandom is unrealistic for two reasons: firstly, Paul has already been denigrated to second banana status in the unconscious minds of the world through the toxic narrative our generations continue to buy; and, secondly, because this point of view in the Beatles narrative tends to rest with emotionally unstable young adults and sexual minorities, and they, unfortunately, have almost no power in the world we live in.
    When these groups of people have no authority, outlet, anecdotes, evidence, or even books behind them, then my instinct is to find any trepidation unwarranted, and likely a visceral reaction to an aesthetic that is unpalatable to most heterosexuals.
    Also, if Paul’s portrayal (inaccurately or otherwise) as homosexual is something that undermines his authority, legacy, and autonomy as a man, then I think our discussion should not be about how to prevent that mischaracterization from ever taking place, but how we can influence the fandom so that such portrayals are not detracting in people’s minds and simply do not matter.

    • Nancy Carr Nancy Carr wrote:

      Bee, I think I see what you’re saying. I’m not sure how much we actually disagree. I wrote the post because it stands out on HD in the ways that I mentioned. As I’ve moderated comments on it over the years I’ve had a lot of time to think about it, and these are my reflections.
      I wouldn’t bother to engage with PID because rational, respectful conversation on that topic is pretty much impossible with people pushing that “theory.” Whereas such conversation is obviously eminently possible with plenty of J/P aficionados.
      My real worry here isn’t about the Beatles. It’s the dynamics that I mentioned at the end of the post, which are much larger.
      Finally, let me clarify that it’s not homosexuality per se I was talking about as harming Lennon’s or McCartney’s reputations — it’s the concealment of it. Which would be worse in McCartney’s case, clearly— that’s why I brought up Elton John and his example. Lying would be the issue.

  15. Avatar Pidpoo wrote:

    Someone above mentioned PIDers are mostly male. I noticed this right off in troll PID comments on Paul youtubes. There are a very few females who seem to be shill trolls because they, like their male PID shill trolls hit the comments sections of as many Paul youtubes as possible, audios, videos and interviews. With only one exception and her I’ll advised book plastic macca backed her up, I have seen almost exclusively the PID sites are hosted by men. One particularly emphasizes very close up shots of early and late Paul features, demeaning him with his clothes on like Paul porn. The male site hosts really delight in ridiculing him every possible way and I can tell they are very highly threatened by his feminine androgynous appearance, high voice, mannerisms and are especially affronted when John drugged out and Paul stepped forward. The site host obsessed with Paul’s features is also obsessed with rumors that he is gay or bi. I have seen several PID forums discussing in comments that tavistocked John was bi. Oddly, the John and Paul were lovers has not bled over into PID. I’ve. seen several laugh that billy, the made up high schooler name in 69, is gay or bi. The male site host seem really threatened by Paul as see him as uppity effeminate male. This is culturally interesting as PID renewal now is a very conservative right wing idea that the Beatles cheated with PID to push LIBRULISM and they see Paul as the biggest cheater, though per PID it wasn’t his original idea. The site hosts are not comfortable in their sexuality and are highly threatened by a guy they think, looks and acts like Paul did in the Beatles and throughout his solo career. How dare he rise up and take the reins when John floundering and how dare he survive all against him solo in the seventies and beyond. He’s seen as a lesser effeminate man who does not know his place. I have noticed that two of the PID hosts have southern dialects and another doesn’t but lives in the south. I am southern and it is an area with stricter gender boundaries, and expectations even for men.

  16. Avatar Pidpoo wrote:

    To. The commenter above, PIDers are almost always male except for a few paid shill female trolls hitting multiple Paul youtubes. With one exception, PID and tavistock conspiracies site hosts are male. The site hosts and some commenters delight in ridiculing Paul every way. Be PID site has several videos of very close up shots of early and late Paul features. Though he is clothed, this is veritable Paul porn. That site host delights in the Paul is gay or bi rumors and PID commenters delight in calling the Billyboy imposter gay and thinking that is funny. Somehow the Paul and John affir idea has not bled into PID. The male site hosts are very affronted at the pepper era Paul not knowing his place and taking the reins when John down with drugs. The male hosts and commenters seem to be almost in love with early Paul and to have a fanboy crush on him but to despise later Paul for his success with later Beatles and his solo success despite years of hardship. Contemporary PID and tavistock conspiracies center on the Beatles cheated to push the LIBRUL agenda and they see Paul as the greatest cheater though per PID idea itself, replacing JPM was not imposter idea. Paul’s androgynous appearance, high voice threatens these male PID hosts not comfortable in their sexuality and contemporary PID I’d conservative LIBRUL panic. They view the Beatles especially Paul as cheaters with PID to push the LIBRUL agenda. I’ve only listened to three of tge PID site hosts that are American…..all I’ve heard have southern dialects, a conservative area. A common thread in almost all of the site hosts is they are failed musicians or music industry folks. They see Paul as an uppity, androgynous imposter who does not know his place. Because they did not appear to know about the idea that John and Paul were lovers, they think the idea that contemporary Paul is gay or bi is funny. They assume stuff or ideas without proof, of course.

    • Nancy Carr Nancy Carr wrote:

      PID seems truly toxic to me. I’m glad we’ve never had many PID true believers on HD (probably because they have their own sites). I’ve made it a firm policy to stay as far away from that particular tar pit as I can.

  17. Avatar Pidpoo wrote:

    Nancy and Bee: Paul has been accused of lying since I started collecting on the Beatles in 69. If he has had to lie to cover his past relationship with John or currently feels he has to lie, that is sad but is his business. The man apparently said as far back as early beatles days he always wanted a family and now has one and even has grandkids and great grand kids. I can tell Nancy that you are younger than I am as have a bigger problem with him not being honest and coming out even by now if indeed he had a relationship with John or is bi. The man has the right to his privacy and has had very little since achieving extreme fame at age twenty. No matter what Paul has done or said over the last fifty years, many folks have accused him of not being honest, so what’s one more thing. If he came out and especially if said he and John had a relationship the male John fanboys would REALLY accuse him of lying. It’s the person’s prerogative and normal folks aren’t put on the spot like a famous person. Wouldn’t worry about folks thinking he lied earlier about it as lots of folks seem to think he pretty much lies about everything so I doubt a further example of his lying would damage his reputation any more than it’s already been damaged for fifty years.

  18. Avatar Michelle wrote:

    ^^ I agree. If a gay man doesn’t want to reveal that fact, that is his business. We seem to forget that homosexuality was considered a crime in England as late as 1967. And homophobia is still a scary thing to that community, especially when fame is involved. Another thing. Why is it that men who like to watch two women getting it on is considered boys being boys, but when women are drawn to male-on-male action it has some deep psychological meaning? And to suggest that the girls of J/P fandom are not real Beatles fans? Ridiculous. My take is a rather simple one. John and Paul are irresistable to these fangirls. How can they resist each other, right? They probably have gone over the conventional Beatles terrain with the music and the history until they’re a walking encyclopedia, that they want to explore things you don’t find in books to keep things interesting. I don’t see anything unethical about it. Even Paul said he likes the theory LOL.

  19. Avatar Marlo wrote:

    Seriously, WTF? Without having read through this thread. But reading back through JP relationship thread though, WHO CARES.
    These men were close friends and friendships aren’t necessarily meant to be forever. Reading secret messages to each other is futile. We don’t know.
    I think that it is disrespectful and arrogant to assume that we know anything in regards to this relationship between these two people.

    • Avatar Tasmin wrote:

      I agree Marlo. And how incredibly frustrating for Paul, for people to totally disregard his statements, and call him a liar!

      Paul probably has wondered, “Why the hell am “I” the subject of these crazy conspiracy theories?!

  20. Avatar Jesse wrote:

    [Even Paul said he likes the theory LOL.]
    No, he didn’t. Not that I am aware of.
    Please povide an actual quote, thanks.

  21. Avatar Michelle wrote:

    You can find the Howard Stern clip on Youtube. The video title has something like ‘Paul on John’s sexuality’ or something to that effect. When asked about Philip Norman’s book on John, where he talks about the possibility that he was in love with Paul etc., Paul said, “I like that theory” and laughed. I don’t think he cares that much about all the theories and rumors about the Beatles. It comes with the territory is how I read it. But about lying – was Paul lying when he said that John told him that ‘Jealous Guy’ was written with him in mind? We can’t prove that John told him that. If he’s telling the truth, then he should know that it would make people wonder. Does that song sound like it was written about a platonic relationship? I’m not sure. People assume it was for Yoko or Cynthia.

  22. Avatar Pidpoo wrote:

    You can find this online, but regarding what Paul said early on, he decided to do nothing as it would probably keep folks interested in him. There was really nothing he could do to counter it as was in awkward position of proving he was who he says he is. Now, with the internet and renewal of PID and anti Beatles by Nazis originally this has really gotten out of control against him especially. The PID and tavistock crowd really pore over his and Beatles life histories and albums but to use against him and them and to further build their conspiracies. They delight in calling him faul, name from a fraud George last will and testament video and William or billy, name high schoolers made up in 69. It is practically impossible to sue for defamation of character in U.S. and laws differ by country. Even the PID book claiming Paul has six toes from Internet photoshop pics and that Crowley is his dad, plastic macca, Amazon even ships that book to England with its strict defamation of character laws. The Nazis and corporations Paul has crossed with environmental causes have really used renewed PID against him. When Paul dismissed it those years ago, you’d have to find the interview, he was right that it would keep folks interested in him but the tintards will gladly harass the man to his grave with it.

    It is their wet dream conspiracy that a hated Beatle LIBRUL survivor is really a fake, the group were frauds, thus, the sixties were frauds. Because they are simpletons, they reason like this, the real lunatics think The Beatles, funny they focus on no one else, but the Beatles were a LIBRUL tavistock institute plot to push the LIBRUL agenda. A tintard claiming to be MI6, Dr. Coleman started this in 93, when Clinton was President, except Coleman said as entire Brit invasion to weaken America, why I don’t know as America helped England after WW2. Originally during Beatles era, this conspiracy lunacy started by the extreme right winger, Lyndon larouche. Old PID died down because kids who invented it came forward and confessed and folks knew gen about dead head term meant an acid taker. There are conspiracies of each political persuasion but I have read especially righters are fond of this… Clinton’s murdering folks, comet pizza. Righters especially love the cheating, murdering left wing conspiracies.

  23. Avatar Pidpoo wrote:

    Michelle, I don’t understand why Paul is so many times accused of lying. What would it benefit Paul to lie about John writing jealous guy song about him? John somehow told a friend he did, so does that mean John was lying? I don’t get all the Paul is lying or lies tropes. John wrote that song in India and if John wrote it about Paul he should know who he wrote it about. You can research about the song, but may need to drop all of the Paul lying prejudices or presumptions. John was the worst to revise his stories along the way especially in seventies but it’s always Paul accused of lying. No one really knows all about them, but that song is very personal and suggests a relationship and it didn’t benefit Paul to say that if trying to hide his and John’s relationship.

  24. Avatar Michelle wrote:

    What I meant was, he’s either lying about “Jealous Guy” being about him or lying about his relationship with John. The song to me sounds like it’s about a current or former love. Personally, I think he was telling the truth when he said that John told him the song was about him. Like you said, he would have no reason to say that if it wasn’t true. The song was written in India but with completely different lyrics.

  25. Avatar Michelle wrote:

    The re-written version found on Imagine: “He wrote ‘I’m Just a Jealous Guy,’ and he said that the song was about me.” 1985 Playgirl mag

  26. Avatar Hologram Sam wrote:

    I’m patiently waiting for someone to say John wrote “(Forgive Me) My Little Flower Princess” for Paul.

    • Nancy Carr Nancy Carr wrote:

      I’d be willing to bet $100 that if you Google that you’ll find someone has said it.

      • Avatar Kristy wrote:

        I’ve definitely seen it, since apparently Paul was known as “John’s Princess” (from two sources that I’ve seen). But I also saw a healthy dose of skepticism, if that eases your minds at all. 😀

  27. Avatar Pidpoo wrote:

    Supposedly John was heard at a he studio calling Paul his princess. Nevertheless, Hologram Sam, lol. You win the thread. Thanks for the reference of Paul saying that in the 85 mag interview, as I bought that and read it at the time and still have it in my Beatle solo mag collection, but my medical condition has affected my memory now. Paul was probably clinging to evidence that John indeed loved him after John had dogged him so badly in the seventies then tragically died, but paul was indeed sticking his neck out to cite this song publicly as being about him if indeed either John or a go between friend told him this song was about him, as the lyrics suggests romantic involvement.

  28. Avatar Michelle wrote:

    Princess? I thought people’s McLennon radar would have been set off by John saying “my little friend” in that song. Haha, Aunt Mimi knows.

    • Avatar Kristy wrote:

      Watch out, you are convincing me. 🙂

      Actually, to keep with the topic of concerns about the ethics of John/Paul speculation, I think that nickname was of course derogatory on behalf of the alleged Apple staff, and would not think it very kind of John to actually use it for Paul. But I’ve seen the nickname romanticized because it’s “cute.”

  29. Avatar Pidpoo wrote:

    With my complex partial seizure medical problems, forgive if I’m duplicating or making errors in my writing here. As I saw wings in concert, I watch Rock Show videos very frequently as was best concert of five Paul concerts I saw, though all excellent especially also the 2002 show clear vocals. However, one of my favorite Macca songs in rock show where he gives a killer vocal is Call Me Back Again. Several have commented that the whole song sounds like is about John and almost sounds like he says John’s name in it, but some say he says child, not John.

    John was not returning his calls as yoko was intercepting I’ve read through this time. As you know song is about calling someone since young and really wanting the person to return the call. It was probably about John and I realize s yet another circumstantial John and Paul were lovers reference but it was interestingly recorded when they wrote songs back and forth, but John had met with Paul to get him to agree to drop the hate songs and press wars.

    As a person crazy about wings, who loves Rock Show and who saw wings in concert, I was amazed that on the Hoffman forum in the section going over Paul wings songs this song was thought not worth mentioning. It has a killer fats Domino style vocal, with an extraordinary lead guitar complimenting the great vocal. As with all wings songs period though, the live performance far exceeds the recorded one. This song well expresses the pain and frustration Paul was going through trying to communicate with and reconcile with his old friend.

    As an addendum, per these comments, I listened again to silly love songs, and indeed I now see and agree that Paul when singing how can I tell you about my loved one, then the I love you parts come in, he’s talking about his loved one linda and the you is probably to John as John was tge one who provoked the whole song saying Paul wrote silly love songs.

    I also tried to be open minded and listen to maybe I’m amazed but do think it’s about linda. I will credit someone in these comments for getting me to realize my favorite late Beatle Paul song, oh! Darling is about John. He was in a steady relationship with Linda then, they had married and in the song Paul is singing…I’ll never make it alone..believe me when I tell you, I’ll never do you know harm. As a young teen in 69, I knew enough about his life to remember that these lyrics perplexed me even way back then. I agree that oh! Darling is about John and putting that with Paul fleeing the studio with mai when John said he wanted a divorce and crying at home several hours, mal said. The term divorce was also strange when I read it as a teen,

  30. Avatar Michelle wrote:

    Pidpoo, did you ever see the video for Call Me Back Again? Someone on Tumblr did a screen shot of this drawing of a couple that you see spinning around at various points in the vid. In the screen shot, it clearly looks like two boys snogging, one a little older and teddy boy in appearance. Noted by the person who owned the Tumblr.
    John told photographer Bob Gruen that the “I love you’s” in Silly Love Songs was meant for him. Listen closely with headphones. Somewhere in the middle a tiny voice in the background seems to be singing a counter melody that may or may not be saying “John, I love you.” LOL.
    Maybe John was crazy and maybe I’m imagining things because I’m looking for why he thought that was for him.

    Maybe I’m Amazed could be inspired by both Linda and John. “You hung me on a line” sounds like John more than Linda to me. And “You help me sing my song, right me when I’m wrong.” When he wrote this song, was Linda already singing background vocals on his songs? John was the only person who ever had the guts/honesty to tell Paul when something in a song wasn’t right and needed editing. Just a thought.

    • Nancy Carr Nancy Carr wrote:

      Michelle, for me these kind of readings of song lyrics fall into the “cherry picking” / stretching category I was talking about in the post, and also into the downplaying of Linda McCartney’s and Yoko Ono’s importance in Lennon’s and McCartney’s lives that I described. And also, while we’re at it, into disregarding what the songwriters themselves said about their songs.
      Take “Maybe I’m Amazed.” McCartney has said unambiguously for years that this song is about Linda. She did pretty much “hang him on a line” during (and after) the breakup. And she had sung backup with him before the recording of this song — on “Let It Be.”
      I’m not trying to pick on you personally. But it seems to me that it is possible to argue that practically ANY song Lennon or McCartney ever wrote is “really” about their relationship, and I just don’t believe that’s accurate or, past a certain point, especially interesting.

      • Avatar Michelle wrote:

        The couple in question starts showing up at 3:58 of the Call Me Back Again video. Pause it at the 5:00 mark.

      • To me, the issue shows the monomania of the fan, pure and simple. John, Paul, George and Ringo’s lives were full of people — friends, lovers, enemies, and those who made them go ‘ehh.’ Their creative work reflected all those relationships and situations, not just one relationship, no matter how central.
        It’s projection. Nothing wrong with that, it’s what fans do. But to claim it as true, or even as terribly reflective of the internal emotional state of someone you’ve never met, 50 years in the past…that’s about the fan, not reality. And I include myself in this thinking, too.

  31. Avatar Jesse wrote:

    @Michael, yeah, I suppose we are all guilty of this. Whether it is podcasting, blogging or writing comments….

    And I really agree with your take that the songwriting was informed by lots of stuff we will never know about.

  32. Avatar Michelle wrote:

    No worries, Nancy. Thank you.

  33. Avatar Rose Decatur wrote:

    Just like with the PID people, sometimes I find the John/Paul shipper analysis of songs interesting. but at a certain point it just becomes….boring. Interpreting every line, song, image, statement and sign the guys made as secret message by/for/about a secret relationship just seems so ignorant of the way writing works. It assumes not just a 100% autobiographical writing mode, but a 100% autobiographical mode at all times about one relationship. Even the most “confessional” writers don’t work that way. Such an obsession about one person or one relationship over such a long period of time would be at a level tantamount to mental illness – and I just don’t buy it in two people with such various life experiences to draw upon.

    I’m a (sometimes) writer and have been married for twelve years. I can’t think of one occasion where I based a character on my spouse or wrote anything based on our relationship. That strikes me as utterly boring. I often write about things that are far outside my personal experience. 

    I do believe that historical evidence points to John being bicurious, if not a practicing bisexual. I don’t believe any such evidence to Paul, not least because he has lived until 2020, is still living and has been directly asked about it. “Wokeness” dictates that the only person who can define their sexuality is the person in question, and Paul has flat out identified himself as straight. When questioned on the subject (by Howard Stern), Paul not only did not seem defensive but vaguely curious about why he’d never had a homosexual experience. I have no reason to doubt his sincerity, particularly as his heterosexuality has gotten him in some trouble over the years (that sexual desire both blinded him and held his tenuous marriage to Heather Mills together does not seem to be in dispute). He certainly seems the absolute opposite of a person who is deeply closeted over a relationship which ended 50 years ago. 

    • @Rose, I couldn’t have typed any of this better myself.
      I’ve come to believe J/P tells us next to nothing we don’t already know from public statements and sources. It’s really more a window on the writer than J/P. That having been said, I think it works like any other obsession: fascinating to those who share it, but to those who don’t, it’s little more than a mental curio.

  34. I have always thought that if John and Paul had a physical relationship,it might have started around the Hamburg era and ended after whatever the hell happened in India,BEFORE Linda and Yoko came into their lives;and I don’t think it was necessarily a long standing affair because that would make Cynthia and Jane much less important than they were. I’m thinking it was more an on and off kind of thing that definetely stopped after Linda and Yoko came into their lives. There.

  35. Avatar Michelle wrote:

    Who is Paul addressing in the second to last verse in “The Pound is Sinking” (off Tug of War)? Anyone care to guess? We’re all guilty of trying to interpret lyrics, and the artists themselves are okay with that. He sings it with such anguish that I find it hard to believe that it’s related to something outside his personal experience. Turns out it was a snippet not originally related to the rest of the song, according to the collector’s edition of TOW. That was my impression all along. Who is this lover he knew all too briefly because “your heart just wasn’t in it anymore.” This verse, along with “Somebody Who Cares” and “Wanderlust” is more moving to me than the contrived “Here Today” and it’s not even close.

  36. Avatar Pidpoo wrote:

    @Michelle, well if you have the reissued tug of war this gal in envious of you though I understand sound quality and total package on it was the least quality of the Macca reissues. I do want to say I think Here Today is very sincere and heartfelt Song but he has over performed it at his last many years of concerts and I do much prefer personally the other songs you mentioned, somebody who cares and the pound is sinking, the latter because of his extraordinary vocal performance on part of that song. I think Macca over performs here today as is part of his grieving process and to acknowledge his old friend. George Martin left off the duet of My Old Friend from tug of war, a great song. I would never venture to think such a song was contrived, particularly one written to his old dead friend or is possibly insincere. Now if you have the reissued McCartney 1, McCartney II boxset and especially the wings wildlife/rrsw reissued box set with the mcmouse and wings over Europe concerts, watch out, Michelle, because this old boomer may come to your house to get it. LOL, just kidding. I’m happy you have any of it and have had to search out incomplete postings online. I’m completely addicted to wings over Europe and the the two mcmouse wings live ICA performances earlier available on the McCartney years.

    Always I enjoy your points. Thanks.

  37. Avatar Michelle wrote:

    Does anyone else get a John/Paul vibe from Brokeback Mountain? Even the opening chords of the song that plays throughout is reminiscent of Blackbird. One character says “let it be” while playing the harmonica at one point, an episode from Kojak (Paul’s “fuck off, Kojak!” retort to John over the phone) is seen on the living room TV, there is a long-suffering, somewhat meek wife named Alma (as in Cogan – Cynthia would be too obvious), their partnership begins in earnest in 1963, etc including the switching of the plaid shirt owned by the survivor over the jean jacket of the dead one, which the dead one had hanging in reverse order in his closet as a souvenir. They continue to feel passionately about each other though they see each other only sporadically over the next decade, to the dismay of the one who pines more. There is a question of whether the two main characters were truly gay or not. The actors themselves said they were under the impression that they were two straight guys who happened to fall in love with each other. Some critics/observers disagreed. Although the troubled, intense one with a violent temper who was abandoned by his parents is the one most committed to his family (of two girls), while the one who is happy go lucky, came from a stable (loving and compassionate mom, stern father – John Twist, which is the name of Cynthia Lennon’s third husband) but financially meager home, and marries into money (I think he calls his father-in-law Lee at one point) is the one who fiddles with the harmonica and gets violently killed (either by a tire explosion or homophobic thugs, it is ambigious) and also leans more gay/bisexual than the other.
    Brokeback Mountain was robbed for Best Picture. It won Best Director (Ang Lee) and in fact, was nominated for more Academy Awards than any film that didn’t to win the ultimate prize. It also made a killing at the box office. It is a classic to me as I’ve enjoyed a number of viewings whereas Crash, which I don’t remember anything about other than it deals with racism, like a lot of movies I thought was fine and well acted but one viewing was enough. It didn’t seem special to me. Voters from that year have since stated they would change their vote if they could. The short story on which Brokeback Mountain was based was written by a woman, by the way. I know I’m crazy but it’s funny to ponder, nonetheless.

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