Friday, September 29

Paul McCartney claims John Lennon had a “really tragic life”

Speaking to Conan O’Brien at Tribeca Festival, Paul McCartney reflected on his time with The Beatles while discussing his new photo book, 1964: Eyes of the Storm. During the conversation, he noted that his late bandmate John Lennon had “a really tragic life”.

As McCartney joined the bill for an hour-long slot for Tribeca’s Storytellers series, host O’Brien displayed some photos featured in the Beatle’s new book. “It’s so lovely for me to see these memories and just remind me of where we were, what we did in those days,” McCartney said while discussing the memories the images evoked.

1964: Eyes of the Storm boasts a collection of 275 photos, many of which haven’t been made public until now, taken between 1963 and ‘64 during the band’s meteoric rise to global stardom. McCartney had, for a long time, feared the photos were lost until photo archivist Sarah Brown recovered them.

“What I love about [the photos] is the innocence,” McCartney told the crowd at Tribeca’s Performing Arts Center. “We didn’t know we were going to [become] famous. We really wanted to be [famous], but we didn’t know.”

As the pair sifted through several photos, they came upon one of Lennon sitting in the backseat of a car. O’Brien offered that Lennon looked rather anxious and vulnerable in the photograph, to which McCartney replied, “I don’t know about the anxiety, but the vulnerability is very true”.

“[John] had a really tragic life,” McCartney continued. “As a kid, his mother was decreed to not be good enough to bring him up…His father had left the home when John was three. So that’s not too wonderful. John grew up with these sort of little minor tragedies through his life… It made me realize why he had that vulnerability. I always admired the way he dealt with it because I’m not sure I would deal with the stuff he went through that well.”

Later, McCartney commented on a photograph of The Beatles on a flight to New York City before their first-ever show on US television. The performance on The Ed Sullivan Show is now a thing of legend, with Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel among those to have described it as a life-changing moment.

“We were very excited just to be on the plane to New York,” McCartney said. “But what happened was the pilot’s radio ahead to Idlewild Airport, as it was called then, and they got word back to us that there was a big crowd [waiting for us]. So we kind of half knew what to expect. But then it was a really big crowd, and we were just bowled over. It was nice. Immediately after, we did a press conference at the airport, and we knew that whatever they laid on us, if there was any sort of insult, we knew we could come back with, ‘Well, we are number one in your country.’”

“That’s called a mic drop,” O’Brien reacted playfully.

The conversation at Tribeca Festival was recorded and will be featured in a future episode of O’Brien’s podcast Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend.

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