A lot of collaborative work goes on at Cooper (where I work). Designers team up to understand a problem, or to envision a better way of solving it. Sometimes, we collaborate with clients to figure out what's possible and where possibility and desirability meet. In any case, it's hard to trace back any particular idea to a particular person or moment; once an idea is out in the world, it gets pushed, pulled, disassembled, reassembled, and so on by everyone until it fits. My friends and I used to argue over which Beatle wrote a particular song — John? Paul? George? In most cases, it seems pretty clear cut. Cheesy lyrics and a bouncy rhythm? Paul. More complicated, layered lyrics with more straight-ahead rock? John. A sitar in the background? George. In some cases, however, it's much less clear. "With A Little Help From My Friends," for instance; or, "Got To Get You Into My Life." Both have recognizable earmarks of John and Paul.Are these easy categorizations valid in any way? Is there any way of ultimately knowing who wrote what? I didn't think so. Until I Googled "beatles songwriting" and found The Beatles Songwriting and Recording Database, an obsessively categorized collection quotes about who wrote what, pulled from various interviews conducted over the last 40 years.For example:
With A Little Help From My FriendsJOHN 1970: "Paul had the line about 'a little help from my friends.' He had some kind of structure for it, and we wrote it pretty well fifty-fifty from his original idea."JOHN 1980: "That's Paul, with a little help from me. 'What do you see when you turn out the light/ I can't tell you but I know it's mine' is mine."PAUL circa-1994: "This was written out at John's house in Weybridge for Ringo… I think that was probably the best of our songs that we wrote for Ringo actually. I remember giggling with John as we wrote the lines, 'What do you see when you turn out the light/ I can't tell you but I know it's mine.' It could have been him playing with his willie under the covers, or it could have been taken on a deeper level. This is what it meant but it was a nice way to say it– a very non-specific way to say it. I always liked that."
Especially intriguing: John wrote "And Your Bird Can Sing," which (to me) seems to be the most obvious Paul song ever. Perhaps those earmarks I discussed earlier are less applicable than one would expect.