Sunday, January 19, 2014

Readers' Write (11): Face-Off! John Lennon vs. Paul McCartney

While Karen and Doug are on vacation in January, our readers have been entrusted with carrying on the daily conversations.  Today's Face-Off is a do-it-yourselfer.  As we've done in the past, the first commenter gets to pick today's topic of conversation.

Generally speaking, Face-Off is for two singers, comic characters, bands, films, etc. to go up against each other.  For example, we've run a post that asked readers to choose between Captain America's two main partners:  Bucky Barnes and the Falcon.We've also discussed Medusa and Crystal as replacement's for the Invisible Girl.

Thanks for holding it down for us!

Graham wants to discuss the careers and overall merits of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

As a secondary topic, David B. would like to discuss The Simpsons vs. Family Guy.


Graham said...

John Lennon vs. Paul McCartney

Graham said...

Sorry....I went back and saw that this had been done at one time in a "Groups with multiple lead singers" format.

david_b said...

How about 'Simpsons' versus 'Family Guy'..?

Anonymous said...

McCartney had the better singing voice but Lennon had the better Christmas song. The Simpsons has gone on far too long,Family Guy's Peter and Lois are too similar to Homer and Marge but Brian and Stewie are hilarious, a great double act.

david_b said...

A lot of area's already been covered on this, perhaps we can find some fresh analysis on songwriting, personalities, legacy, wives, what say we....?

Edo Bosnar said...

Actually, I get the feeling we've covered Lennon/McCartney and the Beatles in general quite a bit here, and I personally just don't have the inspiration to say anything new about it.

As for David's other topic: it's the Simpsons for me. Yes, it's gone on for an incredibly long time, and yes, the earlier seasons are way better, but I still think it's a pretty funny show.
Also, I just haven't really watched any Family Guy, aside from occasional clips and parts of episodes posted on YouTube or elsewhere on the web. Some of what I've seen is funny, some not...

david_b said...

Ahhh, now THAT'S a topic.

'Wonderful Christmastime' vs Lennon's 'Happy Xmas'..

Sorry, will be in minority here, but strongly prefer Macca here. I love reading the articles about how much he rakes in each year on this song, probably between a half to 3/4 million on this song alone. Macca was smart - He took all songwriting, production, publishing credit on this alone, so he'll never have to have a penny of profit go anywhere else.

In fact, arguably he makes more money on 'Wonderful Christmastime' than any other song he's ever done. Good for him. It's a light fluffy song, the live version off the 'Last Flight' bootleg is much better than the studio version you normally hear..

Laurence Juber's jazz guitar near the end is splendid. As with most fans, I'm sure they expected much more at that time of his writing, but hey, it's a charming bit of yuletide that you cannot ever hope to wrench from your head after you hear it..

As for Lennon's 'Xmas' song..? It's alright but I don't like guilt-trips or self analysis at Christmas. Period.

Like the line, 'So what have you done..?'.. Why do you want to know..??

It's fine, and I'm glad Lennon fans have something to listen to at Christmas.

Any love for Harrison's 'Ding Dong Ding Dong' or Ringo's 'Come On Christmas, Christmas Come On'..?

I still put on the Beatles Christmas offerings, especially '66 and '67 (the latter being the most elaborate..).

Love 'Christmastime is Here Again'.., I saw it was covered by a few folks this last season, very Beach Boyish if you ask me, but pure fun.

And, as Ringo sang on 'Christmastime', 'O-U-T spells OUT'.

Anonymous said...

Neither of those X-mas songs are very good, but "Wonderful Christmastime" violates the Geneva Convention.

I would love to quote my friend on "Wonderful Christmas Time" here, but Doug says we have to keep it "family friendly" (clearly doesn't know my family ;) - Anyway, you can read the quote as part of the "Songs I Hate" category of my "2013: Reviewing the Year It Wasn't" post.

Like Edo, I just can't into the whole Paul vs. John thing. I had a sour memory of some music dudes trashing John Lennon at a bar as if it made them cool to prefer Paul McCartney. I have things I prefer about each, but they were best together - even hating each other and being in proximity without directly collaborating.

I hate Family Guy with a passion. Such a bad show. I have not watched the Simpsons in 10 years or more. I used to think they should age the characters - but instead they should just make the characters whatever age they need to be to make the best story.

Anonymous said...

Lennon's Christmas song has a great tune and chorus though and just feels more festive, it's also very optimistic about the future and more joyful I feel."Let's hope it's a good one without any fear"- what better sentiment for a Christmas song?

Humanbelly said...

John & Paul's musical gifts were just so complementary that it's really hard to do a legitimate face-off/either-or about them. Paul certainly went on to vastly greater post-Beatles success-- but a lot of that's because he so aggressively tirelessly pursued it. As a pure musician and tunesmith, yeah, Paul definitely has the edge-- he is undeniably an innate musical genius. But, geeze, his material is just so flippin' shallow most of the time. . . often beautiful, but lacking substance or soul or personality when it comes to the subject matter. John seems to have been a genius in the broader sense-- artistic across several disciplines, but settled on music (initially) as his primary means of expression. He was also about 10 times better a musician, singer, and tunesmith than he would ever have given himself credit for being. GREAT ear for harmonies beyond the usual major-third that most folks can latch onto, which is partly what gave the Beatles' sound it's distinctive musical depth.

TUG OF WAR is probably my favorite McCartney album (although I enjoy BAND ON THE RUN and BACK TO THE EGG quite a bit, too). John, of course, dropped out of recording until DOUBLE FANTASY came out right before his death-- and (minus the Yoko tracks, god bless 'er) that's easily my favorite album of his. Personal, Pop-py, and sincere w/out his characteristic darkness. Before that-- probably his old, old ROCK & ROLL album, just 'cause he did such a great job w/ those early standards.

Both guys are/were rather kind of jerks in their own way(s). Paul for years has radiated a sense of personal superiority that he barely covers w/ a veil of being "just one of the boys". He's got that schtick down. . .but you can ALWAYS see him not listening to folks in interviews, or talking over other people (or trying to). And John was pretty much an SOB throughout his life, possibly even after he'd "settled down", to some degree. Always capable of entertaining himself at the expense of others-- most biographies reveal a rather unpleasant cruel streak.

But, you know what? They're both human and complex and have all the foibles and failings we all do. Together, they were w/out peer in their field (IMO).


Doc Savage said...

I like them both. But musically, it depends on the year's releases. McCartney for '62 but not much to compare that year. Lennon from '63 to mid-'65, then tied thru '66. McCartney '67-'69, Lennon '70 (although really this was Harrison's year) to '71, '72 was awful for Beatles fans: no LPs except that awful "Sometime in NYC," so McCartney wins for "Hi Hi Hi" and "C Moon" alone. McCartney from '73 to '80. Lennon's 1980 "comeback" was sadly spoiled by being 50% Yoko, poorly produced, and having his own tunes be the kind he used to insult McCartney for writing. No point comparing after 1980 for obvious reasons.

Doc Savage said...

Fun suggestion: I used to make what-if/if-only "Beatles" discs by choosing about 14 songs (5 John, 5 Paul, 3 George, 1 Ringo) each year from '70 to '75 or so and selecting a track order for each "side." Nice way to get virtual Beatles records from Earth-7 where they worked out their problems and stayed together.

I usually make double albums for '70 and '73 to accommodate the bumper crops from "All Things Must Pass" and " Band on the Run."

Anonymous said...

Matt, that is just the kind of project I love!

I may just do that. It might be nice to compare results some day. Though I fear all it might end up accomplishing is making mediocre Beatles records. :)

Edo Bosnar said...

Seems like the Lennon v. McCartney subject nonetheless won the day here. Sorry to sound like a grumpy old man, but I hope this is the last time it comes up here. Like Osvaldo, I just find the Lennon v. McCartney debates (similar to the Lee v. Kirby debates in the comics world) more tiresome than anything else.
Also, even the two Christmas songs got covered here before, although granted, it didn't generate much discussion at the time. Just to put my 2 cents in on that sub-subject, and be done with it: again like Osvaldo, I don't think either song is all that great, although I don't share his apparent hate for McCartney's (e.g., if it comes on the radio, I have no problems sitting through it).

Doc Savage said...

Sorry, Edo, I haven't seen Simpsons since the 20th Century and have seen maybe a dozen Family Guys. From what I saw, Simpsons is more subtle, funnier, and cleverer. Family Guy is like Gallagher with a mallet vs. a watermelon.

Middlespaces, I came up with some great LPs! Certainly better than Let It Be and Abbey Road!

Steve Does Comics said...

I will always insist that Macca's Dance 'Til We're High is the best Christmas song by an ex-Beatle. If only he'd had the sense to mention Christmas in the title...

I far prefer Family Guy to The Simpsons. The Simpsons seems so dull, pedestrian and wholesome compared to Family Guy.

My only problem with Family Guy is they nearly always have to have a sentimental ending, with at least one member of the family coming to realise they love at least one other member of the family. It'd be much better without it.

Graham said...

I figured it had been discussed....just couldn't find it on a previous Face-Off, though it was early this morning when I tried to search. I was thinking more from the Beatles singer/songwriter/personality perspective than the post-Beatles because that's not really a level playing field.

To me, you wouldn't have had one without the other....they complemented each other pretty well, each sort of playing off the other. Paul was more of the sentimental, romantic type and John being more direct, in-your-face, blunt, but each was able to move within the other's specialties as well. It was a shame when they began to drift apart as a creative team.

The bad thing was that neither one of them were as good as they could have possibly been. To me, Paul sort of peaked in the mid-60's and then has sort of gone through the motions since then (With the occasional productive session). His solo albums were always frustrating to me because it just seemed like he wasn't pushing ("My Love does it good".....really???!!!) to the point that I basically stopped listening to him after the late 80's. "Tug of War" seems to me to be his most inspired work, post Beatles and coming off of Lennon's death, that was probably the catalyst for his creativity.

I can remember a show on PBS a few years ago, where he put a song together in a short little clip and it seemed like it was almost effortless for him to do it. That amazes me and I guess when it's at your fingertips like that, maybe it's easy to take for granted what talent you really have. Never had that issue myself.

John, I think, could have really made an impact in the 70's had he not encountered Hurricane Yoko. I'm just not sure what happened with all that, but it sure took him off the map for a while. Possibly the domestic life with Linda may have taken the edge off of Paul's creativity as well.

Karen said...

Like Edo, I don't have any energy left for the Lennon vs. McCartney thing. I'm much more about Lennon AND McCartney. Similarly, Edo's remark about Lee vs. Kirby reminds me that we have a post set up to run after vacation is over discussing the unpleasant wave of hate directed towards Stan Lee recently, so be prepared to discuss that next month, if you care to.

I haven't seen a new Simpsons in some time. Used to love the show but at some point, I guess over ten years ago, it just faded for me. My husband got me to start watching Family Guy years ago, and I find it both humorous and loathsome - I really don't know what to make of it. There are parts I can laugh at but it is also just so damn mean-spirited at times.

Fred W. Hill said...

I give a slight edge to Lennon's songs, whether those written primarily by him as a Beatle or as an ex-Beatle. I have all the Beatles' studio albums but only a relative smattering of their post Beatles material -- only All Things Must Pass by Harrison, and Blast from Your Past by Ringo, and a few studio albums & a greatest hits collection from Lennon & McCartney.
I must say, however, I hate the model by which so many people seem to think if you prefer one artist over another, you must hate the latter. Sheesh, what if I like both apples & oranges, but I just happen to like apples a little more than oranges, not that I must therefore absolutely loath oranges!
As ex-Beatles, Lennon & McCartney both released material which is rather cringe-worthy, but they also released very excellent material. But as with many (but by no means all) great recording artists, they did their very best stuff when they were in their mid to late 20s -- that is, when they were Beatles.

Edo Bosnar said...

Karen, as long as it's not some kind of Lee vs. Kirby, or really Lee vs. anyone sort of thing, I'm fine with it. I've always found that BAB is an oasis for sane and civil discussion of topics that normally spark really acrimonious flamewars elsewhere in the comics blogosphere.

david_b said...

Ah, if I don't disclose this enough, I LOVE this gang. You've all got great arguments and I find myself learning lots from you all.

That being said, I snuck the 'wives' potential in my first Lennon vs Macca post; being a big Yoko fan, I find her interesting, tender and pretty cerebral of an artist and woman.

(Now that doesn't mean I can listen to her sing....)

John was SO lucky to have found her, as I truely believe she saved him from himself, especially the heroin and coke abuse he started into. He could have been a fatality like Brian Jones and Jimi, folks....

Linda of course shares the limited vocal abilities (exhibit A, 'Cook In The Kitchen'..., truely cringeworthy), but I find her so lovely as another 'earth-mother' to Paul, as Yoko was to John. They both served as 'rocks' for our heroes.., just give it to 'em, alright already.

Good conversation on the potential records from the early '70s. I've tried to do that in the past as well.., but I typically just look at the 'Ringo' album as a good indicator. 'Six O'Clock' was such a beautiful early solo-McCartney tune for Ringo, I love how it builds to it's climax, typical McCartney, but saved from over-sappiness by Ringo singing.

On the other conversation..., Simpsons was far better and had more bite with Conan O'Brien as writer in the early days, but over the last few years, typically I'd tape both Simpsons and Family Guy.., and found each week that either one or the other had a better episode, the other I'd just watch for 10-15min and that's all. So at the best of times, they're neck and neck.

For Family Guy, I LOVE the Star Wars sendups.. I cannot ever, EVER sit around and watch 'Return of the Jedi', but will on occasion pop in 'Its A Trap' into the DVD player. I probably enjoy all three FG sendups on the original trillogy more than the original movies themselves. I didn't like the abundance of F-bombs of the 2nd one, 'Something Something Something Darkside', but it's because I don't like having to put up with profanity in general ~ It typically sucks all the air out of funny scenes or setups. In the normal episodes, yes it's Brian and Stewie adventures that always break me up.

Also, is it me or is Lois very hot for an animated mom..?

On Simpsons, I always love the 'Comic Book Guy', his dry wit always makes me laugh. Lisa always has some great message to convey but I'm tire of Homer. That George Bush Sr episode was pretty funny.

Anonymous said...

Matt, I LOVE Abbey Road. and the "naked" version of Let It Be is fantastic (I never liked the original).

Also, I totally feel like Edo and I would be best buds in real life ;) (oh and I like the rest of you, too!)

Doug said...


I've already read Karen's upcoming post on Lee/Kirby, and it's certainly not choosing sides nor eliciting any of that on our readers' parts. I think Fred said it best back up today's comments -- why can't we like apples and oranges?


Redartz said...

I do indeed like apples and oranges, Lennon and McCartney, and Lee and Kirby.

You can make the argument that Lennon was the better lyricist, and that McCartney was more melodic. However I think the contrast becomes nearly moot: John wrote some beautiful melodies, and Paul could pen some strong lyrics. As Karen implied, they may have been at their best when they were complementing each other's work.

As for Simpsons vs Family Guy: I've watched Homer, Marge and the rest for years. Although the earlier seasons were stronger, there have been some very funny episodes in recent years. For example, the Treehouse of Horror story parodying Charlie Brown (actually, the annual Treehouse episodes are always among the best).

On the other hand, I've only seen Family Guy several times. Have found it amusing, but never was drawn into regular viewing. Perhaps the Simpsons' huge, varied cast of characters keeps the interest level up for me...

david_b said...

One of the funniest FG characters has always been Quagmire.



Anonymous said...

I've always big a big BIG fan of fruit. In season out of season, I just love to have fruit around. Bananas have recently turned their affection away from me. I still eat them, they just let me know they don't like to stick around long. Oranges are still my number one stand alone fruit whereas apples seem to go great in lots of things. Tuna salad fruit salad ambrosia etc etc etc and so on and so on........

So to answer the question, FALSE, Jan Smithers has never got the due she deserves. How do you like them apples.

I'm gonna go sit back down now (again!!!!)

The Prowler (the guy trying to eat fruit through his mask).

Humanbelly said...

Frozen chocolate covered bananas.
There is no other peer for them to face-off (Hmm. Peel-off?) with.
Sorry. Simply not a subject open for debate. Or even discussion. Nope. Can't abide it.

You know what's kind of interesting (and telling) about the whole Yoko/Linda-as-group-killing-she-demons stance? It seems to be informed by whatever age-lens it's being viewed through. As a teen & young adult it seemed like they were despicable, evil influences that ruined the best band in the world.
Then I got a bit older myself, and found that the right who-you're-with is FAAAAR more fulfilling and important to personal happiness than than any what-it-is-you-do. (You follow?) And I got it, and lost all that silly bitterness. They were both fine women who loved their guys in spite of the baggage those fellows came with-- and they CLEARLY provided those guys with the personal anchor they needed in their lives.

The boys grew up. They got married.

Oh say-- I kind of feel like I should speak up on the behalf of any new-comers to the blog. Even if a subject has been repeated a time or two in the past, one hopes that there are still a goodly number of newer eyes who may be seeing it for the first time, and if the subject is engaging, it's certainly worth giving them a chance to chime in as well. The question or topic is still just as valid and vital, right? And there are too many great things in our done-that file to retire them forever (IMO).


david_b said...

Prowler and HB


ALL HAIL JAN SMITHERS, we love you, Bailey Quarters.

And yes, I wish more fans would grow up and appreciate the fine love/devotion of a mature woman/lover/wife that both Paul and John were earnestly lucky to ever find. Talk to the millions on this earth still searching.

Love means a LOT more to a man than simple sustained worldwide adoration ~ John confessed he was frankly bored with it all.

Love is all you need.

Anonymous said...

I'm more of a Ringo man, myself.
But ah, it's all a rich tapestry.

Anonymous said...

I saw Yoko Ono once. I was in a cab about a block or two away from Central Park with my brother and sister, of all people, we were at a stop-light, and Yoko crossed the street right in front of us!
We're from the mid-west, and not used to seeing celebrities, and both my stupid brother and my stupid sister said I was wrong and imagining things, and spent the rest of the trip making fun of me by pointing out Elvis and Bigfoot.
But that was Yoko, dammit.
I think I maybe saw Britanny Spears, too, not sure. But I kept my mouth shut about that.

dbutler16 said...

As far as their Beatles stuff, I prefer McCartney. However, as far as their solo stuff, I vastly prefer Lennon.

Anonymous said...

Matt, I took your fun suggestion, sort of. I made an ex-Beatles playlist with John, Paul, George and Ringo solo songs. It's exactly 50 songs. Playing shuffle now...Blow Away, Jealous Guy, This Song (starting heavy George. Don't mind at all.)

Great FUN suggestion!


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