You are currently viewing The Beatles song John Lennon called “a better version of ‘Lady Madonna’”

The Beatles song John Lennon called “a better version of ‘Lady Madonna’”

Toward the end of The Beatles’ tenure, tensions famously arose as Paul McCartney and John Lennon fought over creative control. Lennon even accused McCartney of copying one of their earlier creations for The Beatles, labelling his bandmate’s contribution a “potboiler rewrite”.

The track Lennon referred to as being copied is ‘Lady Madonna’, which The Beatles released as a stand-alone single in 1968. Although it never appeared on a studio album, the blues-inspired track was an international hit and topped the chart in the United Kingdom. McCartney later revealed the song was influenced by a photograph of a Malayo-Polynesian woman with three young children.

He told National Geographic: “One particular issue I saw in the Sixties had a woman, and she looked very proud, and she had a baby. And I saw that as a kind of Madonna thing, mother and child, and I just… You know, sometimes you see pictures of mothers, and you go, ‘She’s a good mother.’ You could just tell there’s a bond, and it just affected me, that photo. And so I was inspired to write ‘Lady Madonna’, my song, from that photo.”

The track was created shortly before The Beatles took flight to India, which altered their minds and creative process for The White Album. Therefore, it made sense for the Fab Four to allow ‘Lady Madonna’ to exist within its own stratosphere, unlike anything else they made during that calendar year.

However, Lennon believes ‘Lady Madonna’ was a carbon copy of their later track ‘Get Back’, which appeared as the closing track on their final studio album Let It Be in 1970. While it acted as their final goodbye, the song saw the band return to their roots and end their journey in the same way as it started.

The Peter Jackson documentary of the same name captures the moment McCartney created ‘Get Back’ on the spot in the studio at Apple Studios in London. As the footage shows, he started playing around with a riff, and soon enough, it evolved into a stonewall classic which defines the band.

During his final interview with David Sheff, Lennon scathingly claimed ‘Get Back’ wasn’t quite as impromptu as it seems, noting, “‘Get Back’ is Paul. That’s a better version of ‘Lady Madonna’. You know, a potboiler rewrite.”

‘Get Back’ is a lesson in the art of simplicity, and as the film shows, they plucked it from thin air rather than copying ‘Lady Madonna’. Despite Lennon’s comments on the shared traits in the pair of tracks, they share almost no similarities apart from the fact the same band made them.

While The Beatles were often consciously and subconsciously influenced by other pieces of art, this instance doesn’t seem to fall into either category unless McCartney expertly it.

Leave a Reply