Why Paul McCartney Never Told John Lennon ‘I Love You’
The Beatles star said it was a difficult emotion for young men to express to each other in ‘50s Liverpool, where he and his late bandmate grew up.
“You say that I loved him, but as 16-year-old and 17-year-old Liverpool kids, you couldn’t say that. It just wasn’t done,” McCartney told poet Paul Muldoon last week at a launch event for his new book The Lyrics (via NME). “So, I never did. I never really said, ‘You know, I love you, man.’ I never really got 'round to it. So now, it is great to just realize how much I love this man.”
He said of the pair’s close bond: “We both grew up together. [Life] was like walking up a staircase, and we both went side by side up that staircase. It was very exciting. Now that the Beatles’ recording career has finished, I’m like a fan. I just remember how great it was to work with him and how great he was.” McCartney emphasized: “You’re not messing around here; you’re not just singing with Joe Bloggs – you’re singing with John Lennon.”
McCartney eventually expressed his feelings for Lennon during 1982's “Here Today,” which he described as a “love song to John written very shortly after he died.” In a separate recent interview with the BBC, he explained: “I was remembering things about our relationship, about the million things we'd done together. From just being in each other's front parlors, or bedrooms, to walking on the street together, or hitchhiking, long journeys together which were not during the Beatles.”
He continued: “Why can't men say 'I love you' to each other? I don't think it's as true now as it was back in the '50s and '60s – but certainly, when we were growing up, you would have had to be gay for a man to say that to another man. … If we were talking about anything soppy, someone would have to make a joke afterward just to ease the embarrassment in the room.
"But there's a longing in the lines, 'If you were here today, and I'm holding back the tears no more,' because it was very emotional writing this song. I was just sitting there in this bare room and thinking of John, and realizing I'd lost him. And it was a powerful loss.”
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