Two Sides of the Same Coin

Sunde White writes an essay about John Lennon and Paul McCartney both losing their mom and the songs they wrote about it.

A few weeks ago it was John Lennon’s birthday.  He would have been 81 if he hadn’t been gunned down by a selfish little twerp that wanted to be famous.   Lennon was a complex, sometimes assholic, damaged, misogynistic genius and I admit that he has always been my favorite Beatle.  He didn’t have a functioning mom and grew up without her just like I did so I always related to his raw, sarcastic, primal edginess.  But later, as my therapy kicked in, I gave Paul another look.  I was always freaked out by his sunny outlook, puppy dog eyes and upbeat attitude.  I just found all that unrelatable, stupid even.   My teenaged self was like, “He wrote Good Day Sunshine, for f***s sake!”

Whoops, it turns out that Paul McCartney’s mom died when he was fourteen and the loss of their moms so young bonded John and Paul together and resulted in sad, edgy, beautiful, ground breaking songs.  They were like two sides to the same childhood trauma coin.  John was the dark destructive one and Paul was the stable, positive one that, as his song suggests, follows the sun.

Not having a mom informs everything about my entire life, it’s in the DNA of my personality, so of course I am naturally drawn to artists and icons that also experienced that.  It’s a subconscious attraction.  Sometimes I only find out years later that a famous person didn’t have a mom and it will all make sense why I was such a fan.  I guess this partly explains my obsession with the Beatles.

It’s like I can’t even talk about John without mentioning Paul since they were so fundamental to each other’s art.  I’m so grateful for the opportunity to learn through Paul that I don’t have to be perpetually jaded and black hearted and can spread joy through art.  And I love John forever for teaching me that’s it’s also okay to rage and scream your truth to the world.  Both of these options are powerful and moving and valuable.  I’m so glad they had each other to balance the volatile with the calm.

But it’s your birthday, John, so thank you for existing and setting an example of brutal, embarrassing, imperfect, dark and gritty honesty for all of us to follow.

PS- Paul is coming out with a book on November 2nd called The Lyrics, order it from your local bookstore.

Also, here are some songs to download from both of these icons:

John Lennon

Julia, 1968 (Beatles)

Mother, 1970

Hold On, 1970

Watching The Wheels, 1981 (posthumously)

Isolation, 1970

Jealous Guy, 1971


Paul McCartney

 Let It Be, 1970 (Beatles)

Yesterday,1965 (Beatles)

Good Day Sunshine, 1966 (Beatles)

The Long and Winding Road,1970 (Beatles)

Maybe I’m Amazed, 1970