Paul McCartney Realized He’d Been a ‘Bossy Git’ While in The Beatles

Paul McCartney described himself as bossy while he was in The Beatles. He shared what made him realize this years after the fact.

When The Beatles broke up, George Harrison often spoke about how difficult it was to work with Paul McCartney. He believed his bandmate was demanding, controlling, and overly self-involved. This analysis hurt McCartney’s feelings, but years later, he realized there was some truth to them. While Harrison, McCartney, and Ringo Starr worked on The Beatles Anthology, McCartney realized he had been bossy while working with the band.

Paul McCartney realized he’d been bossy while working on ‘The Beatles Anthology’

While working on The Beatles Anthology, a multimedia project that reflected on the history of The Beatles, McCartney had plenty of time to think about his past. In listening to his music and running over memories with Harrison and Starr, McCartney realized he’d been a touch bossy.

“That’s the difficulty of a group. You are not the director bossing around a dance company where they naturally expect you to boss them around,” he explained in the book Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now by Barry Miles. “You’re just a guy in a very democratic unit; which a group, at best, is. We were all equal in voting, our status within the group was equal. We were joking when we made the Anthology: I was saying, ‘I realise I was a bossy git.’”

At this point, it was 1995, and Harrison had long let go of the resentment from his Beatles years. Still, he couldn’t help but poke fun at McCartney for this delayed realization.

“George said, ‘Oh no, Paul, you never did anything like that!’ With a touch of irony in his voice, because obviously I did,” McCartney said. “But it was essential for me and looking back on it, I think, Okay. Well, it was bossy, but it was also ballsy of me, because I could have bowed to the pressure.”

He acknowledged that George Harrison was the most impacted by his behavior

Harrison felt the most frustrated by McCartney’s behavior, likely because the bossiness was often targeted at him. McCartney viewed the band’s guitarist as a younger brother. As a result, he often brushed him off or criticized him more sharply than he would have with his other two bandmates.

“So, being close to each other in age, we talked — although I tended to talk down to him, because he was a year younger,” McCartney said in The Beatles Anthology. “I know now that that was a failing I had all the way through the Beatle years. If you’ve known a guy when he’s thirteen and you’re fourteen, it’s hard to think of him as grown-up. I still think of George as a young kid.”

He admitted that this led to him leaving Harrison out of the songwriting process, much to the guitarist’s frustration.

“I remember walking through Woolton, the village where John was from, and saying to John, ‘Look, you know, it should just be you and me who are the writers,’” McCartney told The New Yorker. “We never said, ‘Let’s keep George out of it,’ but it was implied.”

Paul McCartney was a key driving force behind many of The Beatles’ albums

While McCartney’s behavior might have rubbed his bandmates the wrong way, it also kept The Beatles on track and in the studio. McCartney and Lennon were the band’s primary songwriters, but McCartney was the Beatle with the most drive to continue working. Without him, they may never have made it into the studio.

“We have to thank Paul that we made as many records as we did because, you know, John and I, because we lived in the same area, would be hanging out,” Starr said in the documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World. “It’s like a beautiful day in the garden in England, and the phone would ring, and we’d always know it was him.”

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