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Muzak-3, Lennon & McCartney?

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John Lennon once accused Paul McCartney of writing Muzak.  Friends do horrible things and say horrible things to each other.  It had to hurt, though, that back and forth between the other Beatles and McCartney back in the early 70s.  Lennon’s “How Do You Sleep” was as caustic as it gets, and the song had been—apparently—inspired by McCartney’s 1971 album Ram, quite a good album. The first song on it, though, “Too Many People,” apparently attacks Lennon.

What are Those Beetles Up To?

It does sound as if it is about their break up and there are some other elements on the song and the album that could be taken as attacks on Lennon.  Lennon obviously listened to “Too Many People” carefully—and the rest of the album with that paranoia of having once been attacked.  Heck, he may be right—after all. The next song, “3 Legs” is a plausible candidate for an attack on Lennon as well.  McCartney has stated  that  “Dear Boy” was an attack on Linda’s x-husband and not Lennon.  And “3 Legs”? And the beetle boinking the other beetle on the back of Ram?  And it may be very difficult to hear “Smile Away” as  anything other than an attack on someone, whether it be Lennon or some other poor recipient!

Listen to Ram as if you were Lennon and handle lines like “Suck it.” Your response may, in fact, resemble Lennon’s reply: “

“A pretty face may last a year or two
But pretty soon they'll see what you can do.
The sound you make is muzak to my ears.
You must have learned something in all those years.
Ah, how do you sleep?
Ah, how do you sleep at night?”

The Mono Message

That’s some of it from the fairly early days of the back and forth between Lennon and McCartney.  The full acerbity of the song was lessened when lines like “How do you sleep you cunt?” were excised from the final cut. And later that decade John said the song was actually self deprecating and not about Paul, which is a nice gesture under those circumstances.

But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the song—especially considering that all three of the other Beatles were aware of the song, with George even playing on it and Ringo and George being somewhat alarmed by the lyrics—is that it is the only tune on Imagine that is mono. Knowing what we know about the Beatles and their use of  technology, the message seems decently clear that Lennon was taking responsibility for the song.

The Newer Hobby

One of the lines on “How Do You Sleep” references the Paul-is-Dead controversy, as in “those freaks was right when they said you was dead,”  and this feud actually rivalled the Paul-is-Dead hobby for fans.  Ever since the breakup of the Beatles, fans have combed album covers and songs looking for attacks and olive branches, even doves here and there, seeking out those personal messages sent back and forth among the solo Beatles. 



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