Paul McCartney performs live at the Budokan on April 28, 2015 in Tokyo.
Ken Ishii—Getty Images
By Daniel D'Addario
July 6, 2015

In a new interview with the U.K. edition of Esquire magazine, Paul McCartney has opened up on the subject of John Lennon, the Beatles bandmate whose posthumous reputation McCartney seems to find frustrating.

Describing his reaction to Lennon’s assassination in 1980, McCartney said, in part:

“Yeah, John was the witty one, sure. John did a lot of great work, yeah. And post-Beatles he did more great work, but he also did a lot of not-great work. Now the fact that he’s now martyred has elevated him to a James Dean, and beyond. So whilst I didn’t mind that–I agreed with it–I understood that now there was going to be revisionism. It was going to be: John was the one.”

McCartney also expressed regret that a plan to alternate the Beatles’ songwriting credits between “Lennon/McCartney” and “McCartney/Lennon” did not come to pass, specifically citing the song “Yesterday,” written by McCartney solely.

“I said, ‘Could we have “By Paul McCartney and John Lennon,” wouldn’t that be a good idea?’ […] Particularly on that particular song, because the original artwork had ‘Yesterday’ by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and a photo of John above it. And I went, ‘Argh! Come on, lads!’ Anyway they wouldn’t do it.”

Read the full interview at Esquire‘s site.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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