Lennon or McCartney? New Documentary Asks Townshend and Others

December 22nd, 2014

By Christopher Scapelliti

“Lennon or McCartney?”

In the world of Beatle-dom, there is perhaps no question quite as vexing or as apt to start a discussion or fight.

But it’s the question filmmaker Matt Schichter put to some 550 artists over the past 10 years. In his new documentary, Lennon or McCartney, he serves up the answers of musicians like Robbie Robertson, Bo Diddley, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Metallica, the Sex Pistols and Pete Townshend. He even includes a host of actors, including Robert DeNiro, Kevin Spacey and Zach Galifianakis.

Watch them answer for yourself. Then let us know your choice…and why.

  • Ari-Pekka Harju

    McCartney definetly!

  • Troy J. Maturin

    McCartney! No question about it.

  • Rodrigo

    Lennon. Fact.

    • Mooseboy

      Not fact. Opinion, since you don’t seem to know the difference.

  • Branden Wildvank

    McCartney was the better guitar player for sure. No offense to the rhythm guitar player and his untimely death.

    Harrison and McCartney carried John.

  • peter j hunt


  • peter j hunt


  • Tom Sullivan

    As time goes on, I’m starting to think Harrison may have been more talented than either of them.

  • Jerry G.

    The beatles were well balance as a whole…All contribute to the music. John carried the lows n paul carried the top n george the middle. End of discussion.

  • Eddie

    McCartney no question. There is something in his writing that is straightforward, but a little off…in a good way.

  • Mike


  • Chuck Yoakum

    Lennon. Truth, fear, imagery, starkness, anger, tenderness, love, politics, mistakes, humor, generosity, and genius… All real and all John.

  • jerry jezza

    Lennon / Harrison

  • Ed

    So sgt. pepper took you by
    You better see right through that
    mother’s eyes
    Those freaks was right when they
    said you was you was dead
    The one mistake you made was
    in your head
    How do you sleep?
    ah how do you sleep at night?
    You live with straights who tell
    you you was king
    Jump when your mamma tell
    you anything
    The only thing you done was
    and since you’ve gone it’s just
    another day
    How do you sleep?
    ah how do you sleep at night?
    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 all those years
    How do you sleep?
    Ah how do you sleep at night?

  • The earlier years of the Beatles…John Lennon was in his best…later McCartney & George did better..

  • McCartney, partially by default. For as many great songs as he wrote, there are 10 times that amount of sappy pop crap that he churned out. Lennon’s mind was poisoned by Yoko Ono. His early stuff in the Beatles up to 1966 was great, then he went steadily downhill due to drugs and Yoko.

  • I have grown up listening to the Beatles, as each record came out. I studied their song writing intensely, it led me to the discovery of a structure throughout their music. This Pentatonic scale is in their harmony, G, b,c,d,f,g. It helped me discover my new music theory I call structure in Sound. I believe in Hamburg, one of them, John or George, tuned one guitar to the Perfect Fifth. They later realised that, and made this affect their music. Only McCartney can answer that now.

    McCartney is the more naturally talented, but Lennon asked questions musically, and was always looking for answers, these answers are his songs. That state of mind is what makes the future better for us all. So I have to say Lennon. Unfortunately the great George Martin spoilt the most beautiful song in the world, namely In My Life. That middle eight bunged in there was plain vandalism, Lennon should have had time to finish it off.

  • Michael

    And the point of this video is ? Beatles were great, timeless, … I mean, … who gives a shit what various and numerous people/musicians/etc. think about who was best. What a waste of time here.

    • Robin

      Just want to say that I agree with you wholeheartedly, Michael. Amen.

  • David

    interesting that the first song being played is George’s!!

  • Richard

    I don’t think you can have one without the other… It was the left hand and the right hand… Etc… Can’t have just one..

  • Robert Bellville

    Lennon was good, but McCartney was the real talent and soul of the Beatles. One only need to listen to early Wings to confirm this.

  • Dave E

    You want rock n roll, go with Lennon. You want pop, then McCartney is your man.

  • Kip W

    Mccartney – Best rock musician alive today .
    Lennon – Best lyricist ever . His lyrics were written like he was speaking to you .Plain- Simple- Emotional. He was not technically a great guitar player , but you could FEEL what he played .
    We wouldn’t be who we are today without them. Don’t give up the dream .
    Peace and Love

  • Sam

    To Listen to All things Must Pass. About a year after Beatle breakup. He didn’t write all those great songs in One year. They were holding George back. Such exotic melodies, passion . Lennon, McCartney, or Harrison. Paul had the best scream. But for every 3 great ones there’s a Your mother should know. My fave keeps changing.

  • Jeremy Grob

    John Lennon. When I look book at what I like most about the Beatles, it’s the music that John Lennon sang lead on, In addition, it’s the songs that he was the primary songwriter. A good example is the “Beatles For Sale” album. The music is amazing. You can’t beat songs like “No Reply”, “I’m a Loser” or “I Don’t Want to Spoil The Party”. Listen to songs like “Dear Prudence” or “She Said She Said” for other great examples.

  • Frank Marriott

    Choose: Air or Water?

  • Don Sweat

    A useless, navel gazing question. The filmmaker’s might spend their time, talents, and film stock tackling a subject with more gravitas.
    The Beatle’s were a greater sum of all their parts! They never would have achieved their popularity without Ringo, always the most popular member of the group. After their breakup who had the better body of work? George Harrison.

  • Norm

    Lennon! Quote:”I heard Paul’s new records. I think he really is dead!” Larry Norman.

  • jack

    If one goes back and reads the many interviews of any of the fab four it was always clear from the get go that they had a collaborative process which included George Martin more times than all of would like to admit. Which itself speaks to the larger issues of how a producer can make or break a recording.

    All that aside, if one digs up those interviews it also emerges that Lennon and McCartney would spend many a song writing session together reworking and reworking songs, lyrics and ideas about tempo and arrangements and then after weeks of work then bounce said songs off the other two members of the band and George Martin.

    It was harder work for them and the nugget of the issue is this after their weeks of hard work the songs they came up with were fantastic, ground breaking; what few of us realize today is the hundreds of musicians and groups who followed them were all, except for a very few standouts were sadly mediocre at best.

    This is not a put down on all that followed, it is merely a statement of the fact of how talented the Fab Four were and what a outstanding producer fate matched them up with.

  • Lt Col Taylor


  • …and the background music is a George Harrison tune

  • EK

    GG Allin

  • Jodel Aspensson


  • David Fulmer


  • Olivia Anne

    George Harrison, no doubt. (Is there a listing in some spot of the ones interviewed and their answers? It went too quickly for me.)
    Here’s sort of a summary of my affliction/addiction/adoration/obsession: http://www.examiner.com/article/meeting-the-beatles-and-dhani-harrison-a-beatle-fan-s-story#comment-14362936

  • vic

    they had their niches that jelled…
    paul was more the pop hook guy…
    john was the wild out-there songwriting guy…
    George was the technical guy…(the awesome while my guitar gently weeps is the background music!)
    ringo was the pop fun-loving guy…
    paul was the best at the beginning…
    john was the best after the breakup…

  • the answer is…….The Beatles. Are you kidding? all four of them are great. …..when I was a kid, i DID name my dog George.

  • WindKnott

    If your personal choise is “Toe Tapping Sophmoric Pop Jingles” then McCartney your guy, if you prefer the Hard Biting Lyrics of Reality presented in a no frills fashion it’s undoubtably Lennon. My choise is easy….. LENNON!

  • william

    George Harrison with and without the Beatles! never compromised or contradicted!

  • Fred Bluhm

    If, like me, you leaned toward the spiritual side, and emphasize the beauty in the melody and the lyrics, without question, you would have to favor George Harrison. In his later years, I felt his music was much more appealing and mature than anything the other two were producing.

  • John Walker

    What a moronic endeavor- that says very little about those who answered, their personal tastes and opinions, and nothing at all about the artistic contributions of each artist.

  • Maryann Calia


  • Rumriver

    McCartney was superior to Lennon. The difference in talent comes through clearest on Abbey Road on the second side, but became prominent on Revolver and was really present from the start. Lennon was a good song writer with several avant grade standout tunes. McCartney was just a divinely inspired musician with symphonic compositions that just amaze. Post Beatles work highlights the genius of McCartney all the more with Band on the Run and Uncle Albert as beyond extraordinary. Imagine and Woman are nice, but really simplistic and much more lyrically great than musically outstanding. Lennon succeeds with Come Together and Day in the Life, but McCartney astounds with You never give me your money and Let it be. McCartney for certain.

  • Howard

    it was the four of them but Lennon for so many different styles. Julia, hard Day’s Night, the amazing Strawberry, She Said, Good Morning, very difficult structures. Dear Prudence, Happiness is a warm gun is incredible. The singing on God. Coolness of Come Together and Yer Blues. The beauty of Isolation, the wonder of Walrus. Never wanted to write to appeal to everyone like Macca.