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One Sweet Dream: A Beatles Podcast

Revisiting Ian Leslie's Hidden Gems and Unsung Masterpieces

Fri Jun 02 2023

One Sweet Dream: Hidden Gems of Lennon and McCartney Compositions

  • The podcast explores the Beatles and is called One Sweet Dream.
  • This episode focuses on hidden gems and unsung masterpieces of Lennon and McCartney compositions.
  • The audio was recorded on July 3rd, with occasional sounds of fireworks in the background.
  • The host is joined by writer Ian Leslie, who has written about the Beatles for various publications and is the author of Conflicted.
  • Conflicted is a book about how to have productive disagreements and arguments, which could have helped the Beatles communicate better in 1969.
  • Ian is currently working on a book about Lennon and McCartney's relationship.

Importance of Lennon and McCartney's Relationship

  • The podcast discusses the importance of the relationship between John Lennon and Paul McCartney in the Beatles' story.
  • The emotional connection between Lennon and McCartney fed into their music.
  • Understanding their relationship is crucial to understanding the Beatles as a whole.
  • The early 70s narrative set by Rolling Stone was detrimental to Lennon and McCartney's relationship.
  • The 70s period when they were estranged but still connected is fascinating and informative.
  • John Lennon did many interviews and used therapy sessions to talk about his experiences with McCartney, while Paul McCartney opened up more after Lennon's death.

Hidden Gems: Songs Discussed

"From a Hard Day's Night, Tell Me Why"

  • The first song discussed is "From a Hard Day's Night, Tell Me Why."
  • Ian chose this song because it energizes him and brings joy.
  • The song is often overlooked and dismissed by critics due to its simplicity.
  • The Beatles were influenced by girl groups during this time, which can be heard in their albums.
  • John Lennon described the song as a girl group song with call and response vocals.
  • The harmonies are phenomenal and blend masculine and feminine tones.
  • The energy of the song is incredible, with crashing sounds at the beginning.
  • Despite being catchy and fun, the lyrics are about betrayal or being treated badly, which is a common theme in John's early songs.

John Lennon's Songs of Upset and Betrayal

  • The podcast discusses the recurring theme in John Lennon's songs of feeling upset, hurt, and betrayed by someone.
  • This theme is present in various songs such as "Tell Me Why," "No Reply," and "I'm a Loser."
  • The hosts suggest that this theme may be traced back to John's upbringing or real-life experiences.
  • Paul McCartney has stated that many of these songs were autobiographical in some way.
  • John's songs often contain a mix of pain, anger, and joy.
  • They also mention a quote from Astrid about how John does everything at once, which they believe applies to his songwriting as well.

Influence of Girl Groups on Beatles' Songwriting

  • The Beatles' songwriting was strongly influenced by girl groups, borrowing from the genre's camaraderie and call-and-response style.
  • The Beatles were open-minded in their music and didn't have hang-ups about singing girl group songs.
  • Girl groups offered a model of flat democratic friendship that wasn't all about alpha males or dominant leaders.
  • The Beatles introduced androgyny to America, busting boundaries set by American conventions at the time.
  • "Hold Me Tight" is a hot mess but still has incredible momentum, groove, and vitality in its singing.

"Hold Me Tight"

  • The podcast discusses a Beatles song that is off-kilter and messy, but infectious and grungy.
  • The hosts appreciate the dissonant chords and rock-and-roll feel of the song.
  • They note that the song feels like it wasn't fully worked out, but the Beatles' charisma and genius make it work.
  • The middle eight of the song is highlighted as a special moment where the harmonies build towards a glorious release at the top.
  • The hosts speculate on what could have happened if the Beatles had explored this song further later in their career.

Underrated Songs by Paul McCartney

  • The artistic quality of early Beatles songs is often overlooked due to dismissive attitudes towards them.
  • Paul McCartney wrote "Hold Me Tight" twice, with the second version being part of his Red Rose Speedway medley.
  • "Bad Boy" is a hidden gem on Beatles 6 in the US and was not released in the UK until 1966. It was written by Larry Williams, not Lennon-McCartney.
  • Ian first heard "Bad Boy" on a compilation LP called Beatles Oldies but Goldies and loved it for its exciting rock and roll sound, great playing, and hilarious lyrics.
  • The song features one of Lennon's great rock and roll vocal performances.

Silly and Nonsensical Songs

  • The podcast discusses a Beatles song called "Rock and Roll Music" and its lyrics, which are described as silly and nonsensical.
  • The hosts initially didn't find the song particularly memorable, but upon further listening, they appreciated John's vocals and the energy of the song.
  • They note that the song reflects the early Beatles sound with a mix of silliness and soulfulness.
  • The hosts also discuss another Beatles song called "I've Just Seen a Face" from the album Help, which they describe as gorgeous and a favorite.

"I've Just Seen a Face"

  • The song "I've Just Seen a Face" by The Beatles is discussed.
  • Ian chose the song because it's one of his favorites and he recently saw Paul McCartney perform it live.
  • The song is praised for its clever and beautiful lyrics, as well as its rhythm that captures the exhilaration of love at first sight.
  • The chorus of the song, "Falling, yes I'm falling," is particularly noted for its beauty.
  • The discussion turns to how pop music can sound happy and sad at the same time, with quotes from art critic Dave Hickey and Paul McCartney himself on the subject.

Mixing Happiness and Sadness in McCartney's Music

  • McCartney's music often contains both joy and nostalgia.
  • The song "I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside" captures the feeling of falling in love but also has a hint of sadness or melancholy.
  • McCartney may have learned to mix happiness and sadness from his childhood experiences, including the death of his mother.
  • All songs, even happy ones, are sad because they are fleeting and remind us of mortality.

Paul McCartney's Artistic Achievement

  • The songs of Paul McCartney are an artistic achievement that reflects his life experiences and artistic sensibility.
  • McCartney fuses different styles in his music, such as blues, grass, country, pop, and folk.
  • "I'm Down," "Yesterday," and "And I Love Her" were all recorded on the same day, showcasing McCartney's ability to use three distinct voices and styles.
  • The podcast series aims to advocate for the genius of particular songs that may not receive enough attention.

Vulnerability in John Lennon's Songs

  • The speaker invites others to share their thoughts on songs and art.
  • The Beatles' music becomes more appreciated with repeated listening.
  • "If I Fell" is a vulnerable and touching song by John Lennon, with sophisticated harmonies and melodic leaps.
  • The song's introduction creates a feeling of uncertainty and instability, which fits the theme of the lyrics.

Autobiographical Nature of "If I Fell"

  • The song "If I Fell" by The Beatles conveys a feeling of instability and uncertainty but resolves beautifully in a duet with Paul.
  • Jonathan Gould's book "Can't Buy Me Love" describes the intricate court-check dance between John and Paul's voices in the song.
  • The song captures a sense of relationship and stability in love, which was important for John during a time of intense pressure and turbulence.
  • John may have written the song as a plea for reassurance and confirmation of Paul's commitment to their friendship.
  • Paul has stated that "If I Fell" is his favorite song from the album.

Autobiographical Elements in Lennon's Songs

  • The podcast discusses the Beatles' song "If I Fell" and its autobiographical nature.
  • John Lennon references Paul McCartney's "Silly Love Songs" in an interview, possibly as a shoutout or reference to his work.
  • The holding hands line in the song is repeated and may have been used as a signal between band members.
  • The podcast notes that John's deeply felt songs are often overlooked in Beatles books, and it is unclear who he was writing about.
  • The melody of "If I Fell" is praised as sublime and heavenly, with God-tier harmonies.
  • The song was written in Paris, where another Beatles ballad, "In My Life," was also written.

Connection Between "In My Life" and "Girl"

  • John Lennon's songs "In My Life" and "Girl" are connected in his mind.
  • There is disagreement between John and Paul about who contributed what to the songs, but Paul wrote the melody for "In My Life."
  • John posted lines from "In My Life" on Instagram for Paul's birthday, which could be interpreted as a romantic ballad with underlying emotions meant for each other.
  • The songs may not be overt romantic declarations to each other but rather subconsciously autobiographical.
  • The closeness of John and Paul is evident in their relationship at the time.
  • "Girl" could potentially be about Julian, but it is more likely about Paul based on what others have said.

Complex Relationship Between Lennon and McCartney

  • The speakers discuss a demo that John Lennon wrote and how it sounds vulnerable and small.
  • They also talk about how John was trying to renegotiate the dynamics of the Beatles during their breakup but wanted to go back to a period of closeness with Paul McCartney.
  • The relationship between Lennon and McCartney is described as complex, including elements of romance, friendship, family, and creative partnership.
  • The next song they discuss is "Mamunya" from Paul McCartney's solo album "Band on the Run," which they both love for its warm and embracing feel.


  • "Mamunia" is a song that captures the essence of the pool philosophy and has a spiritual feel to it.
  • The harmonies and use of MOUG in the song are distinctive and beautiful.
  • The meaning behind "Mamunia" is unknown, but it was the name of a hotel in Marrakesh where Wings stayed in early '73, and it means "safety."
  • The song encourages listeners to appreciate nature and be thankful for being alive, even when things are going badly.

Paul and Linda McCartney's Wisdom and Spirituality

  • The podcast discusses the song "The Moon Years" by Paul McCartney.
  • The hosts appreciate the wisdom and spirituality in Paul and Linda's music, particularly their connection to nature.
  • They also note the Britishness of the song, with mentions of LA and plastic maps.
  • The hosts admire Paul's drive to make people feel better through his music.

Paul McCartney's Desire to Heal

  • Paul McCartney uses songwriting as therapy to make people feel better.
  • He has a desire to heal and wanted John Lennon to be functional for the band in the 60s.
  • Paul wants his friend to be okay, even if it means supporting Yoko Ono.
  • He believes that John would be happier when he is productive and working.
  • The chosen song from Imagine album is a lovely, straightforward, silly love song.

"Oh Yoko!" and John Lennon's Relationship with Yoko Ono

  • The speakers discuss their favorite aspects of the song, "Oh Yoko!" by John Lennon.
  • They appreciate how the lyrics capture mundane moments and elevate them in a celebratory way.
  • The song showcases the playful and cute side of John and Yoko's relationship.
  • The piano playing by Nicki Hopkins is praised as a secret weapon on the album.
  • The line "my love will turn you on" is analyzed as stemming from John's deep-rooted insecurity rather than a genuine sentiment towards Yoko.
  • Despite this, the speakers believe that John genuinely feels happy and giddy in the song.

Paul McCartney's Song "From a Lover to a Friend"

  • The speakers discuss John Lennon's relationship with Yoko Ono and how he felt the need to make her love him.
  • They also talk about the child-like spirit in one of John's songs, "Mouth Walk."
  • The speakers then move on to discussing Paul McCartney's song "From a Lover to a Friend" from his album "Driving Rain."
  • They praise the emotional power and great writing in the song, particularly in the line "And when the time comes round, we will be duty-bound to tell the truth of what we see."
  • They also find it mysterious and wonder who Paul is singing to in the song.
  • One speaker shares their personal connection to "Driving Rain."

Paul McCartney's Songwriting as Therapy

  • The speaker loves the song "Lover to a Friend" and finds it gorgeous, yearning, deep, and meditative.
  • The piano playing and bass playing are particularly impressive.
  • The song is muddled in terms of who it's about (possibly Linda McCartney or Heather Mills) and its structure is circular.
  • The emotion in the song is raw and vulnerable, with Paul McCartney sounding hurt and confused.
  • The Guardian newspaper recently gave the song a shoutout as an example of a great McCartney song.
  • It's suggested that McCartney may have messed with the lyrics to make them more ambiguous.

Paul McCartney's Connection with People

  • The podcast discusses Paul McCartney's tendency to connect with people physically first, particularly women.
  • The song "On the Wings of a Nightingale" was written by Paul for the Everly Brothers and became their first hit since 1970.
  • The song captures a sense of exhilaration when with someone powerful and may have been inspired by Paul's journey with Linda or his partnership with John Lennon.

Paul McCartney's Fascination with Birds

  • Paul McCartney has a fascination with birds, which is reflected in his music and personal life.
  • He has claimed to hear birds singing in some of his hit songs, leading some to speculate that he may be attuned to a different frequency.
  • The song "I Want to Come Home" was written by Paul for the film Everybody's Fine and sung by Tom Jones.

Comparison of Versions of "I Want to Come Home"

  • The speakers discuss a song and agree that the Tom Jones version is better than the Paul McCartney version.
  • The song is about going away and coming back home, with a sense of grandeur and Homeric heroism.
  • Tom Jones' deeper, more weathered voice suits the song's themes of rock and roll excess and returning home.
  • The Paul McCartney version lacks pathos and feels plodding musically.
  • The speakers praise Paul McCartney's ability to write fantastic songs but note his struggles in the 80s.

"The Place Where the Truth Lies Waiting" and "Dear Prudence"

  • Paul wrote a song called "The Place Where the Truth Lies Waiting" for the film Everybody's Fine, which he connected with because it was about a widower trying to bring his family back together.
  • The song "Dear Prudence" from the White Album is elevated by its orchestration and use of backing vocals as texture and color.

Appreciation for "Dear Prudence"

  • The song being discussed has a guitar figure, tinkling piano, and insane drums.
  • The song creates an atmosphere on the album and settles it into a space.
  • The orchestration is phenomenal and reminds the speakers of a beautiful painting.
  • The bass in the song plays a prominent role and is another voice.
  • The guitars have an unbelievable interplay that is mesmerizing.
  • The song captures something about the essence of the Beatles as childlike and playful.
  • There is some sort of emotional undertow to the music that is seductive and pulls you in.

Collaborative Effort in Lennon's Songs

  • John's songs are less finished and leave more room for collaboration, which allows the others to be more creative.
  • The collaborative effort often elevates John's songs and draws out the individual genius of each Beatle.
  • John sometimes felt frustrated by Paul's experimentalism but also recognized that it brought out greatness in their music.
  • The feeling of a song was always critical to the Beatles, as they aimed to convey emotion even if people didn't fully understand the music.
  • George helped popularize meditation through his lifelong devotion to it.

Intense Partnership Between Lennon and McCartney

  • The partnership between Lennon and McCartney is difficult to define but intense according to those around them.
  • The songs played reflect John's connection in the partnership.


  • The podcast host thanks the guest and encourages listeners to rate, review, or share the podcast on social media.
  • The podcast is a one-woman production with support from patrons and a Facebook community.
  • The episode ends with a song called "If I Fell" by The Beatles.