Songs John Lennon and Paul McCartney gave away to other artists
The songwriting partnership of John Lennon and Paul McCartney is widely regarded as the most successful musical collaboration ever by records sold. The principal writing team behind the Beatles, Lennon and McCartney are responsible for composing numerous Beatles hits, many of which rank among the greatest pieces of music ever created in the modern era. But did you know that Lennon-McCartney didn’t record everything that they penned, and instead offered up their compositions to other artists?
- Kanye West
Released in 2014, ‘Only One’ began life with Paul McCartney and rapper Kanye West bouncing musical and lyrical ideas off each other to create this song, an ode to Kanye’s daughter North. The former Beatle plays on the track and supplies backing vocals.
Paul McCartney’s 2015 collaboration with Kanye West on ‘All Day’ contains a re-recorded sample of the 1971 track ‘When the Wind is Blowing’ by McCartney and his band Wings. On ‘All Day,’ the song features McCartney’s acoustic guitar playing, his whistling, and singing of the last verse.
- Peter and Gordon
Released in 1964, ‘A World Without Love’ was a song written by Paul McCartney and attributed to Lennon-McCartney and recorded by the British duo Peter and Gordon.
Besides ‘A World Without Love,’ Paul McCartney also wrote ‘Nobody I Know’ and ‘I Don’t Want to See You Again’ for Peter and Gordon. His forth composition for the duo, ‘Woman,’ was written under the pseudonym Bernard Webb.
- David Bowie
In 1975, John Lennon co-wrote ‘Fame’ with David Bowie and Puerto Rican musician Carlos Alomar. Lennon came up with the title and can be heard singing the background “fame” in the high voice. It was Bowie’s first no. 1 single in the United States. The pair are pictured with Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono.
Bowie and Lennon both regarded ‘Fame’ as a song about what it’s like to be famous, and how both became dissatisfied with its trapping and how it took away parts of their lives.
Rihanna’s 2015 hit ‘FourFiveSeconds’ was co-written by Paul McCartney and Kanye West, among other songwriting collaborators. McCartney supplies acoustic guitar on the track.
A folk-pop ballad that was praised by critics, ‘FourFiveSeconds’ also benefits from songwriting input by Rihanna herself.
- The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones recorded ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ in 1963. Penned by Lennon-McCartney, the song was an early hit for the Stones, and was also Ringo Starr’s vocal contribution on the Beatles’ ‘With the Beatles’ album.
Lennon and McCartney’s seemingly effortless songwriting skills encouraged Mick Jagger (pictured in 1974 with Lennon) and Keith Richards to compose more of their own original songs.
- Ringo Starr
John Lennon wrote ‘I’m the Greatest’ in 1973 for Ringo Starr. It appears on Starr’s album ‘Ringo’ and has the distinction of having Starr, Lennon, and George Harrison appearing on the track, the only time that three former Beatles recorded together between the band’s breakup in 1970 and Lennon’s death in 1980.
Another track on the album, ‘Six O’Clock,’ was written by Paul McCartney (who also plays on it). This song was recorded separately in London, thus making ‘Ringo’ the nearest the four Beatles ever got to working together again as a band after their split.
- Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas
‘I’ll Be on My Way’ was a Lennon-McCartney composition recorded by English pop group Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas in 1963 as the B-side to another Beatles track, ‘Do You Want to Know a Secret’ (although this had been previously recorded by the Fab Four).
The band’s follow-up single was ‘Bad to Me,’ another Lennon-McCartney composition. It was a huge hit in 1963. Kramer ended the year with a third Lennon-McCartney song, ‘I’ll Keep You Satisfied.’
Paul McCartney wrote ‘Come and Get It’ for British rock band Badfinger in 1969. The song was included on the soundtrack to the film ‘The Magic Christian’ (1969), which stars Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr.
Badfinger had signed to the Beatles’ Apple Records label and in 1971 enjoyed their biggest hit, ‘Day after Day,’ which was produced by George Harrison (pictured with Badfinger’s Pete Ham).
- Elvis Costello
A single taken from Elvis Costello’s 1989 album ‘Spike,’ ‘Veronica’ was co-written by Paul McCartney. The English singer-songwriter would collaborate with the former Beatle again in 1991.
Elvis Costello’s 1991 album ‘Mighty Like a Rose’ features two McCartney collaborations, ‘So Like Candy’ and ‘Playboy to a Man.’ Costello sings lead on both.
- Charlotte Gainsbourg
British-French actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg included ‘Songbird in a Cage’ on her album ‘Rest’ (2017), a song originally given to her as a demo by Paul McCartney, who wrote it six years earlier.
Charlotte Gainsbourg’s album ‘Rest’ was produced by French electronic musician SebastiAn, who reworked McCartney’s demo and invited the former Beatle to play on the track. McCartney duly obliged.
- Cilla Black
Credited to Lennon-McCartney, though largely penned by the latter, ‘Step Inside Love’ was recorded by English singer Cilla Black in 1967 as a theme for her TV series ‘Cilla,’ which first aired in January 1968.
Besides ‘Step Inside Love,’ Cilla Black recorded several other Lennon-McCartney compositions, including ‘Love of the Loved’ and ‘It’s For You.’ She’s pictured with the Beatles and Billy J. Kramer, Tommy Quickly, and members of the Dakotas and The Fourmost.
- Linda McCartney
Paul McCartney’s first wife Linda died in 1998 from cancer, the same year husband Paul released posthumously the album ‘Wild Prairie’ on which ‘The Light Comes From Within’ appears. Written by Paul and sung by Linda, it’s the last song she ever recorded.
As well as singing, Linda McCartney played piano on ‘The Light Comes From Within,’ an instrument she was highly accomplished on.
- Mary Hopkin
Welsh singer and songwriter Mary Hopkin was signed to the Beatles’ Apple Records label in 1968. The following year she had a huge hit with ‘Goodbye,’ written by Paul McCartney but credited to Lennon-McCartney.
McCartney played acoustic guitar (intro and solo), bass, drums, piano, ukulele, lap-slapping percussion, and backing vocals on ‘Goodbye.’ Ironically the song was kept off the top spot in the UK in early 1969 by the Beatles’ own ‘Get Back.’
- The Applejacks
Written in 1959 and credited to Lennon-McCartney, ‘Like Dreamers Do’ was performed by the Beatles as part of their unsuccessful January 1962 audition for Decca Records. In 1964, the track was recorded by Decca Records band the Applejacks. Meanwhile, the Beatles had moved on!
The Applejacks were unusual at the time for having a female bass guitarist, Megan Davies.
- The Fourmost
Written by John Lennon but credited to Lennon-McCartney, ‘Hello Little Girl’ was another song originally performed by the Beatles at their fateful Decca Records audition. The track was picked up and recorded by fellow English Merseybeat band the Fourmost in 1963.
The Fourmost also recorded another Lennon-McCartney track, ‘I’m in Love,’ later the same year.
- P.J. Proby
American singer P.J. Proby opted to record the Beatles’ ‘That Means a Lot’ after the Fab Four declined to record the song for their film ‘Help!’ (1965) and soundtrack album.
P.J. Proby had a minor hit with ‘That Means a Lot.’ The Beatles’ version was finally released in 1996 with its inclusion in ‘Anthology 2.’
- Tommy Quickly
Credited to Lennon-McCartney, ‘Tip of My Tongue’ was given by the Beatles to English singer Tommy Quickly.
Released as a single in 1963, ‘Tip of My Tongue’ was a flop. Quickly disappeared rapidly from the music scene shortly afterwards. Never officially released by the Beatles, the song remains one of only three original A-sides written by Lennon–McCartney not to have at least made the UK charts upon its initial release, the others being ‘One & One Is Two’ by the Strangers with Mike Shannon, and Peter and Gordon’s “I Don’t Want to See You Again.’