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John Lennon Worried How People Would Remember Him After He Died, Says Paul McCartney

McCartney said he was "shocked" by the concern Lennon once voiced about how he would be remembered postmortem

<p>David Redfern/Redferns</p> Paul McCartney and John Lennon perform in London in 1963

David Redfern/Redferns

Paul McCartney and John Lennon perform in London in 1963

Death was something the late John Lennon pondered years before his untimely death in 1980, according to his Beatles bandmate, Paul McCartney.

McCartney reflected on the life of his close friend and musical collaborator in Wednesday’s episode of his iHeart Radio podcast, McCartney: A Life in Lyrics, as he revealed that Lennon, who was 40 when he was killed outside his apartment in New York City, was nervous about how he would be remembered postmortem.

“I remember him saying to me, ‘Paul, I worry about how people are going to remember me when I die,’ and it kind of shocked me,” McCartney, 81, recalled on the podcast. “I said ‘OK, hold on, just hold it right there. People are going to think you were great, you’ve already done enough work to demonstrate that.’ ”

The bass guitarist continued, “I was like his priest. Often I’d have to say, ‘My son, you’re great, don’t worry about it,’ and he would take it. It would make him feel better.”

Related: Paul McCartney Opens Up About John Lennon's 'Really Tragic Life' and Admiring His 'Vulnerability'

McCartney also reflected on how well he and Lennon worked together on the episode, which was titled “Here Today” in reference to the 1982 solo track he released in light of his friend’s death the year before.

“If anyone asks me, ‘What was it like to work with John?’ The fact was it was easier, much easier, because there were two minds at work. And that interplay was nothing short of miraculous,” McCartney said. “Now I’m conscious that I don’t have him, very much. And you know, often we’ll sort of refer to, ‘What would John say to this? Is this too soppy? He would’ve said da da da, so I’ll change it.' But my songs have to reflect me, and you don’t have this opposing element so much. I have to do that myself these days.”

<p>Harry Benson/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty</p> John Lennon plays the guitar in a hotel room in Paris in January 1964

Harry Benson/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty

John Lennon plays the guitar in a hotel room in Paris in January 1964

He described the 1982 single as “a love song to John,” sharing that he wrote it after Lennon’s death and that it was a way for him to reflect on some of their most fond memories.

“I was remembering things about our relationship and things about the million things we’d done together. From just being in each others front parlors or bedrooms, or walking on the street together, or hitchhiking,” McCartney said. 

Related: The Beatles Release 'Now and Then,' the Band's 'Final Song' That’s Been 45 Years in the Making

Writing the song was “very moving, very emotional,” he added, “because I was just sitting there in this bare room thinking of John and realizing I’d lost him.”

It was healing in its own way, though.

“And it was a powerful loss, so to have a conversation with him in a song was some form of solace. Somehow I was with him again.”

<p>Getty Images</p> Paul McCartney and John Lennon, along with the rest of the Beatles, perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, making their first performance on U.S. TV

Getty Images

Paul McCartney and John Lennon, along with the rest of the Beatles, perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, making their first performance on U.S. TV

Related: Paul McCartney Celebrates John Lennon's 83rd Birthday: 'Wonderful Friend and Collaborator'

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has openly reflected in the past on the immense grief he experienced in the wake of Lennon’s death.

In 2022, he discussed the same track, “Here Today,” during an interview on SiriusXM's The Beatles Channel, and described the loss as “so difficult.”

"I remember getting home from the studio on the day that we'd heard the news he died and turning the TV on and seeing people say, 'Well, John Lennon was this and what he was was this,’ " McCartney recalled. "It was like, I don't know, I can't be one of those people."

"I can't just go on TV and say what John meant to me," he explained. "It was just too deep. It's just too much."

<p>William Vanderson/Fox Photos/Getty</p> Paul McCartney and John Lennon at the Variety Club Showbusiness Awards in London in 1964

William Vanderson/Fox Photos/Getty

Paul McCartney and John Lennon at the Variety Club Showbusiness Awards in London in 1964

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McCartney added of the emotions after Lennon’s death, "I couldn't put it into words.”

"It was difficult for everyone in the world because he was such a loved character and such a crazy guy. He was so special."

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