Lennon Vs. McCartney: Who Wrote Each Of Their 27 #1 Hits?

Another way to look at the John Vs. Paul battle that has been my muse this week: Who wrote more of their #1 hits? I’m going to focus on the 27 Beatles songs that reached #1 in either the US or the UK (in many cases their songs reached #1 in both.) It’ll be easy to find those 27 songs as this criteria is the theme of the Beatles 1 compilation.

01. “Love Me Do” – Mostly McCartney (Lennon wrote the bridge.)
02. “From Me to You” – Co-Written
03. “She Loves You” – Co-Written
04. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” – Co-Written
05. “Can’t Buy Me Love” – McCartney
06. “A Hard Day’s Night” – Lennon
07. “I Feel Fine” – Lennon
08. “Eight Days a Week” – Co-Written
09. “Ticket to Ride” – Mostly Lennon (McCartney claims co-written.)
10. “Help!” – Lennon
11. “Yesterday” – McCartney
12. “Day Tripper” – Co-Written
13. “We Can Work It Out” – Mostly McCartney (Lennon’s bridge.)
14. “Paperback Writer” – McCartney
15. “Yellow Submarine” – McCartney
16. “Eleanor Rigby” – McCartney
17. “Penny Lane” – McCartney
18. “All You Need Is Love” – Lennon
19. “Hello, Goodbye” – McCartney
20. “Lady Madonna” – McCartney
21. “Hey Jude” – McCartney
22. “Get Back” – McCartney
23. “The Ballad of John & Yoko” – Lennon
24. “Something” – Harrison
25. “Come Together” – Lennon
26. “Let It Be” – McCartney
27. “The Long and Winding Road” – McCartney

In all Paul wrote 14 of their 27 #1s. John wrote 7. They wrote 5 of them together. And George wrote the other one. By using this criteria Paul dominates much more than he did using the Last.FM most listened to songs method I used in the last post where Paul also came out on top but not by such a wide margin.

186 thoughts on “Lennon Vs. McCartney: Who Wrote Each Of Their 27 #1 Hits?

  1. PeregrinePickle

    Kat, it’s really not the issue. The point is that DUMB & DUMBER have proven themselves conclusively time and time again to be utterly incapable of writing even one song in their solo careers – both pre-George Martin and post George Martin – that is even remotely comparable, structurally and stylistically, from both a musicological and literary analytical and critical point of vies to the songs that put the Beatles on the map in the first place from 1962-1970 and made them famous. Compare that music to the utterly banal, silly, trite songs that they were truly capable of writing and did in fact write and produce by themselves and dare honestly to say that there can be any doubt in your mind that DUMB & DUMBER were mere marketing bogeys under contract with George Martin during the groups only truly productive years.

    Paul McCartney to this very day remains woefully and completely incapable even as we speak of writing any song or musical composition of any true artistic or musical value. Nothing has changed in this respect ever since the dissolution of the group. As Sir George Martin himself has so aptly and revealingly put it: all you need is ears, to win any such argument as this quite handily.

  2. Steve

    This list gives a good look into why the Beatles broke up. Most of what they released as singles went #1, and while they early years are a mix of Lennon/McCartney the latter years are almost all McCartney. Whether McCartney became more insistent that HIS songs be the singles or Lennon just hung it up, it’s obvious that the roots of their breakup was well before Yoko showed up.

  3. Studlydorightmuffin

    During the Beatles Paul wrote, on the whole, the more popular songs, but as of post Beatles material goes nothing Paul will ever do will reach the same level as Imagine.

    1. Mike

      Imagine is a very much overrated song. I call it the atheist’s anthem. It was John’s godless period in life. Imagine there’s no heaven. Not me I hope there is, what good is it, if we live and then there’s nothing left. Go out an have a good time folks and screw everyone else. I mean who will really care what you did? It all comes to naught if life doesn’t continue.

      1. chay

        Imagine is a fantastic song, the rich, powerful, religious nuts and dummies, berating it, tell us more about them, then anything else.

        The same people will, make you work for pennies, put you on the beard line, starve whole countries, ask for you money, start wars in your name, and screw everyone else, but of course they all believe in the same gods as there enemies.

        Humans like all the other animals that have lived and died on this earth over millions of years,
        they all break down in the earth at some point, nothing else, no after life, unless they have been talking to you again.

        Spirt or soul, is in the mind, it is an idea, not a body of matter, live life to the best you can and teach your children to do the same, not just to go to a make believe heaven

        Only the gullible believe in the gods that man has made up over the years,
        How many books did the gods write ? none, it was men of course.

        You and many others would believe in anything your parents, friends or teachers told you to,
        depending on what part of the world you were born, that is where the line, you can fool some of the people all of the time, tells you.

        No one cares what you do, if you do nothing in life, but your kids and family will remember you,
        and life will continue through them, hopefully they will write a great song like imagine in the future

  4. gabriele

    Peregrine, have you ever read the book Martin wrote about the making of “Sgt. Pepper?”

    I suspect you don’t know even that in his solo career McCartney had many times Martin has a producer. So, your theory is that Martin wrote beautiful songs for the Beatles and horrible songs for McCartney solo albums? Or your theory is that Martin accepted to produce McCartney albums and in that albums he didn’t write the songs but the songs where written by McCartney while he wrote the songs credited to McCartney when McCartney was in the Beatles? That would be very strange and ridiculous.
    Martin should have written even the songs of McCartney in the albums McCartney had Martin has producer.
    you see Martin produced Pipes of peace that is considered the worst of the McCartney albums by anyone in the world. You say that McCartney solo works haven’t any artistic value without knowing that many McCartney albums were produced by Martin in the same way Martin produced albums of the Beatles!

  5. gabriele

    So, in conclusion I think you should admit that if Martin wrote the songs of the Beatles he was not able to write any other good song after the Beatles as the McCartney albums produced by Martin were not masterpieces! So the argument you use to say that the real author of Beatles music was Martin (beatles songs were beautiful, McCartney and Lennon solo songs were horrible) has not any evidence because in the same way even Martin would have written horrible songs (according to your own valutations) in McCartney solo albums!

  6. gabriele

    So in conclusion your theory “Martin wrote the Beatles’music” because beatles songs were beautiful while McCartney solo songs (even the songs produced by Martin in solo McCartney albums) have not any artistic value has no evidence because your argument would become: Martin wrote beautiful Beatles’ songs credited to McCartney but wrote even songs without artistic value (according to your opinion) credited to McCartney in his solo albums that were produced by Martin!

    So you see how is false your theory.

  7. PeregrinePickle

    Gabriele, you fail quite evidently to perceive even the most basic elements of this entire discussion. In point of fact, my firm conviction that it was George Martin exclusively who wrote the great Beatles’ hits from 1962-1970, and upon whose musical and entrepeneurial talents and abilities the Beatles’ sole claim to fame categorically and solidly forever rests is essentially and fundamentally grounded on objectively verifiable and concrete musicological, linguistic and literary evidence and analyss of the most incontrovertible and well documented kind, not on idle speculation or mere pseudo-logical, wishful thinking.

    The patently absurd and extremely illogical notion that George Martin was, in any way conceivable, responsible for having written the ghastly and agonizingly trivial music that unequivocally identifies and characterizes virtually all of Paul McCartney’s recognizably silly solo-album production, simply by virtue of George Martin’s having done the production work on the ‘Pipes of Peace’ album, is a theory that must necessarily and strictly remain as your very own, and as such must stand as a very strange and ridiculous one indeed, as you yourself so very unwittingly seem to suggest. Nonetheless, I appreciate and welcome any serious discussion on this admittedly highly controversial, inexplicably unexplored and decidedly unresearched topic, and enjoy the Beatles’ music even though it was never written by ‘Dumb & Dumber’ or the Beatles, per se. Enjoy.

  8. Cat

    Personally, I think that it doesn’t really matter who wrote more #1 hits, because some of their other material was far, far, far more superior: A Day in the Life for example.

  9. gabriele

    You say your theory is based on “objectively verifiable and concrete musicological, linguistic and literary evidence and analyss of the most incontrovertible and well documented kind”.

    Can you give us a list of pubblications where to find these concrete musicological, linguistic and literary evidence?

    I gave you the reference of George Martin’s book, the listening of McCartney’s albums produced by Martin, now I suggest you to read Ian McCdonald’ “The Beatles” where you will find the musicological differences between McCartney and Lennon songwriting style with the musicological analysis of every single beatles’ song.

  10. PeregrinePickle

    Gabriele, I do not recommend at all any of the derivative, anecdotal sources or references that you mention from the popular literature dealing with the Beatles, none of which offers an exhaustive structural musical and literary analysis of the music and lyrics of the songs themselves, and which for my purposes is the only material that is in any way, as none of these secondary sources could or ever will be, definitively probative.

    You must understand as a matter of course that it begs the very question itself to suggest George Martin, of all people, as being in any way a probative reference for anything having to do with what must arguably be the most monumental hoax ever perpetrated in the history of popular music.

    As for Ian Macdonald’s book on the Beatles, it is both from a musicological and literary critical point of view an entirely derivative, anecdotal and secondary-tier work that contains not one academically rigorous or minimally sufficient musico-literary analysis of the structure of any of the Beatles’ songs, but instead travels exclusively merely on a plethora of extremely opinionated, heterogeneous and unsubstantiated premises and notions centered on diverse topics that deal with everything but the essential analytical deconstruction of the melodies themselves in their linear, harmonic, structural of stylistic dimensions; nor does it contain any formal critical intertextual literary analysis at all of the song lyrics. From a strictly musicological point of view it is little more than a highly flighty, prolix, ostensibly rambling and academically pointless essay of the most unrigorous and unmethodological kind that deals with everything but the central topic that is of any musical or musicological concern: the exclusively unique structural and stylistic elements that unequivocally characterize and categorically differentiate the music and lyrics of the great Beatles’ songs from 1962-1970 from any of the music and lyrics of any of the songs ever written and/or recorded by ‘Dumb & Dumber’ either together or individually both before 1962 and after 1970. Nothing else relating to the Beatles is of any particular interest or concern other than the music from those fruitful years while the group was under exclusive contract with George Martin.

    As for the objectively verifiable and concrete evidence mentioned above, it is my own and is based largely on leasurely and informal research into the immense body of early 20th century american popular song and the distinctly characteristic and readily identifiable structural and motivic elements that it contains and which are stylistically unique to it – clearly discernible in the catalogue of great Beatles’ hits from 1962-1970, wholesale instances of which can only be characterized as ‘artistic borrowings’ if not outright plagiarism on the part of George Martin and which are found absolutely nowhere in any of the songs ever written by Lennon & McCartney either jointly or individually either before 1962 or after 1970.

    Fortunately for the musicologist and critic alike the music itself lends itself to the most elementary linear and structural analytical techniques and categorically belies any attempt however ingenious or discrete to conceal any type of musical borrowing or artistic subterfuge, and this is exactly how it should be in any field of verifiable sound knowledge.

  11. gabriele

    Peregrine, you continue not to give any reference of any pubblication. You only mention your own studies or the evidence given by the “music itself”… If you are a musical expert or a musical professor of some university and you wrote an essay about your theory I’d like to know about its existence and about the dabate it created in accademical world. If you don’t, i’m sure you can understand there can’t be any “scientific” discussion about your theory.

  12. PeregrinePickle

    Gabriele, I am sure that anyone with your somewhat restricted and limited viewpoint ought really never to venture into any free and open discussion of an academic or technical nature on the internet or anywhere else for that matter, but this of course does not preclude others from doing so. You do no signal service to yourself or anyone by attempting however unintentionally to limit in any way the free flow and exchange of ideas, intellectual discourse or the scope or nature of any discussion whatsoever by arbitrarily confining it to the limited realm of academic publications, printed copy or the university lecture hall. As an illustrious iconoclast once rightfully remarked, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. The internet is of course by deliberate and express design an open content forum, and the supreme beauty of this wonderful thing called cyberspace is precisely that if you don’t like the tenor of any conversation you can always opt out from it without having any chilling effects on free speech simply by clicking off.

  13. gabriele

    Yes, I have a “limited and restricted viewpoint”. Sorry, I believe in science and when someone says something opposite to the experience every person have every day I ask to the person who is giving a new and original idea to give the evidences of his idea (even on internet!)
    If you say that “donkeys can fly” the burden of the proof is on you. If you say martin wrote Beatles songs, the burden of the proof is on you.
    But your proof is the authority of the “music itself” (that means nothing) or your studies except you don’t want to tell us of your studies….
    So, for “my limited and restricted viewpoint” I end this discussion.

  14. JBM

    Baby youre a rich man, Rain, Revolution, Yes it is, You can’t do that, For you Blue and Something were also number 1 for the Beatles. Hence:
    Lennon 17
    Macca 14
    Harrison 2


  15. jim

    The shallowest minds tend to judge music using the top 40 as thier guide. Lennon wrote non commercial, depper, much deeper. That’s where his head was. He was a serious thinker trying to find a better way….for all. Emotionally his was the most honest and sincere music ever made. He literally bared his soul. When he sang about fear you felt fear, joy you felt joy. You felt him plead, beg, dream, hope. Nobody communicated feeling better through music than John. If you think Paul was better it’s likely John lost you going beneath the surface. jim

  16. PeregrinePickle

    Sir George Martin understood this all too well and gave the boys a well deserved ticket to fame and fortune with his rare creative musical genius, and privileged entrepeneurial expertise and position. John was for all intents and purposes Sir George Martin’s alter ego, I believe he had much more in common with him deep down inside than with any other Beatle. John and Sir George were indeed kindred spirits, Paul and John were polar but complementary opposites from the outset. It all came together for all of them and for the music world under the artistic and entrepeneurial aegis and guidance of a rare genius, Sir George Martin. He was the man, they were the boys and they understood this clearly, very wisely and fully realizing that they were on to a very good thing from the word go. More power to them for the immense pleasure they have brought into the world through their music and ingratiating personalities.

  17. bullets

    I love all the beatles lennon is my favourite, but for anyone who actually thinks macca was underatted is an idiot, they are both genius. has the ability to write a hit song within a short space of time. Lennon puts more thought and depth into his though. the arguement alw3ays seems to be around john and paul. what about george, if your talking about macca being underated, what the hell about george,

  18. laurie clews

    The best Beatles songs were those with great words too like Lucy in the Sky, Strawberry Fields, I Am The Walrus,Across The Universe ,A Day In The Life, and singles as such are
    inferior especialy number ones.

  19. maxwell

    yes, i agree with you ….another way to look at who is the one who wrote the less cheesy stuff …who is capable of writing serious stuff….and that goes to lennon…

    paul mccartney wrote the mor commercially more successful tunes…while john chose to write the more contemplative kind of melodies…

    i go for lennon all the way

  20. JG

    I’m not surprised at all. When it comes down to righting pop songs, aimed to be commercially successful hits , McCartney is unbeatable.

    It was the same duringtheir solo carrers.

  21. frank

    im sorry paul and lennnon made great songs whie in the Beatles, but i got lennon’s LEGEND cd and i tell u paul did not do any solo post-Beatle work as good as that!!!!

  22. Johan cavalli

    Love me do was not a hit.
    Lennon´s I Should Have Known Better not mentioned, got to number one in Scandinavia.
    Lennon´s Do You Want to Know a Secret is not mentioned, it gave the Beatles a number one hit in USA spring 1964.
    Lennon´s Girl is not mentioned.
    Lennon composed 50% and the most important part in We Can Work it Out.
    Lennon composed the middle part in Michelle.

    The misconceptions are always in McCartney´s favour. That´s someting to think of.

  23. Johan cavalli

    Lennon´s music is heavy, innovative and painful. He is one of the greatest ever. The more you listen to his music, the better. For me the greatest ever are Schumann´s pianomusic, Wagner´s orchestra music and Lennon´s compositions

  24. Johan cavalli

    Oh I forgot the most important song, which is not mentioned, their first big hit, Lennon´s Please Please!

  25. Johan cavalli

    Another fault with this list is:
    When Lennon composed the middle part, writers have a tendecy to write “mostly McCartney”, for example:

    We Can Work It Out
    (Almost always when writers comment Michelle, where Lennon did the middle part, it is even called just a “McCartney-song”)

    But when McCartney wrote the middle part, it is called “co-written”, for example:

    From Me to You
    (and A Day In The Life)

    Yellow Submarin was not number one. It was the other side of the single: Eleanor Rigby

    Who did this catalogue?

    Once more, don´t forget Please Please Me!The Beatles most important song

  26. Marvin Marks

    Melanie – Your point is true as far as the UK goes but “Love Me Do” hit #1 in the US in 1964.

    This list is of songs that hit #1 in either the UK or the US (and in many cases both…)

  27. getreal

    “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” were the Beatles 2 killer songs early on that cemented them just below Presley forever. They were Lennon songs. Screw co-written.

  28. Phil K

    “Lennon was the smart one”
    What utter bollocks.
    Lennon was led by the nose by a talentless Japanese woman. McCartney’s excuse with the even MORE obnoxious Heather was his age.
    McCartney and Lennon were no less intelligent than each other. Lennon spent too much time playing up to the American press later. The British press had go him believing his own divinity.

  29. The Guy Directly Above Me is a Pedantic Moron

    Again, as gabriele said, your apparently unprecedented delving into the works of Lennon/McCartney seems to based on some new foundational epistemology that tells us we can know, definitively, what musical structures are most pleasing to your ear. Which I agree with completely. Congratulations, you’ve discovered you have individual taste (but you’re still a complete tool.)


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