Paul’s Poem For John – Still Poignant After All These Years

As part of the recent commemoration of John Lennon’s 70th birthdate, the respected NPR radio program “Fresh Air” re-broadcast a wide selection of interviews it had done over the years about Lennon.

One of them was an interview that host Terri Gross did with Paul McCartney. It comes from back in 2001 when he was on the promotion trail for a new book of his collected words called  “Blackbird Singing – Poems and Lyrics 1965-1999“. Its a beautiful little book. If you haven’t seen a copy it looks like this:

In it are the lyrics to “Here Today (Song for John)”, the song Paul wrote specifically for John Lennon after he’d been murdered. It had first appeared on the 1982 album “Tug of War” with a lovely string arrangement by George Martin. More recently though McCartney has been performing it live as a solo acoustic guitar number and speaking more openly about how much he misses his friend and colleague. There’s a very emotional version of the song on the live “Good Evening New York City” (2009), for example.

Anyway, back to the “Blackbird Singing” book interview…..in 2001 radio host Terri Gross asked Paul to read the words to “Here Today” out loud as a poem. In 2010, at this time of remembrance for John, its also very moving:

In his book “FAB – An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney“, author Howard Sounes recounts a story from composer and musician Eric Stewart (ex 10cc) which also sheds some light on how those words might have come about. During the early sessions for “Tug of War” McCartney was working at his friend Stewart’s Strawberry South Studios. He says at the time McCartney was going through a pretty low period:

“He said, ‘I’ve just realised that John has gone. John’s gone. He’s dead and he’s not coming back.’ And he looked completely dismayed, like shocked at something that had suddenly hit him. I said, ‘Well, it’s been a few weeks now.’ He said, ‘I know, Eric, but I’ve just realised.’ It was one of those things maybe he wanted to say something to him [John], but it was too late to say it then….”