Paul McCartney Reveals Why He Wrote ‘Diss Track’ About John Lennon

by Jonathan Howard

Back when the Beatles broke up, it wasn’t a clean and kind break. Paul McCartney and John Lennon both took shots at each other. Of course, the legendary songwriters did so through lyrics. For McCartney, his “diss track” is rather subtle.

The song, Too Many People is a song that McCartney featured on his 1971 album Ram. During this time, the relationship between the former bandmates was strained. John Lennon had moved on and was becoming a more public and outspoken figure.

Paul McCartney talked to BBC Radio 4 about the song. He also discussed the various songs that Lennon had written about him. The singer also noted the dynamic with Yoko Ono.

“This song was written a year or so after the Beatles break-up,” McCartney explained. “At the time, John [Lennon] was firing missiles at me with his songs, and one or two of them were quite cruel. I don’t know what he hoped to gain other than punching me in the face, the whole thing really annoyed me. I decided to turn my missiles on him too, but I’m not really that kind of writer, so it was quite veiled. It was the 1970s equivalent of what might today be called a diss track.”

When it came down to it, Paul McCartney didn’t like the new Lennon. He was “telling everyone what they ought to do.” So, he wrote the song.

“I just got fed up being told what to do, so I wrote this song… The first verse and the chorus have pretty much all the anger I could muster, and when I did the vocal on the second line ‘Too many reaching for a piece of cake,’ I remember singing it as ‘piss off cake,’ which you can hear if you really listen to it.”

Paul McCartney, John Lennon Rivalry ‘A Bit Weird and A Bit Nasty’

The breakup of the Beatles was not an easy one that is for sure. It wasn’t just these songs, but the personal feelings between members. Despite what fans and those on the outside looking in having said over the years, Paul McCartney had no issue with Yoko. That is, until after the breakup.

“I had been able to accept Yoko in the studio sitting on a blanket in front of my amp,” the singer said. “I worked hard to come to terms with that, but then when we broke up and everyone was now flailing around, John turned nasty.”

One thing that Paul McCartney noted was his lack of energy for those songs. Even though he had those emotions, he doesn’t write angry songs. Looking back, the artist says that the breakup was, “a bit weird and a bit nasty.”