"I remember it to this day, you know, exactly where I was when he said it": Paul McCartney's favourite song he's ever written is possibly the only one John Lennon ever complimented him on directly

The Beatles posing together. From left to right: musicians George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, circa 1965.
(Image credit: Bettmann /Getty Images)

If you're Paul McCartney picking favourites is a thankless task – the sheer breadth of his seven years of writing songs with the Beatles would be enough to dodge the question. But he does have a special place in his heart for one particular Revolver creation, and it showcases why his songwriting could be so different… and yet familiar.

As he admitted with the remarkable dream state account that conjured up the song Yesterday, the influence of the previous generation would often seep into McCartney's creative mind. This was the music of his parents and music-loving family that were embedded in his childhood memories. 

"One of my favourite songs because of its structure is Cheek To Cheek," revealed McCartney of the 1930s influence of American songwriter Irving Berlin in the podcast McCartney: A Life In Lyrics. "As sung by Fred Astaire. And I liked it very much before it starts off, 'Heaven, I'm in heaven… then the middle eight, 'Will carry me through to… heaven…' It's just like, yes! The way it just resolves up its own tail I always found wonderful. And I think somebody said I do it in this.

This being Here, There And Everywhere. This is a cornerstone moment in McCartney's rapid evolution as a songwriter in the 1960s, and a frankly staggering piece of work for a musician who was just 24 years old when Revolver was released in 1966. 

McCartney likens the song's structure to a journey with an unexpected destination. "I like the fact that we think that we're on a path on the Moors, and we think we're going for a walk and then suddenly we've arrived where we've started," he explains in the podcast. "And it's not like we've gone around in a circle, it's more magical than that – we've come to another beginning of the path."     

"It's this trick where you're suddenly where you were but it's surprising – you're where you were, but you're not. Because you can see back where you came from and you're definitely not there. You're at a new place, but it's tricked you and it's got the same scenery again."

Nevertheless, the song has a defined introduction before its verse in eight measures that are never repeated. And again, it's the influence of the past that's very clearly being referenced by its writer.

John and I were fascinated by this idea that in the old days they did this complete ramble that didn't appear to be like the rest of the song at all

"John and I were fascinated by this idea that in the old days they did this complete ramble that didn't appear to be like [the rest of] the song at all," explains McCartney of his and John Lennon's mindset. So while much is made of the Beatles' revolution in pop music in song and production approach, it was also partnered with clear nods to the past at times. 

It was Lennon who indirectly facilitated Here, There And Everywhere in the first place. "I remember writing this song while waiting for John one day," recalls McCartney in the podcast. "I'd gone out to his house in Weybridge for a writing session and he wasn't always up so I would have 20 minutes, half an hour while someone told him I was here, and he would get up."

And that's seemingly all it took for McCartney to start the ball rolling, alone with an acoustic guitar. "I remember sitting out by his swimming pool at his house in Weybridge and I had my guitar because I was ready for the writing session. And so I sat out and started something… I just went nice and smoothly so by the time I came to write with John, by the time he deigned to get up and have his coffee, I would have something to go on. "

Portland, Ore.: John Lennon (right) smiles as Paul McCartney speaks at press conference held after Beatles performance in Portland.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lennon is also credited on the song, but it's a McCartney composition… as far as he remembers.

"It does sound like something I might have done by the poolside and just sort of delivered to him," he tells Muldoon during the podcast episode focussed on the song. "Because it doesn't sound like anyone else's work – it sounds like one head."

So why the credit for both musicians? 

"Paul and I made a deal when we were 15, Lennon told Playboy magazine in an interview three months before his murder. "There was never a legal deal between us, just a deal we made when we decided to write together that we put both our names on it, no matter what." Notably, Here There And Everywhere was a song Lennon also deeply admired. In 1 1972 interview with Hit Parader he confirmed the song was written by McCartney alone, and described it as "a great one of his." But unusually, he also told his bandmate similar in person. 

"I was rooming with John… in the hotel we were staying at," McCartney told Howard Stern in 2018 about filming skiing scenes around Obertauern in Austrian Alps during March 1965 for the film Help! with the other Beatles. "And we had – it was a cassette I think, in those days – of the album [demos]! And we play Here There And Everywhere and he said: 'Wow! That’s a really great song!'"

That would place the song's writing to when McCartney was only 23 years-old, and it's surprising that the demo was in existence over a year before the song was recorded at Abbey Road for the Revolvr album in mid-June, 1966. By his own admittance, this kind of direct compliment was a rarity amongst the members of the band ("Because we're guys!"), but coming from McCartney's main songwriting partner/rival it was a huge moment. 

"It was really nice! I remember it to this day, you know, exactly where I was when he said it! Uh, it was great, yeah! It really gave me a lot of confidence in that song, and in my writing."

McCartney spoke about the incident before in the Beatles Anthology book from 2000. "John and I shared a room and we were taking off our heavy ski boots after a day’s filming, ready to have a shower and get ready for the nice bit, the evening meal and the drinks," he recalled. "We were playing a cassette of our new recordings and my song Here, There And Everywhere’ was on. And I remember John saying, ‘You know, I probably like that better than any of my songs on the tape.’ Coming from John, that was high praise indeed."

The Beatles - Here, There and Everywhere - YouTube The Beatles - Here, There and Everywhere - YouTube
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Even McCartney himself is somewhat fascinated with his own work on this song in retrospect. "I like the line 'Changing my life with the wave of her hand' he tells Paul Muldoon on the Puskin podcast A Life In Lyrics. "I look at those kinds of lyrics now and think, where did that come from? What was I thinking of – the queen, waving out of a royal carriage or just my love [who] can just do it by hardly doing anything… it says a lot in a line."

Here, There And Everywhere remains McCartney's favourite song he's written, when under pressure to answer, running Yesterday to a close second. "I'm often asked what my favourite song I've ever written is and I don't ever really want to answer it," McCartney told Muldoon. "But when pushed I'd go to Here, There And Everywhere."

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.