Most of The Beatles‘ songs were written collaboratively but were mainly spearheaded by the creative prowess of the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership. But when Paul McCartney did things on his own, there was hell to pay.
McCartney looked back on writing and recording Why Don’t We Do It in the Road? in 1968 for The White Album. After getting the idea for the song he quickly started recording its final version.
At the time, John Lennon and George Harrison were working hard on another song for the record, so they weren’t available to add their flair to it.
So McCartney enlisted Ringo Starr to lay down the drums for the song while he wrote and recorded the guitars, bass, piano and vocals.
But Lennon was not happy when Once Why Don’t We Do It in the Road? was recorded and finalised. He told David Sheff in 1980: “That’s Paul. He even recorded it by himself in another room. That’s how it was getting in those days. We came in and he’d made the whole record. Him drumming. Him playing the piano. Him singing.”
He added: “Still, I can’t speak for George, but I was always hurt when Paul would knock something off without involving us. But that’s just the way it was then.”
Lennon went on to say: “But he couldn’t – maybe he couldn’t make the break from The Beatles. I don’t know what it was, you know. I enjoyed the track.”
McCartney later defended the solo artist nature of the song’s recording. He told author Hunter Davies: “It wasn’t a deliberate thing. John and George were tied up finishing something and me and Ringo were free, just hanging around, so I said to Ringo: ‘Let’s go and do this.'”
McCartney claimed he was being singled out by Lennon. And he added that the star did the exact same thing without any repercussions.
The Hey Jude star said: “Anyway, he did the same with ‘Revolution 9’. He went off and made that without me. No one ever says that. John is the nice guy and I’m the b*****d. It gets repeated all the time.”
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“We had no problems with that,” Starr added nonchalantly.
McCartney was also very open about where the idea for the song came from. “I was up on the flat roof meditating and I’d seen a troupe of monkeys walking along in the jungle and a male just hopped on to the back of this female and gave her one, as they say in the vernacular,” McCartney said while recalling his time in India.
McCartney went on: “Within two or three seconds he hopped off again, and looked around as if to say: ‘It wasn’t me,’ and she looked around as if there had been some mild disturbance but thought: ‘Huh, I must have imagined it,’ and she wandered off.”
He later added: “‘Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?’ could have applied to either f*****g or s******g, to put it roughly. Why don’t we do either of them in the road? Well, the answer is we’re civilised and we don’t. But the song was just to pose that question. ‘Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?’ was a primitive statement to do with sex or to do with freedom really. I like it, it’s just so outrageous that I like it.”