Time to Put Record Straight, Says McCartney
By Michelle Green
LONDON (Reuters) - Former Beatle Paul McCartney hit back at critics on Saturday, saying a decision to reverse the traditional "Lennon-McCartney" songwriting credit on his new album was not a slur on his band mate but a chance to "put the record straight."
In an interview with Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper, 60-year-old McCartney said he was simply "letting people know that the songs I sing today are my own."
And he added that he had no doubts that fellow Beatle John Lennon -- killed by a lone gunman on his New York doorstep 23 years ago -- would understand the decision.
"The bottom line is I know what I wrote and so did John," McCartney told the paper.
"I'm doing nothing wrong. There was an agreement between (us) that if we ever wanted to, we could switch the Lennon and McCartney thing."
And he dismissed claims from die-hard Beatles fans that he was tarnishing the legend of Lennon.
"It has come out like I'm trying to dance on John's grave which is a pity because I am his biggest fan," he said.
"I'm the guy who knew him best...I'd hate people to think I'm trying to do him down."
McCartney's decision to switch the credits sparked a high-profile dispute with Lennon's widow Yoko Ono in December last year.
Ono was reported to be considering legal action over the matter, which she said contravened a 40-year agreement.
Her spokesman Elliot Mintz told Reuters that Ono had repeatedly rejected McCartney's requests to reverse the credits on the grounds that a "deal is a deal."
But McCartney, who has long complained that Lennon, for instance, had no input in the hit "Yesterday," wants the songs fairly labeled.
"I personally don't see any harm in John's songs such as "Strawberry Fields" and "Help" being labeled Lennon and McCartney and my songs such as "Let It Be" and "Eleanor Rigby" being labeled McCartney and Lennon," he said last year.
Speaking to the Mirror, he reiterated that point: "I wasn't being big headed. I just asked that for once in 30 years, my name could be switched as a reward."
McCartney is currently in the middle of a 16 country, sell-out world tour, due in Britain on Saturday.
The tour grossed $70 million in America, breaking box-office records in 21 cities, won Billboard's Tour of the Year and has made the former Beatle the highest-earning celebrity on earth.