When Creativity Comes in Pairs—Then Comes Apart

What ultimately brought their work together to a halt was not creative disagreements but business ones. During his power grab, John was sweet-talked by a canny, dubious manager named Allen Klein, with whom he promptly signed. George and Ringo followed—pure primate politics there. But Paul would not.

And so legend has it that the Beatles broke irrevocably apart.

Except that they never really did.

It’s tempting to think that a partnership ends like some scene in an opera, where two people come to dramatic conflict, sing emotionally in each other’s faces, and decide to separate, weeping. But more often a split happens like it does in one of those country songs about a person leaving home and never coming back, in which no one—not the one who left, not the one who was left, not the listener—really knows why.

Joshua Wolf Shenk, in The Atlantic, on the power of John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s collaboration, and how it ended.

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