N E W Y O R K, April 30, 2001 -- On the day his friend John Lennon was murdered, Paul McCartney recalls, "The phrase that kept coming into my head about the guy who'd done it was 'jerk of all jerks.'"
"Like everyone, I was just totally shocked and horrified that this great person had been snatched from us," says McCartney, "and we'd been robbed of this beautiful human being."
McCartney says he used the refrain in a poem he later wrote. It appears in his newly released book Blackbird Singing: Poems and Lyrics, 1965-1999.
'Jerk of all Jerks'
McCartney read excerpts from his poems on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America.
I'm a motorist that quite likes a drink when he drives, who causes the loss of innocent lives.
I'm the guy with a pistol who kills your best friend.
You can't really blame me 'cause I'm round the bend. Hello, how are you? I'm jerk of all jerks. I'm here to undo all your charitable works and I do it quite simply by making mistakes and one little boo-boo is all that it takes and you're at the mercy of jerk of all jerks.I'm the man that disposes of nuclear waste. There's no need to worry it's perfectly safe. In fact there is now every reason to hope that if anything happens I'll easily cope. Hello, how are you? I'm jerk of all jerks … I'm the leader who says as he wages his war that the children are not ones that he's aiming for. Hello, How are you? I'm jerk of all jerks …
"It's that guy," says McCartney of the character in his poem. "We all know him."
"We're all at risk from that kind of person. But that, to me, had to do with the guy who killed John."
In another McCartney poem, "Here Today," there is a phrase he wrote about a special night he spent with Lennon:
What about the night we cried? Because there wasn't any reason left to keep it all inside. Never understood a word, but you were always there with a smile.
"That's another, that's actually a song that I wrote for John. And, after he died, it was just me, imagining, 'If you were here today, what would you say?' You know? Would you laugh it off and wouldn't want to get serious about it?"
The Night We Cried
McCartney says the night he refers to in "Here Today" was about an actual night on tour with the Beatles. The band was supposed to play Jacksonville, Fla., but because of a hurricane warning they were diverted to Key West.
"We stayed up all night, and we got drunk and we talked a lot, and we got way too deep, and got into each other's characters, " McCartney recalls. "We never had much time to do that with the Beatles, so this was probably a good thing, and we ended up crying.
"So in the song that's something we wouldn't have admitted, later. So I'm just reminding myself that we got that intimate. That's why we loved each other so much in the Beatles."