During a new profile of Paul McCartney in The New York Times Magazine, the former-Beatle looked back on his late-bandmates, John Lennon and George Harrison, and his reaction to their early deaths. Lennon was just 40 in 1980 when he was murdered outside his Manhattan apartment by a deranged fan, and Harrison died at age 58 in 2001 after several years of battling cancer — which was further complicated by a viscous knife attack by a crazed home intruder.
With his new album McCartney III marking his first one-man-band project in 40 years — McCartney was asked if he dwells of Lennon's death, which also happened 1980. McCartney admitted, “It’s difficult for me to think about. I rerun the scenario in my head. Very emotional. So much so that I can’t really think about it. It kind of implodes. What can you think about that besides anger, sorrow? Like any bereavement, the only way out is to remember how good it was with John. Because I can’t get over the senseless act. I can’t think about it. I’m sure it’s some form of denial. But denial is the only way that I can deal with it.”
He went on to say, “Having said that, of course I do think about it, and it’s horrible. You do things to help yourself out of it. I did an interview (recently) with Sean, his son. That was nice — to talk about how cool John was and fill in little gaps in his knowledge. So it’s little things that I am able to do, but I know that none of them can get over the hill and make it okay. But y'know, after he was killed, he was taken to Frank Campbell’s funeral parlor in New York. I’m often passing that. I never pass it without saying: 'All right, John. Hi, John.'”
McCartney spoke about his final visit with George Harrison at a Staten Island hospital only weeks before he succumbed to cancer: “I remember he was getting a bit annoyed at having to travel all the time — chasing a cure. He’d gone to Geneva to see what they could do. Then he came to a special clinic in New York to see what they could do. Then the thought was to go to L.A. and see what they could do. He was sort of getting a bit, 'Can’t we just stay in one place?' And I said: 'Yes, Speke Hall. Let’s go to Speke Hall (in Liverpool).' That was one of the last things we said to each other, knowing that he would be the only person in the room who would know what Speke Hall was. . . Anyway, the nice thing for me when I was holding George’s hands, he looked at me, and there was a smile.”
Paul McCartney said that John Lennon worried about his legacy after he had gone. In CBS' online 60 Minutes “Overtime” video featuring cutting room floor footage from the show's 2018 segment on him, McCartney revealed Lennon showed a vulnerable side, recalling: “I remember John was a bit insecure — (feigns incredulousness) What???? John Lennon??? — And I remember him once, particularly, strangely out of the blue, saying, 'I worry about how people are gonna remember me.' And I was, like, 'John, listen to me — look at me: you're gonna be remembered as one of the greatest people (takes a deep breath) I'm getting choked up. And I say. . . ''Cause you are, y'know, you're fantastic.'”
McCartney admitted that John Lennon and George Harrison frequently pop up in his dreams these days: “I often have dreams about John — or George. I often dream about people who aren't here anymore, I think it's one of the great things about dreams, 'cause you get to re-meet them. You get to hang out with them and it's only when you wake up, you're 'Oh. Oh, (snaps fingers) yeah, it was dream.' And they tend to be very good.” (17 OC: . . . be very good)