We often think of creative geniuses – but what about creative genius pairs? The latest issue of The Atlantic looks at some, including John Lennon and Paul McCartney:
For centuries, the myth of the lone genius has towered over us, its shadow obscuring the way creative work really gets done. The attempts to pick apart the Lennon-McCartney partnership reveal just how misleading that myth can be, because John and Paul were so obviously more creative as a pair than as individuals, even if at times they appeared to work in opposition to each other. The lone-genius myth prevents us from grappling with a series of paradoxes about creative pairs: that distance doesn’t impede intimacy, and is often a crucial ingredient of it; that competition and collaboration are often entwined. Only when we explore this terrain can we grasp how such pairs as Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, William and Dorothy Wordsworth, and Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy all managed to do such creative work. The essence of their achievements, it turns out, was relational. If that seems far-fetched, it’s because our cultural obsession with the individual has obscured the power of the creative pair.
John and Paul epitomize this power. Geoff Emerick—who served as the principal engineer for EMI on Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, some of The White Album, and Abbey Road—recognized from the outset that the two formed a single creative being. “Even from the earliest days,” he wrote in his memoir, Here, There and Everywhere, “I always felt that the artist was John Lennon and Paul McCartney, not the Beatles.”