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McCartney 'puts record straight'

McCartney wants credit for the songs he wrote.
McCartney wants credit for the songs he wrote.

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LONDON, England (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 -- currently on the European leg of his Back in the World tour -- 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 has been performing 22 Beatles songs at each of his world tour dates, almost twice as many as the band ever played during its own British shows.

As well as classics such as "All My Loving," "Can't Buy Me Love" and "She's Leaving Home," McCartney performs a dozen hits from his time as a solo artist and with band Wings.

Album sparks row with Yoko

All of which has been captured on a live album, which last December sparked a high-profile row with Lennon's widow Yoko Ono.

Ono was reported to be considering legal action after McCartney switched the songwriter credits on the album to read "McCartney and Lennon," a move 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 labelled.

"I personally don't see any harm in John's songs such as "Strawberry Fields" and "Help" being labelled Lennon and McCartney and my songs such as "Let It Be" and "Eleanor Rigby" being labelled 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's 16 country, sell-out world tour, starts its British leg on Saturday, before moving on to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Vienna and Antwerp.

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.

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