John Lennon - "How Do You Sleep?"
Dissing: Paul McCartney
After Paul took a swipe at John and Yoko on "Too Many People" 1971, the typically peaceful Lennon awoke his sharp tongue and acerbic wit for the absolutely searing "How Do You Sleep." In a charged, orchestral five and a half minutes, Lennon accuses McCartney of being a washed up cuckold surrounded by yes men, cleverly incorporating lyrics and titles of Beatles and McCartney songs to to mock his former bandmate's abilities.
The most damning words may come in the third and final verse:
"A pretty face may last a year or two But pretty soon they'll see what you can do The sound you make is muzak to my ears You must have learned something in all those years"
What began with McCartney critiquing Lennon for being too preachy ended with Lennon damning McCartney's music as soft, empty trifle, disposable and soon to be forgotten, the final line suggesting John (and, by extension, the experience of working with the Beatles) as teacher and McCartney as student.
"How Do You Sleep" assaults McCartney as a man and artist, aggrandizing Lennon by comparison, a bout of incisive braggadocio as biting as any in the hallowed halls of diss songs.
The recording was reportedly so harsh--with certain more vulgar sections being edited out for the final cut--that Ringo Starr told Lennon, "That's enough, John," during a visit to a session.