The Beatles, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Harrison

(Photo by PA Images/Sipa USA)

Mathematician Solves 50-Year-Old Beatles Mystery

August 14, 2018

Whether or not Paul is dead is still a matter of debate, but mathematics professor Jason Brown solved another Beatles-mystery, one 50 years in the making.

The general rule of thumb for Beatles fans was whoever is singing the song is most likely the one who wrote it.  However, this has sparked a number of debates on the authorship of certain hits, including their 1965 hit, "In My Life."

Lennon sings the track, so most fans assume he wrote the music and lyrics.  However, in a 1980 interview with Playboy, Lennon admitted that McCartney wrote the song's "middle eight," only to have McCartney later say he wrote the entire tune, and Lennon only provided the lyrics.  Jason Brown found a way to determine who's telling the truth.

Brown used what's known as a "bag of words."  Like a word cloud which searches for the most commonly used words in a sample of text, Brown's method searched for musical phrases and chord transitions across The Beatles' entire catalogue of music.  Obviously, the songwriter would be more apt to use their own phrasing and chord transitions in their songs, and therefore it would be easier to determine who wrote what.

Brown found that the possibility that McCartney wrote "In My Life" rested at .018, so highly unlikely, meaning Lennon was most likely the sole songwriter, with some input.  

A 50 year mystery solved!  Now, time to tackle if Paul was really dead.

Via AV Club