Douglas was just moderating, but it seems he couldn’t resist this striking declaration. He turned to Lennon. “Is he your best friend, Paul?”
“I guess in the male sex he,” John stammered, “— he was. I don’t know about now, because I don’t see much of him, you know.”
Two years later, John would mix up his tenses when describing Paul in an even more revealing way. It was Thanksgiving night in 1974, when he joined Elton John at a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden.
“I’d like to thank Elton and the boys for having me on tonight,” he said. “We tried to think of a number to finish off with so I can get out of here and be sick, and we thought we’d do a number of an old, estranged fiance of mine, called Paul. This is one I never sang. It’s an old Beatle number and we just about know it.”
The song was “I Saw Her Standing There.”
Though he lived another six years, John Lennon never took the stage for a major show again. His strange words have a peculiar and lasting echo. By then, Paul and John had been the most famous exes in the world for four years. But somehow, they were still “fiances”—prospective spouses. As much as had passed, the energy between them was always in front of them—always, somehow, in the future."