McCartney's song was written for his girlfriend Linda Eastman, whom he soon married, telling her that she was the girl he had always been looking for.
Lennon's song was a litany where every line started with the word "everybody". The song had been recorded twice before by Lennon, prior to the Let It Be sessions. The first occurred in early December 1968 at Lennon's Kenwood estate on a portable cassette tape. For this, the lyric was "Everyone had a hard year" instead of the later "Everybody". Later in December 1968, with the lyric changed to "everybody," Lennon was filmed performing the song in the back garden of Kenwood. This footage was used in the Yoko Onoart filmRape: Film No. 6, which was broadcast on Austrian National Television on 31 March 1969.
While McCartney's song was very optimistic, Lennon had actually endured a hard year (annus horribilis)—he divorced his first wife, Cynthia Lennon, his girlfriend Yoko Ono had a miscarriage, he was arrested for drug possession, he was estranged from his son Julian and he had grown deeply unhappy in the Beatles.
In the film Let It Be, Lennon jokingly claimed he had written "Everybody Had a Hard Year" the night before.