John Lennon

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All we are saying is give peace a chance
Nothing really affected me until I heard Elvis. If there hadn't been an Elvis, there wouldn't have been the Beatles.

John Ono Lennon (9 October 19408 December 1980), born John Winston Lennon, was a singer, songwriter, guitarist, political activist, humorist, painter, writer and founding member of The Beatles. He was married to Yoko Ono.

Quotes[edit]

We're more popular than Jesus now…Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary.
Remember love. The only hope for any of us is peace. Violence begets violence. If you want to get peace, you can get it as soon as you like if we all pull together.
You are what you are. Get out there and get peace. Think peace, live peace, and breathe peace and you'll get it as soon as you like.
I think our opposition, whoever they may be, in all their manifest forms, don't know how to handle humor… we stand a better chance under that guise, because all the serious people, like Martin Luther King, and Kennedy, and Gandhi, got shot.
We're trying to sell peace, like a product, you know, and sell it like people sell soap or soft drinks. And it's the only way to get people aware that peace is possible, and it isn't just inevitable to have violence.
You feel alone if you're the only one thinking 'wouldn't it be nice if there was peace and nobody was getting killed.' So advertise yourself that you're for peace if you believe in it.
We announce the birth of a conceptual country, NUTOPIA. Citizenship of the country can be obtained by declaration of your awareness of NUTOPIA. NUTOPIA has no land, no boundaries, no passports, only people. NUTOPIA has no laws other than cosmic.
The thing the sixties did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn't the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.
I really thought that love would save us all.
Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.
  • For our last number, I'd like to ask your help. Would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands. And the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewelry.
    • Royal Variety Performance in London (4 November 1963) attended by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and Princess Margaret. Of this incident Mark Hertsgaard reports in A Day in the Life : The Music and Artistry of the Beatles (1995): "The remark provoked warm laughter and applause, and was greeted with profound relief by Beatles manager Brian Epstein, who had feared Lennon would make good on his pre-performance threat to tell them to "rattle their fuckin' jewelry."
  • There's only one person in the United States we ever wanted to meet ... not that he wanted us. And we met him last night. We can't tell you how we felt. We just idolised him so much. ... You can't imagine what a thrill that was last night. Nothing really affected me until I heard Elvis. If there hadn't been an Elvis, there wouldn't have been the Beatles.
    • Statement (28 August 1965) after meeting Elvis Presley, as quoted in The Leading Men of MGM (2005) by Jane Ellen Wayne, p. 386; also partly quoted in The Beatles : The Authorized Biography (1968) by Hunter Davies, p. 19
    • It was a load of rubbish. It was like meeting Engelbert Humperdinck.
      • Later comments on meeting Elvis, as quoted in The Beatles: The Biography (2005) by Bob Spitz, p. 583.
  • "One cave she wolf go too farther, and I wolf leaf her" he said to his fave rave horse. Of course the horse didn't answer, because as you know they cannot speak, least of all to a garlic eating, stinking, little yellow greasy fascist bastard catholic Spaniard. They soon made it up howevans and Jesus and wee Spastic were once morphia unitely in a love that knew no Suzie. The only thing that puzzled Jesus was why his sugarboot got so annoyed when he called her his little Spastic in public.
    • "A Spaniard In The Works" from A Spaniard In The Works (1965); this has been sometimes been misquoted as if Lennon were speaking specifically about Jesus Christ, when in fact, it is part of the odd narration of an odd story with elements of satire, about a Spanish groom named "Jesus El Pifico".
  • Christianity will go.. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue with that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first — rock and roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me.
    • One of the most controversial statements Lennon ever made, this was published in England's Evening Standard newspaper (4 March 1966) as part of an interview with writer Maureen Cleave.
  • I suppose if I had said television was more popular than Jesus, I would have gotten away with it. I'm sorry I opened my mouth. I'm not anti-God, anti-Christ, or anti-religion. I wasn't knocking it or putting it down. I was just saying it as a fact and it's true more for England than here. I'm not saying that we're better or greater, or comparing us with Jesus Christ as a person or God as a thing or whatever it is. I just said what I said and it was wrong. Or it was taken wrong. And now it's all this.
    • News conference in Chicago, where he apologized for the above statement, which was accepted by the Vatican. (11 August 1966)
  • We thought being offered the M.B.E. [Member of the Order of the British Empire] was as funny as everybody else thought it was. Why? What for? We didn't believe it. It was a part we didn't want. We all met and agreed it was daft.
    • Quoted by Hunter Davies in The Beatles (1968)
  • It was just a gradual development over the years. Last year was "All You Need Is Love." This year it's "Give Peace a Chance." Remember love. The only hope for any of us is peace. Violence begets violence. If you want to get peace, you can get it as soon as you like if we all pull together. You're all geniuses and you're all beautiful. You don't need anybody to tell you who you are or what you are. You are what you are. Get out there and get peace. Think peace, live peace, and breathe peace and you'll get it as soon as you like. Okay?
    • Statement to the press in July 1969 after the release of the Plastic Ono Band's single "Give Peace a Chance", as quoted in The Beatles: An Oral History by David Pritchard and Alan Lysaght (1998) New York: Hyperion. ISBN: 0786864362. OCLC: 39093547. p. 285.
  • What's Bagism? It's like... a tag for what we all do, we're all in a bag ya know, and we realised that we came from two bags, I was in this pop bag going round and round in my little clique, and she was in her little avant-garde clique going round and round, and you're in your little tele clique and they're in their...ya know? and we all sort of come out and look at each other every now and then, but we don't communicate. And we all intellectualise about how there is no barrier between art, music, poetry... but we're still all "I'm a rock and roller, he's a poet" ... so we just came up with the word so you would ask us what bagism is, and we'd say "WE'RE ALL IN A BAG BABY!"
  • We're trying to sell peace, like a product, you know, and sell it like people sell soap or soft drinks. And it's the only way to get people aware that peace is possible, and it isn't just inevitable to have violence. Not just war — all forms of violence. People just accept it and think 'Oh, they did it, or Harold Wilson did it, or Nixon did it,' they're always scapegoating people. And it isn't Nixon's fault. We're all responsible for everything that goes on, you know, we're all responsible for Biafra and Hitler and everything. So we're just saying "SELL PEACE" — anybody interested in peace just stick it in the window. It's simple but it lets somebody else know that you want peace too, because you feel alone if you're the only one thinking 'wouldn't it be nice if there was peace and nobody was getting killed.' So advertise yourself that you're for peace if you believe in it.
    • Interview on The David Frost Show (14 June 1969)
  • I'd like to say "thank you" on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we passed the audition.
Closing line of the Beatles' rooftop concert on (30 January 1969), this was also the last line of the Let It Be film and the album version of "Get Back"
  • When I was about twelve, I used to think I must be a genius, but nobody's noticed. Either I'm a genius or I'm mad, which is it? "No," I said, "I can't be mad because nobody's put me away; therefore I'm a genius." Genius is a form of madness and we're all that way. But I used to be coy about it, like me guitar playing. But if there's such a thing as genius — I am one. And if there isn't, I don't care.
    • John Lennon interview with Rolling Stone magazine (December 1970)
  • If people take any notice of what we say, we say we've been through the drug scene, man, and there's nothing like being straight.
    • The Dick Cavett Show (24 September 1971)
  • All that business was awful, it was a fuckin' humiliation. One has to completely humiliate oneself to be what the Beatles were, and that's what I resent. I didn't know, I didn't foresee. It happened bit by bit, gradually, until this complete craziness is surrounding you, and you're doing exactly what you don't want to do with people you can't stand — the people you hated when you were ten.
    • As quoted in Rolling Stone (7 January 1971) , and requoted in The Sociology of Rock by Simon Frith, 1978 ISBN 0094602204
  • It's just natural, it's not a great disaster. People keep talking about it like it's The End of The Earth. It's only a rock group that split up, it's nothing important. You know, you have all the old records there if you want to reminisce.
    • Interview on Scene And Heard by David Wigg (25 October 1971)
  • If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry.
  • We announce the birth of a conceptual country, NUTOPIA.
    Citizenship of the country can be obtained by declaration of your awareness of NUTOPIA.
    NUTOPIA has no land, no boundaries, no passports, only people.
    NUTOPIA has no laws other than cosmic.

    All people of NUTOPIA are ambassadors of the country.
    As two ambassadors of NUTOPIA, we ask for diplomatic immunity and recognition in the United Nations of our country and our people.
    • Declaration of Nutopia, co-signed with Yoko Ono, (1 April 1973); also published in the liner notes of Mind Games (1973)
  • ' It makes rock concerts look like tea parties.
    • Commenting on American Football, in interview with Howard Cosell on ABC Television (December 1974)
  • The thing the sixties did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn't the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.
    • Interview for KFRC RKO Radio (8 December 1980)
  • I've always considered my work one piece and I consider that my work won't be finished until I am dead and buried and I hope that's a long, long time.
    • Interview with RKO Radio on the day of his murder (8 December 1980)
  • I've sold my soul to the devil.
    • On the commercial success of the Beatles, as quoted in Lennon (1985) by Ray Coleman
  • Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. ... I think we're being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I'm liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That's what's insane about it.
    • "What Can I Tell You about Myself which You Have Not Already Found Out from Those Who Do Not Lie?" in The Beatles Anthology (2000)
  • Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.
  • You have to be! (Laughs) You might get shot!
    • Responding to a reporter question during The Beatles Australian tour of if they were aware of everything going on around them. [1]
  • When we say "War is over if you want it," we mean that if everyone demanded peace instead of another TV set, we'd have peace.

Playboy interview (1980)[edit]

Interview with David Sheff (September 1980), published (posthumously) in Playboy (January 1981)
It can never be again!
I don't have any romanticism about any part of my past.
Part of me suspects that I'm a loser and the other part of me thinks I'm God Almighty.
I'm the famous one, the one who's supposed to know everything, but she's my teacher. She's taught me everything I fucking know.
  • It can never be again! Everyone always talks about a good thing coming to an end, as if life was over. But I'll be 40 when this interview comes out. Paul is 38. Elton John, Bob Dylan — we're all relatively young people. The game isn't over yet. Everyone talks in terms of the last record or the last Beatle concert — but, God willing, there are another 40 years of productivity to go. I'm not judging whether "I Am The Walrus" is better or worse than "Imagine." It is for others to judge. I am doing it. I do. I don't stand back and judge — I do.
    • On talk of a Beatles re-union
  • I don't have any romanticism about any part of my past. I think of it only inasmuch as it gave me pleasure or helped me grow psychologically. That is the only thing that interests me about yesterday. I don't believe in yesterday, by the way. You know I don't believe in yesterday. I am only interested in what I am doing now.
  • Where do people get off saying the Beatles should give $200,000,000 to South America? You know, America has poured billions into places like that. It doesn't mean a damn thing. After they've eaten that meal, then what? It lasts for only a day. After the $200,000,000 is gone, then what? It goes round and round in circles. You can pour money in forever. After Peru, then Harlem, then Britain. There is no one concert. We would have to dedicate the rest of our lives to one world concert tour, and I'm not ready for it. Not in this lifetime, anyway.
    • Responding to suggestion that the Beatles should reunite to perform benefit concerts.
  • Part of me suspects that I'm a loser and the other part of me thinks I'm God Almighty.
    • About the song "I'm a Loser"; sometimes misquoted as "Half of me thinks I am a loser, the other half thinks I am God Almighty."
  • I've had cocaine, but I don't like it. The Beatles had lots of it in their day, but it's a dumb drug, because you have to have another one 20 minutes later. Your whole concentration goes on getting the next fix. Really, I find caffeine is easier to deal with. ... A little mushroom or peyote is not beyond my scope, you know, maybe twice a year or something. You don't hear about it anymore, but people are still visiting the cosmos. We must always remember to thank the CIA and the Army for LSD. That's what people forget. ... They invented LSD to control people and what they did was give us freedom. Sometimes it works in mysterious ways its wonders to perform.
  • In England, there are only two things to be, basically: You are either for the labor movement or for the capitalist movement. Either you become a right-wing Archie Bunker if you are in the class I am in, or you become an instinctive socialist, which I was. That meant I think people should get their false teeth and their health looked after, all the rest of it. But apart from that, I worked for money and I wanted to be rich. So what the hell — if that's a paradox, then I'm a socialist. But I am not anything. What I used to be is guilty about money. That's why I lost it, either by giving it away or by allowing myself to be screwed by so-called managers.
  • What would you suggest I do? Give everything away and walk the streets? The Buddhist says, "Get rid of the possessions of the mind." Walking away from all the money would not accomplish that. It's like the Beatles. I couldn't walk away from the Beatles. That's one possession that's still tagging along, right?
  • It takes time to get rid of all this garbage that I've been carrying around that was influencing the way I thought and the way I lived. It had a lot to do with Yoko, showing me that I was still possessed. I left physically when I fell in love with Yoko, but mentally it took the last ten years of struggling. I learned everything from her. ... It is a teacher-pupil relationship. That's what people don't understand. She's the teacher and I'm the pupil. I'm the famous one, the one who's supposed to know everything, but she's my teacher. She's taught me everything I fucking know. She's my Don Juan ... a Don Juan doesn't have a following. A Don Juan isn't in the newspaper and doesn't have disciples and doesn't proselytize.
  • We never made love in a bag. People probably imagined that we were making love. It was just, all of us are in a bag, you know. The point was the outline of the bag, you know, the movement of the bag, how much we see of a person, you know. But, inside, there might be a lot going on. Or maybe nothing's going on.
  • I go to restaurants and the groups always play "Yesterday." I even signed a guy's violin in Spain after he played us "Yesterday." He couldn't understand that I didn't write the song. But I guess he couldn't have gone from table to table playing "I Am The Walrus."
later publishings of the full interview
  • Nor do I think we came from monkeys, by the way...That's another piece of garbage. What the hell's it based on? We couldn't've come from anything--fish, maybe, but not monkeys. I don't believe in the evolution of fish to monkeys to men. Why aren't monkeys changing into men now? It's absolute garbage. It's absolutely irrational garbage, as mad as the ones who believe the world was made only four thousand years ago, the fundamentalists.
    That and the monkey thing are both as insane as the other. I’ve nothing to base it on; it’s only a gut feeling. They always draw that progression-these apes standing up suddenly. The early men are always drawn like apes, right? Because that fits in the theory we have been living with since Darwin. I don't buy that monkey business. [Singing] "Too much monkey business..." [Laughing] I don' t buy it. I've got no basis for it and no theory to offer, I just don't buy it. Something other than that. Something simpler. I don't buy I've got no basis for it and no theory to offer, I just don't buy it. Something other than that. Something simpler. I don't buy anything other than "It always was and ever shall be." I can't conceive of anything less or more. The other theories change all the time. They set up these idols and then they knock them down. It keeps all the old professors happy in the university. It gives them something to do. I don't know if there's any harm in it except they ram it down everybody's throat. Everything they told me as a kid has already been disproved by the same type of "experts" who made them up in the first place.
    • (Omitted from the original 1980 Playboy interview). Complete text of the interview in, All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, 2000, David Sheff, G. Barry Golson, St. Martin's Griffin; ISBN 0312254644 ISBN 9780312254643, pp. 112-113.[2] [Originally published in October 1981 as The Playboy Interviews with John Lennon and Yōko Ono]. [3]. Complete fragment available at EvolutionNews.org.
  • It just came to me. Everybody was going on about karma, especially in the Sixties. But it occurred to me that karma is instant as well as it influences your past life or your future life. There really is a reaction to what you do now. That's what people ought to be concerned about. Also, I'm fascinated by commercials and promotion as an art form. I enjoy them. So the idea of instant karma was like the idea of instant coffee: presenting something in a new form. I just liked it.
    • On his song "Instant Karma!", prompted by the use of the phrase "Instant Karma" by Melinde Kendall, the wife of Yoko Ono's former husband Tony Cox, as quoted in All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono (2000) by David Sheff

Rolling Stone interview (1980)[edit]

Some of this material was not published until the 30th anniversary of his death in 2010
  • These critics with the illusions they've created about artists — it's like idol worship. They only like people when they're on their way up ... I cannot be on the way up again. ... What they want is dead heroes, like Sid Vicious and James Dean. I'm not interesting in being a dead (expletive) hero. ... So forget 'em, forget 'em."
  • I'm not claiming divinity. I've never claimed purity of soul. I've never claimed to have the answers to life. I only put out songs and answer questions as honestly as I can ... But I still believe in peace, love and understanding.

The Beatles Anthology (2000)[edit]

All kids draw and write poetry and everything, and some of us last until we're about eighteen, but most drop off at about twelve when some guy comes up and says, "You're no good." That's all we get told all our lives.
I don't mind people putting us down, because if everybody really liked us, it would be a bore.
I'm not a god or the God, but we're all God and we're all potentially divine — and potentially evil. We all have everything within us and the Kingdom of Heaven is nigh and within us, and if you look hard enough you'll see it.
Don't believe that jazz about there's nothing you can do, "turn on and drop out, man" — because you've got to turn on and drop in, or they're going to drop all over you.
  • Everything is as important as everything else.
    • On influences, p. 8
  • I wouldn't say I was a born writer; I'm a born thinker.
    • p. 9
  • All kids draw and write poetry and everything, and some of us last until we're about eighteen, but most drop off at about twelve when some guy comes up and says, "You're no good." That's all we get told all our lives. "You haven't got the ability. You're a cobbler." It happened to all of us, but if somebody had told me all my life, "Yeah, you're a great artist," I would have been a more secure person.
    • p. 9
  • I don't mind people putting us down, because if everybody really liked us, it would be a bore. You've got to have people putting you down. It doesn't give any edge to it if everybody just falls flat on their face saying, "You're great." We enjoy some of the criticisms as well, they're quite funny; some of the clever criticisms, not the ones that don't know anything, but some of the clever ones are quite fun.
    • p. 120
  • Happiness is just how you feel when you don't feel miserable.
    • p. 171
  • We must always remember to thank the CIA and the Army for LSD, by the way. Everything is the opposite of what it is, isn't it? They brought out LSD to control people, and what they did was give us freedom. Sometimes it works in mysterious ways its wonders to perform. But it sure as hell performs them. If you look a the government report book on acid, the only ones who jumped out of windows because of it were the ones in the Army. I never knew anybody who jumped out of a window or killed themselves because of it.
    • p. 179
  • I've never met anybody who's had a flashback in my life and I took millions of trips in the Sixties, and I've never met anybody who had any problem. I've had bad trips, but I've had bad trips in real life. I've had a bad trip on a joint. I can get paranoid just sitting in a restaurant; I don't have to take anything.
    • p. 180
  • I don't need to go to church. I respect churches because of the sacredness that's been put on them over the years by people who do believe. But I think a lot of bad things have happened in the name of the church and in the name of Christ. Therefore I shy away from church, and as Donovan once said, "I go to my own church in my own temple once a day." And I think people who need a church should go. And the others who know the church is in your own head should visit that temple because that's where the source is. We're all God. Christ said, "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you." And the Indians say that and the Zen people say that. We're all God. I'm not a god or the God, but we're all God and we're all potentially divine — and potentially evil. We all have everything within us and the Kingdom of Heaven is nigh and within us, and if you look hard enough you'll see it.
    • p. 226
  • Don't believe that jazz about there's nothing you can do, "turn on and drop out, man" — because you've got to turn on and drop in, or they're going to drop all over you.
    • p. 263
  • She forced me to become avant-garde and take my clothes off, when all I wanted was to be Tom Jones.
    • p. 300
  • I think a label like "avant-garde" defeats itself. You learn to have avant-garde exhibitions. The very fact that avant-garde can have an exhibition defeats the purpose of avant-garde, because it's already formalised and ritualised.
    • p. 301
  • Above all else never let people know how physically unattractive they actually are. Everyone deserves to believe they are beautiful. [specific citation needed]

Last interview (1980)[edit]

My role in society – or any artist or poet’s role – is to try to express what we all feel.
His last interview, to KFRC RKO Radio, occurred on the day of his death (8 December 1980)
They are the other half of the sky, and without them there is nothing. And without us there’s nothing. There’s only the two together creating children, creating society.
  • I’m 40, I wanna talk to the people my age. I’m happy if the young people like it, and I’m happy if the old people like it, I’m talkin’ to guys and gals that have been through what we went through, together — the sixties group that has survived. Survived the war, the drugs, the politics, the violence on the street – the whole she-bang – that we’ve survived it and we’re here. And I’m talkin’ to them. And the "Woman" song is to Yoko, but it’s to all women. And, because my role in society – or any artist or poet’s role – is to try to express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel, not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all. And it’s like that’s the job of the artist in society, not to...they’re not some alienated being living on the outskirts of town. It’s fine to live on the outskirts of town, but artists must reflect what we all are. That’s what it’s about – artists, or poets or whatever you wanna call it. And that’s what I’m tryin’ to express on behalf of all the men to all the women, through my own feelings about women – when it dawned on me, "God! It is the other half of the sky" as the late-great Chairman MacDougal said, right? I mean, they are the other half of the sky, and without them there is nothing. And without us there’s nothing. There’s only the two together creating children, creating society. So what’s all this B.S. about, you know, "women are this" and "men are that" – we’re all human, man. We’re all human. And, I am tryin’ to say it to Yoko, but to all women, you know? On behalf of all men, in a way. If that’s taken it too much on meself, I feel that artists are that – they’re reflections of society... Mirrors.

The Beatles: All These Years Vol. 1: Tune In by Mark Lewisohn (2013)[edit]

  • [In regard to conscription] "I was always thinking I could go to Southern Ireland if it came to it [but] I didn't know what I was going to do there, I hadn't thought that far."
    • p. 62 Lewisohn remarks: "(He would have faced prison on his return.)"

Lyrics[edit]

You say you want a revolution,
Well, you know, we all want to change the world...
But when you talk about destruction,
Don't you know that you can count me out.
There's nothing you can do that can't be done
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It's easy.

All you need is love.

Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.
It's getting hard to be someone but it all works out.
It doesn't matter much to me.
Christ, you know it ain't easy
You know how hard it can be
The way things are going,
they're going to crucify me.
We're only trying to get us some peace.
  • You say you want a revolution,
    Well, you know, we all want to change the world...
    But when you talk about destruction,
    Don't you know that you can count me out.
    • "Revolution" (Single version)
    • Variant: You say you want a revolution,
      Well, you know, we all want to change the world...
      But when you talk about destruction,
      Don't you know that you can count me out — in.
      • "Revolution 1" - The Beatles [White Album] version (in this recorded performance of the song, Lennon interjects "in", after saying "count me out").
  • There's nothing you can do that can't be done
    Nothing you can sing that can't be sung
    Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
    It's easy.

    All you need is love.

  • There are places I remember
    All my life though some have changed
    Some forever not for better
    Some have gone and some remain
  • These memories lose their meaning
    When I think of love as something new.
    • "In my life"
  • Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.
    It's getting hard to be someone but it all works out.
    It doesn't matter much to me.

    Let me take you down, 'cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields.
    Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about.
    Strawberry Fields forever.

  • Half of what I say is meaningless
    But I say it just to reach you
    Julia.
    • "Julia" on The Beatles (1968); these lines were adapted from lines of Sand and Foam (1926) by Khalil Gibran: "Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it so that the other half may reach you".
  • When I cannot sing my heart, I can only speak my mind.
    • "Julia" (1968); these lines were adapted from lines of Sand and Foam (1926) by Khalil Gibran: "When life does not find a singer to sing her heart she produces a philosopher to speak her mind."
  • Christ, you know it ain't easy
    You know how hard it can be.
    The way things are going,
    they're going to crucify me.
  • The newspapers said,
    "Say, what you're doing in bed?"
    I said "We're only trying to get us some peace."
    • "Ballad of John and Yoko" (1969), referring to his "bed-in" honeymoon of March 1969.
  • Instant Karma's gonna get you
    Gonna knock you off your feet
    Better recognize your brothers
    Everyone you meet

    Why in the world are we here?
    Surely not to live in pain and fear
    Why on Earth are you there
    When you're everywhere
    Gonna get your share

    Well, we all shine on
    Like the moon and the stars and the sun
    Yeah, we all shine on
    C'mon and on and on, on, on

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970)[edit]

God is a concept by which we measure our pain.
I was the dreamweaver, but now I'm reborn...
  • Mother, you had me, but I never had you.
    • "Mother"
  • They hate you if you're clever, and they despise a fool.
    • "Working Class Hero"
  • They keep you doped with religion and sex and TV,
    And you think you're so clever, and classless and free,
    But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see.
    • "Working Class Hero"
  • God is a concept by which we measure our pain.
    • "God"
  • I don't believe in Elvis
    I don't believe in Zimmerman
    I don't believe in Beatles.
    I just believe in me
    Yoko and me
    And that's reality.
    • "God"
  • I was the dreamweaver, but now I'm reborn
    I was the Walrus, but now I'm John
    And so dear friends, you'll just have to carry on
    The dream is over.
    • "God"

Imagine (1971 album)[edit]

Imagine all the people
living for today...
Imagine there's no countries; it isn't hard to do...
  • Imagine there's no heaven,
    It's easy if you try,
    No hell below us,
    Above us only sky,
    Imagine all the people
    Living for today...
  • Imagine there's no countries,
    It isn't hard to do,
    Nothing to kill or die for,
    And no religion, too,
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace...
  • You may say I'm a dreamer,
    But I'm not the only one;
    I hope some day you will join us,
    And the world will be as one.
  • Imagine no possessions,
    I wonder if you can;
    No need for greed or hunger –
    A brotherhood of man;
    Imagine all the people
    Sharing all the world...
  • You may say I'm a dreamer,
    But I'm not the only one;
    I hope some day you will join us,
    And the world will live as one.
"Imagine" (song)
  • How can I give love when I don't know what it is I'm giving?
"How?" (song)

Mind Games (1973)[edit]

Some call it magicthe search for the grail.
Love is the answer and you know that for sure.
Love is a flower, you got to let it — you got to let it grow.
Yes is the answer and you know that for sure … Millions of mind guerrillas
Putting their soul power to the karmic wheel.
  • We all been playing those mind games forever
    Some kinda druid dudes lifting the veil.

    Doing the mind guerrilla,
    Some call it magic — the search for the grail.

    Love is the answer and you know that for sure.
    Love is a flower, you got to let it — you got to let it grow.

    • "Mind Games"
  • Yes is the answer and you know that for sure.
    Yes is surrender, you got to let it, you got to let it go…
    • "Mind Games"
  • So keep on playing those mind games together
    Doing the ritual dance in the sun.
    Millions of mind guerrillas
    Putting their soul power to the karmic wheel.
    • "Mind Games"
  • I want you to make love, not war — I know you've heard it before.
    • "Mind Games" — the final fading statement on the track.

Double Fantasy (1980)[edit]

I love you
Now and forever.
  • I know you understand the little child inside of your man.
  • Woman, please let me explain
    I never meant to cause you sorrow or pain
    So let me tell you again and again and again...
    I love you
    Now and forever.
    • "Woman"


Disputed[edit]

  • This is ex-Beatle, John Lennon. I've been wanting to write you, but I guess I didn't really want to face reality. I never do this, this is why I take drugs. Reality frightens me and paranoids me. True, I have a lot of money... but basically, I'm afraid to face the problems of life. Let me begin to say, I regret that I said the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. I don't even like myself anymore — guilt. My Cousin, Marilyn McCabe has tried to help me. She told me you were praying for me. ... I want happiness. I don't want to keep up with drugs... Explain to me what Christianity can do for me. Is it phoney? Can He love me? I want out of Hell.
    I am, I hate to say, under the influence of pills now. I can't stop. I only wish I could thank you for caring.
  • "Love is a promise, love is a souvenir, once given never forgotten, never let it disappear." — frequently attributed to Lennon, but entirely unsourced
  • "You grow with music, or the music outgrows you." - attributed to Lennon, but no verifiable source found


Misattributed[edit]

  • If art were to redeem man, it could do so only by saving him from the seriousness of life and restoring him to an unexpected boyishness.
    • Quoted as a 1968 statement of Lennon's in Sunday Tasmanian (29 September 1996), and in The Rough Guide to the Beatles (2003) by Chris Ingham, p. 271, this actually derives from a statement which Lennon perhaps had been quoting:
Were art to redeem man, it could do so only by saving him from the seriousness of life and restoring him to an unexpected boyishness.

Quotes about Lennon[edit]

He must have been a gardener that cared a lot, Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop; But now it all looks strange, it's funny how one insect Can damage so much grain. ~ Elton John
The work of John Lennon was marked by its exquisite beauty and by its brutal honesty… ~ Kevin Spacey
  • John Lennon has been my idol all my life but he's dead wrong about revolution... find a representative of gluttony or oppression and blow the motherfucker's head off.
  • He must have been a gardener that cared a lot,
    Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop;
    But now it all looks strange, it's funny how one insect
    Can damage so much grain.
  • I definitely did look up to John. We all looked up to John. He was older and he was very much the leader; he was the quickest wit and the smartest and all that kind of thing.
  • John loved and prayed for the human race. Please pray the same for him.
    • Yoko Ono, in a statement after his death, as quoted in The John Lennon Encyclopedia (2000) by Bill Harry
  • John Lennon was many things to many people. A poet, a rocker, a leader, a troublemaker, a father, a husband — a man. Growing up, to me, he was a hero. The work of John Lennon was marked by its exquisite beauty and by its brutal honesty. So in that vein, let me say, that while I'm both deeply honored to be here — I'm also incredibly pissed-off. I'm outraged because this passionate prophet of peace, and so many others, are not with us here — because we live in an all-too-violent world. And so in the spirit of this occasion it is up to all of us, to do what we can, not only to keep John's songs alive, but help rebuild New York — and that includes your host...

External links[edit]

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