John Lennon

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There's night and day, brother, both sweet things; sun, moon, and stars, brother, all sweet things; there's likewise a wind on the heath. Life is very sweet, brother; who would wish to die?
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All we are saying is give peace a chance!

John Ono Lennon (born John Winston Lennon) (9 October 1940 - 8 December 1980) was a singer, songwriter, guitarist, political activist, humorist, painter and writer.

Sourced

That's part of our policy, is not to be taken seriously, because I think our opposition, whoever they may be, in all their manifest forms, don't know how to handle humor.
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.
All people of NUTOPIA are ambassadors of the country.
  • Will 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. John had intended to say "fucking jewelry", but was persuaded against doing so by Paul McCartney and the group's manager Brian Epstein.
  • 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 idolized 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 1964) 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
  • '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 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. This single quote (taken out of context — Lennon was often misquoted as stating the Beatles were "bigger than Jesus") was to spark protests across the Bible Belt in America. Beatles records were burned en masse, and the Ku Klux Klan burned a Beatles effigy and nailed Beatles albums to a burning cross. The band members were dismissive of this, as they pointed out that first the people had to buy the albums in order to burn them.
  • 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)
  • 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.
    • Statement of 1968, as quoted in Sunday Tasmanian (29 September 1996), and in The Rough Guide to the Beatles (2003) by Chris Ingham, p. 271
  • 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)
  • That's part of our policy, is not to be taken seriously, because I think our opposition, whoever they may be, in all their manifest forms, don't know how to handle humor. You know, and we are humorous, we are, what are they, Laurel and Hardy. That's John and Yoko, and we stand a better chance under that guise, because all the serious people, like Martin Luther King, and Kennedy, and Gandhi, got shot.
  • 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 intellectualize 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 [British prime minister at the time] 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)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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 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.
    • As quoted in Sunday Herald Sun [Melbourne, Australia] (13 January 2003)]
You say you want a Revolution — well, you know, we all want to change the world.

Playboy interview (1980)

Interview with David Sheff (September 1980), published in Playboy (January 1981)
  • 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.
  • Part of me thinks I'm a loser and part of me thinks I am God-Almighty
    • On the song "I'm a Loser"
  • 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."

Lyrics

  • 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 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.
  • The Walrus was Paul!
    • "Glass Onion"
  • All we are saying is give peace a chance!
    • "Give Peace a Chance"
  • Half of what I say is meaningless
    But I say it just to reach you
    Julia.
  • When I cannot sing my heart, I can only speak my mind.
    • "Julia" (1968)
  • 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.

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970)

  • 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 your 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 all the people
living life in peace...

Imagine (1971)

  • 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 isnt hard to do,
    Nothing to kill or die for,
    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'll join us,
    And the world will be as one.

  • Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
You may say I'm a dreamer,
but Im not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us,
And the world will live as one.
  • How can I give love when I don't know what it is I'm giving?
    • "How?"

Double Fantasy (1980)

  • Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.
    • "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)"1980
  • I know you understand the little child inside the 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", 1980

Unsourced

If all politicians were like Pierre Trudeau, there would be world peace.
  • I'll probably be popped off by some loony.
    • His reply when asked in the 1960's how he expected he would die.
    • See quote under Lyrics, "Come Together" Anthology 3.
  • I might have been born in Liverpool — but I grew up in Hamburg!
  • If all politicians were like Pierre Trudeau, there would be world peace.
  • "New York is what Rome used to be." he told biographer Ray Coleman.
  • If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'.
  • Love means having to say you're sorry every fifteen minutes.
  • Music is everybody's possession. It's only publishers who think that people own it.
  • If someone thinks that peace and love is just a cliche that must have been left behind in the sixties, that's a problem. Peace and love are eternal.

External links

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