In My Life


“It was the first song I wrote that was consciously about my life. Before, we were just writing songs a la The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly – pop songs with no more thought to them than that. The words were almost irrelevant. ‘In My Life’ started out as a bus journey from my house at 250 Menlove Avenue to town, mentioning all the places I could recall. I wrote it all down and it was boring. So I forgot about it and laid back and these lyrics started coming to me about friends and lovers of the past. Paul helped with the middle-eight.”John Lennon (1023)

A Day In The Life


“I was reading the paper one day and I noticed two stories. One was the Guinness heir who killed himself in a car. That was the main headline story. He died in London in a car crash. On the next page was a story about 4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire. In the streets, that is. They were going to fill them all. Paul’s contribution was the beautiful little lick in the song ‘I’d love to turn you on.’ I had the bulk of the song and the words, but he contributed this little lick floating around in his head that he couldn’t use for anything. I thought it was a damn good piece of work.”John Lennon (1023)
“[The 17 January 1967 edition of the newspaper reported the coroner’s verdict into the death of Tara Browne, an Irish friend of The Beatles who on 18 December 1966 had driven his Lotus Elan at high speed through a red light in South Kensington, London and into a stationary van. Browne was the great grandson of the brewer Edward Cecil Guinness and the son of Lord and Lady Oranmore and Browne. He was in line to inherit a £1m fortune upon his 25th birthday, but died at the age of 21 – Ed]. I didn’t copy the accident. Tara didn’t blow his mind out. But it was in my mind when I was writing that verse.”John Lennon (1141)
“The verse about the politician blowing his mind out in a car we wrote together. It has been attributed to Tara Browne, the Guinness heir, which I don’t believe is the case, certainly as we were writing it, I was not attributing it to Tara in my head. In John’s head it might have been. In my head I was imagining a politician bombed out on drugs who’d stopped at some traffic lights and didn’t notice that the lights had changed. The ‘blew his mind’ was purely a drugs reference, nothing to do with a car crash.”Paul McCartney (1140)

Strawberry Fields Forever


“Strawberry Fields is a real place. After I stopped living at Penny Lane, I moved in with my auntie who lived in the suburbs in a nice semi-detached place with a small garden and doctors and lawyers and that ilk living around… not the poor slummy kind of image that was projected in all the Beatles stories. In the class system, it was about half a class higher than Paul, George and Ringo, who lived in government-subsidized housing. We owned our house and had a garden. They didn’t have anything like that. Near that home was Strawberry Fields, a house near a boys’ reformatory where I used to go to garden parties as a kid with my friends Nigel and Pete. We would go there and hang out and sell lemonade bottles for a penny. We always had fun at Strawberry Fields. So that’s where I got the name. But I used it as an image. Strawberry Fields forever. ‘Living is easy with eyes closed. Misunderstanding all you see.’ It still goes, doesn’t it? Aren’t I saying exactly the same thing now? The awareness apparently trying to be expressed is– let’s say in one way I was always hip. I was hip in kindergarten. I was different from the others. I was different all my life. The second verse goes, ‘No one I think is in my tree.’ Well, I was too shy and self-doubting. Nobody seems to be as hip as me is what I was saying. Therefore, I must be crazy or a genius– ‘I mean it must be high or low,’ the next line. There was something wrong with me, I thought, because I seemed to see things other people didn’t see. I thought I was crazy or an egomaniac for claiming to see things other people didn’t see.”John Lennon (1023)

I Am The Walrus


“The first line was written on one acid trip one weekend. The second line was written on the next acid trip the next weekend, and it was filled in after I met Yoko. Part of it was putting down Hare Krishna. All these people were going on about Hare Krishna, Allen Ginsberg in particular. The reference to ‘Element’ry penguin’ is the elementary, naive attitude of going around chanting, ‘Hare Krishna,’ or putting all your faith in any one idol. I was writing obscurely, a la Dylan, in those days. [What about the walrus itself? – Ed] It’s from ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter.’ ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ To me, it was a beautiful poem. It never dawned on me that Lewis Carroll was commenting on the capitalist and social system. I never went into that bit about what he really meant, like people are doing with the Beatles’ work. Later, I went back and looked at it and realized that the walrus was the bad guy in the story and the carpenter was the good guy. I thought, Oh, shit, I picked the wrong guy. I should have said, ‘I am the carpenter.’ But that wouldn’t have been the same, would it?”John Lennon (1023)

Julia


“My mother was alive and lived a 15-minute walk away from me all my life. I saw her off and on. I just didn’t live with her. She got killed by an off-duty cop who was drunk after visiting my auntie’s house where I lived. I wasn’t there at the time. She was just at a bus stop. I was 16. That was another big trauma for me. I lost her twice. When I was five and I moved in with my auntie, and then when she physically died. That made me more bitter; the chip on my shoulder I had as a youth got really big then. I was just really re-establishing the relationship with her and she was killed. Her name was Julia. The song is for her…and for Yoko.”John Lennon (1023)
“Julia was my mother. But it was sort of a combination of Yoko and my mother blended into one.”John Lennon (1074)

Help


“When ‘Help’ came out in ’65, I was actually crying out for help. Most people think it’s just a fast rock ‘n roll song. I didn’t realize it at the time; I just wrote the song because I was commissioned to write it for the movie. But later, I knew I really was crying out for help. It was my fat Elvis period. You see the movie: He — I — is very fat, very insecure, and he’s completely lost himself. And I am singing about when I was so much younger and all the rest, looking back at how easy it was. Now I may be very positive… yes, yes… but I also go through deep depressions where I would like to jump out the window, you know. It becomes easier to deal with as I get older; I don’t know whether you learn control or, when you grow up, you calm down a little. Anyway, I was fat and depressed and I was crying out for help. The Beatles thing had just gone beyond comprehension. We were smoking marijuana for breakfast. We were well into marijuana and nobody could communicate with us, because we were just all glazed eyes, giggling all the time. In our own world. That was the song, ‘Help.'”John Lennon (1023)

Do You Want To Know A Secret?


“The idea came from this thing my mother used to sing to me when I was one or two years old, when she was still living with me. It was from a Disney movie: ‘Do you want to know a secret? Promise not to tell? You are standing by a wishing well.’ So, with that in my head, I wrote the song and just gave it to George to sing.”John Lennon (1023)
The Beatles Do You Want To Know A Secret? Song Meaning

Happiness Is A Warm Gun


“No, it’s not about heroin. A gun magazine was sitting there with a smoking gun on the cover and an article that I never read inside called ‘Happiness Is a Warm Gun.’ I took it right from there. I took it as the terrible idea of just having shot some animal.”John Lennon (1023)
“‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ was another one which was banned on the radio – they said it was about shooting up drugs. But they were advertising guns and I thought it was so crazy that I made a song out of it. It wasn’t about ‘H’ at all.”John Lennon (1143)
“The initial inspiration was from the magazine cover. But that was the beginning of my relationship with Yoko and I was very sexually oriented then. When we weren’t in the studio, we were in bed.”John Lennon (1074)
The Beatles Happiness Is A Warm Gun - Song Meaning

Getting Better


“It is a diary form of writing. All that ‘I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved’ was me. I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically… any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn’t express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace. Everything’s the opposite. But I sincerely believe in love and peace. I am a violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence. I will have to be a lot older before I can face in public how I treated women as a youngster.”John Lennon (1023)
“It’s an optimistic song. I often try and get on to optimistic subjects in an effort to cheer myself up and also, realising that other people are going to hear this, to cheer them up too. And this was one of those. The ‘angry young man’ and all that was John and I filling in the verses about schoolteachers. We shared a lot of feelings against teachers who had punished you too much or who hadn’t understood you or who had just been bastard generally.”Paul McCartney (1143)

Revolution


“We recorded the song twice. The Beatles were getting really tense with one another. I did the slow version and I wanted it out as a single: as a statement of the Beatles’ position on Vietnam and the Beatles’ position on revolution. For years, on the Beatle tours, Epstein had stopped us from saying anything about Vietnam or the war. And he wouldn’t allow questions about it. But on one tour, I said, ‘I am going to answer about the war. We can’t ignore it.’ I absolutely wanted the Beatles to say something. The first take of ‘Revolution’ …well, George and Paul were resentful and said it wasn’t fast enough. Now, if you go into details of what a hit record is and isn’t… maybe. But the Beatles could have afforded to put out the slow, understandable version of ‘Revolution’ as a single. Whether it was a gold record or a wooden record. But because they were so upset about the Yoko period and the fact that I was again becoming as creative and dominating as I had been in the early days, after lying fallow for a couple of years, it upset the apple cart. I was awake again and they couldn’t stand it?”John Lennon (1023)
“I wanted to put what I felt about revolution; I thought it was time we fuckin’ spoke about it, the same as I thought it was about time we stopped not answering about the Vietnamese War when we were on tour with Brian Epstein and had to tell him, “We’re going to talk about the war this time and we’re not going to just waffle.” I wanted to say what I thought about revolution. I had been thinking about it up in the hills in India. I still had this “God will save us” feeling about it, that it’s going to be all right (even now I’m saying “Hold on, John, it’s going to be all right,” otherwise, I won’t hold on) but that’s why I did it, I wanted to talk, I wanted to say my piece about revolution. I wanted to tell you, or whoever listens, to communicate, to say “What do you say? This is what I say.” On one version I said “Count me in” about violence, in or out, because I wasn’t sure. But the version we put out said “Count me out,” because I don’t fancy a violent revolution happening all over. I don’t want to die; but I begin to think what else can happen, you know, it seems inevitable.”John Lennon (1074)

Glass Onion


“[That was the one that contributed to the ‘Paul McCartney is dead’ uproar because of the lyric ‘The walrus is Paul.’ – Ed] Yeah. That line was a joke, you know. That line was put in partly because I was feeling guilty because I was with Yoko, and I knew I was finally high and dry. In a perverse way, I was sort of saying to Paul, ‘Here, have this crumb, have this illusion, have this stroke… because I’m leaving you.'”John Lennon (1023)

Back In The USSR


“It’s tongue in cheek. This is a travelling Russkie who has just flown in from Miami Beach; he’s come the other way. He can’t wait to get back to the Georgian mountains: ‘Georgia’s always on my mind’; there’s all sorts of little jokes in it… I remember trying to sing it in my Jerry Lee Lewis voice, to get my mind set on a particular feeling. We added Beach Boys style harmonies.”Paul McCartney (1140)