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JOHN LENNON ON SONGWRITING

The following quotes have been taken from interviews John Lennon gave between 1963 - 1980. To give a complete picture of a particular song's evolution, some entries contain quotes from a number of different interviews.

All in John Lennon's own words

John Lennon's song-by-song account of who wrote which song   UK book here

Even in the early days we used to write things separately, because Paul was always more advanced than I was. His dad played the piano.

Usually one of us wrote most of the song and the other just helped finish it off, adding a bit of tune or a bit of lyric.

He provided a lightness, an optimism, while I would always go for the sadness, the discords, a certain bluesy edge. There was a period where I thought I didn't write melodies, that Paul wrote those, and I just wrote straight, shouting rock and roll. But of course, when I think of some of my own songs, ... ' In My Life ', or some of the early stuff ... ' This Boy ', I was writing melody with the best of them.

Paul wrote the main structure to ' Love Me Do ' when he was 16, I helped him with the middle.

' Please Please Me ', is my song completely. It was my attempt at writing a Roy Orbison song, would you believe it? I wrote it in the bedroom in my house at Menlove Avenue, which was my auntie's place. I heard Roy Orbison doing 'Only The Lonely' or something. That's where that came from. And also I was always intrigued by the words of 'Please Lend Your Ears To My Pleas,' a Bing Crosby song. I was always intrigued by the double use of the word 'please.' So it was a combination of Bing Crosby and Roy Orbison.

' 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. I thought it would be a good vehicle for him, because it had only three notes and he wasn't the best singer in the world.

' Bad To Me '. I wrote it for Billy J. Krammer.

' There's a Place ', was my attempt at a sort of Motown, black thing. It says the usual Lennon things: 'In my mind there's no sorrow...' 'It's all in your mind'.

We wrote ' From Me To You ', together in a van. The first line was mine and then after that we took it from there. It was far bluesier than that when we wrote it. The notes, today.. you could rearrange it pretty funky.

' Thank You Girl ', was one of our efforts at writing a single that didn't work. So it became a B-side or an album track.

' She Loves You ', was both of us. We wrote it together on tour.

' I'll Get You '. That was Paul and me trying to write a song, and it didn't work out.

' I Call Your Name ', was started when I was 15 and I finished the middle eight years later, around 'Help!' or 'Hard Day's Night' time.

' Hello Little Girl '. Another very early song of mine, recorded by the Fourmost.

' It Won't Be Long ', I wrote on the second album. It was the song with the so called Aeolian cadences, the same as in a Mahler symphony, at the end. I don't know what the hell it was about.

' All I've Got To Do '. That's me trying to do Smokey Robinson again.

' Not A Second Time '. That's me trying to do something. I don't remember. (laughs).

' Little Child '. Both of us wrote it. This was a knock-off between Paul and me.

I like ' I Want To Hold Your Hand ', we wrote that together and it's a beautiful melody. We wrote a lot of stuff together, one on one, eyeball to eyeball. Like in ' I Want To Hold Your Hand ', I remember when we got the chord that made the song. We were in Jane Asher's house, downstairs in the cellar playing on the piano at the same time. And we had, 'Oh you-u-u / got that something...' And Paul hits this chord, and I turn to him and say, 'That's it!' I said, 'Do that again!' In those days, we really used to absolutely write like that - both playing into each other's noses.

' This Boy '. Just my attempt at writing one of those three-part harmony Smokey Robinson songs. Nothing in the lyrics... just a sound and a harmony.

' A Hard Day's Night '. I was going home in the car and Dick Lester suggested the title, ' Hard Day's Night ', from something Ringo had said. I had used it in 'In His Own Write', but it was an off-the-cuff remark by Ringo. You know, one of those malapropisms. A Ringo-ism, where he said it not to be funny... just said it. So Dick Lester said, 'We are going to use that title.' And the next morning I brought in the song... cuz there was a little competition between Paul and I as to who got the A-side - who got the hits. If you notice, in the early days the majority of singles, in the movies and everything, were mine... in the early period I'm dominating the group.

' You Can't Do That '. That's me doing Wilson Pickett. You know, a cowbell going four-in-the bar, and the chord going 'chatoong!'

' If I Fell '. That was my first attempt at a ballad proper. That was the precursor to ' In My Life. ' It has the same chord sequences as ' In My Life ' - D and B minor and E minor, those kinds of things. And it's semi-autobiographical, but not consciously. It shows that I wrote sentimental love ballads - silly love songs - way back when.

' And I Love Her '. Both of us. The first half is Paul's and the middle eight is mine.

' Can't Buy Me Love '. John and Paul, but mainly Paul.

' Any Time At All '. An effort at writing ' It Won't Be Long ' - same ilk. C to A minor, C to A minor, with me shouting.

' I'll Be Back '. Me, a nice tune, though the middle is a bit tatty.

' All My Loving ', is Paul, I regret to say, because it's a damn fine piece of work. But I play a pretty mean guitar in back.

Paul had a lot of training, could play a lot of instruments. He'd say, "Well, why don't you change that there? You've done that note 50 times in the song." You know, I'll grab a note and ram it home. Then again, I'd be the one to figure out where to go with a song, a story that Paul would start. In a lot of the songs, my stuff is the "middle eight," the bridge.

' I Wanna Be Your Man ', was a kind of lick Paul had - 'I wanna be your lover, baby. I wanna be your man.' I think we finished it off for the Stones. They wanted a song and we went to see what kind of stuff they did. Mick and Keith heard we had an unfinished song. We sort of played it roughly to them and they said, 'Yeah, OK, that's our style.' But it was only really a lick, so Paul and I went off in the corner of the room and finished the song off while they were all still sitting there talking. We came back, and that's how Mick and Keith got inspired to write... because, 'Jesus, look at that. They just went in the corner and wrote it and came back!' You know, right in front of their eyes we did it. So we gave it to them. It was a throw-away. The only two versions of the song were Ringo and the Rolling Stones. It shows how much importance we put on them. We weren't going to give them anything great, right? I believe it was the Stones' first record.

' I Should Have Known Better '. That's me. Just a song. It doesn't mean a damn thing.

' Tell Me Why '. We needed another upbeat song and I just knocked it off. It was like a black, New York girl-group song.

' I'll Cry Instead '. I wrote that for 'A Hard Day's Night,' but Dick Lester didn't even want it. He resurrected 'Can't Buy Me Love' for that sequence instead. I like the middle-eight to that song, though that's about all I can say about it.

' No Reply '. Part of me suspects that I'm a loser and the other part of me thinks I'm God Almighty. I remember Dick James coming to me after this one and saying, 'you're getting much better now, that was a complete story'. Apparently, before that he thought my songs tended to, sort of, wander off.

' I Don't Want To Spoil The Party '. That was a very personal one of mine.

' I Feel Fine ', I wrote, and this was the first time feedback was used on a record. I defy anybody to find a record, unless it's an old blues record in 1922, that used feedback that way. I claim it for the Beatles, before Hendrix, before The Who, before anybody.

' I'm A Loser '. Is me in my Dylan period, because the word 'clown' is in it. I objected to the word clown, because that was artsy-fartsy, but Dylan had used it, so I thought it was all right, and it rhymed with whatever I was doing.

' Baby's In Black '. Written together in the same room.

' Eight Days A Week '. Both of us wrote it. I think we wrote this when we were trying to write the title song for ' Help! ' because there was at one time the thought of calling the film, 'Eight Arms To Hold You.'

' Help! ', is real, I meant it. The lyric is as good now as it was then. It's no different, you know, and it makes me feel secure to know that I was aware of myself then. It was just me singing help and I meant it. I don't like the recording that much; we did it to fast, trying to be commercial. When 'Help' came out, 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. So 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.

' I'm Down '. That's Paul, with a little help from me, I think.

' You've Got To Hide Your Love Away '. It's one of those that you sort of sing a bit sadly to yourself, 'Here I stand/Head in hand.' I started thinking about my own emotions. I don't know when exactly it started, like 'I'm A Loser' or 'Hide Your Love Away,' or those kind of things. I had a sort of professional songwriter's attitude to writing Pop songs, but to express myself I would write 'Spaniard In The Works' or 'In His Own Write' the personal stories which were expressive of my personal emotions. I'd have a separate 'songwriting' John Lennon, who wrote songs for the sort of meat market, and I didn't consider them, the lyrics or anything, to have any depth at all. Then I started being me about the songs, not writing them objectively, but subjectively.

' Yesterday '. Well, we all know about 'Yesterday'. I have had so much accolade for 'Yesterday'. That is Paul's song, of course, and Paul's baby. Well done. Beautiful - and I never wished I had written it.

' You're Going To Lose That Girl '. That's me!

' Ticket To Ride ' . That was one of the earliest heavy-metal records made. Paul's contribution was the way Ringo played the drums.

' Yes It Is '. That's me trying a rewrite of ' This Boy ', but it didn't quite work.

' It's Only Love '. That's the one song I really hate of mine. Terrible lyric.

' Norwegian Wood ' is my song completely. It was about an affair I was having. I was very careful and paranoid because I didn't want my wife, Cyn, to know that there really was something going on outside of the household. I'd always had some kind of affairs going on, so I was trying to be sophisticated in writing about an affair... but in such a smoke-screen way that you couldn't tell. But I can't remember any specific woman it had to do with.

' Michelle ', was both of us. Paul and I were staying somewhere and he walked in and hummed the first few bars with the words. Then he said,'where do I go from here?'. I'd been listening to the blues singer Nina Simone, and that made me think of the middle eight to ' Michelle ' ... I love you, I love you, I lo-o-ove you.

' The Word ', was written together, but it's mainly mine. You read the words, it's all about gettin' smart. It's the marijuana period. It's love. It's a love and peace thing. The word is 'love,' right?

' Girl '. That's me, writing about this dream girl. The one that hadn't come yet. It was Yoko. "Was she told when she was young that pain would lead to pleasure?" I was trying to say something about Christianity, the idea that you have to be tortured to attain heaven. I didn't believe that.

' In My Life '. I was trying to write about Penny Lane when I wrote it. It was about places I remembered. A nice song. Jose Feliciano did a nice version of it. This was one where I wrote the lyrics first and then sang it. It was the first song I wrote that was consciously about my life. Before, we were just writing songs a la 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 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.

' Nowhere Man '. I'd spent 5 hours that morning trying to write a song that was meaningful and good, and I finally gave up and lay down. Then, ' Nowhere Man ' came, words and music, the whole damn thing, as I lay down.

In ' We Can Work It Out ', Paul did the first half, I did the middle-eight. But you've got Paul writing ' we can work it out, we can work it out ', real optimistic y'know and me impatient, ' life is very short and there's no time; for fussing and fighting my friend '.

' Day Tripper '. That's mine. Including the guitar lick, the guitar break, and the whole bit. It's just a rock 'n roll song.

The ones that really meant something to me - look, I don't know about ' You've Got To Hide Your Love Away ', that's so long ago - probably ' Strawberry Fields ', ' She Said ', ' Walrus ', ' Rain ', ' Girl ', there are just one or two others, ' Day Tripper ', ' Paperback Writer ' even. ' Ticket To Ride ', was one more. I remember that. It was a definite sort of change.

' Rain '. That's me again, with the first backwards tape on record anywhere. I got home from the studio and I was stoned out of my mind on marijuana... and, as I usually do, I listened to what I'd recorded that day. Somehow it got on backwards and I sat there, transfixed, with the earphones on. I ran in the next day and said, 'I know what to do with it, I know... listen to this!' So I made them all play it backwards. The fade is me actually singing backwards with the guitars going backwards. (sings) 'Sharethsmnowthsmeanss!' That one was the gift of God, of Ja actually, the god of marijuana, right? So Ja gave me that one.

' Doctor Robert '. Another of mine. Mainly about drugs and pills. It was about myself. I was the one that carried all the pills on tour, later on the roadies did it. We just kept them in our pockets, loose, in case of trouble. I think Paul helped with the middle.

' 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.

' When I'm Sixty Four ', was something Paul wrote in the Cavern days. I helped Paul with some of the words, like 'grandchildren on your knee,' and 'Vera Chuck and Dave.' It was just one of those ones that he'd had, that we've all got, really, half a song. And this was just one of those that was quite a hit with us. We used to do it when the amps broke down, just sing it on the piano.

' Eleanor Rigby ', was both of us. I wrote a good lot of the lyrics, about 70%. The first verse was his, and the rest are basically mine. The violin backing was Paul's idea. Jane Asher had turned him on to Vivaldi, and it was very good.

' Tomorrow Never Knows '. This was my first psychedelic song. That's me in my ' Tibetan Book of the Dead ' period. I took one of Ringo's malapropisms as the title, to sort of take the edge off the heavy philosophical lyrics.

Usually we'd spend hours doing little detailed cleaning-ups of Paul's songs, but when it came to mine, especially if it was a great song like ' Strawberry Fields Forever ' or ' Across The Universe ', somehow this atmosphere of looseness and casualness and experimentation would creep in; subconcious sabotage.

Yoko and I once 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 '.

Songwriting is about getting the demon out of me. It's like being possessed.

' Good Day Sunshine ', is Paul's. Maybe I threw in a line or something.

' And Your Bird Can Sing '. Another horror. Another of my throwaways.

' Taxman '. I remember the day he ( George ) called to ask for help on ' Taxman ', one of his first songs. I threw in a few one-liners to help the song along because that's what he asked for. He came to me because he couldn't go to Paul. Paul wouldn't have helped him at that period. I didn't want to do it. I just sort of bit my tongue and said OK. It had been John and Paul for so long, he'd been left out because he hadn't been a songwriter up until then.

' Yellow Submarine '. Both of us. Paul wrote the catchy chorus. I helped with the other blunderbuss bit.

' She Said, She Said '. That's mine. It's an interesting track. The guitars are great on it. That was written after an acid trip in L.A. during a break in the Beatles tour where we were having fun with the Byrds and lots of girls. Peter Fonda came in when we were on acid and he kept coming up to me and sitting next to me and whispering, 'I know what it's like to be dead.' I used it for the song, but I changed it to 'she' instead of 'he.' It was scary... I don't want to know what it's like to be dead !

' Paperback Writer ' is son of 'Day Tripper' ... meaning a rock 'n' roll song with a guitar lick on a fuzzy loud guitar.

' 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 semidetached 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?

' With A Little Help From My Friends '. Paul had the line about 'a little help from my friends'. He had some kind of structure for it, and we wrote it pretty well fifty-fifty from his original idea.

' Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds '. My son Julian came in one day with a picture he painted about a school friend of his named Lucy. He had sketched in some stars in the sky and called it 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds'. Simple. It was nothing to do with LSD

' Good Morning, Good Morning '. Me, a bit of a goobledegook one, but nice words.

' She's Leaving Home '. Both of us. Paul had the basic theme. But all those lines 'We sacrificed most of our life'... 'we gave her everything money could buy'... 'never a thought for ourselves', those were the things Mimi used to say. It was easy to write.

' A Day In The Life '. Just as it sounds: 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.

' Penny Lane '. I helped with the lyrics. We really got into the groove of imagining Penny Lane. The bank was there, and that was where the tram sheds were and people waiting and the inspector stood there, the fire engines were down there. It was just reliving childhood. Penny Lane is not only a street but it's a district, a suburban district where, until age four, I lived with my mother and father. So I was the only Beatle that lived in Penny Lane.

' Baby You're A Rich Man '. We just stuck two songs together for this one, same as ' A Day In The Life '.

' I Am The Walrus '. The words don't mean a lot. People draw so many conclusions, and it's ridiculous. What does it really mean, 'I am the Eggman?' It could have been pudding basin, for all I care.

' Revolution '. I should never have put that in about Chairman Mao. I was just finishing off in the studio when I did that. The lyrics stand today. They're still my feeling about politics. I want to see the plan. I want to know what you're going to do after you've knocked it all down. I mean, can't we use some of it? What's the point of bombing Wall Street? If you want to change the system, change the system. It's no good shooting people.

' Birthday '. Both of us. We wrote it in the studio.

' Sexy Sadie '. Me, that was all about the Maharishi.

' Across The Universe '. One of my best songs. Not one of the best recordings, but I like the lyrics. The words were purely inspirational and given to me. I don't own it, it came through like that. It's one of the best lyrics I've written. In fact, it could be the best. It's good poetry, or whatever you call it, without chewin' it.

' Happiness Is A Warm Gun '. Another one I like. The title came from an American gun magazine. It was put together from bits and pieces, of about three different songs.

' Hey Bulldog. ' It's a good sounding record that means nothing.

' All Together Now '. I enjoyed it when football crowds in the early days would sing 'All Together Now'.

' Lady Madonna '. Paul. Good piano lick, but the song never really went anywhere. Maybe I helped him on some of the lyrics.

' Dear Prudence ', is me. Written in India. A song about Mia Farrow's sister, who seemed to go slightly balmy, meditating too long, and couldn't come out of the little hut we were livin' in. They selected me and George to try and bring her out because she would trust us. If she'd been in the West, they would have put her away. We got her out of the house. She'd been locked in for three weeks and was trying to reach God quicker than anybody else. That was the competition in Maharishi's camp, who was going to get cosmic first. What I didn't know was I was 'already' cosmic. (laughs)

' Glass Onion '. That's me, just doing a throwaway song, a la 'Walrus' a la everything I've ever written. I threw in the line 'The walrus was Paul' just to confuse everybody a bit more. It could've been the fox terrier is Paul, you know. I mean, it's just a bit of poetry. It was just thrown in like that... The line was put in because I was feeling guilty because I was with Yoko and I was leaving Paul. I was trying, I don't know. It's a perverse way of saying to Paul, you know, 'Here, have this crumb, this illusion, this stroke, because I'm leaving.

' The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill '. Oh, that was written about a guy in Maharishi's meditation camp who took a short break to go shoot a few poor tigers, and then come back to commune with God. There used to be a character called Jungle Jim, and I combined him with Buffalo Bill. It's a sort of teenage social comment song, and a bit of a joke. Yoko's on that one, I believe.

' I'm So Tired ', was me, in India again. I couldn't sleep, I'm meditating all day and couldn't sleep at night. The story is that. One of my favorite tracks. I just like the sound of it, and I sing it well.

' Revolution 1 '. Completely me. We recorded the song twice. The Beatles were getting real tense with each other. I did the slow version (Revolution 1) and I wanted to put it out as a single: as a statement of the Beatles' position on Vietnam and the Beatles' position on revolution. The first take of 'Revolution' ...well, George and Paul were resentful and said it wasn't fast enough. Now, if you go into the details of what a hit record is and isn't, maybe. But the Beatles could have afforded to put out a slow, understandable version of 'Revolution' as a single, whether it was a gold record or a wooden record.

' Goodnight ', was written for Julian, the way 'Beautiful Boy' was written for Sean, but given to Ringo and possibly overlush.

' Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey '. That was just a sort of nice line that I made into a song. It was about me and Yoko. Everybody seemed to be paranoid except for us two, who were in the glow of love. Everything is clear and open when you're in love. Everybody was sort of tense around us, you know, 'What is SHE doing here at the session? Why is she with him?' All this sort of madness is going on around us because we just happened to want to be together all the time.

' Julia ', was my mother. But it was sort of a combination of Yoko and my mother blended into one. That was written in India. We wrote tons of songs in India.

' Come Together ', is me writing obscurely around an old Chuck Berry thing. I left in the line ' Here comes old flat top '. It's nothing like the the Chuck Berry song, but they took me to court. The song remains independent of Chuck Berry or anybody else on earth.

I was lying on the sofa in our house, listening to Yoko play Beethoven's - Moonlight Sonata, on the piano. Suddenly I said, 'can you play those chords backwards'. She did, and I wrote ' Because ', around them. The lyrics are clear, no bullshit, no imagery, no obscure references.

' Polythene Pam '. That was me, remembering a little event with a woman in Jersey, and a man who was England's answer to Allen Ginsberg, who gave us our first exposure. I met him when we were on tour and he took me back to his apartment, and I had a girl and he had one he wanted me to meet. He said she dressed up in polythene, which she did. She didn't wear jackboots, and kilts, I just sort of elaborated. Perverted sex in a polythene bag - Just looking for something to write about.

' Dig A Pony '. Another piece of garbage. I was just having fun with words. It was literally a nonsense song. You just take words and you stick them together, and you see if they have any meaning. Some of them do and some of them don't.

' One After 909 '. That was something I wrote when I was about seventeen. I lived at 9 Newcastle Road. I was born on the ninth of October - the ninth month. It's just a number that follows me around, but numerologically, apparently i'm a number six or a three or something, but it's all part of nine.

How can you beat Shakespeare or Beethoven or whatever? I go through all that, and, in my secret heart, I wanted to write something that would take over, ' We Shall Overcome '.

' Give Peace A Chance '. I sort of cheated. The word 'masturbation' was in it but I wrote in the lyric sheet, because I'd had enough of the bannings of all ... every bloody record I put out was banned for some reason or another. Even 'Walrus' was banned on the BBC at one time, because it said 'knickers'. So I mean I'd been banned so many times all over, that I copped out and wrote 'mastication'. It was more important to get the song out than to be bothered by a word, 'masturbation'.

' Cold Turkey '. The song is self-explanatory. It got banned even though it's anti-drug.

You know give peace a chance, not shoot people for peace. ' All You Need Is Love '. I believe it. It's damn hard, but I absolutely believe it. We're not the first to say ' Imagine No Countries ' or ' Give Peace A Chance ', but we're carrying that torch.

' Instant Karma '. I wrote it for breakfast, recorded it for lunch, and we're putting it out for dinner.

' Hold On '. I'm saying, ' Hold on John ', because I don't want to die ... I don't want to be hurt and please don't hit me. Hold on now, we might have a cup of tea, we might get a moments happiness, any minute now. So that's what it's all about, moment by moment.

' God '. Well, like a lot of the words, it just came out of me mouth. 'God' was put together from three songs almost. I had the idea that 'God is a concept by which we measure our pain', so that when you have a word like that, you just sit down and the tune is simple, because I like that kind of music and then I just rolled into it. It was just going on in my head and I got by the first three or four, the rest just came out. Whatever came out. I don't know when I realized that I was putting down all these things I didn't believe in. So I could have gone on, it was like a Christmas card list, where do I end? Churchill? Hoover? I thought I had to stop. I was going to leave a gap, and just fill in your own words, whoever you don't believe in. It had just got out of hand, and 'Beatles' was the final thing because I no longer believe in myth, and 'Beatles' is another myth. I don't believe in it. The dream is over. I'm not just talking about The Beatles, I'm talking about the generation thing. It's over, and we gotta - I have to personally - get down to so-called reality.

' Love '. I like the melody, and the words and everything. I think it's beautiful. But I'm more of a rocker.

I used my resentment and withdrawing from Paul and the Beatles and the relationship with Paul, to write ' How Do You Sleep? '. I don't really go round with those thoughts in my head all the time. I think Paul died, creatively, in a way. ' The Long and Winding Road ', was the last gasp from him.

' I'm The Greatest '. It was the Muhammad Ali line of course. It was perfect for Ringo to sing. If I said ' I'm the greatest ', they would all take it so seriously. No one would get upset with Ringo singing it.

' Imagine ', was a sincere statement. It was ' Working Class Hero ' with chocolate on. I was trying to think of it in terms of children.

' Imagine ', ' Love ', and those Plastic Ono Band songs stand up to any song that was written when I was a Beatle.

'Imagine,' both the song itself and the album, is the same thing as 'Working Class Hero' and 'Mother' and 'God' on the first disc. But the first record was too real for people, so nobody bought it. It was banned on the radio. But the song 'Imagine,' which says, Imagine that there was no more religion, no more country, no more politics is virtually the communist manifesto, even though I am not particularly a communist and I do not belong to any movement. You see, 'Imagine' was exactly the same message, but sugar-coated. Now 'Imagine' is a big hit almost everywhere; anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalistic song, but because it is sugar-coated it is accepted. Now I understand what you have to do.

' Woman Is The Nigger Of The World '. I felt the lyrics didn't live up to Yoko's title. It's such a beautiful statement. Woman still is the nigger. Under the whole crust of it, is the women and beneath them the children. Well anyway, I took the title and wrote the song which I believe was long before Helen Reddy's 'I Am Woman'. So it was the first Women's Liberation song as well, as far as I'm concerned, and it was directly quoted from Yoko but with her singing it probably would have not got on the air. It was talked about. It got the message across. The whole story is the title, the lyrics are just a fill-in. I felt the lyrics didn't live up to Yoko's title.

' Angela '. We got a request: 'Will you please write a song about Angela (Davis, a UCLA lecturer and Black Panther)?' from the Angela Davis people. So there, how do you write a song about somebody you don't really know?

' Happy Xmas ( War Is Over ) '. I always wanted to write a Christmas record. Something that would last forever. We're very proud of that one and we both played and sang together on that one, might have been our first pop, you know, straight pop record together and Phil Spector was the producer and it was a beautiful session and the kids singing were beautiful.

' Mind Games '. That was a fun track because the voice was in stereo and the seeming orchestra on it was me playing three notes on slide guitar. And the middle eight is reggae.

' Whatever Gets You Thru The Night '. That was a novelty record. It's the only one i've done since I left the Beatles to get to number one. Imagine should have been number one, and ' Whatever Gets You Thru The Night ', should have been number 39. It just doesn't make sense.

' # 9 Dream '. It got to number nine actually. That's what I call craftmanship writing, meaning, you know, I just churned that out. I'm not putting it down, it's just what it is, but I just sat down and wrote it, you know, with no real inspiration based on a dream I'd had. But I thought, I need a track, I wrote it round the string arrangement I'd written for Harry Nilsson's album I'd produced. 'Many Rivers To Cross', the Jimmy Cliff number, I'd done this string arrangement for that and it was such a nice melody on the strings. I thought this is a tune, you know, so I just wrote words to the string arrangement, that was 'Number Nine Dream', kind of psychedelic dreamy kind of thing.

' Nobody Loves You (When You're Down And Out) '. I wrote it during that time (the lost weekend). That's how I felt. It exactly expresses the whole period. For some reason, I always imagined Sinatra singing that one. I don't know why. It's kind of a Sinatra-esque song, really. He would do a perfect job with it. Are you listening, Frank? You need a song that isn't a piece of nothing. Here's the one for you, the horn arrangement and everything's made for you. But don't ask me to produce it.

' Woman ', came about because, one sunny afternoon in Bermuda, it suddenly hit me. What women do for us. Not as the sex object or the mother, but just their contribution.

' Dear Yoko '. It says it all. The track's a nice track and it happens to be about my wife, instead of Dear Sandra or some other person that another singer would sing about, who may or may not exist.

' Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) '. I was with Sean in the kitchen with the bread. I kept thinking: 'Well, I ought to be inspired to write about Sean'. I was going through a bit of that and when I finally gave up on thinking about writing a song about him, of course, the song came to me.

The bells on ' Starting Over ', the head of the album, is a wishing bell of Yoko's. And it's like the beginning of ' Mother ', which had a very slow death bell. So it's taken a long time to get from a slow church death bell, to this sweet little wishing bell. And that's the connection. To me, my work is one piece.


In Paul McCartney's Own Words

' I Saw Her Standing There '. I wrote it with John. We sagged off school and wrote it on guitars. I remember I had the lyrics, 'Just seventeen/Never been a beauty queen,' which John, it was one of the first times he ever went, 'What? Must change that!' And it became, 'you know what I mean.'

' All You Need Is Love ', was John's song. I threw in a few ideas, as did other members of the group, but it was largely ad libs like singing 'She Loves You' or 'Greensleeves' or silly little things like that at the end, and we made those up on the spot.

' Magical Mystery Tour ', was co-written by John and I, very much in our fairground period. One of our great inspirations was always the barker: 'Roll up! Roll up!' The promise of something, the newspaper ad that says 'guaranteed not to crack' the 'high class' butcher, 'satisfaction guaranteed' from Sgt. Pepper. You'll find that pervades alot of my songs. If you look at all the Lennon/McCartney things, it's a thing we do alot.

' Here, There And Everywhere ' (written alongside John Lennon's swimming pool in Weybridge, England). I sat out by the pool on one of the sun chairs with my guitar and started strumming in E, and soon had a few chords, and I think by the time he'd (John) woken up, I had pretty much written the song, so we took it indoors and finished it up.

' She's Leaving Home '. John and I wrote 'She's Leaving Home' together. It was my inspiration. We'd seen a story in the newspaper about a young girl who'd left home and not been found, there were a lot of those at the time, and that was enough to give us a story line. So I started to get the lyrics: she slips out and leaves a note and then the parents wake up. It was rather poignant. I like it as a song, and when I showed it to John, he added the long sustained notes, and one of the nice things about the structure of the song is that it stays on those chords endlessly. Before that period in our song-writing we would have changed chords but it stays on the C chord. It really holds you. It's a really nice little trick and I think it worked very well. While I was showing that to John, he was doing the Greek chorus, the parents' view: 'We gave her most of our lives, we gave her everything money could buy.'

People tend to forget that John wrote some pretty nice ballads. People tend to think of him as an acerbic wit and aggressive and abrasive, but he did have a very warm side to him really which he didn't like to show too much in case he got rejected.

Listen to This Book! John Lennon talks about all his songs
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