John was not only a brilliant musician and songwriter but
an intelligent, thoughtful philosopher and clever quipster.
These are some of my favorite John Lennon quotes.
Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.
part of the lyric of "Beautiful Boy"
Would those of you in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewelry.
John Lennon onstage with The Beatles November 4, 1963 at the Royal Variety Performance in London. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and Princess Margaret were among the audience members.
Reporter: They think your haircuts are un-American
John: Well, it was very observant of them because we aren't American, actually.
news conference after returning from France February 5, 1964
Reporter: Why does it (your music) excite them (the fans) so much?
John: If we knew we'd form another group and be managers.
first American press conference, JFK airport, Februrary 7, 1964
I once received a bra... with "I Love John" embroidered on it. It thought it was pretty
original. I didn't keep it, mind you - it didn't fit.
TV interview: John Lennon with Larry Kane, September 13, 1964
We never thought of miming songs at concerts. That would be cheating, wouldn't it?
Australian interview, The Age, June 15, 1964
We don't know (the tour schedule). It's not up to us where we go. We just climb into the vans.
press conference, San Francisco, August 8, 1965
Sid, at Shea Stadium, I saw the top of the mountain.
John's comment to Sid Bernstein, promoter of the August 1965 Shea Stadium concert.
What I'd have liked would have been the money and the hit records without the fame.
DO something with my voice! You know, put something on it. Smother it with tomato ketchup or
something. Make it different!
Producer George Martin remembering John's inborn dislike of his own voice. He
wanted to sound more like the young Elvis.
It (In My Life) was the first song that I wrote that was really, consciously about my life....
up until then, it had been all glib and throwaway.
From our earliest days in Liverpool, George and I on the one hand and Paul on the other had different musical tastes. Paul preferred 'pop type' music and we preferred what is now called 'underground'. This may have led to arguments, particularly between Paul and George, but the contrast in tastes, I'm sure, did more good than harm, musically speaking, and contributed to our success.
I can't remember anything without a sadness
So deep that it hardly becomes known to me
So deep that its tears leave me a spectator of my own stupidity.
from a letter from John Lennon to Stuart Sutcliffe in the early 1960s
As usual, there is a great woman behind every idiot.
I believe in everything until it's disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real as the here and now?
I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It's just that the translations have gone wrong...
I believe in something,definitely. I believe there is a force at work that you can't physically account for."
There's a good little guru.
breaking an awkward silence when meeting Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
in India and patting him on the head, as recalled by musician Donovan.
We're not disinterested in politics. It's just that politicians are disinteresting.
press conference San Diego California August 28, 1965
The [political] motto seems to be 'Keep the people happy with a few fags [cigarettes]
and beer and they won't ask any questions.' I'm not an anarchist, but it would be good
if people started realizing the difference between political propaganda and the truth.
told to biographer
Ray Coleman in 1966
We were mushroom-grown, and we were forced to grow up a bit quick, like having 30- to 40-year-old
heads on 20 year old bodies.
John in 1966, after having been hurt by the press' handling of some of his
unintentionally controversial comments.
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.
Everybody's talking about peace, but nobody does anything about it in a peaceful way.
If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace.
Possession isn't nine-tenths of the law its nine-tenths of the problem.
I'm not going to change the way I look or the way I feel to conform to anything. I've always been a freak. So I've been a freak all my life and I have to live with that, you know. I'm one of those people.
I always was a rebel...but on the other hand, I wanted to be loved and accepted...and not just be a loudmouth, lunatic, poet, musician. But I cannot be what I am not.
I think 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 way as insane for
expressing that. That's what's insane about it.
I don't remember saying that [the song] Revolution was revolutionary...
You say that in order to change the world you have to destroy it. Ruthlessly.
You're obviously on a destruction kick. I'll tell you what's wrong with it - people.
So, do you want to destroy them? Ruthlessly? You seem to think it's just a class war...
The lyrics still stand today. They're still my feelings about politics: I want to see the PLAN.
That is what I used to say to Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman. Count me out if it's for violence...
What's the point in bombing Wall Street? If you want to change the system, change the system.
It's no good shooting people.
John Lennon in response to critics of his song Revolution
You're in a fishbowl so make use of it, man.
Before Yoko and I met, we were half a person. You
know there's an old myth about people being half
and the other half being in the sky, or in heaven
or on the other side of the universe or a mirror
image. But we are two halves, and together
we're a whole.
It's part of our policy not to be taken seriously because our opposition, whoever they may be -
in all their manifest forms, don't know how to handle humour, we're humorists,
we're Laurel & Hardy, that's John & Yoko, we're willing to be the worlds clowns...
The establishment irritates you - pull your beard, flick your face - to make you
fight because once they've got you violent they know how to handle you.
The only thing they don't know how to handle is non-violence and humour.
Newspaper people have a habit of putting you in the
front pages to sell their papers, and then after
they've sold their papers and got big circulation's,
they say, 'Look at what we've done for you.'
Your Majesty, I am returning my MBE in protest against Britain's involvement in the
Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of
America in Vietnam and against Cold Turkey slipping down in the charts.
With love, John Lennon
November 25, 1969
Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.
When real music comes to me - the music of the spheres, the music that surpasses understanding - that has nothing to do with me, cause I'm just the channel. The only joy for me is for it to be given to me, and to transcribe it like a medium... those moments are what I live for.
If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'.
If there hadn't been Elvis, there would not have been The Beatles.
I never listen to the radio. If it's bad, I make
fun of it, and if it's good, I get jealous that
I didn't think of it.
My role in society, or any artist's or poet's role, is to try and 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.
I dream in colour, and it's always very surreal. My dream world is complete Hieronymus Bosch and Dali.
I love it, I look forward to it every night.
Surrealism had a great effect on me because then I realised that the imagery in my mind wasn't insanity. Surrealism to me is reality.
Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.
A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.
Everything is clearer when you're in love.
People think you want them to do something or say something special...you don't. You just want them to be themselves, so you can be yourself.
The more I see the less I know for sure.
Rituals are important. Nowadays it's hip not to be married. I'm not interested in being hip.
New York is what Paris was in the twenties. . . the center of the art world. And we want to be in the center. It's the greatest place on earth. . . I've got a lot of friends here and I even brought my own cash.
If I'd lived in Roman times, I'd have lived in Rome. Where else? Today America is the Roman Empire and New York is Rome itself.
I'd like to thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we passed the audition.
John's joke at the end of Get Back that The Beatles had
just performed on the rooftop of Apple headquarters on January 30, 1969
I don't intend to be a performing flea any more. I was the dreamweaver, but although I'll be around I don't intend to be running at 20,000 miles an hour trying to prove myself. I don't want to die at 40.
Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King are great examples of fantastic nonviolents who died violently. I can never work that out. We're pacifists, but I'm not sure what it means when you're such a pacifist that you get shot. I can never understand that.
I'm not afraid of dying. I'm prepared for death because I don't believe in it. I think it's just getting out of one car and
getting into another.
I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go.
~ Watching The Wheels