John Lennon’s music can sometimes become very revealing. An interview asked John if he refused to release music that was too emotional. Afterwards, the interview gave fans insight into John’s vision for his music.
John Lennon’s music was only kept from the public if they didn’t like it for some reason
The book All We Say: The Last Big Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono features an interview with 1980. In it, John opened up about his thoughts on writing personal songs. “I made the decision at 16 or 17 that what I was doing, I wanted everyone to see it,” he said. “I wasn’t going after asceticism or the monastery or the solitary artist who supposedly doesn’t care what people think of his work.”
John was asked if he’s ever written music so personal he’s never released it. “Oh, no, no, no,” he replied. “I never keep anything unless I don’t like the sound or it doesn’t work. But there’s nothing in the files… I don’t have any boxes of unreleased stuff at all.
The former Beatles exaggerated the amount of his music he released
John talked about his habit of publishing his own work. “Everything I’ve ever done has come out,” he said. “If I can sing it in the studio, to an engineer, I can sing it to anybody.” John’s statement seems to be an exaggeration. For context, Rolling Stone reports that John recorded a song called “Radio Peace” and never released it during his lifetime.
Elsewhere in Everything we say, John spoke about his personal feelings. “I think the really, really tricky personal stuff — I still don’t know how to put it,” he said. “People think that [John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band] is very personal, but there are subtleties of emotion that I cannot express in pop music. Maybe that’s why I’ll look for other ways to express myself. I’m frustrated about this. Because it’s a limiting medium in some ways.
How John Lennon’s Songwriting Could Have Changed Had He Lived Longer
John’s comments are unusual. For one thing, a lot of his songs aren’t personal at all. For example, many of the Beatles’ early songs don’t seem to be about anything personal. They appear to be the Fab Four’s attempts to please teenage girls rather than attempts to express their feelings.
On the other hand, many Beatles songs and John’s solo songs seem to reveal who John was as a person. Songs like “God”, “Imagine” and “Give Peace a Chance” seem to discuss John’s political positions. “The Ballad of John and Yoko” is about her relationship with a certain performance artist. And songs like “Help!” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” provide insight into his emotional states.
However, John hinted that he could have been more honest, if he had known how. Perhaps he would have learned to express himself better if he lived longer.
John wrote some wonderfully personal songs and he might have become more vulnerable had he had the chance.
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