Quotes and quotations by John Lennon
"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." - John Lennon
It is for others to judge. I am doing it. I do. I don't stand back and judge -- I do. - John Lennon
"You make your own dream. That's the Beatles' story, isn't it? That's Yoko's story. That's what I'm saying now. Produce your own dream. If you want to save Peru, go save Peru. It's quite possible to do anything, but not to put it on the leaders and the parking meters. Don't expect Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan or John Lennon or Yoko Ono or Bob Dylan or Jesus Christ to come and do it for you. You have to do it yourself. That's what the great masters and mistresses have been saying ever since time began. They can point the way, leave signposts and little instructions in various books that are now called holy and worshiped for the cover of the book and not for what it says, but the instructions are all there for all to see, have always been and always will be. There's nothing new under the sun. All the roads lead to Rome. And people cannot provide it for you. I can't wake you up. You can wake you up. I can't cure you. You can cure you." - John Lennon
"You're just left with yourself all the time, whatever you do anyway. You've got to get down to your own God in your own temple. It's all down to you, mate." - John Lennon
“One has to completely humiliate oneself to be what the Beatles were, and that's what I resent. I mean I did it, I didn't know, I didn't foresee; it just 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. And that's what I'm saying with this album--I remember what it's all about now, you fuckers--fuck you! That's what I'm saying, you don't get me twice." - John Lennon
"But nobody's perfect, etc., etc. Whether it's Janov or Erhardt or Maharishi or a Beatle. That doesn't take away from their message. It's like learning how to swim. The swimming is fine. But forget about the teacher. If the Beatles had a message, it was that. With the Beatles, the records are the point, not the Beatles as individuals. You don't need the package, just as you don't need the Christian package or the Marxist package to get the message. People always got the image I was an anti-Christ or antireligion. I'm not. I'm a most religious fellow. I was brought up a Christian and I only now understand some of the things that Christ was saying in those parables. Because people got hooked on the teacher and missed the message. All this bit about electing a President. We pick our own daddy out of a dog pound of daddies." - John Lennon
"If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace." - John Lennon
"I think the basic thing nobody asks is why do people takes drugs of any sort? And that question has to be resolved before you can think, well, what can we do for the poor drug addict? Why do we have to have these accessories to normal living to live? I mean, is there something wrong with society that's making us so pressurized, that we cannot live without guarding ourselves against it?" - John Lennon
"When you're drowning, you don't say 'I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me,' you just scream." - John Lennon
"It's fear of the unknown. The unknown is what it is. And to be frightened of it is what sends everybody scurrying around chasing dreams, illusions, wars, peace, love, hate, all that--it's all illusion. Unknown is what it is. Accept that it's unknown and it's plain sailing. Everything is unknown--then you're ahead of the game. That's what it is. Right?" - John Lennon
"It just was a gradual development over the years. I mean last year was 'all you need is love.' This year, it's 'all you need is love and peace, baby.' Give peace a chance, and remember Love. The only hope for us is peace. Violence begets violence. You can have peace as soon as you like if we all pull together. You're all geniuses, and you're all beautiful. You don't need anyone to tell you who you are. You are what you are. Get out there and get peace, think peace, and live peace and breathe peace, and you'll get it as soon as you like." - John Lennon
"Once you're so depressed that you get into drugs, once you're on them, it's very, very hard to see the light or to have any kind of hope. All you think about is the drug, and it's no good to us preaching at people and saying don't take them. Because that doesn't work. It's like the church telling you not to drink or not to have sex when you're a kid. There's nothing on earth gonna do it. But 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. You need hope, and hope is something that you build within yourself and with your friends. It's a very difficult situation, drugs... The worst drugs are as bad as anybody's told you. It's just a dumb trip, which I can't condemn people if they get into it, because one gets into it for one's personal, social, emotional reasons. It's something to be avoided if one can help it." - John Lennon
"Possession isn't nine-tenths of the law. It's nine-tenths of the problem." - John Lennon
"The pressures of being a parent are equal to any pressure on earth. To be a conscious parent, and really look to that little being's mental and physical health is a responsibility which most of us, including me, avoid most of the time, because it's too hard. To put it loosely, the reason why kids are crazy is because nobody can face the responsibility of bringing them up..." - John Lennon
"We've got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can't just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it's going to get on by itself. You've got to keep on watering it. You've got to really look after it and nurture it." - John Lennon
"You can't cheat kids. If you cheat them when they're children they'll make you pay when they're sixteen or seventeen by revolting against you or hating you or all those so-called teenage problems. I think that's finally when they're old enough to stand up to you and say, 'What a hypocrite you've been all this time. You've never given me what I really wanted, which is you." - John Lennon
" Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me." - John Lennon
"As usual, there is a great woman behind every idiot. - John Lennon
"You don't need anybody to tell you who you are or what you are. You are what you are!" - John Lennon
"I don't believe in killing whatever the reason!" - John Lennon
"If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliché that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that's his problem. Love and peace are eternal." - John Lennon
"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? Reality leaves a lot to the imagination." - John Lennon
"If being an egomaniac means I believe in what I do and in my art or my music. then in that respect you can call me that. . . I believe in what I do, and I'll say it." - John Lennon
"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" - John Lennon
"Guilt for being rich, and guilt thinking that perhaps love and peace isn't enough and you have to go and get shot or something."-1980 - John Lennon
"My defences were so great. The cocky rock and roll hero who knows all the answers was actually a terrified guy who didn't know how to cry. Simple." - John Lennon
"Everything I've ever done is out. I don't have boxes of unreleased stuff. There's nothing in the files. I can never keep anything unless I don't like the sound of it or it didn't work. If I can sing it to an engineer, I can sing it to anyone..." - John Lennon
"For a long time I wasn't listening to music, to the rock and roll stuff on the radio, because it would cause me to get sweaty. It would bring back memories I didn't want to know about, or I would get that feeling that I'm not alive 'cause I'm not making it. And if it was good, I hated it 'cause I wasn't doing it. And if it was bad, I was furious 'cause I could've done it better..." - John Lennon
"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." - John Lennon
"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." - John Lennon
"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." - John Lennon
"I still don't know how to express the really delicate personal stuff. People think that Plastic Ono is very personal, but there are some subtleties of emotions which I cannot seem to express in pop music, and it frustrates me. Maybe that's why I still search for other ways of expressing myself. Song writing is a limiting experience in some ways - writing down words that have to rhyme." - John Lennon
"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." - John Lennon
"I've been baking bread and looking after the baby...Everyone else who has asked me that question over the last few years says. 'But what else have you been doing?' To which I say, 'Are you kidding?' Because bread and babies, as every housewife knows, is a full-time job. After I made the loaves [of bread,] I felt like I had conquered something. But as I watched the bread being eaten, I thought, Well, Jesus, don't I get a gold record or knighted or nothing?" - John Lennon
"Nobody controls me. I'm uncontrollable. The only one who can control me is me, and that's just barely possible. And that's the lesson I'm learning. If someone's going to impress me, whether it be a Maharishi or Yoko, then there comes a point where the emperor has no clothes 'cause I'm naive, but I'm not stupid. For all you folks out there who think I'm having the wool pulled over my eyes, well, that's an insult to me. But if you think you know me, or you have some part of me because of the music, and then you think I'm being controlled like a dog on a leash because I do things with her, then screw you, brother or sister, you don't know what's happening. I'm not here for you, I'm here for me and her, and now the baby" - John Lennon
"Rituals are important. Nowadays it's hip not to be married. I'm not interested in being hip." - John Lennon
"Song writing is about getting the demon out of me. It's like being possessed. You try to go to sleep, but the song won't let you. So you have to get up and make it into something, and then you're allowed to sleep. It's always in the middle of the night, or you're half-awake or tired, when your critical faculties are switched off. So letting go is what the whole game is. Every time you try to put your finger on it, it slips away. You turn on the lights and the cockroaches run away. You can never grasp them." - John Lennon
"The first year I had this sort of feeling in the back of my mind that I ought to [be doing music]. And I'd go through periods of panic, because I was not in Billboard or being seen at Studio 54 with Mick and Bianca. I mean, I didn't exist anymore. It would become like a paranoia, and then it would go away, because I'd be involved with the baby. And I realized there was a life without it - life after death." - John Lennon
"The idea of being a rock and roll musician sort of suited my talents and mentality. The freedom was great, but then I found out I wasn't free. I'd got boxed in ...The whole Beatle thing is just beyond comprehension ... subconsciously I was crying for help." - John Lennon
"They want to hold onto something they never had in the first place. Anybody who claims to have some interest in me as an individual artist or even as part of the Beatles has absolutely misunderstood everything I ever said if they can't see why I'm with Yoko. And if they can't see that, they don't see anything. They're just jacking off to - it could be anybody. Mick Jagger or somebody else. Let them go jack off to Mick Jagger, okay? I don't need it." - John Lennon
"When you're thirty-five, you can't take as much booze ... and I always got a little violent on drink...So it was kind of a self-destructive suicide side of me, which is resolving itself for the better, I believe, because I never enjoyed it..." - John Lennon
"In one way, I was always hip. I was hip in kindergarten. I was different from the others. There was something wrong with me, I thought, because I seemed to see things people didn't see. I always saw things in a hallucinatory way." - John Lennon
"If The Beatles or the 60's had a message, it was 'Learn to swim. And once you've learned - swim!" - John Lennon
"It was like being in the eye of a hurricane. You'd wake up in a concert and think, Wow, how did I get here?" - John Lennon
"I've always thought there was this underlying thing in Paul's 'Get Back.' When we were in the studio recording it, every time he sang the line 'Get back to where you once belonged," he'd look at Yoko." - John Lennon
"Now, in the sixties we were naive, like children. Everybody went back to their rooms, and said, 'We didn't get a wonderful world of just flowers and peace and happy chocolate, and it won't be just pretty and beautiful all the time,' and just like babies everyone went back to their rooms and >sulked. 'We're going to stay in our rooms and play rock and roll and not do anything else, because the world's a horrible place, because it didn't give us everything we cried for.' Right?" - John Lennon
"The only time we took drugs was when we were without hope and the only way we got out of it was with hope and if we can sustain the hope then we don't need drugs, liquor or anything. But if we lose hope, what can you do? What is there to do?" - John Lennon
"The writing of the Beatles, or John and Paul's contribution to the Beatles in the late sixties - had a kind of depth to it, a more mature, more intellectual approach. We were different people, we were older. We knew each other in all kinds of different ways than when we wrote together as teenagers and in our older twenties." - John Lennon
"Well, crying for it wasn't enough. The thing the sixties did was 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." - John Lennon
"We've been on our peace gig, as we call it, for a year solid. And people say, 'Do you think it's having any effect?' I can't answer that. It's like asking me in the Cavern, 'Are you gonna make it?' In the back of my mind I thought, I'm gonna make it, but I couldn't lay it on the line. And I think that peace is more tangible than Beatles." - John Lennon
"We were all on this ship in the sixties, our generation, a ship going to discover the New World. And the Beatles were in the crow's nest of that ship ... We were part of it and contributed what we contributed. I can't designate what we did and didn't do. It depends on how each individual was impressed by the Beatles or how our shock wave went to different people. We were going through the changes, and all we were saying was, it's raining up here, or there's land or there's a sun or we can see a seagull. We were just reporting what was happening to us." - John Lennon
"When I was a Beatle I thought we were the best fucking group in the goddamn world, and believing that is what made us what we were." - John Lennon
"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." - John Lennon
"Everything is clearer when you're in love" - John Lennon
"We've broken down a few barriers between us. which we had to do because we had two big egos. two individual artists - and with love we overcame that." - John Lennon
"I'd never met a woman I considered as intelligent as me. That sounds bigheaded, but every woman I met was either a dolly-chick, or a sort of screwed-up intellectual chick. And of course, in the field I was in, I didn't meet many intellectual people anyway. I always had this dream of meeting an artist, an artist girl who would be like me. And I thought it was a myth, but then I met Yoko and that was it." - John Lennon
"If [Sean] doesn't see me a few days or if I'm really, really busy, and I just sort of get a glimpse of him, or if I'm feeling depressed without him even seeing me, he sort of picks up on it. And he starts getting that way. So I can no longer afford to have artistic depressions. If I start wallowing in a depression, he'll start coming down with stuff, so I'm sort of obligated to keep up. And sometimes I can't, because something will make me depressed and sure as hell he'll get a cold or trap his finger in a door or something, and so now I have sort of more reason to stay healthy or bright..." - John Lennon
In the 60s we fought for peace, when the Vietnam war was on. We were against the cops and against the politicians and there was a lot of waving banners and all that. And I think in a way, just as they were enjoying that machoism of war, we were enjoying the machismo of being anti-war, you know? So I thought, not this time, it's too complicated a situation. We cannot enjoy the machoism of fighting for peace. I felt that I wanted John's fans to know that.
You can stand for peace, but not fight for it.
...the people who are fighting today, probably think that they are fighting for peace, too. Probably we are all imagining the same thing in the end, but we have different ideas of how to get there.' - Yoko Ono
"I was too scared to break away from the Beatles, which I'd been looking to do since we stopped touring. And so I was sort of vaguely looking for somewhere to go but didn't have the nerve to really step out into the boat myself, so I sort of hung around, and when I met Yoko and fell in love, my God, this is different than anything before. This is more than a hit record. It's more than gold. It's more than everything...When I met Yoko is when you meet your first woman, and you leave the guys at the bar, and you don't go play football anymore. Once I found the woman, the boys became of no interest whatsoever, other than they were like old school friends." - John Lennon
"Yoko looks upon men as assistants. . . . Of varying degrees of intimacy, but basically assistants. And this one's going to take a pee." (Exits to the restrooms) - John Lennon
"Anybody who knows our history knows that we went through all hell together - through miscarriages and terrible times." - John Lennon
"People want peace. And you've got to sell it and sell it and sell it. So we do the bed-ins and they say, 'What? They're in bed? What's this?' And all we're doing really is donating our holiday. We get tired and it's ... more convenient for us to stay in one spot than go around doing press conferences." - John Lennon
"The joy is still there when I see Sean. He didn't come out of my belly, but my God, I've made his bones, because I've attended to every meal, and how he sleeps, and the fact that he swims like a fish because I took him to the ocean. I'm so proud of all his things. But he is my biggest pride." - John Lennon
"We are both sensitive people and we were hurt a lot by it. I mean, we couldn't understand it. When you're in love, when somebody says something like, 'How can you be with that woman?' you say, 'What do you mean? I am with this goddess of love, the fulfilment of my whole life. Why are you saying this? Why do you want to throw a rock at her or punish me for being in love with her?' Our love helped us survive it, but some of it was pretty violent. There were a few times when we nearly went under, but we managed to survive it and here we are. [John looks up] Thank you, thank you, thank you." - John Lennon
"We haven't been apart for more than one hour in two years. Everything we do is together, and that's what gives us our strength." - John Lennon
"We're all in a bag, you know?... I was in a pop bag, going round and round, in my own little clique. And she [Yoko] was in her own little avant-garde clique, going round and round...So we just came up with the word. If you'd ask us what bagism is, we'd say, 'We're all in a bag, baby." - John Lennon
"We've broken down a few barriers between us, which we had to do because we had two big egos, two individual artists - and with love we overcame that." - John Lennon
"When I was cleaning the cat shit and feeding Sean, she [Yoko] was sitting in rooms full of smoke with men in three-piece suits that they couldn't button." - John Lennon
"When [Yoko and I] got back together, we decided that this is our life. That having a baby was important to us, and that everything else was subsidiary to that, and therefore everything else had to be abandoned. I mean, abandonment gave us the fulfillment we were looking for and the space to breathe." - John Lennon
"Why don't people believe us when we say we're simply in love?" - John Lennon
"With us it's 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. I'm supposed to know everything. But she taught me everything I fucking know." - John Lennon
"Yoko was the only one who didn't put me down through that period, because
a) she knew I was suffering, and
b) she said, 'You didn't kill anyone. You didn't abuse anyone.' And I thought, Okay, okay, she doesn't mind it, so I'm not going to give a damn whether the reporter likes it or not." - John Lennon
"We all have Hitler in us, but we also have love and peace. So why not give peace a chance for once?" - John Lennon
"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."
Eerything'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 on Peace
PLAYBOY: Why did you become a househusband?
LENNON: There were many reasons. I had been under obligation or contract from the time I was 22 until well into my 30s. After all those years, it was all I knew. I wasn't free. I was boxed in. My contract was the physical manifestation of being in prison. It was more important to face myself and face that reality than to continue a life of rock 'n' roll -- and to go up and down with the whims of either your own performance or the public's opinion of you. Rock 'n' roll was not fun anymore.
I always asked why people did things and why society was like it was. I didn't just accept it for what it was apparently doing. I always looked below the surface.
PLAYBOY: On the subject of your own wealth, the New York Post recently said you admitted to being worth over $150,000,000 (1980) and----
LENNON: We never admitted anything.
PLAYBOY: The Post said you had.
LENNON: What the Post says -- OK, so we are rich; so what?
PLAYBOY: The question is, How does that jibe with your political philosophies? You're supposed to be socialists, aren't you?
LENNON: 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.
"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 circulations, they say, 'Look at what we've done for you" - Read the entire Playboy interview
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