The bitter songs John Lennon wrote to mock The Beatles

John Lennon

The fallout from The Beatles was never going to be pleasant. Despite their repeated claims that all we needed was love, they would face a lot of trouble in the coming years. This included shady business deals that put them in financial trouble after they left their previous employer. Even though the majority of the band left with a bitter taste in their mouths, few were as ruthless as John Lennon.

When asked about the mismanagement at their label, Apple, and beyond, John Lennon was blunt about how much he disliked working with the other members during their final months together. Although the band would eventually reunite to record masterpieces such as Abbey Road, Lennon saved the majority of his musical venom for when he decided to lash out at his former bandmates through song.

Throughout his solo career, Lennon created tracks that openly mocked his former band, whether by reusing different guitar riffs or calling out songs by name that didn’t fit their typical aesthetic. Lennon didn’t just use his work; in interviews, he openly stated that he despised a few Beatles songs in which he played an important role.

Despite their great music, two of Lennon’s seminal works came with baggage. For all of the classic songs he still had to write, these two tracks marked the point at which Lennon drew a line in the sand and officially ended the Fab Four fantasy. Although he may have been preaching the importance of peace at the same time, Lennon’s first solo album demonstrated his willingness to be honest.

The bitter songs of John Lennon:


Across Plastic Ono Band, Lennon was looking to exorcise his demons in whatever way he could. After undergoing aggressive primal therapy, Lennon discovered that the best way to deal with his grief was to let it out, resulting in songs that felt like they were plucked from the frailest corners of his brain. While Lennon may have directed his negative energy towards his absentee parents and even the corrupt justice system, his most stinging indictment came when he confronted his old band on ‘God’.

When discussing the various perspectives on religion, Lennon states that he does not believe in any spiritual deity that comes his way, including Buddha and Hare Krishna. As he nears the end of his rant, Lennon begins calling out the names of various artists before boldly declaring, “I don’t believe in the Beatles/I just believe in myself.”

While the track stunned most listeners, Lennon meant every word he said, aiming to create music that reflected him rather than reliving the same fantasy that everyone expected of him as one of the lovable moptops. After years of focusing on his strengths as a straight-ahead rock and roll musician, this was the sound of Lennon abandoning his Beatles credentials and moving on to greater things.

How Do You Sleep

If Plastic Ono Band was Lennon’s attempt to make a more artistic statement, Imagine was a more commercial response to his distress. While Lennon maintained his original beliefs, he delivered the album with a more refined production, transforming anthems like ‘Imagine’ and ‘Gimme Some Truth’ into some of his most celebrated solo discography tracks. Even as his Beatles days faded, Lennon had some choice words for his former writing partner, Paul McCartney.

Towards the end of the album, ‘How Do You Sleep’ was a long diss track from Lennon to his bandmate, tearing him to shreds with his own song titles. After going through various business dealings with each other and Lennon becoming enraged at Macca over the lyrics of ‘Too Many People’ from RAM, Lennon pulled no punches, remarking that the only thing worthwhile McCartney ever made was ‘Yesterday’.

Despite the massive slams against McCartney, Lennon would later reflect on the track’s true intentions in interviews, believing that he was attacking himself just as much as McCartney. Even though The Beatles were known as some of the most down-to-earth musicians the world had ever seen, ‘How Do You Sleep’ demonstrated that not everything was as it appeared when the music stopped.

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