by Steve Marinucci
If there was one thing John Lennon, who was born on Oct. 9, 1940, was known for throughout his life, it was his extreme honesty. Even as far back as the early days, in the Beatlemania era interviews, then much later in the Rolling Stone interview, where he was brutally so, and even in the Playboy magazine interview in 1980 to promote “Double Fantasy,” Lennon always told it like it was. And he did so even to the point where it got him in trouble at times – as it did with the infamous Maureen Cleave London Evening Standard “The Beatles are more popular than Jesus” interview.
Here are five instances where Lennon spoke his mind. In each of these, he was, at a minimum, down to earth. But Lennon never let barriers of honesty hold him back – one of the things we remember so fondly today on the day that would have been his 74th birthday.
From a 1965 interview with Buddy Britton:
“I wanted to refuse the MBE from the start. When I received the letter from the Palace telling me about it, I wanted to throw it away, but Brian Epstein wouldn’t let me. If you refuse, no one knows. The others said, ‘Let’s go! It’ll be amusing! So, instead of refusing, I accepted, and if I had refused, I would have stopped them from getting theirs. They seemed to love the decoration.”
From a 1966 interview in LOOK magaine:
“We weren’t as open and as truthful when we didn’t have the power to be. We had to take it easy. We had to shorten our hair to leave Liverpool and get jobs in London. We had to wear suits to get on TV. We had to compromise. We had to get hooked, as well, to get in and then sort of get a bit of power and say, ‘This is what we’re like.’ We had to falsify a bit, even if we didn’t realize it at the time.”
Our society is insane!
A 1968 interview for BBC2:
“I think our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. And I think that’s what I sussed when I was sixteen and twelve, way down the line. But I expressed it differently all through my life. It’s the same thing I’m expressing all the time. But NOW I can put it into that sentence that I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends, you know. If anybody can put on paper what our government, and the American government, and the Russian, Chinese… what they are all trying to do, and what they THINK they’re doing, I’d be very pleased to know what they think they’re doing. I think they’re all insane.”
What fresh-faced Beatles?
From a 1969 interview with New Musical Express:
“This image thing that people are always on about with the Beatles — image is something in Joe Public’s eye. That’s why it’s a drag when people talk about fresh-faced Beatles, like it was five years ago. I mean, we’re always changing, like the TV clip of ‘Get Back.’ Now I’ve got the beard, Paul is clean shaven, and George is the one with the mustache. Even I can’t keep up with our own image. I come into Apple one day, and there’s George got a new head on him.
“I don’t need to go to church”
From a 1969 BBC Radio One interview by David Wigg:
“”No, I don’t need to go to church, because church… I respect churches because of the sacredness that’s been put on them over the years by people who do believe. I think a lot of bad things have happened in the name of the church and in the name of Christ and therefore I shy away from church. And as Donovan once said, I go to my own church and my own temple once a day, you know. And I think people who need a church should go, and the others who know the church is in your own head should visit that temple, ‘cuz that’s where the source is.”