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John Lennon‘s music could get very revealing at times. An interviewer asked John if he refused to release music that was too emotional. Subsequently, the interview gave fans insight into John’s view of his music.

John Lennon’s music was only kept from audiences if he didn’t like it for some reason

The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview With John Lennon and Yoko Ono features an interview with 1980. In it, John discussed what he thought about writing personal songs. “I made the decision at 16 or 17 that what I did, I wanted everybody to see,” he said. “I wasn’t going after the asceticism or the monastery or the lone artist who supposedly doesn’t care what people think about his work.”

John was asked if he ever wrote music so personal he never released it. “Oh, no, no, no,” he replied. “I never keep anything unless I didn’t like the sound of it or it didn’t work. But there’s nothing in the files … I don’t have boxes of unreleased stuff at all.”

The former Beatles exaggerated how much of his music he released

John discussed his habit of releasing his own work. “Everything I’ve ever done’s out,” he said. “If I can sing it in the studio, to an engineer, I can sing it to anyone.” John’s statement appears to be an exaggeration. For context, Rolling Stone reports John recorded a song called “Radio Peace” and never released it during his lifetime.

Elsewhere in All We Are Saying, John discussed his personal feelings. “I think the really, really delicate, personal stuff — I still don’t know how to express it,” he said. “People think that [John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band] is very personal, but there are some subtleties of emotion which I cannot seem to express in pop music. Maybe that’s why I will search for other ways of expressing myself. I get frustrated about it. Because it is a limiting medium in some ways.”


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How John Lennon’s songwriting might have changed if he lived a longer life

John’s comments are unusual. On one hand, many of his songs aren’t personal at all. For example, a lot of The Beatles’ early songs don’t seem to be about anything personal. They seem to be the Fab Four’s attempts to appeal to teenage girls rather than attempts to express their feelings. 

On the other hand, plenty of The Beatles’ songs and John’s solo songs seem to reveal who John was as a person. Tunes like “God,” “Imagine,” and “Give Peace a Chance” appear to discuss John’s political stances. “The Ballad of John and Yoko” chronicles his relationship with a certain performance artist. And songs like “Help!” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” give insight into his emotional states.

However, John implied he could have been more honest, if only he knew how. Perhaps he would have learned how to express himself better if he lived longer.

John wrote some wonderfully personal songs and he might’ve become more vulnerable if he had the chance.