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John Lennon on Songwriting

January 12, 2009

Since Hoover posted about Noel Gallagher yesterday, I though I would let you know what the real McCoy has to say about songwriting. This is an excerpt from the book The Rolling Stone Interviews:

In a rock band you have to make singles; you have to keep writing them… I was in Kenwood and that period (Hard Day’s Night) would be for songwriting, and so every day I would attempt to write a song… I would just try to express what I felt about myself.

I wrote the lyrics first for In My Life and then sang it. That was usually the case with things like that and Across the Universe, those ones stand out a bit.

…I think it was Dylan that helped me realize that I had a sort of professional songwriter’s attitude to writing pop songs; he would turn out a certain style of song for a single, and we would do a certain style. I’d have a separate songwriting John Lennon who wrote songs for the meat market, and I didn’t consider them to have any depth at all. They were a joke.

John Lennon has always been a bit of a ham and provocateur. But even if he truly felt that his pop songs were jokes, they still communicated and connected with people. They may have been jokes, but they were really great ones.

The professional attitude that Lennon had toward his songwriting is something that I have been musing about lately. Often I hear my friends complain about the sad state of modern music.  But what’s sadder still, is the laissez faire attitude people have toward the creation of music.

Hard work is never as romantic as a flash of genius at 3AM that results in a world wide hit. But those 3AM flashes are typically the result of countless hours of honing your songwriting chops. Just because you don’t get it right the first time does not mean you are not capable of hitting it next time. Keep Hustling.

Take Control of Your Music,


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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Kaitis permalink
    January 13, 2009 6:52 am

    I’m truly just so fucking glad I got to read a piece as amazing as this.

  2. January 13, 2009 6:58 pm

    Two points from the J-man:

    1. Just because a song comes in ‘a flash’ doesn’t mean it took three minutes or one hour or whatever to write. I’d say it took a person’s whole life up til that point.

    2. Always consider the reciprocal relationship media has with it’s consumers. If shit is what is being created and selling, you need to wonder what people are asking for.

  3. January 13, 2009 7:17 pm

    As always, the J-Man provides a poignant comment.
    I would have to agree with both points. People ask for fluff they get fluff, people ask for flashers they get flashers… oh wait.. uh. I mean..

  4. January 16, 2009 3:49 am

    Man, I ask for flashers all the time, and I never get ’em. What’s the secret?

  5. January 16, 2009 5:04 am

    Visualize, visualize, visualize.

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