Working Class Hero

Album: Plastic Ono Band (1970)
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  • This song caused a fair amount of controversy for John Lennon, as his detractors pointed out that he was raised in an upper-middle-class home by his aunt and had no right to call himself a working-class hero. In an interview with Rolling Stone just three days before his death, Lennon explained: "The thing about the 'Working Class Hero' song that nobody ever got right was that it was supposed to be sardonic - it had nothing to do with socialism, it had to do with 'If you want to go through that trip, you'll get up to where I am, and this is what you'll be.' Because I've been successful as an artist, and have been happy and unhappy, and I've been unknown in Liverpool or Hamburg and been happy and unhappy."
  • The final take as it appears on the album is actually a composite of two different performances done at two different studios. If you listen carefully (it might require headphones) you can clearly hear the sound of the guitar and vocals change where the edit was made about halfway through the song. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Dan - Montreal, Canada
  • The word f--king appears twice in the lyrics. On the printed lyrics that came with the album, the word was obscured.

    Why did Lennon curse in the song? Yoko Ono explained in a 1998 interview with Uncut: "He told me, 'That's part of being working class. It won't be working class if what you say is all very clean and very proper."
  • The line, "If you want to be like the folks on the hill" is a reference to the Beatles song "The Fool On The Hill."
  • This features Klaus Voormann on bass and Ringo Starr on drums. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Green Day recorded this for the benefit album Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, and they also performed the song on the 2007 season finale of American Idol. In their version, the last two lines are from the original John Lennon song - John sings them. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Michael - Saginaw, MI
  • Lennon told the January 1971 edition of Rolling Stone about this song: "I think its concept is revolutionary, and I hope it's for workers and not for tarts and fags. I hope it's what "Give Peace A Chance" was about, but I don't know. On the other hand, it might just be ignored. I think it's for the people like me who are working class - whatever, upper or lower - who are supposed to be processed into the middle classes, through the machinery, that's all. It's my experience, and I hope it's just a warning to people. I'm saying it's a revolutionary song; not the song itself but that it's a song for the revolution."
  • This song seemed to resist all Lennon's efforts to record a satisfactory vocal. Tape op Andy Stephens recalled to Uncut magazine August 2010 that he watched the former Beatle obsess about it day after day, singing "an endless number of takes… well over 100.. Probably 120, 130."

    Stephens added that Lennon became more frustrated as each take passed. "If the mix in his headphones wasn't exactly what he wanted, he would take them off and slam them into the wall," he recalled. "he wouldn't say, 'Can I have a bit more guitar?' He would literally rip the cans off his head and smash them into the wall, then walk out of the studio."

Comments: 86

  • George from Vancouver, CanadaSeems odd that the one & only John+Yoko song I like is this one, in which he's not speaking from experience (as noted above, he was raised a bit more posh than working class); I bet he got flak for his swearing in it, but I see the use to be muted & contextually appropriate/necessary. Maybe this was before Yoko took him over completely? might've led him to think he was some thing he's not,. to better her position in the relationship (Diva/Princess to his position as just server to her majesty)
  • Howard Cogswell from Jacksonville, FlI have an alternate version of WORKING CLASS HERO where Lennon sings alternate lyrics in Pam Ve of the f bomb. It was on vinyl originally and released in Australia, but it seems it was never on CD. Too bad this version wasn’t released on the new box set.
  • Martin from SwitzerlandA brilliant song by a brilliant artist. For everyone who thinks the "Folks on the Hill" reference is about the Washington DC then I believe you're wrong. Lennon was English and no-one there refers to the US capital as "the Hill". I imagine it's referring to rich aristocrats in the UK who historically lived in Mansions / Castles elevated above the peasants working in the towns and villages.
  • Brian from AustraliaTruth of the matter is a Hollywood publisher provided John Lennon with a number of songs back in early 1970. Lennon at the time had a few tracks: Mother, God, Hold On, My Mummy's Dead. Lennon bought three songs written by an unknown Portuguese writer, hence the reference to "peasants" - including complete publishing rights - for $10,000, one song being "Working Class Hero." Ask Yoko. Still John Lennon wrote so many great songs but I would say his anger displayed when trying to record this song, throwing his headphones into the wall were just an expression on the lie he was keeping in the pursuit of fame and a need to outdo the other Beatles. Genius... hmmmm maybe but unlikely.
  • Wobly from New ZealandI can't believe that Marian Faithfull's version has been mentioned only the once, it is in my opinion the best version and really the only version worth listening. I have just listened to John Lennon's version and I have to say no wonder he got upset it was, let's say not one of his best efforts. As a song writer I think Lennon is a master and even as a singer but it has to be the right songs and this one just isn't right for Mr Lennon.
  • Cheryl from Pa, CaCorrection: John wrote/recorded Power to the People the day after Red Mole interview, and wrote Imagine later that year. All three (WCH, PTTP and Imagine) are songs for the revolution, aimed at young people and everyone who was working class, a call to WAKE UP and be the change you want to see in the world, and to work together: "better recognize your brothers, everyone you meet." He was politically awakening to the world outside of the Beatle bubble. He also wrote this related line in Instant Karma (We All Shine On), the year before (1970): "Why in the world are we here? Surely not to live in pain and fear, Why on Earth are you there, When you're everywhere, Gonna get your share..." WCH also sounds a bit like his friend Bob Dylan's anti-war song, Masters of War, that sounds like it was based on an old English song Nottamun Town. All three songs are about the powerful 'folks on the hill' using the workers to fight their wars for them.
  • Cheryl from Pa, CaFollowing Red Mole Interview from 1/21/71, John wrote & recorded Imagine, which is an even more powerful and revolutionary song. I think John was reflecting on the interview when he wrote Imagine. Red Mole said that a revolution (i.e. overthrow--w/violence) was required to change the system, but Yoko advocated for a peaceful revolution through effective communication (no violence), for people to unite & educate themselves to work together to change the broken and corrupt "system" from within. John thought Working Class Hero was too angry, written/recorded after Lennon came to America, met Jerry Rubin (yippies) and others who also advocated changing the political system to work for all humans, especially the working class, who were scared, doped, duped and pacified so they would not revolt.
  • Mike from Manchester, United KingdomI was raised in England in the 60s so I have a pretty good idea what John was talking about. Things have changed a lot in the intervening years, but in those bad old days it was common for middle class teachers to make working class kids feel worthless (“tortured and scared you for twenty-odd years”, “…hit you at school”). John also makes reference to his own childhood “As soon as you're born they make you feel small”. He also points out that even working class adults are still just as oppressed – only they don’t realise it. They are “doped with religion, sex and TV”. He feels they are essentially no better off than “peasants” from the olden days. He finishes with the bitter truth that the only way to escape is to join those oppressors with fake smiles and underhand deeds - with the chance of joining the bourgeois “on the hill”. A “working class hero” is someone who doesn’t fall into this trap and who is successful but true to himself and his roots (i.e. John Lennon)

  • Anthony from Westfield, NjI don't think this song really had much to do with class warfare, if at all. Knowing a lot about Lennon, it seems to me that the lyrics are more personal than anything else. If you change the second person to the first person (because he does use the first person in the end of the track) and perceive the song's chorus as someone speaking to Lennon when he was younger, trying to convince Lennon to give up artistic aspirations and lead a regular life, the song seems to make sense, at least to me. Lennon realizes that this class is going to exist regardless, but he personally got around it.
  • Brian Foley from Auckland, New Zealand'But you're still f--king peasants as far as I can see', is Johns accurate description of the gullibility of the working masses who support the few wealthy people who exploit them.
  • Jiveswallow from Cherryvale, AustraliaI think he was saying be proud if you're working class, and don't be sucked in by the Joneses.
  • James from Mon Mottawa, OnWorking Class Hero Is Something to NOT be. That is the real message of the song. People think John Lennon is praising the working class he is telling them you are a bunch of losers. You grow up and waste your life as this loser no name working class loser.He is saying be creative do something. They manipulate you into being some loser who sits at home watches standard TV lives a boring life. Working Class Here is Something to NOT be. Since their still f--king peasants as far as i can see.
  • Ken from Philadelphia, PaLest we forget... and it has never more clear than when I type this on the anniversary of John Lennon's death in 2011... "working class" covers everybody who gets up every day and works their butt off to pay their bills. Yes, some are richer than others and some work at jobs that are infinitely more appealing, but the fact remains that we live in a world where a very, very, very few fantastically wealthy people control most of the wealth and capital, while the rest of us, whether we mine coal or play basketball for the Lakers, fight over whichever scraps they feel like letting us have unless we are willing to try another path. With that in mind, if you want to take this song as a call for socialism or communism, so be it. I think John would be fine with that if he were here today. I also think if you took this song as a call for, perhaps, trying to make the world just a little bit better than the one we inherited, well, I think John would encourage that, too. And, of course, if you see this song as a call to break whatever bonds might be holding you back from being or doing whatever it is in this world that makes you happy, well, you can be certain he would encourage that, too.
  • Ken from Philadelphia, PaLest we forget... and it has never more clear than when I type this on the anniversary of John Lennon's death in 2011... "working class" covers everybody who gets up every day and works their butt off to pay their bills. Yes, some are richer than others and some work at jobs that are infinitely more appealing, but the fact remains that we live in a world where a very, very, very few fantastically wealthy people control most of the wealth and capital, while the rest of us, whether we mine coal or play basketball for the Lakers, fight over whichever scraps they feel like letting us have unless we are willing to try another path. With that in mind, if you want to take this song as a call for socialism or communism, so be it. I think John would be fine with that if he were here today. I also think if you took this song as a call for, perhaps, trying to make the world just a little bit better than the one we inherited, well, I think John would encourage that, too. And, of course, if you see this song as a call to break whatever bonds might be holding you back from being or doing whatever it is in this world that makes you happy, well, you can be certain he would encourage that, too.
  • Megan from Stevenson, AlI hate people who think they can do covers! It's CRAZY!!! Nobody can EVER beat John! Get over it already! Love this:)
  • John from Lompoc, CaIs it possible that Lennon's "Working Class Hero" is a warning for us all to be more than a little concerned about a Mac'consuming, all-star wrestling, NASCAR fan, gun-toting robot, NFL watching red-neck who wins the lottery or rescues a kitten and then thrust into the corporate media outlets as a hero/role model for the other mass-consumers? Un-awakened working-class people are immersed in the most un-healthy/un-wholesome environment imaginable and many carry the scars/baggage to prove it. Those of us who have awakened to our reality now what I'm talking about...and if Lennon wasn't enlightened, then we're all just existing in pens, waiting to be herded into the chutes leading to the slaughter house.
  • David from Lakeland, Fl1. "You think you're so clever and classless and free
    But you're still f--king peasants as far as I can see" refers to how Americans think there free but they're not because they have to work so they can pay taxes to support their country.

    2. Folks on the hill is obviously talking about capitol hill.

    3. "If you want to be a hero, just follow me" means if you want to be considered a good person then do what everybody else does instead of be your self and think outside the box. In other words conform tov society
  • Daniel from Melbourne, AustraliaHere's my interpretation of some of the lyrics.

    "There's room at the top" would be more than just the wealthy but the obscenely rich, the politicians, the CEOs etc -the ruling class.

    "But first you must learn to smile as you kill" reminds me of the idea of killing with a pen/signature, basically how the people at the top are responsible for wars and sending millions to their deaths, there are plenty of examples provided by Bush from the last decade, and no doubt more from Obama as they sell us these "necessary" wars.

    "If you want to be like the folks on the hill" -Capital Hill, Washington maybe? was Lennon already over in the US by then, either way the imagery of the rich f***kers living or working on a hill fits with out a real world equivalent.

    As for if Lennon was working class and deserved to write this song, I'm not sure. I wasn't alive then, didn't know him personally, but either way, doesn't mean he can't be sympathetic towards them and the lyrics hold up regardless, my favourite and a reflection of my current time of life- "When they're tortured and scared you for twenty-odd years| Then they expect you to pick a career..."
  • Bob from Berkeley, Ca"They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool." John Lennon really nailed that one.
  • Mark from Bolton, MaWell, lets see.
    Marilyn Manson did a wasn't very good.
    Ozzy Osbourne did a was very good, it kind of seemed a little bit harder than Lennon's but softer than green day's.
  • Daviid from Dc, Ga"Working Class Hero" might have made an obscure reference to "Fool on the Hill" but the latter is a highly obscure song with little ostensible meaning. "Working Class Hero" has little obscurity. If it is an obscure reference, it is making fun of obscure lyrics in Paul's Beatles' songs while making a stark and obvious point. "On the hill" is where the rich and powerful live, as in Nachez on the hill. The only obscurities in this song are the lines "A working class hero is something to be," and "If you want to be a hero well just follow me."

    Could it mean to transcend the bourgeois yearning to become rich by becoming cynical and hypocritical and to "smile as you kill," could it mean to be proud of who you are and to resist the idea that we cannot afford health care for all because your government is your enemy who spends and taxes too much? "Smile as you kill." We are all in this together and, to quote Jim Morrison in a similar vein, "no one here gets out alive." It may be that all we need is love, but it is a fact that all we have is each other. I do not think anyone really believes that keeping all their wealth is worth other people dying. Yet that is what the fools on the hill act like.

    Frank Zappa poked fun at the Beatles in his 1968 album entitled, "We're only in it for the Money," which featured a mock cover reminiscent of the 1967 Sgt Pepper album cover. Of course, the point of that album is to critique self-righteously inflated bourgeois hypocrisy. It is full of contempt. In the song "What is the Ugliest Part of your body? he scoffs, "some says it's your nose, some say it's your toes, but I think it's your mind." The song Mother People contains the line: "We are the other people, You're the other people too, Do you think that I love you ... stupid & blind?" That was the first song I remember having the word "f--king" in it and that was censored in most releases: "Better look around before you say you don't care, Shut your f--king mouth about the length of my hair, how would you survive, if you were alive; s--tty little person." Wikipedia recalls that the Beatles and Zappa had a sort of artistic dialogue in which Zappa's "concept albums" were an influence on the Sgt Pepper album. I think it is clear that John Lennon wanted to be much more than a rock star that was only in it for the money. I think Lennon took Zappa's critique to heart. I think a good case could be made that "Working Class Hero" is Lennon's response to Zappa's "Mother People," including the use of the word "f--king." The working class heroes are the other people; the ones who transcend the mold of bourgeois hypocrisy, self-righteousness, and the false dream of getting rich at the expense of others. That said, although I admire the raw contempt in Frank Zappa, John Lennon never forgot that we are all in it together and that all you need is love.

    Ponder it. Right on!
  • Breanna from Henderson, NvI agree with Jim! John was the Working Class Hero and was the best ever! He was in all honesty the only Beatle to after the break-up tell how it was with no sugar coting he was amazing. He made people listen which most artist now can't get.
  • Claire from Miller's, MdI love The Beatles!! I also love John Lennon!!!! I would like a locket bearing his name:)
  • Nitalya from Plattsburgh, NyOk, folks on the hill DOES refer to the song the fool on the hill. John wrote this song because he believed in it. He wrote it to write it, there's no deep metaphorical meaning to it SO STOP LOOKING FOR ONE! Its just an amazing song written by the (in my correct opinion) best man in the world. Nothing more and nothing less.
    P.S. Carly from San Diego, you're right and Dustin from IN, you don't make sense
  • John from Ottawa, OnI think alot of you out there are missing the point. I grew up with the Beatles and when John Lennon wrote this song there was backlash even from diehard fans & Paul McCartney. "Working class Hero" I suppose dared to speak the truth about Capitalism & the greed of the Corporate system,of which many of us fall victim. You have only to look at companies like Home Depot & Walmart who want their employees to be slave puppets and blindly follow their corporate rhetoric. Yes there needs to be a worldwide revolution & the hand of government must intervene so that working people have a say in their future. If not there will be violence,it's inevitable.
  • Brad from Lexington, KyWho are you to talk Sam from Deerfield? Do you know that everyone feels the same way you do? If you think you do, you are wrong because I don't feel the same way you do. I couldn't care less if Lennon swears in this song, it's called FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Heard of it, Tipper Gore?
  • Chris from Springfield, OrLeave it to Green Day to package and sell one of the most meaningful songs to date. Why Green Day? Why?
  • Sam from Deerfield, Ilgreat song, but nobody wants to hear john lennon swear
  • J.d. from Mercer County, NjWhen I first heard this song I thought it was a cover of a Bob Dylan tune. I was surprised to learn it was actually a John Lennon tune instead.
    Both the melody and the lyrics sound like Dylan. I do know that the Beatles were influenced by the likes of Dylan so I suppose the simularities shouldn't be that surprising. I thought that the video of the song was very thought provoking and ironic in showing the cover from Catcher in the Rye. I don't know about the Green Day or Marilyn Manson covers mainly because I don't listen to either one of those groups plus it is highly unlikely the radio stations around here would play them. Sorry for the long post, I just get lost in the moment sometimes.
  • Shubhojoy from Calcutta, IndiaI always thought "folks on the hill" meant "Capitol Hill". No doubt Lennon was taking on the establishment with this number. At the same time his political ideology seems not to be communist, or Marxist but more like Mikhail Bukanin's anarchist ideas.
  • Adrian from Gettysburg, PaThis is the best song John Lennon ever wrote.
  • Brad from Lexington, KyDon't get me wrong, I'm actually a Green Day fan, but I still like Lennon's original much better than Green Day's cover. The song is meant to be a very simple, acoustic, dark song. Green Day kinda ruined that strange simple yet powerful feel of the original by adding electrics and drums. I understand that Green Day recorded it for a good cause, but I feel they misinterpreted it. That's just my opinion, you might feel differently. By the way, although I'm not a huge Beatles fan, I do like John Lennon, and I think this song is one of his best, and I am glad Green Day kept the last line "if you want to be a hero well just follow me" sung by John Lennon. That wouldn't sound right sung by anyone else. Don't even get me started on Cyndi Lauper's and Ozzy Osbourne's awful so-called "covers" of this song. Ewww...
  • Ken from Louisville, KyNo, Paul was definitly NOT upper class. His father was a struggling cotton salesman. In fact, when Paul got his first steady music gig - when the Beatles went to Hamburg in 1960 - he was already making more money that his father did.
  • Sibella from Pretoria, South AfricaGenerally I like John Lennon much more than Green Day, I don't really like Green Day, but their cover is much more powerful to me than John's original. I like John's version's music video, but The Catcher In The Rye is a very good book! They shouldn't antagonize it because of Chapman.
  • Amanda from Parma, OhThe line "if you want to be like all the folks on the hill" refers to inorder to become weathly and prosperous you have to "learn how to smile as you kill" I take this as a reference to the organization of cities and how when they were built the wealthy built there homes on hills, some famous ones would include beacon hill and nob hill
  • Sibella from Pretoria, South AfricaIvan from Vancouver, I think maybe the working class hero is someone who's a hero among the working class people.(John considered himself part of the working class, and he was obviously quite a hero). Or maybe it's a bit sarcastic. Or both. Cool bit is, you make poetry what you want, it can be different to everyone.
  • Sibella from Pretoria, South AfricaI don't really think that it refers to The Fool On The Hill, because that's a different type of character. If you listen to the lyrics of TFOTH, it seems to me more like he's this indigo person that sees all the wrong in the people, but they don't seem to want to care. I think this 'hill' is more just being in a high place.
  • Henry from Town, NvHe is saying a working class member is something to be after being tortured and made to feel small your whole life.

    But that's the problem.

    You either followed their rules or you were lead by TV, Sex/Drugs and religion. If you lived like that then a working class member is the top priority according to 'them' and there is even room at the top of the working class if you can smile while you kill (being a politician)

    John obviously sees the wrong in all of this and ends his song saying if you wanna be a hero then just follow me..

    He wants people to look past all the destruction of false hopes and dreams that are fed to the people and wants people to find themselves and fight back and speak up to allow for others to realize that the world is not what it seems..
  • Stephanie from Boise, IdThis song splits into parts from the beginning where people are trying to make you feel like you can't express yourself start you doing work til you can't feel anything then when you are a kid they abuse you and basically make you have a middle ground you can't be to smart or to stupid so it is easier to brainwash you and abuse you emotionally and physically so you basically break the rules for some attention. Then they psychologically break you down so you are their puppet so you will pick a job that makes it easier to brainwash you, but you can't because they make you scared all the time. Then it says you have no freedom, no opinon that you do drugs and watch t.v. and have sex to free yourself, but you are still the same person no matter what you do. Then when you finally get near the top they say there is a position, but you have to basically learn how to be heartless to have it and be rich and live with the rich people who don't give a crap about anyone, but themselves. The song is basically saying you have to learn how to break a cycle and lead a revolution and put and end to it. John Lennon wanted to break the cycle and lead a revolution to end brainwashing by people who are higher ups. I love this song it's absolutely fantastic!
  • Stephanie from Boise, IdI like the Green Day version way better than the Jonh Lennon no offense I don't really like the Beatles though I do like this song though. The Green Day video is so sad. I love it
  • Sibella from Pretoria, --Great lyrics!
  • Brian from Vancouver, CanadaI agree with Jenna from Calgary
  • Hunter from Greensburg, Lathe line "if you want to be like all the folks on the hill" refers to washington dc politicians, they are rich and powerful but also crooked.
  • Iskren from Los Angeles, CaIn my, this song reflects the means of the ruling class to control the society (the working class). From the history we know thousands of cases in which the working class goes on strike and tries to take over 'the top' (to become rulers). The urge of the working class has made the rulers figure out two solutions:
    The ordinary people must either be persuaded that they are 'classless and free', or that they are controling their country (communism).
    Both of these are indoctrinated to the working class through mass propaganda and disinformation. This happens in schools, the media, the movies. 'Religion, sex and TV' are the opium of the masses of people.
    However, the masses are like sheep, i.e. they are easily controlable by a leader. In my opinion, the working class hero is a potential leader who has risen from the masses and has the necessary qualities to lead the working class against its current rulers (as it has happened many times in the past).
    So the working class hero is an exceptional personality, which is dangerous for the system and has to be destroyed. This song shows how are most people handled, but some are not easily doped with propaganda. This song is dedicated to all who can see beyond the propaganda, to those who think 'the country is doing this to me'. The last verse ('If you wanna be a hero, then just follow me') shows how the potential heros are handled: by propaganda (such as this song) designed to lead them to a slippery way. Stars like Lennon, Manson and Greenday propagate the use of drugs and alcohol, as well as a life that does not allow you to become a big bug.
    Other groups that are designed for the unprejudiced are Eminem, System of a Down and many others. All of them propagate the use of drugs and breaking the law. So the working class hero in our society is made a criminal in his childhood, so he could be caught by the system and imprisoned before he could become something big and unprejudiced. Other working class heroes are tempted through money and fame to become part of the ruling system, as long as they learn how to "smile as they kill" and are loyal to the rulers, i.e. the owners of all the money and fame.
  • Ozzy from Fresno, Cajohn lennon can say the F
    this is kinda like shoving all the pink floyd/syd barrett albums ever recorded in a blender and you get this little song john calls working class hero, that revolutionized our minds
    of course cuz im a HUGE john lennon fan, this stuff kinda is hard to think about...R.I.P. john lennon
  • Musicmama from New York, NyForget about Lennon's class origins or political philosopy. In this song, as in "Imagine," he points out that dreams--the real ones, not the ones that are imputed to us--are what we need to keep us going. And that in the end, all we have are ourselves and each other. All we can do is to be true to ourselves and respect each other's right to life and self. (If you get a chance, look up a poem called "The Introduction" by Lady Winichelsea.) I also had to stop chasing other people's dreams and live as who I am, so I can definitely understand from what place within himself--if not the class origins--John was coming from when he wrote and performed this song.
  • Nick from Arlington Heights, IlI would think this song would be considered very dangerous by the US government in 1970...just the title alone is very communist sounding
  • Nicole from N/a, WiI love this original, but I will say Green Day's cover is one of the best covers I've heard. Especially of a beatles or beatles member song. I am picky about these things, and usually dislike most covers I hear. I have found three bands who do great beatles covers. Green Day (working class hero), STP { Revolution (who is no more, but go Velvet Revolver) and Pearl Jam (You've got to hide your love away).
  • Mark from Twin Cities Metro Area, MnI think Mackenzie hit pretty close to home on this song. I think it's how people are brainwashed from birth to grave by socity to be a certain way and fit in. Don't make waves or think outside the box. All that matters is making the money and getting to the top. Or just shut up and pull the plow. He was a working class hero because he bucked the norm and made people think. He did me anyway. I think no matter how famous or wealthy John got he still was a realist and never thought he was better or above anyone else. I think all the Beatles were that way. I always idolized him when I was younger. Still do about some things.
    I think there could be another meaning there too. In the communist system a person could be a "Hero of the Soviet Union". Meaning they were putting forth great effort for the betterment of the Russian working class. Not just for the advancement of ones self which is kind of what capitolisim is. That's the motivation to work. Make more money.
  • Krissy from Boston, MaThis is another good song. John did come from a working class family. Yes by the time he wrote it he didn't really need to work. But he loved what he did and he wanted to put a message out that u don't have to be rich to be happy. That working class is nothing to be ashamed of. And that he did struggle when he was younger and made the best of it.
  • Ali from Luxembourg, Luxembourgi think that many of you are confusing the words WORKING CLASS with WORKING CLASS HERO.. no? why?
  • Ali from Luxembourg, Luxembourgi dont think that the line ' working class hero is something to be ' is sarcastic.
    -> cause hes angry at all working class PEOPLE, which you can read in the lyrics.. and then he sings
    ' working class hero is something to be ' that means if you could be a HERO as a working class man, thats something to be, thats something good, cause when youre a HERO, you arent like all the other WORKING CLASS PEOPLE. A working class HERO can change something, but the WORKING CLASS PEOPLE cannot, respectively you become a hero when you change something and when not youre a standard human being who goes at work and stuff. can anybod y agree with me? if not, explain. John Lennon also had a T shirt with a printed WORKING CLASS HERO on it ! that means that a working class hero is something good, just a brilliant thing...
  • Krista from Elyria, OhGreen Dya's cover is awesome, but NOBODY can beat a Beatle!
  • Eric from Byron, NyTo be honest, I always associated this with a true socialist system. The "fool on the hill" line not only was a reference to the other song, but to the Kremlin... I used to have a whole little bit written up about it, but I lost it with a computer.
  • Jason from Bozeman, MtGreen Day has just released a version of this song 5/2/07. Very good cover.
  • Jake from Stevens, WiWell MacKenzie from Canada says that theres nothing good to be a working class hero. If there wasnt the working class there wouldnt be anybody higher up because it takes everyone to be a society.
  • Ramindu from Kandy, ChinaThe entire world has been devided as "devoloped" & "undeveloped"nations.Developed or not all these societies are capitalist.Jenna is right.People bow infront of money.Why?cause the centre point of the world has become CAPITAL today.We everyone workers non workers have become slaves of capital as it decides everything-even the values of the mankind.Lennon tells us something political.From the point of view of humanity can we acheive real development under capitalism?"As soon as you born they make u feel small".This is the reality of so called devoloped societies.This injustice have been covered using various ideological instruments."keep dope with religion sex and tv u think you are so clever classless & free".Yeah a revolution is needed.To transform the world from Capitalist to humanist a revolution is needed.Heros from the oppressed sub communities, working class,peasents should come forward.A working class hero -a humanist revolutionery is something to be!
  • Bert from Utrecht, NetherlandsIn an interview on the website he says:


    TA: What did you think was the reason for the success of your sort of music?

    JL: Well, at the time it was thought that the workers had broken through, but I realise in retrospect that it's the same phoney deal they gave the blacks, it was just like they allowed blacks to be runners or boxers or entertainers. That's the choice they allow you--now the outlet is being a pop star, which is really what I'm saying on the album in 'Working class hero'. As I told Rolling Stone, it's the same people who have the power, the class system didn't change one little bit.

    -end quote-

    THEY would let him be a popstar, a working class hero, but not someone with real power, that's his message. A Gangsta rappa is something to be.

    I've also heard people say the song is a dig at Bob Dylan, but couldn't find anything to substantiate that.
  • Joey R from Boston, MaHas anyone heard Cyndi Lauper do a version of this? It's pretty good. Believe it or not!!
  • Ismail Degani from New York, NyJust heard this for the first time today. The verse that really struck me was "They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool. Till you're so f***ing crazy you _ follow their rules" Is it can, or can't? Everywhere on the internet I see "can't," but I can't help thinking it would make more sense as "can?" Could someone shed some light on this?
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaI thought Paul was Upper Class
  • Margaret from Hanceville, Al If you pay attention at the beginning of the song, Lennon sings " working class hero is something to be" , but later in the song he says " working classs hero was something to be". He changed , he used to be a working class hero, but he's saying he's not anymore.
  • Jl from Bretagne, FranceDoes someone actually know where the expression "working class hero" comes from?
    JL surely didn't invent it, even if it's the way many people have refered to him since.
  • Dustin from My Home, Inozzys version is the best
  • Michael from Sarasota, United StatesI can't believe no one has mentioned Marianne Faithfull's brilliant (and equally angry) version on her "Broken English" album. Check it out. The entire album is something to cherish, btw.

    Michael from Sarasota
  • Barry from New York, NyThe lyrics "Just f--king peasants as far as I can see" and "Till you're so f--king crazy you can't follow their rules" contain obscenties that were "omitted at the insistance of EMI" from the lyric sleeve of the original UK album (JOHN LENNON PLASTIC ONO BAND).
  • Mateus from Columbus, OhOn the topic of Marilyn Manson singing this... Yeah he sang it and actually he says that he loved The Beatles. I think he did a very passionate and heartful version. I give it an A. I think his versino is better than the version Ozzy did. A good version but not as good or with as much heart as Manson... Although Ozzy's version is better than Tin Machine's version.
  • Bill from Cinnaminson, NjNo the point is that it was not sarcastic, the song doesnt suggest that a workingclass here is wrong at all, where did you get that from? The song suggests that that "they" society keeps them down but living life and fight back against that oppression is being a working class hero, and john lennon believed he was helping that fight with his music, and i believe he did.
  • Brian from Mt Kisco, Nyoh and its a disgrace that someone like marilyn manson sang this
  • Brian from Mt Kisco, Nyjohn is not being sarcastic when he says "a working class hero is something to be" he believes it and that it why he was later regarded as a working class hero
  • Marissa from Palmdale, CaI liked the way Marilyn Manson sang it
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScWow Carlie. I didn't think of that ! You're right!!
  • Taylor from Austin, TxOne of my favorite songs by Lennon During his solo years. Long Live Lennon. He Rules.
  • Fuffy from Venice, ItalyLennon didn't sing "a working class hero is something to be" sarcastically or meaning that it's a bad thing. If you read the interview he released to the Red Mole in 1970 (it's on line, search for it), you'll know that he really believed in a sort of communism revolution at the time and that he did identify with the working class (although, as somebody remarked, his roots were probably not so "working class")- so in this song he was offering himself as an example to follow: he really wanted the listeners to join him in the opposition to the capitalism system. "Imagine" asks the same thing, but in a sweeter way. It's not a moral song.
  • Paul from Buffalo, NyThough some may allege that Lennon didn't experience the woes of the working class, he did have his share of suffering with the death of his mother and the rejection of his father. Does that not make him feel small? He was perhaps not working class, at one point, but he was a hero. Down with imperialism!! we could use some more people like John in our time.
  • Rob from Massapequa, Nyozzy did a remake of the song with his band
  • Aja from Gloucester, Maas much as i love john lennon, and his work both solo and with the beatles, he sure did sing about alot of things that he only saw, and did not fully experience for himself
  • Ken from Louisville, KyJohn Lennon was raised, though, by his uncle and aunt. His uncle owned a dairy business and their were fairly well off. So their family was considered "middle class". Lennon admitted this in his 1980 Playboy interview ("I was always well-fed, well-dressed and well-schooled by my uncle and auntie.")
  • Allen from Leicestershire, EnglandCarly, you hit the nail on the head
  • Carly from San Diego, CaYa it seems to me like the song is about how everyone walks to the beat of society's drum and nobody dares to venture out and be different and be what they love. What would you do if money and society's expectations didnt matter?
  • Allen from Leicestershire, EnglandJohn was a "Working Class Hero" because he challenged all the notions he talks about. He led a revolution - so it's wrong to say being a "Working Class Hero" is a bad thing, it's a good thing!
  • Jenna from Calgary, CanadaJohn Lennon is ashamed at all of man kind who are completly consumed within material things, the most obvious being money. We are a society who has become superficial and materialistic and John Lennon is asking us, its all for what? We are blinded by the light in which is casted upon our exsistence of having this standard of only living to be successful financially and no one stops to think and question our true intentions in life. He looks at us in pitty (as he should) as we have been brainwashed to believe thats all life has to offer. He brings about issues that no one seems to discuss or wants to discuss. His sarcasim of "a working class hero is something to be" proves we are all mutes who have no real dreams just meaningless goals in which everyone never really achieves through the double standard, stereotypical, perjudice, world we call home. No one seems to do anything right... ever, its never good enough for anybody. He claims that life is a lesson, that no one will ever learn unless you release yourself from the chains and entrapement of the norms and set out on a journey to find your true self and destiny. Just like John Lennon did. He slapped all us in the face who understand his music and strive to find enlightenment within ourselves. keep on rocking in the free world! p.s i love mackenzie reid! hehe!
  • Mackenzie from Calgary, CanadaI feel John is very angry in this song. He's angry at us. Well the people that dont follow their dreams. He speaks right to you. This is a very powerful song. He is being sarcastic when he says "working class hero is somthing to be" when really its not somthing to be. You have to follow and live out your dreams. Rich or not being rich. These days almost everyone does everything for money. If its a dream and you might not be rich. Still live it and dont be like everyone else and become a working class hero. "If you want to be a hero, well just follow me". Do like John and live out your dream. Follow him.
  • Ivan from Vancouver, CanadaSO what exactly does he mean by "a working class hero is something to be" .... Beacause the verses suggest that being a workingclass hero is something wrong. My personal belief is that a "working class hero"(as stated in the song) is someone who is blind to the truth around them... any in-put?
  • The Prynce from Dillon / Hamer, ScWell put, Jim!
  • Jim from Newcastle On Tyne, EnglandSince his father was a seaman you could hardly call him upper middle class. John identified with the left and often supported workers in struggle as well as being against imperialist wars{he would definitely be against the present war in Iraq}.
    Power to the people!
    Jim - Newcastle
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