Too Many People

Album: Ram (1971)
Play Video


  • This song alludes to John Lennon's "lucky break" - meaning The Beatles, and how he subsequently "broke it in two." It also takes barbs at John and Yoko's self-images as important political figures. Lennon retorted with a fiery condemnation of Paul on the album Imagine in a track called "How Do You Sleep?" in which Lennon says, "The only thing you've done was yesterday, and since you've gone you're just another day." This references the song "Yesterday," and a post-Beatles McCartney piece titled "Another Day." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Boob - Jackford, ME
  • The line, "Too many people preaching practices" is a direct reference to John Lennon and Yoko Ono. John thought other lines in the song were about him as well.

    In an interview with the October 2010 edition of Mojo magazine, McCartney said: "'Too many people preaching practices.' I felt that was true of what was going on with John. 'Do this, do that, do this, do that.'"
  • McCartney decided to refrain from direct name-calling in this song and softened the original chorus line of "Yoko took your lucky break and broke it in two" to "You took your lucky break."
  • This was used as the B-side of the "Uncle Albert - Admiral Halsey" single.
  • In his book The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, McCartney explained why he had a pop at John and Yoko in this song. "So much of what they held to be truth was crap," he wrote. "War is over? Well no, it isn't."

Comments: 35

  • Fred from 11419Meaning of the song notwithstanding, I must say my admiration of McCartney is great. However, although his skills at composing and arranging were/are possibly the greatest we've seen , much of his work was "too many silly love songs" weighted. I will not detract from him any more than that, but the two men had individual histories that had to, at some point, differentiate their styles and I don't think Lennon's work was the lesser of the pair. Paul is a songwriter/composer along the lines of many great modern commercial artists. John could write hits like any other commercial artist but also seemed to be able to express deep, dark feelings and much of his darker work was released earlier in his solo career which tragically ended far too soon. I can't "imagine" what he would have given us had he survived til today and beyond, but I know it would be as amazing as what Paul produced - just John would do it his way. It is wonderful that we still have Paul and Ringo but I will always ache for John and George.
  • Doc from ArizonaI love the song but hate the guitar indulgences...totally messed up a perfect thing with useless filler
  • Kevin From Wisconsin from WisconsinThe love that is awake is his creative juices and the she who is waiting for him is the music he has yet to create.
  • Pete from OaklandThat last line about "I find my love awake and waiting to be, now what can be done for you, she's waiting for me" I don't know what that's about but I'm sure there's something below the belt coded in there directed at Lennon.... Regarding Teddy Boy, I wouldn't be surprised if there's something in there that's directed at Lennon but that song has always appeared more innocuous to me..
  • Dave From Dave from DaveThe song is about Linda’s ex. Only the line about lucky break is about John. Teddy boy had nothing to do with John it was written while still a Beatle in front of John it’s not a dog at him at all. A piece of cake is not about George as he didn’t know George was there when John wrote how do you sleep. He’s definitely not singing about yoko wanting him first. Yall got your Beatles facts pretty wrong
  • Ryan From Liverpool from LiverpoolI am just confused people compare the two. Paul is #1 songwriter of all time and John Lennon is #59. Everyone knows this!
  • Rob Jontay from Long Island, N.y. Have you ever had an argument with a family member? Well so have John and Paul. Only they used to argue in song.
  • Steve from Kcmo I know there's a lot of people who point at John Lennon's "How Do You Sleep", but it's worth considering that McCartney had put out the album "McCartney" & "RAM" before John had even released Imagine. McCartney threw a REALLY low blow with the song "Teddy Boy", which I believe was, pretty much unmistakably, about John Lennon & the tragic situation with his mother, Julia Lennon. To sum up "Teddy Boy", it's a boy who promises to never leave his "Mommy" alone, but ends up running away when she meets a new man. As most people reading this probably already know, John Lennon had very deep & open scares, where his mother's ultimate fate was concerned. So on top of McCartney suddenly coming out & disbanding The Beatles (Technically John Lennon's Band), McCartney releases a solo album, which contained a pretty twisted & cruel song about Lennon & his being absent during his mother's death. I could be totally wrong of course, but it seems to jive with what all I remember I this head full of useless information. Cheers
  • Cristina from Santiago, ChileVery interesting couple of interpretations of "I find my love awake and waiting to be; now what can be done for you; she's waiting for me". Though Paul didn't admit that line was about John and only referred specifically to the "too many people preaching practices and "you took your lucky break and broke it in two". Then he might not have wanted to tell us.
  • Guitarfreak from Richmond, IlGreat song.
  • Terry from Algonquin, IlThe reason "How Do you sleep" is clear that it was directed at McCartney, and "Too Many People" is not so clear that it is directed at Lennon, is Pail and John did not have the same writing style. Paul would put lines in when they sounded good, John wanted to make each line on a lyric mean something. This made them both great writers in their own way. Paul had no more class than John. They both had class, and we well never know the inside story as well as paul and John did!!!!!!!!!!

  • Terry from Algonquin, IlAfter knowing what the Beatles had gone through, it's great that they stayed together as long as they did and made music that was out of this world. Too many people" and "How do You Sleep" are great sounding songs. Some times good things come out of something bad.


  • Louski from Nyc, VaWhat a great song on a masterpiece of an album. Ram is the most beautiful and interesting Beatles solo album -- musically. And this song starts it off. Of course John thought the whole album was about him. He had as huge an ego as Paul, and they were obsessed with each other. But at least Paul's "digs" were so veiled this song really could have been about anyone. John's response in How Do You Sleep reveals that he is a hypocrite, preaching peace and love on one hand, and preaching hate against a friend on the other. John wrote a hateful song, nasty and mean-spirited, directly attacking Paul as a songwriter in a way that Paul would NEVER do to John. That always diminished John in my eyes.
  • Emily from St Louis, MoI agree with Ruth. I think John and Paul pulled off the BIGGEST conspiracy right under everyone's noses ;)
    Forget PID and think of love.
  • Tyler Bolts from Grants Pass, OrAlso, I've come to the conclusion that "I know (I know)" was John secretly acknowledging the things Paul was right about, regarding John becoming a shut in and wasting his talent. It seems to be a veiled apology. I'd heard the song several times but recently, it hit me. "Today I love you more than Yesterday" and "No more cryin'".
  • Tyler Bolts from Grants Pass, OrI do believe the "I find my love awake..." is referring to Linda replacing John, rather than referring to Yoko. This, as an opening track, certainly blew my mind when I first bought RAM. I bought it solely for Uncle Albert and inadvertantly launched my love for McCartney's solo work. Prior to this I was a staunch Lennon fan, but have since gone deep into the McCart side of the force. And the entire story, spat and all, fascinates me like no other.
    Anybody have any thoughts on "3 legs"? This one seems to be a John jab too, which I feel was retalliated by John with Crippled inside. "You've only got one, and a dog's life ain't fun." In fact, a lot of "Cripped inside" could be interpreted as directed at Paul.
  • Cedric from Sinking Spring, PaThe noise that we hear towards the end, which sounds like dog barking, is actually a drum stick on the side of a floor tom.
  • Ruth from Indianapolis, In"I find my love awake and waiting to be; now what can be done for you; she's waiting for me" -- is further proof that this song is a lovers' spat. The line comes off as "nana nana boo boo, look who's sleeping with me -- not you!"
  • Ruth from Indianapolis, InThe "reaching for a piece of cake" line was also a slight stab at George (who was also there making fun of Paul during the making of "How Do You Sleep") because of his issues with eating too many sweets. As for the "hungry people losing weight," that's a stab at John's issues with starving himself thin, Yoko's microdiet crap, and John's heroin addiction. Honestly, all of the bickering songs between John and Paul during their solo careers comes off as one gigantic lovers' spat. Especially the blasted lyrics. Got to love it.
  • Charles from Bronxville, NyReagarding "The Love You Make" - I don't recall reading that part. I'll have to look at it. Peter Brown was a close friend of John's "Peter Brown called to say, we can make it OK, we can get married in Gibralter near Spain" - Ballad of John and Yoko. All of the references I've heard state that John's first meeting with Yoko was at the art exhibition. The ultimate ref on The Beatles is Bob Spitz's book. He got McCartney to agree to call everyone and finally put the myth's to bed. Up to that point McCartney had told those in the inner circle to be cagey when talking to authors or reporters. I'll need to check that.
  • Tom from Chicago, IlI have always felt popular interpretations of this song may be missing the most incendiary of McCartney's comments to John. In the book "The Love You Make" authors Brown and Gaines recount Yoko's first approach of the Beatles. Per their account, Yoko first came to see Paul at Apple with some ideas, but Paul pushed her off on John as avante-garde was more his type of thing. If I recall correctly, she was quite persistent in her attempts to get to Paul. Flash forward to Too Many People, where McCartney includes the line "I find my love awake and waiting to be. Now what can be done for you....she's waiting for me...YEAH!" Note particularly the condescending quality of the way McCartney says Yeah. It's as if he is saying "your wife wanted me before she wanted you". Now that, in my mind, is enough to sit Lennon right down to pen "How Do You Sleep".
  • Paul from Brooklyn, OhThe line "too many people reaching for a piece of cake" referred to the cake john kept on his mantle it was a concoction of different drugs. he would go to it when needed...That came from Paul's Autobiography... very good read
  • Farrah from Elon, NcA rockin' good song!!!
  • Rick from North Hills, CaIt's not "piss off cake" it's "Piece of cake" we hear in the beginning.
  • Nasser from Fajardo, Puerto Rico, OtherJohn wrote How do you sleep? answering Paul's Too Many People. How do you sleep? was going to be a more nasty song than was ultimately appeared in the Imagine album. I read Ringo was there and convinced John to soften the attack.
  • John from Woburn, MaDavid, though you may be right im assuming Paul says "Piece of cake" at the beginning of the song considering the same line is used latter in the song.
  • Cristina from Santiago, ChilePaul said in an interview that some lines in "Too many people" were hints aimed at John.
  • David from Youngstown, OhPaul shouts "Piss off cake," very difficult to make out, at the beginning of this song off of my favorite Macca album. Piss off cake was a line used by a British comedian at the time.
  • Fyodor from Denver, CoI'm not denying the lyrics may be aimed at Lennon, but is there any evidence for this interpretation other than that it was Lennon's? I sure don't think that's the obvious interpretation just from reading the lyrics. And I don't think the copulating beetles quite make the case, either...
  • Clarke from Pittsburgh, PaKirko, you are correct. I should have said that it wasn't an A-side, and got the airplay more or less as "Maybe I'm Amazed" did a year earlier.
  • Jude from Szombathely, HungaryJohn was certainly mistaken about Dear Boy, that's about Linda's ex.
  • Kirko from Miami, Fl"Too Many People" WAS released as a single, Clarke.
    It was the flipside of "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey".
  • Clarke from Pittsburgh, PaAnother of those songs that was never released as a single, but received AM airplay anyway because of McCartney's popularity.
  • Rich from Birmingham Uk, Englandthe line "lucky break / broke it in two" refers to Yoko. And the dog barking mccartney makes near the end is aimed at the beatles
  • Tony from San Francisco, CaAnd the digs at John weren't only in the first track of that album. John said in an interview he felt "Dear Boy" was also directed to him, and if you look at the inside cover art, there was a photo of two beetles copulating.

    That's part why John was so incensed... In addition to jabbing back viciously with How Do You Sleep, John also included a postcard with his next album where he is posed just as Paul was on the "Ram" album cover, eccept John is posed with a pig.

    And wearing a wry smile.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Gilby Clarke

Gilby ClarkeSongwriter Interviews

The Guns N' Roses rhythm guitarist in the early '90s, Gilby talks about the band's implosion and the side projects it spawned.

Band Names

Band NamesFact or Fiction

Was "Pearl" Eddie Vedder's grandmother, and did she really make a hallucinogenic jam? Did Journey have a contest to name the group? And what does KISS stand for anyway?

Billy Joe Shaver

Billy Joe ShaverSongwriter Interviews

The outlaw country icon talks about the spiritual element of his songwriting and his Bob Dylan mention.

Meshell Ndegeocello

Meshell NdegeocelloSongwriter Interviews

Meshell Ndegeocello talks about recording "Wild Night" with John Mellencamp, and explains why she shied away from the spotlight.

George Harrison

George HarrisonFact or Fiction

Did Eric Clapton really steal George's wife? What's the George Harrison-Monty Python connection? Set the record straight with our Fact or Fiction quiz.

Crystal Waters

Crystal WatersSongwriter Interviews

Waters tells the "Gypsy Woman" story, shares some of her songwriting insights, and explains how Dennis Rodman ended up on one of her songs.