The Ballad of John and Yoko

Album: Past Masters, Vol. 2 (1969)
Charted: 1 8
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  • John Lennon once said, "Songs should be like newspapers," and "The Ballad of John and Yoko," was just that. Lennon portrays himself and Yoko as victims who were about to be "crucified," and who were turned back at the Southampton docks; who could not get a marriage in France; and who were misunderstood during their "bed-in for peace," as well as ridiculed when they sat in a bag.

Comments: 68

  • Douglas606 from UsaThis song flaunts their great wealth.....from the beginning to the end.
  • Kevin. Harper from Bremen KentuckyThe Beatles especially John had a way of giving negative publicity and criticism the finger. A few examples are Back in the USSR, We Can work it Out, Lady Madonna,
  • Paul from Madison, MeThis song actually is a ballad. A ballad is a song that tells a story. It really bugs me to hear all these hair bands playing their "power ballads" so-called only because they are slower.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 8th 1969, the Beatles' "The Ballad of John and Yoko" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #71; four weeks later on July 6th, 1969 it would peak at #8 {for 3 weeks} and it stayed on the chart for 9 weeks...
    As stated above, it reached #1 in the United Kingdom, that was on June 11th, 1969 for three weeks; and it also peaked at #1 in Australia*, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, and the Netherlands...
    * In ‘the land down under’ it was the twelfth of fourteen straight #1 records by the quartet; all tolled they had a total of twenty seven #1 records in Australia...
    R.I.P. John and George.
  • Don from Sevierville, TnI think the opening bass line resembles the Elvis Presley song "Don't Be Cruel".
  • Susan from Atlanta, GeorgiaI don't care much for Yoko Ono in any capacity, and while I love John as a musician, I found him to be arrogant and sanctimonious, with a tendency to pontificate in his songs about how much better he was than the rest of the world, especially after he connected with Yoko. To me, this speaks volumes about his feelings of inadequacy and his attempts to cover them up.
    That said, I was not that crazy about this song one way or another for many years, but I've listened to it a lot more recently and the subject matter notwithstanding, I love it. I think it's a fun rocking song to listen to, and I enjoy hearing it whenever I can. I love the piano parts especially.
  • Oscar from Boston, NhJohn and Paul were running very hot and cold during this period. But John was appreciative of Paul's help on this song. Fast forward two months to June, 1969. John has just written "Give Peace a Chance" and is releasing it on the "Plastic Ono Band" monicker. Yet he give's Paul a co-writing credit. This is huge! EVERY song John has ever written since he was a teenager has had Paul's name on it as well, whether Paul contributed or not. John has said he "felt guilty" about not giving Paul credit on the song, but I have read that he did it as a thank you for Paul's help on "Ballad of John and Yoko. Now flash forward to September, 1969. John has just written Cold Turkey and proposes that it be the next Beatles single. Supposedly all the other Beatles rejected this and John made the decision to release it solo...and for the 1st time ever....with only a solo John Lennon songwriting credit. If you want to put an exact time of death on The Beatles as a group, that would be the moment.
  • Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesF Pat, "fifty acorns tied in a sack" was a project John and Yoko did for the cause of peace. You know the saying "great oaks from little acorns grow", they felt that world peace could eventually come about (even if it took centuries) if people would start by considering the idea that it was possible. In 1968 they sent pairs of acorns to world leaders asking them to plant and care for them in this spirit. They planted two themselves at Coventry Cathedral in England. Many of the acorns were probably dug up by fans and preserved as memorabilia. Yoko revived the acorn project in 2009, sending pairs of acorns to 123 world leaders.
  • Grayson from New Orleans, LaGood Song! :D
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxLennon always turned me off when he was in his "in-your-face" mode and this song was one example.
  • Lyn from Breda, NetherlandsThe Beatles (John Lennon).........Was bigger than Jesus................And still are..............No religion...........Believe in your~self................!
  • Percy from Melbourne, AustraliaThe term ballad refers to a song that tells a story, whether it's in 12 bar blues format, rapcore or whatever.
  • Thegripester from Wellington, New ZealandNo kidding is this not a ballad - it's a form of blues (not 12-bar - don't look astonished, many blues are not 12-bar) with a predictable pattern I-I7-IV-I-V-I. It fails as a ballad for several reasons. Firstly, a rock ballad has a specific tempo and 6/8 meter. This is a straight 4/4. A folk ballad is narrative, as someone says below, but usually has a refrain that is the same melody as the verses. This is narrative, but so is a blues; also, this song goes to the refrain on the turnaround, and that refrain has its own melody. Actually, if it resembles anything, it sounds like folk country blues as performed by Carl Perkins.
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaF Pat, amongst the many acts that John & Yoko performed at the time to promote peace, they mailed acorns to world leaders, asking them to plant the acorns for peace. They must have started with a sack of 50 acorns.
  • F Pat from Boston, MaI really want to know what the hell "50 acorns tied in a sack" means?
  • Jema from South Portland, MeI really love the part when John says "The news people said say what you're doing in bed,I said we're only trying to get us some peace" because it's really catchy and awesome,just like the whole song!
  • Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesThe interviews are out there -- pay attention to what John says -- why he was attracted to Yoko, how she inspired him, what she meant to him. Take his word for it and stop whining about how she broke up the Beatles. If you love John, you should at least respect Yoko.
  • Breanna from Henderson, NvGreat song. I love the fact that you get a story out of this song.
  • K from Nowhere, OnA ballad is a story. This song is fast, but it's still a story, therefore it must still be a ballad.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyWhen John wanted to record this, Ringo was filming "Magic Christian" with Peter Sellers and George was in America, either touring with Delaney And Bonnie or hanging out with Bob Dylan in upstate New York (he was doing both that Spring). John proposed to Paul that they knock off the song, just the two of them. Paul was hoping to talk John into doing one more Beatle album (which was to be Abbey Road) so he agreed. George Martin was there because he signed an agreement with EMI to be availabe to the Beatles at their request, so he showed up for the session, but didn't do much. John and Paul arraigned this themselves as they were recording it.
  • John from Cincinnati, OhThis is a great song. One of the best bass lines on any song.
  • Chloe from St. Louis, Moi dont care what you people say- i love this song, including the lyrics. they really express what he was feeling at that time- everybody judging him because of who he loved and what he did and saying he was going crazy. i go to a catholic school, *ack* and now whenever they talk about the killing of jesus, i always sing this under my breath. haha.
  • Susan from Toronto, CanadaI read in the book GROWING UP WITH THE BEATLES by Ron Schaumburg that because of the controversy of John's "The Beatles are more popular than Jesus," statement from a few years before this song was realeased, some radio stations turned the "Christ" around backwards when they played this song, so that John was actually heard to sing "tsirhC, you know it ain't easy." Schaumburg said the result sounded like someone had bumped into the stereo.
  • N.i. from Baltimore, MdI agree with Craig that the song is narcissistic--though it's still a very good song.
  • N.i. from Baltimore, Md"This isn't really a ballad - it's uptempo." Whoever wrote that sentence needs a little education on the original meaning of "ballad."
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaI must protest all this negativity about this wonderful song. It is a sparkling collaboration between two of the most brilliant musicians in history. I never tire of listening to this! John is so excited to record it, he can?t even wait for George and Ringo, dragging Paul into the studio with him to work it out between them. Paul must have torn feelings, as the song is about John?s new post-Beatles life, but he loyally applies himself and the two of them rock out! This is one tight recording. Everything about it is perfect. Paul?s harmonizing perfectly accents John?s passionate litany of his current life. The beat and the melody are simple and direct. The song is just John and Paul rocking together for the last time. The Ballad of John and Yoko is a unique gem in the musical world!
  • Krissy from Boston, MaOzzy if John n ever listen to her than there is a good chance he wouldn't have been the peaceful guy that he was. Yoko really changed John in so many ways. Yoko was not as bad as people thought she was. Yeah she is not my favortie but I don't hate her.
  • Ozzy from Fresno, Caman i hate this song and i hate yoko more. why did john ever listen to her? ]=
  • Krissy from Boston, MaI am start to like Yoko but I still don't like this song. Paul did play drums on this and Back In The USSR. Actually all The Beatles knew how to play drums. Ringo of course but Paul, John, and George all knew how to play them.
  • Blake from San Francisco, United StatesKevin, great catch on the Donkey Kong bass, somewhere in Japan a programmer is smiling.
  • Cody from Tooele, UtA:I really liked this song B:They said they were bigger than jesus because the were more popular nothing else thats the only reason C:I bet paul is better at drumming htan most of you( i say most cuz we all like to jam)so back off unless you can do better
  • Krissy from Boston, MaI love John Lennon and Paul McCartney but I don't like this song. I don't like Yoko Ono either. Sorry.
  • N.i. from Baltimore, MdI haven't heard anyone else make this observation, but "Ballad of John and Yoko" has always struck me as having a folk-rock influence. I could almost imagine Bob Dylan having written it. Folk-rock is one of the few genres that the Beatles left untouched, which is curious considering that they started out as a folk group.
  • Tiffany from San Diego, CaI wasn't too impressed with the drums on this. I feel Ringo could have done this better. I'm not too keen on Paul's drum playing anyway.
  • Dave from Scottsdale, AzBack in 1969, the ABC television network had a new show on its fall line-up called "The Top 10" or something like that. It promised to feature videos ( some stitched together by them) of that week's top 10 singles. Imagine their embarassment when the first week of the season, this song was the #2 song.
    There was an accompaning video provided by the Beatles and ABC bleeped out the word "Christ". The show only lasted a few weeks into the season probably because it was a 45 minute show which was followed by another 45 minute show- a teen oriented action adventure called "The New People" or something like that. The whole concept failed probably because of the bizarre time structure.
    "The Ballad of John & Yoko" was banned in Phoenix- neither of the Top 40 stations- KRUX or KRIZ would play it. I happened to be visiting my grandparent in Fla, where I heard it.
  • Izzy from Buffalo, Nywhy is that, like, every single good song the beatles make gets banned from the bbc? i mean, seriously, does some guy at the bbc have something against the beatles, and finds the most obscure way to get them banned?
  • Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesLennon and Yoko made no secret of the fact that good chocolate cake was one of their favorite snacks; the day after John was killed and Yoko's staff asked her how they could help her, she asked for chocolate cake.
  • Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesThis was one of the songs mentioned, with righteous acidulousness, by Dr. David Noebel in "The Beatles - A Study in Drugs, Sex, And Revolution". His assessment of it gives the impression that it is a filthy piece of pornographic blasphemy, apparently based solely on the fact that Lennon addresses Christ in the refrain. I was somewhat surprised when I actually heard the song. Perhaps he mistook the "chocolate cake" line for something naughty.
  • Jeremy from Downingtown, PaWell I think John would hate this site. Considering Lennon hated people trying to figure out his lyrics.
  • Matt from Dallas, TxDeffinately one of my least favorate Beatles songs...but you gotta give Paul props for playing drums, bass, piano, and a few guitar chords in this his latest album, "chaos and creation in the backyard" he plays at least 8 different instruments that I know of...probly more....the guys a musical genius.
  • Mark from Barrow-in-furness, EnglandRingo said that Paul McCartney played "good drums" after hearing this. He sometimes played drums in Hamburg when they needed him to.
  • Andrea from SingaporeI think Chet meant that Paul had nothing to do with 'Give Peace a Chance'.
  • Bob from San Francisco, CaI'd have to say that about half the "facts" here are inaccurate, incomplete or wacky. For example, Chet from NY says "Paul McCartney had nothing to do with the song" - maybe so, other than providing one of the most gorgeous back-up harmony parts in the history of rock, perfect drumming, a driving bass and a lovely jangly piano, and other than providing John with an absolutely honest and sympathetic sounding board.
  • John from Red Hook, NyThe series of eighteen intervals (like a chord but with just two notes) is identical to the intro of "Lonesome Tears in my Eyes", which the Beatles played live on the radio almost a decade before this song was recorded. I thought it was an interesting connection.
  • Yoske from Jerusalem, IsraelIt is a ballad. A ballad is a story-song.
  • Nathan from Defiance, OhMaybe its the era I live in, but to ban this song solely based on the word 'Christ' is pretty stupid. BBC should lighten up
  • Takashi from Tokyo, JapanNessie, you're so right. And I also agree with Kevin, the bass line ndoes sound a little like the game Donkey Kong.
  • Takashi from Tokyo, JapanPaul Hated this song. He only sang backup because he did not want to dissapoint him.
  • Fifi from Cambridge, EnglandI always thought all the random lines referred to interesting events in John and Yoko's relationship, and how the media treated them. Does it matter what the exact definition of a ballad is? It's just a love song/story and i think it's really good too.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyThis was a phase when John wanted to do "newspaper" records. When something interesting happened to him, he wanted to run into a studio, record a song about it and release it within days. He called it a "newspaper of his life."
  • Ken from Louisville, KyActually, "eating chocolate cake in a bag" was an actual incident. John and Yoko had called a press conference to announce thir new company "Bag Productions" (also mentioned in "Come Together"). During that press conference, John and Yoko were in a big canvas bag, answering questions while eating chocolate cake.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyThe only Beatle song to mention anyone of their associates ("Peter Brown called to say....")
  • Ken from Louisville, KyWhen singing backup, Paul refuses to sing the word "Christ"...he joins in on "you known it ain't easy."
  • Kevin from Toronto, CanadaThe bass line reminds me of Donkey Kong
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScI just want to say that Paul is the only one i heard singing the background vocals. I recognize his voice.
  • Nessie from Sapporo, Japan"Recorded and mixed in 9 hours on the day it was written." And it sounds like it. John's done much better.
  • Beverly from Westerville, OhI thought that the part about "chocolate cake in a bag" was a veiled reference to marijuana.
  • Antonio from Brugge, BelgiumThe references to Jesus Christ, and Gibraltar caused this song to be censored in Spain... In those days, Gibraltar was the thorn in Spain's side; it was not pleasing to hear "Gibraltar, near Spain". Now...yeah, it's diferent
    - Antonio Jesús, Sevilla, España.
  • Mike from New Point, VaPaul did the backing vocals on this. Yoko did not sing on the recording.
  • Jade from Chippewa Falls, Wi Yoko Ono did the background lyrics with John. I recognized her voice. She sucked because she couldn't even keep up with John.
  • Dan from Morristown, NjIn the "Made a lightning trip to Vienna, eating chocolate cake in a bag." line, the "chocolate cake in a bag", most likely refers to a famous viennese cake called "sachar torte". The cake is famous for its creation in 1832, by chef Franz Sacher, a 16-year old apprentice chef, who created the cake with left over ingredients and quickly for Prince Clemens Lothar Wensel Metternich, this could be a metaphor for the marriage of John and Yoko, as a quick thrown together thing for the crowds, as the cake was for Prince Clemens Lothar Wensel Metternich.
  • Dominic from Pittsburgh, PaJohn Lennon said the Beatles were bigger than Jesus...
  • Sam from Adelaide, AustraliaThe line "They're gonna crucify me" was actually based upon a comment someone made about the Beatles, "They're bigger than Jesus" and they decided to play on it.
  • Paulo from New York, NyM-W Dictionary defines a ballad as:
    1 a : a narrative composition in rhythmic verse suitable for singing b : an art song accompanying a traditional ballad
    2 : a simple song : AIR
    3 : a popular song; especially : a slow romantic or sentimental song

    I think this song was titled with the 1b definition in mind.
  • Mike from Mountlake Terrace, WashingtonApril 14th. 1969 Paul played bass, drums and piano with John on guitars, it was also The Beatles first stereo single.
  • Brian from St. Louis, MoJohn would have recorded this whole song by himself but he couldn't play the drums. Paul happened to be at the studio so he plays drums on the track. All other instruments were played by John.
  • Charles from Charlotte, NcThe 'Peter Brown' mentioned in the song was The Beatles business manager. In 1983 he wrote a bestselling tell-all that revealed much about The Beatles private lives during their glory days.
  • Chet from Saratoga Springs, NyThis song was actually recorded by just John Lennon and Paul McCartney. John Lennon thanked Paul McCartney by giving him credit for the song "Give Peace A Chance". Paul McCartney had nothing to do with the song.
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