The Cover of John Lennon’s Album ‘Some Time in New York City’ Was Censored

TL;DR:

  • Yoko Ono made a cover for John Lennon’s album Some Time in New York City that John called “beautiful.”
  • Part of the cover was censored.
  • John compared the reaction Some Time in New York City received to the reaction a Beatles album received.
The Beatles' John Lennon wearing glasses
The Beatles’ John Lennon | Ron Howard/Redferns

Yoko Ono designed the cover for John Lennon‘s album Some Time in New York City. John felt an image of two politicians that Yoko made for the album was “beautiful.” Despite this, the album cover got censored, which upset the former Beatle.

John Lennon’s album ‘Some Time in New York City’ had images of Chairman Mao and Richard Nixon on its cover

The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono contains a 1980 interview. During the interview, John was asked about Some Time in New York City. “You see how they banned the picture here,” John said. The “Imagine” singer pointed to a copy of the album that had a gold seal pasted on the side.

Subsequently, John discussed the censored image. “Yoko made this beautiful poster: Chairman Mao and Richard Nixon dancing naked together, you see?” he said. “And the stupid retailers stuck a gold sticker over it that you can’t even steam off.”

John Lennon said ‘Some Time in New York City’ received a worse reception than The Beatles’ cover for ‘Yesterday and Today’

John saw the reaction to Some Time in New York City as part of a trend. “At least you could steam off that Beatles cover,” he recalled. “So you see the kind of pressure Yoko and I were getting, not only on a personal level, and the public level, and the court case, and the f****** government, and this, that, and the other, but every time we tried to express ourselves, they would ban it, would cover it up, would censor it.”

John elaborated on The Beatles’ album cover he mentioned. “That was a repackage for the Americans called Yesterday and Today,” he remembered. “The original cover was the Beatles in white coats with figs’ n’ dead bits o’ meat and dolls cut up. It was inspired by our boredom and resentment at having to do another photo session and another Beatles thing.”

The Beatles' 'Yesterday and Today' in a glass case
The Beatles’ ‘Yesterday and Today’ | Tommaso Boddi/WireImage
Related

John Lennon Called 1 Song From The Beatles’ ‘White Album’ ‘a Piece of Garbage’

How the album performed on the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom

Some Time in New York City became a modest hit in the United States. It reached No. 48 on the Billboard 200. Some Time in New York City stayed on the chart for 17 weeks.

According to The Official Charts Company, Some Time in New York City reached No. 11 in the United Kingdom. The album stayed on the chart for six weeks.

Some Time in New York City was not a massive hit but John praised its controversial album cover.