John Lennon Said 1 of The Beatles’ Hits Was ‘A Bit of a Mocking Song’
The Beatles were a band — but sometimes, they were a bit of a comedy troupe. For example, they starred in comedies, made people laugh during interviews, and released a number of humorous songs. John Lennon even revealed that one of The Beatles’ hits was “a bit of a mocking song.” Here’s what he had to say.
John Lennon discusses how he could change the meaning of The Beatles’ songs with his voice
When Jonathan Cott interviewed John for Rolling Stone, Cott discussed how The Beatles would often distinguish between friends and lovers in their music. For example, he noted the use of the word “baby” in “Baby You Can Drive My Car” — which made it clear the song was about a lover. He contrasted that lyric with the use of the word “friend” in “We Can Work It Out.” Cott also opined that some bands used the term “baby” in a demeaning way, but not The Beatles.
“Yeh, I don’t know why,” John said. “It’s Paul’s bit that – ‘Buy you a diamond ring, my friend’ – it’s an alternative to baby.” For context, the line “Buy you a diamond ring, my friend” is from “Can’t Buy Me Love.” “You can take it logically the way you took it,” John added. “See, I don’t know really. Yours is as true a way of looking at it as any other way. In ‘Baby, You’re a Rich Man’ the point was, stop moaning, you’re a rich man and we’re all rich men, heh heh, baby!”
Cott asked if “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” is “a bit of a mocking song.” “Well, they all get like that a bit, cause there is all that in it, that’s the point,” John added. “As we write them or as we sing them that happens you know. And in different takes, just the inclination of your voice will change the meaning of the lyrics, and that’s why it’s after we’ve done them that we really see what they are. By that time the weight’s on it.”
How the world reacted to ‘Baby, You’re a Rich Man’
This mocking song struck a bit of a chord with the public — but not much of one. “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” reached No. 34 on the Billboard Hot 100. It remained on the chart for 5 weeks. While the track reached the top 40, The Beatles released numerous No. 1 hits, so “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” is not one of the more popular songs in their discography.
Regardless, “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” appeared in the critically acclaimed drama The Social Network starring Jesse Eisenberg. The film’s soundtrack included the song as well. The soundtrack for The Social Network reached No. 20 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 13 weeks. The song’s use in the film shows that The Beatles’ music resonates in different decades and contexts — even when it has a mocking tone.