John Lennon Defended Bob Dylan When He Was Criticized for Staying at a Luxury Hotel

TL;DR:

  • John Lennon admired Bob Dylan’s work as a musician.
  • John Lennon defended Bob Dylan’s decision to stay in a nice hotel.
  • Bob Dylan appreciated John Lennon’s friendship. 
A black and white picture of Bob Dylan standing with his arms folded, holding a cigarette. John Lennon sits and smokes a cigarette.
Bob Dylan and John Lennon | Express Newspapers/Getty Images; Bettmann/Contributor via Getty

In the early stages of his career, Bob Dylan had a reputation as a political songwriter. Though he didn’t personally define his body of work as protest music, fans embraced it as such. As a result, people viewed Dylan as a man of the people. Some were disappointed, then, when with his rising celebrity, Dylan began staying in luxury hotels while touring and traveling. John Lennon defended Dylan against this criticism. 

John Lennon liked Bob Dylan’s music

In 1965, The Beatles publicly endorsed Dylan in the British press, sparking a vast celebration of the American artist in England. In an article in Melody Maker entitled “BEATLES SAY — DYLAN SHOWS THE WAY,” the author, Ray Coleman, noted that “Two Beatles particularly go for Dylan in a big way. Harrison has all his LPs and plays them regularly and Lennon admires him too.”

Lennon wasn’t as big of a fan as Harrison, but he drew inspiration from Dylan’s work. He also believed Dylan’s music would perform well in England.

“The first time you hear Dylan you think you’re the first to discover him,” he said, per the book No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan by Robert Shelton. “But quite a lot of people have discovered him before us … I think Bob Dylan’s music will grow steadily in this country, but I can’t see him becoming the new craze.”

He defended the American singer for staying in nice hotels

While in England, Dylan stayed at the lavish Savoy Hotel. Some criticized him for singing protest songs while staying at a hotel that would be inaccessible to many of his fans. Lennon defended him against this criticism.

“What’s wrong with staying at the Savoy? Does starving in a garret make his points any more valid? They say that to be ethnic as a folker you must also be poor and act the part. Absolute rubbish!” Lennon said. “Especially when you consider that the people he’s sometimes having a go at — politicians especially — are probably twice as well off, anyway.”

He believed that money had nothing to do with Dylan’s message.

“If you’ve got a lot to say, like Dylan has, and if you want to make it heard, you’ve just got to elevate yourself and make yourself famous so people will listen,” he said. “Earning a fortune’s nothing to do with that side of it, but if he happens to do that as well, good luck to him.”

Bob Dylan appreciated that John Lennon didn’t take things very seriously 

Dylan appreciated Lennon’s music and company, even if he didn’t talk that often. 

“I dig John. As a writer, a singer and a Beatle. There are very few people I dig every time I meet them, but him I dig. He doesn’t take things so seriously as so many guys do. I like that,” he said, adding that Lennon was, “a full bold Beatle, a very untalkative cat, but very, very clever.”

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