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Some classic rock stars got credit for things they didn’t do. John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” was inspired by a phrase he didn’t coin. Interestingly, the tune was inspired by a rabbi who was also a folk singer.

John Lennon felt he carried a torch by singing ‘Give Peace a Chance’

During a 1980 Rolling Stone interview, John discussed the slogan “Give Peace a Chance.” “We’re not the first to say ‘Imagine No Countries’ or ‘Give Peace a Chance,’ but we’re carrying that torch, like the Olympic torch, passing it hand to hand, to each other, to each country, to each generation … and that’s our job,” he opined. “Not to live according to somebody else’s idea of how we should live — rich, poor, happy, not happy, smiling, not smiling, wearing the right jeans, not wearing the right jeans.”

John seemed to distance himself from his saintly public image. “I’m not claiming divinity,” he said. “I’ve never claimed purity of soul. I’ve never claimed to have the answers to life. I only put out songs and answer questions as honestly as I can, but only as honestly as I can — no more, no less.”

John Lennon discussed his feelings on ‘love and understanding’ as an older man

The “Imagine” singer didn’t care to live up to expectations of him because they were illusory. John said he wasn’t the person he was as a young man. He was no longer the “punk” he was in his early days, because he looked at the world through a different lens. Despite this, some of his attitudes remained the same.

“I still believe in peace, love, and understanding,” he explained. “As Elvis Costello said, ‘What’s so f****** funny about peace, love and understanding?’ It’s fashionable to be a go-getter and slash thy neighbor with a cross, but we’re not one to follow the fashion.” “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” is a song by Brinsley Schwarz that Costello covered.


The Rabbi Who Inspired John Lennon’s ‘Give Peace Chance’ Received No Credit

A rabbi at a star-studded protest inspired ‘Give Peace a Chance’

According to the Jewish Journal, a rabbi named Abraham Feinberg was a guest at John and Yoko Ono’s Bed-In for Peace, one of the most famous protests against the Vietnam War. Other notables at the protest included guru Timothy Leary, pop star Petula Clark, poet Allen Ginsberg, and Tommy Smothers of the Smothers Brothers. Feinberg inspired the “rabbis” mentioned in the song.

The Times reports Feinberg remarked, “John, we really have to give peace a chance.” That’s what inspired John to write the tune. John certainly wasn’t the first person to promote peace, but he wasn’t even the first to promote peace using that slogan.

While Feinberg’s words inspired “Give Peace a Chance,” he didn’t receive a co-writing credit on the it. Instead, “Give Peace a Chance” is attributed to the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership. Though he wasn’t credited on the song, Feinberg had a second career as a folk singer, covering classic tracks such as “I Shall Be Released” by Bob Dylan.

John didn’t come up with the phrase “give peace a chance” and he didn’t claim that he did.