John Lennon Hated a Lyric from Neil Young’s ‘My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)’: ‘It’s Garbage’

Neil Young’s “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)” contains one of the most famous lyrics from his classic rock songs. During an interview, John Lennon said he hated this lyric and the values it promoted. The former Beatle didn’t want his son, Sean Ono Lennon, to internalize those values.

The Beatles' John Lennon wearing a patch that says "People for Peace"
John Lennon | Ron Howard/Redferns

John Lennon felt Neil Young might’ve written a lyric about Sid Vicious

Young’s song “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)” includes the lyric “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono reports John said he didn’t like self-destructive people in a 1980 interview. John was asked about the aforementioned Young lyric.

“I hate it,” John said. “It’s better to fade away like an old soldier than to burn out. If he was talking about burning out like Sid Vicious, forget it. I don’t appreciate the worship of dead Sid Vicious or of dead James Dean or dead John Wayne. It’s the same thing.”

John discussed Vicious and Jim Morrison, two deceased rock stars. “Making Sid Vicious a hero, Jim Morrison — it’s garbage to me,” he said. “I worship the people who survive. Gloria Swanson. Greta Garbo.” Swanson and Garbo were silent film stars who were still alive at the time.

The Sex Pistols' Sid Vicious wearing a leather jacket
The Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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John Lennon felt Neil Young didn’t live up to the lyrics of ‘My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)’

John said he didn’t want Sean to have an unhealthy relationship with celebrity culture. “I don’t want Sean worshipping John Wayne or Johnny Rotten or Sid Vicious,” John added. “What do they teach you? Nothing. Death. Sid Vicious died for what? So that we might rock? I mean, it’s garbage, you know.”

John felt Young wasn’t living up to the lyrics of “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue).” “If Neil Young admires that sentiment so much, why doesn’t he do it?” John asked. “Because he sure as hell faded away and came back many times, like all of us. No thank you. I’ll take the living and the healthy.”

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The way the world reacted to ‘My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)’

“My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)” did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. It appeared on Young’s album Rust Never Sleeps. Rust Never Sleeps reached No. 8 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 39 weeks.

The Official Charts Company reports “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)” did not chart in the United Kingdom either. Meanwhile, Rust Never Sleeps hit No. 13 on the chart and remained on the chart for 13 weeks. John wasn’t a fan of “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)” but it remains a famous song.

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