- John Lennon said his record company wanted one of his songs to be a single.
- He found the song “embarrassing.”
- He said something to Yoko Ono in the song that he felt he couldn’t say to her in person.
John Lennon said his record company wanted 1 of his songs to be a single
The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono is an interview from 1980. During the interview, John was asked about his song “Oh Yoko!” “It’s a very popular track, but I was sort of shy and embarrassed and it didn’t sort of represent my image of myself as the tough, hard-biting rock’ n’ roller with the acid tongue,” he said.
“Everybody wanted it to be a single — I mean, the record company, the public — everybody,” The “Imagine” singer recalled. “But I just stopped it from being a single ’cause of that.”
John discussed his decision not to release “Oh Yoko!” as a single. “[That decision] probably kept it in No. 2,” he said. “It never made No. 1. The Imagine album was No. 1, but the single wasn’t.” For context, the song “Imagine” reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, not No. 2.
The singer said 1 of his most popular songs was similar to a ‘novelty record’
John elaborated on his post-Beatles career. “The only No. 1 I’ve had since I left The Beatles was ‘Whatever Gets You Thru the Night ,’ which was more like a novelty record,” he opined.
John was asked about the lyric about calling Yoko’s name at night in “Oh Yoko!” “Yeah, yeah, it’s a message to Yoko,” he revealed. “Because I couldn’t say it in real life. Maybe, I don’t know. I mean not real life! Records are real life, but it expresses in song.”
How John Lennon’s ‘Oh Yoko!’ performed on the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom
“Oh Yoko!” was not a single, so it did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. The album appeared on John’s album Imagine. The album hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for one week, staying on the chart for 47 weeks in total.
According to The Official Charts Company, “Oh Yoko!” did not chart in the United Kingdom either. On the other hand, the album Imagine topped the U.K. chart for two weeks. The album stayed on the chart for 101 weeks altogether.
“Oh Yoko!” was an honest song from John — even if he found it “embarrassing.”