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The Beatles’ fans can’t always agree on what The Beatles’ songs are about — and neither could The Beatles themselves! For example, John Lennon said one of the White Album’s classic tracks was about a relationship, whereas Paul McCartney insisted it was about heroin. Here’s a look at the song and how the world reacted to it.

John Lennon sitting next to Paul McCartney
John Lennon and Paul McCartney | Fox Photos/Getty Images

John Lennon and Paul McCartney assigned different meanings to the title of this Beatles song

According to the book The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Write, John came up with the title “Everyone’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey.” “That was just a sort of nice line that I made into a song,” John revealed. “It was about me and Yoko. Everybody seemed to be paranoid except for us two, who were in the glow of love. Everything is clear and open when you’re in love. Everybody was sort of tense around us: you know, ‘What is she doing here at the session? Why is she with him?’ All this sort of madness is going on around us because we just happened to want to be together all the time.”

On the other hand, Rolling Stone reports Paul said “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” is about heroin. Paul noted John started using “monkey” as a drug-related slang around that time. In addition, Paul noted the other Beatles weren’t into that terminology.

“Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey”

Did John Lennon later connect ‘Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey’ to heroin like Paul McCartney?

Many years after writing “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey,” John mentioned heroin in connection to it. During an interview with Rolling Stone, Jonathan Cott told John the song was great. John responded by trashing the critical reception to the track.

“Right, but what did the critics say?” John asked. “‘A bit simplistic, no imagery in it.’ Perhaps I should have said, ‘Your inside is like a whale juice dripping from the fermented foam of the teeny-boppers’ VD in Times Square as I injected my white clown face with heroin and performed in red-leather knickers.’ Maybe then they’d like it, right?” John said his proposed rewrite of the lyrics was inspired by the avant-garde poems of Allen Ginsberg. It’s not totally clear whether he mentioned heroin because the song was about heroin or because he was trying to write the sort of surreal lyrics critics liked. 

Allen Ginsberg with a michrophone
Allen Ginsberg | Paul Bergen/Redferns

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How did the world react to The Beatles ‘Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey?’

Critics didn’t embrace  “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” and it wasn’t a big hit either. It wasn’t released as a single so it never charted on the Billboard 100. On the other hand, the White Album topped the Billboard 200 and remained on the chart for 215 weeks. Regardless, the conflicting explanations of the song make it a notable entry in The Beatles’ discography.