John Lennon Said 1 Beatles Song Was a Cross Between ‘Paperback Writer’ and Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B. Goode’

John Lennon said one of The Beatles’ songs was “like an old-time ballad.” In addition, he felt the song was similar to The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” and Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.” John didn’t like the way the press reacted to the track.

The Beatles' John Lennon and Paul McCartney wearing suits during the "Paperback Writer"
The Beatles’ John Lennon and Paul McCartney | Fox Photos/Getty Images

The Beatles’ ‘Paperback Writer’ and Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B. Goode’ inspired a song about John Lennon’s marriage

According to the book Lennon on Lennon: Interviews and Encounters with John Lennon, John discussed “The Ballad of John and Yoko” in a 1969 interview. “It’s something I wrote, and it’s like an old-time ballad,” he said. “It’s the story of us going along, getting married, going to Paris, going to Amsterdam, all that. It’s ‘Johnny B. Paperback Writer.'”

John criticized the way the press reacted to “The Ballad of John and Yoko.” “The story came out that only Paul and I were on the record, but I wouldn’t have bothered publicizing that,” he said. “It doesn’t mean anything.”

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John Lennon explained why George Harrison and Ringo Starr did not work on the song

Subsequently, John explained why George Harrison and Ringo Starr didn’t work on “The Ballad of John and Yoko.” “It just so happened that there were only two of us there — George was abroad and Ringo was on the film and he couldn’t come that night,” he revealed. “Because of that, it was a choice of either remixing or doing a new song, and you always go for doing a new one instead of fiddling about with an old one.”

In the 1997 book Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now, Paul McCartney mentioned his reaction to the track. “John was in an impatient mood so I was happy to help,” Paul said. “It’s quite a good song; it has always surprised me how with just the two of us on it, it ended up sounding like The Beatles.”

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How The Beatles’ ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’ performed in the United States and the United Kingdom

“The Ballad of John and Yoko” became a hit in the United States. The track peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for nine weeks. The Beatles released “The Ballad of John and Yoko” on the compilation album 1967-1970. The compilation hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for one week, staying on the chart for 182 weeks in total.

According to The Official Charts Company, “The Ballad of John and Yoko” was far more popular in the United Kingdom. In 1969, it hit No. 1 for three weeks, staying on the chart for 14 weeks altogether. In 1989, the song peaked at No. 84 and it stayed on the chart for two weeks. Meanwhile, 1967-1970 reached No. 2 and remained on the chart for 131 weeks.

“The Ballad of John and Yoko” was a huge hit even if it took inspiration from some earlier songs.

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