John Lennon Said Only a Few Beatles Songs Got Played on the Radio by 1980

TL;DR:

  • John Lennon said one of The Beatles’ songs rarely received radio play.
  • He said most radio stations only played certain Beatles songs.
  • He named some of them.
The Beatles’ John Lennon, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney with microphones
The Beatles’ John Lennon, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney | Keystone Features/Getty Images

John Lennon felt many of The Beatles‘ songs were great. Despite this, he said only a handful of Fab Four tracks received airplay by 1980. Notably, all of those songs he named hit No. 1 in the United States but not necessarily in the United Kingdom.

John Lennon said it was unusual to hear a certain track from ‘The White Album’ on the radio

The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono features a 1980 interview. In it, John discussed a track from The White Album that didn’t become a hit. “Well, I heard some Beatles stuff on the radio the other day and I heard ‘Green Onion’— no, ‘Glass Onion‘ — I don’t even know my own songs!” he said.

John explained why he listened to “Glass Onion.” “I listened to it because it was a rare track,” he said. “It’s a song they usually don’t play.”

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John Lennon said only 10 of The Beatles’ songs still received regular airplay

John discussed The Beatles’ legacy on the radio. “When a radio station has a Beatles weekend, they usually play the same 10 songs — ‘A Hard Day’s Night,’ ‘Help!,’ ‘Yesterday,’ ‘Something,’ ‘Let It Be‘ — you know, there’s all that wealth of material, but we hear only 10 songs,” John noticed.

John implied the Fab Four made great songs while they were together, so they did not need to reunite. “So the DJ says, ‘I want to thank John, Paul, George, and Ringo for not getting back together and spoiling a good thing,'” John recalled. “I thought it was a good sign. Maybe people are catching on.”

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How the songs John Lennon mentioned performed on the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom

John said “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Help!,” “Yesterday,” “Something,” and “Let It Be” were some of the only Fab Four songs receiving airplay by 1980. Notably, each of those tracks topped the Billboard Hot 100. In addition, each song appeared on the compilation album 1. The compilation reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for eight weeks, staying on the chart for 529 weeks in total.

“A Hard Day’s Night,” “Help!,” “Yesterday,” “Something,” and “Let It Be” became popular in the United Kingdom too. According to The Official Charts Company, the first two songs topped the chart there. Meanwhile, “Yesterday,” “Something,” and “Let It Be” each reached the top 10. Meanwhile, 1 was No. 1 for nine of its 383 weeks on the U.K. chart.

The Beatles still received airplay in the early 1980s — John just wished the radio represented the group’s “wealth of material.”

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