Why John Lennon Said ‘Give Peace a Chance’ Wasn’t ‘Giving Any Gospel’

TL;DR:

  • John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” wasn’t “giving any gospel.”
  • John felt the future is created in the minds of individuals.
  • Yoko Ono said the future is created within the collective mind of humanity.
"Give Peace a Chance" singer John Lennon with a beard
The Beatles’ John Lennon | Keystone Features/Getty Images

The classic rock songs of the 1960s often dealt with themes of war and peace. John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” typified this trend. Subsequently, John said the song had a message but it wasn’t “gospel.”

John Lennon said ‘Give Peace a Chance’ wasn’t a commandment to have peace

All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono includes a 1980 interview. During the interview, John discussed the meaning of “Give Peace a Chance.” “It wasn’t like ‘You have to have peace!'” the “Imagine” singer said. “Just give it a chance.”

John revealed his view of the future. “We ain’t giving any gospel here — just saying how about this version for a change?” he said. “We think we have the right to have a say in the future. And we think the future is made in your mind.”

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Yoko Ono discussed her opinions about how people’s thoughts create the future

Subsequently, Yoko Ono discussed the future. “I think it’s not so much we, if you meant the two of us, but all of us are part of the future,” she said. “The future is already within us. I think that the world is going around and is alive because some people really know that whatever they think really happens. 

“It isn’t on an esoteric, intellectual level, but I really believe that whatever you think will happen,” Yoko opined. “So we’re sort of responsible for our thoughts, even. We all have very negative thoughts and all that, too, and I’m not saying we should repress them, but somehow transform them into something positive.”

John Lennon putting his arm around Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono and John Lennon | Jack Mitchell/Getty Images

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How John Lennon’s ‘Give Peace a Chance’ performed on the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom

Regardless of its meaning, “Give Peace a Chance” was a hit. It peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for nine weeks. Subsequently, John released “Give Peace a Chance” on the compilation album Shaved Fish. The album hit No. 12 on the Billboard 200, remaining on the chart for 32 weeks in total.

The Official Charts Company reports “Give Peace a Chance” was far more popular in the United Kingdom. It reached No. 2 there, staying on the chart for 18 weeks. Shaved Fish also became a minor hit in the region. The Official Charts Company reports the song hit No. 8 in the U.K., lasting on the chart for 29 weeks.

“Give Peace a Chance” has a positive message even if John didn’t see it as “gospel.”

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