John Lennon: These Beatles Albums Revealed Something ‘Embarrassing’ About the Fab Four

The Beatles’ albums are widely considered classics, however, John Lennon wasn’t fond of all of them. In fact, he found some of them downright embarrassing. He said one album marked the point where “something just happened” and The Beatles’ music became a lot different.

The Beatles wearing suits
The Beatles | Central Press/Getty Images

What happened when John Lennon re-listened to some of The Beatles’ albums

In 1968, Jonathan Cott of Rolling Stone interviewed John. During the interview, Cott asked John what he felt about The Beatles’ first few albums. “Depends what track it is,” John said. “I was listening to the very first albums a few weeks back, and it’s embarrassing. It was embarrassing then because we wanted to be like this. We knew what we wanted to be, but we didn’t know how to do it, in the studio. We didn’t have the knowledge or experience. But still some of the album is sweet, it’s all right.”

Cott noted that Rubber Soul marked a huge shift in The Beatles’ style. “Yes, yes, we got involved completely in ourselves then,” John said. “I think it was Rubber Soul when we did all our own numbers. Something just happened. We controlled it a bit, whatever it was we were putting over, we just tried to control it a bit.” John said he now felt empowered to put whatever he wanted into  a song.

“Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”

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In actuality, the first Beatles album to feature only original songs wasn’t Rubber Soul, but the soundtrack of A Hard Days’ Night. However, that doesn’t change the fact John found the band’s early albums embarrassing and that he viewed Rubber Soul as a shift in the Fab Four’s music.

Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain really liked this early Beatles record

John’s take on the Beatles’ early albums is not universal. For example, Kerrang! reports Kurt Cobain of Nirvana made a list of his 50 favorite albums. Many of the albums on the list are by avant-garde artists like the Butthole Surfers, Daniel Johnston, and Black Flag. However, there are also albums by more well-known artists on the list including David Bowie, Public Enemy, and Aerosmith.

One of the more mainstream albums on the list is The Beatles’ Meet the Beatles!, which Cobain ranked as his 37th favorite album. It’s the only Beatles album on the list. This is notable because some of the Fab Four’s albums like Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and Abbey Road are widely considered superior to their first few albums. The public seemed to like the album as well, as it reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

“I Want To Hold Your Hand”

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The band released Meet the Beatles! the year after their debut album, Please Please Me, so it’s probably among the early albums John disliked. However, others — including one of the most famous rock stars ever — found value in The Beatles’ early work, even if John found it embarrassing.