The ‘Embarrassing’ Song John Lennon Says He Wrote ’10 Years Too Late’

Much of John Lennon’s solo material features a political edge. To this day, many fans applaud John for getting social messages across in his music. His music continues to inspire people to strive for a more just world.

However, not everyone was a fan of John’s political songs. John himself had some criticism for one of his political tracks. He came to believe one of his solo singles would have mattered much more if it had been released ten years earlier – however, the song still made waves in the 2020s thanks to Bernie Sanders.

John Lennon | George Stroud/Express/Getty Images

The creation of John Lennon’s ‘Power to the People’

In 1971, John and Yoko Ono had some free time on their hands. They gave an interview to Tariq Ali and Robin Blackburn of Red Mole, a leftist publication. John wanted Ali and people of a similar ideological ilk to like him so he wrote “Power to the People.”

According to Ultimate Classic Rock, John took the title of the song from a pre-existing political slogan. To create the song, John enlisted the help of legendary producer Phil Spector. Spector brought a group of backup singers to perform on the track.

The backup singers were led by Rosetta Hightower of the Orlons. Hightower and the other backup singers gave the song an extra kick in its hook. The song also boasts a great saxophone riff, one of the trademarks in Spector’s songs.

Celebrities who said they didn’t like the song

“Power to the People” by John Lennon

However, the song garnered its fair share of criticism. Some of John’s socially conscious songs have very specific meanings. For example, “Imagine” asks for a world without religion or possessions. “Power to the People,” on the other hand, is a little vaguer. According to There’s a Riot Going On: Revolutionaries, Rock Stars, and the Rise and Fall of the 60s, Paul Simon of Simon & Garfunkel took issue with the track for that very reason.

According to Rolling Stone, Hunter S. Thompson said John created the song ten years too late. Thompson didn’t elaborate on what he meant by that. However, he was likely saying “Power to the People,” a 1970s song, had a message which would have been suited to the international tumult of the 1960s.

John Lennon’s view of the track and its contemporary resonance

Bernie Sanders | Alex Wong/Getty Images

John would make friends with people who had revolutionary goals who made him reconsider the song. According to the Beatles Bible, he said “[I] got a bit of a reputation for hanging out with the Cambridge Graduate School of Revolutionaries in the UK. They made [me]  feel so guilty about not hating everyone who wasn’t poor that I even wrote and recorded the rather embarrassing ‘Power to the People’ ten years too late (as the now-famous Hunter “Fear and Loathing for a Living” Thompson pointed out in his Vegas book). [I] kept the royalties, of course.”

According to The Gazette, Bernie Sanders used “Power to the People” as a campaign song. The song inspired derision upon its release. However, Sanders’ use of it showed it had some staying power.

Also see: John Lennon: Two ‘Fruity’ Folk Singers He Refused to Listen To