The Beatles song inspired by John Lennon doing nothing at all
Arguably one of the greatest songwriters in pop music history, the late, great John Lennon wrote some of The Beatles’ most treasured tracks. That said, there was only one “meaningful and good” song that the Liverpudlian conjured up when he “gave up” trying to write songs.
We’re digging into the Far Out vault to revisit a series of infamous Lennon interviews in which he detailed the story of how he wrote one of The Beatles’ most beloved songs after he gave up thinking. It still rings out as one of his best.
During a now-infamous interview with Playboy in 1980, John Lennon really let loose on a bunch of Beatles songs. Some that he liked, some he loved and, of course, some he absolutely loathed. But while a few notable creation stories were thrown up for certain songs there was one origin story which grabbed our attention.
“I’d spent five hours that morning trying to write a song that was meaningful and good, and I finally gave up and lay down,” Lennon told Playboy, reflecting on a moment of writer’s block in 1965.
Writing for the Fab Four’s Rubber Soul album was proving difficult but as Lennon prefaced the previous quote: “Songwriting is like… being possessed”. It seems Lennon just needed to give up the ghost to be visited by another spirit. “Then ‘Nowhere Man’ came, words and music, the whole damn thing as I lay down.”
The Beatles biographer from the 1960s, Hunter Davies, quoted Lennon on this seemingly bizarre conception. The singer again confirmed, “I’d actually stopped trying to think of something. Nothing would come. I went for a lie down, having given up. Then I thought of myself as ‘Nowhere Man’, sitting in this Nowhere Land.” It would go on to define Lennon’s style of writing, effortlessly including his audience in his first-person world.
His bandmate and songwriting partner Paul McCartney also confirmed the story but offered up another tidbit when he himself spoke with Playboy in 1984. As well as the story of giving up Macca suggested it was a darker time for Lennon: “That was John after a night out, with dawn coming up.”
He added: “I think at that point, he was a bit…wondering where he was going, and to be truthful so was I. I was starting to worry about him.”
Listen to the incredible song John Lennon wrote after “giving up” writing songs: ‘Nowhere Man’.