Stephen King’s The Shining was inspired by John Lennon’s ‘Instant Karma’
John Lennon would inspire a generation of musicians as part of The Beatles as he and the Fab Four changed popular culture forever. To add to that, his solo career would see him continue to be a zeitgeist performer in his own right.
One person who would be greatly influenced by Lennon’s solo career would be the horror writing master, Stephen King who used one of the singer’s tracks as inspiration for one of his most famous pieces of work; The Shining.
The horror classic seemingly does not go hand in hand with the positive message of love and unity that poured out of the ‘Imagine’ singer’s solo work but it did somehow inspire the legendary novel, in fact, the title The Shining was allegedly pinched almost straight out of one of the former Beatles man’s tracks.
On Lennon’s solo hit ‘Instant Karma’ he sings the famous line “We all shine on!” which isn’t related to the horror genre by any means but it is rumoured to have stopped King in his tracks when he heard it whilst writing the book and he knew he had his title. The song was famously composed and recorded in just one day and may have seen Lennon draw on some more essential imagination for inspiration.
King was quickly won over by the line though. The writer had originally planned to call his book The Shiner but after learning about the word ‘shiner’ and how it is also a racial slur against black people, the title was renamed The Shining.
The acclaimed author is famed for dropping nuggets of information in his books for the eagle-eyed among his readers to spot and there was no reference to Lennon or his song ‘Instant Karma’ in the book, which, on reflection, was somewhat surprising. However, this was all rectified in King’s sequel The Shining: Doctor Sleep when he seemingly confirmed Lennon’s influence.
Lead character Danny Torrence, finds himself entwined with more ghostly misadventures in Doctor Sleep. At one point, he hears someone playing the Beatles song ‘Not a Second Time’ which couldn’t be more ironic. The film sees Torrence has been attacked by ghosts before and would rather not go through that experience for the second time.
The use of The Beatles track could be a coincidence but it seemingly confirms the influence that Lennon had on the series, acting as a nod and a wink to how ‘Instant Karma’ gave him much more than a title for the series and was his muse.