During the tumultuous sessions for The Beatles, John Lennon was exacerbating the relationship with his bandmates in more ways than one. After having experimented with marijuana and LSD, Lennon had begun using heroin, something that made his bandmates uncomfortable. Paul McCartney noted that Lennon’s new habit was put on public display in one of the band’s harder-rocking songs, ‘Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey’.
“He was getting into harder drugs than we’d been into and so his songs were taking on more references to heroin,” McCartney told Barry Miles in the book Many Years From Now. “Until that point, we had made rather mild, oblique references to pot or LSD. Now John started talking about fixes and monkeys and it was a harder terminology which the rest of us weren’t into.”
“We were disappointed that he was getting into heroin because we didn’t really see how we could help him,” McCartney added. “We just hoped it wouldn’t go too far. In actual fact, he did end up clean but this was the period when he was on it. It was a tough period for John, but often that adversity and that craziness can lead to good art, as I think it did in this case.”
According to Lennon himself, however, the song wasn’t about drugs – it was about his budding relationship with Yoko Ono. Ono was another source of friction during the sessions, but unlike heroin, she was promoting a positive change in Lennon.
“That was just a sort of nice line that I made into a song,” Lennon told David Sheff in 1980. “It was about me and Yoko. Everybody seemed to be paranoid except for us two, who were in the glow of love. Everything is clear and open when you’re in love. Everybody was sort of tense around us: you know, ‘What is she doing here at the session? Why is she with him?’ All this sort of madness is going on around us because we just happened to want to be together all the time.”
Check out ‘Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey’ down below.