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Music

Why John Lennon "didn't give a shit" about making another Beatles album

@SamWKemp

Hatred, addiction, laziness: why was John Lennon so averse to making another Beatles album? By 1968 and the creation of The White Album, the camaraderie that had once defined The Beatles had started to wane. The cracks in the facade had not only started to show but opened up to such an extent that, now, great rifts had formed between ‘The Fab Four’ — impassible gulfs that isolated them from one another and completely altered the dynamic that had helped them become the biggest band in the world.

As you can expect, the 1969 Get Back sessions – an attempt to return The Beatles to their musical roots – were not greeted with overt enthusiasm. The idea was to make the sessions a television special, but the group were still exhausted from the creation of The White Album and not on the best of terms. As such, tensions were still high and the presence of TV cameras did little to relax them. Motivation was also at an all-time low, and nobody was less enthused than John Lennon, who was by this time seriously addicted to heroin and feeling the pull of a quiet life away from The Beatles.

The issue was that The Beatles simply weren’t communicating with one another. It was clear that everyone was struggling, but nobody felt able to speak plainly about the issues facing the band. Indeed, it was only after The Beatles split that John Lennon, speaking to Jann S Wenner, pinpointed why he was so opposed to making another Beatles record. “In a nutshell, Paul wanted to make – it was time for another Beatle movie or something, and Paul wanted us to go on the road or do something,” Lennon said in 1970.

“As usual, George and I were going, ‘Oh, we don’t want to do it, fuck,’ and all that,” he continued. “He set it up and there was all discussions about where to go and all that. I would just tag along and I had Yoko by then. I didn’t even give a shit about anything. I was stoned all the time, too, on H etc. And I just didn’t give a shit. And nobody did, you know”.

The irony is, of course, that, while Paul was blamed for The Beatles’ split, he was the only one with a plan for their future. Everyone else, it seemed, had given up. “Paul had this idea that we were going to rehearse or… see it all was more like Simon and Garfunkel, like looking for perfection all the time,” Lennon went on. “And so he has these ideas that we’ll rehearse and then make the album. And of course we’re lazy fuckers and we’ve been playing for twenty years, for fuck’s sake, we’re grown men, we’re not going to sit around rehearsing. I’m not, anyway. And we couldn’t get into it. And we put down a few tracks and nobody was in it at all.”

The result of this conflict of interests was that McCartney was branded as domineering and bossy, while I’m sure he regarded Lennon as hardly being worth the effort. All in all, those 1969 sessions seemed to have been characterised by an all-pervading sense of unease: “It was a dreadful, dreadful feeling in Twickenham Studio, and being filmed all the time,” Lennon concluded, highlighting the overexposure that would spell the end of The Beatles’ collective career.

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