10 Darkest Songs John Lennon Ever Wrote

10. How Do You Sleep?

Featured on: Imagine (1971)

How Do You Sleep? is best known as Lennon’s scathing attack on Paul McCartney, particularly the line: “those freaks was [sic] right when they said you was dead”, which used the ‘Paul is Dead’ urban legend to mock his former bandmate.

Lennon also turned his personal attack to McCartney’s musical output, comparing it to “muzak” and stating his only achievement was Yesterday. Lennon was the lead song writer. However, Yoko Ono, and Lennon’s manager Allen Klein are said to have contributed lyrics. McCartney himself said “I just let [John] do it, because he was being fed a lot of those lines by Klein and Yoko”.

Lennon described the song as “what you might call an ‘angry letter’, sung”, and compared it to Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone, “one of his nasty songs”. Lennon later backtracked somewhat saying the song was really an attack on himself.

Journalist Felix Dennis, who was present when the track was recorded, recalled a lot of the unused lyrics were “absolutely puerile” and “highly, highly personal”.

Dennis supposed McCartney “must have been some sort of figure of authority in Lennon’s life, because you don’t take the p*ss out of somebody that isn’t a figure of authority”.

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An English Lit. MA Grad trying to validate my student debt by writing literary fiction and alternative non-fiction.