Tuesday 8 August 2023


A left-wing magazine criticized songs from The Beatles' 'The White Album'. John Lennon then corresponded with the magazine's music critic.
A left-wing magazine criticized songs from The Beatles’ The White Album for being weak.
John Lennon then corresponded with one of his critics and made friends with a communist activist.
John’s experience inspired him to write one of his most famous solo songs.
John Lennon learned that a political magazine criticized two songs from The Beatles’ The White Album. He responded by chatting with some activists who worked for the magazine. Subsequently, the experience inspired one of his most famous socially-conscious songs.

John Lennon responded to criticism of 2 songs from The Beatles’ ‘The White Album’
Tariq Ali is a communist activist from England. During a 2020 interview with Jacobin, Ali discussed the beginning of his friendship with John. “In The Black Dwarf, our left-wing magazine, we criticized The Beatles’ songs ‘Revolution 1’ and ‘Revolution 9,’ saying these were very weak songs,” he recalled. 

“To our surprise, a letter to the editor from John Lennon arrived, which we published,” Ali added. “I got our music critic to reply, Lennon replied back. And then he rang me up. ‘Hey Tariq, you know, are we going to carry on fighting in letters pages of your paper? Why don’t you come around and let’s have a chat?'”
Ali revealed what happened after that. “So we went and had a chat,” he remembered. “It was very interesting. And my colleague Robin Blackburn did an interview with him, which we edited nicely.” 

John had mixed feelings about the interview. “He read it and said, ‘God, you make me sound so intelligent,'” Ali recalled. “And ‘Are you sure I should be published in the magazine? Because it’s very serious, and I don’t want it to lose any prestige.’ And I said, ‘Don’t be silly, it will just sell a few more copies.'”

John’s experience inspired him to write the political song “Power to the People.” While it’s not as ubiquitous as some of his other tunes, it became the theme song for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns.

The Beatles’ “Revolution 1” and “Revolution 9” were not singles, so they did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. The tunes both appeared on The White Album. That record reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for nine weeks, staying on the chart for 215 weeks in total. Besides Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The White Album was the Fab Four’s most popular studio album in the United States.

According to The Official Charts Company, “Revolution 1” and “Revolution 9” did not chart in the United Kingdom either. On the other hand, The White Album reached No. 1 in the U.K. The White Album remained on the U.K. chart for a total of 37 weeks. In 1987, the record recharted at No. 18 and stayed on the chart for two weeks. 


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