Yoko Ono loves the Beatles, but in choosing her late husband’s best songs, she focused on the records Lennon made after the band’s breakup. “He felt more free,” says Ono. “He was getting down to what he was feeling. He was really speaking the truth.”
“Oh My Love” 1971
In most love songs, you’re making people feel hot or whatever about each other. But instead of that, he’s saying, “I see it clearly for the first time.” It’s not so much about sexual interest or “I miss you” – it’s more to do with true love.
“Gimme Some Truth” 1971
“Gimme Some Truth” is so appropriate for now. He was before his time in a way. There’s an edge to the music too – that kind of song didn’t exist too much in those days.
“Give Peace a Chance” 1969
You can’t miss this one. It’s proof that he could be very personal, but also he could cover the big picture and get people to think about that. And it worked. He really did affect the world a lot.
A very powerful and daring song. The first time I heard it, when he sang, “I don’t believe in Beatles,” I choked up. And so did many other people, for other reasons [chuckles]. It’s very revolutionary, even more than the song “Revolution.” It was breaking all the cobwebs and saying, “Here I am.”
“Grow Old With Me” 1984
He was saying it to me, but also to a whole generation: “Let’s grow old together.” After his passing, all I had was a cassette of it. I had it in my handbag. When I went to sleep, I had some bells on my door so if anyone came in, I’d hear it. I didn’t want people to take it from me.
The chord structure and what it means are very direct and simple. And that was very important. He was good at anthems.
I thought this could be in the classical-music field. It’s across the musical border.
“Jealous Guy” 1971
This was hard for him to get out – he’s being very honest about being jealous. I don’t think many songwriters owned up that way. They might tiptoe around that emotion.
“I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier” 1971
“I don’t wanna be a soldier, Mama, I don’t want to die” — that says it all! A beautiful anti-establishment song, not just about a soldier but also a priest. He was just being himself. George’s slide guitar is incredible. He was fantastic.
A very intense song that came from primal scream. Women have played a big role in the human race. We created it, actually, between our thighs. John was coming out and saying, “Mother, I need you.” He recognized the power and important position of women in society.