The John Lennon track that radio stations refused to play
(Credit: Alamy)


The John Lennon track that radio stations refused to play


    John Lennon is one of the most prolific songwriters of his generation, both as a member of The Beatles and as a solo artist later on in his career. And while he’s made plenty of hits that are universally adored, some of his songs haven’t aged quite so well. In fact, some select songs weren’t exactly well-recieved at their time of release, either.

    For this, we can look to the often-forgotten John Lennon track, ‘Woman Is The N—r Of The World’. Yep. He literally wrote a song with that title, and it gets worse from there. Meant to be about feminism and women’s rights, and largely inspired by his time learning alongside Yoko Ono, Lennon has said of the song before, “[This] song is one of those many songs of ours that get banned. It’s something Yoko said to me in 1968; it took me until 1970 to dig it.”

    Yoko herself later explained, “When I went to London and got together with John that was the biggest macho scene imaginable. That’s when I made the statement ‘woman is the n—-r of the world’.”

    Speaking even more on the song and the meaning behind it, Lennon has said, “Of course, Yoko was well into liberation before I met her. She’d had to fight her way through a man’s world – the art world is completely dominated by men – so she was full of revolutionary zeal when we met. There was never any question about it: we had to have a 50-50 relationship or there was no relationship, I was quick to learn. She did an article about women in Nova more than two years back in which she said, ‘Woman is the n—-r of the world’.”

    The track was naturally hated by radio stations, garnered mixed opinions from civil rights activists, and didn’t receive promotion from Apple US. Their promotions manager Pete Bennett notoriously hated the song, saying, “I told him that I wouldn’t promote it. So John says to me, ‘Well, you’re our promotions man, you have to listen to us, we pay you… I’m the president of Apple.’ I said, ‘John, I don’t care what the story is, I don’t want the record – I’m not going to promote it. If I don’t like it I won’t promote it.’ So John says, ‘I’ll tell you what – I’ll promote it, and if I make this record number one, that means you’re not the number one promotions man in the business.’ I said, ‘John, you got a deal… but if the record doesn’t happen [in the charts] I want you to kiss my butt and double my salary and expenses.’ So he says, ‘You got a deal… but I’m gonna make it number one.’”

    Is it any shock that the song most definitely did not reach number one? While the shock value of the word most definitely contributed to the distaste for the song, the sentiment is also quite poorly thought out, and the comparison of minority groups (especially in such a crass way) isn’t an attitude that’s aged well. The single release was also cancelled entirely in the UK.

    Although this one was quite the blunder on the part of Lennon, perhaps it goes to show that everyone has growing to do and mindsets that need reassessment.

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