What John Lennon Was Singing About on His Hit ‘Mind Games’ Single

by Jeremy Spirogis
What John Lennon Was Singing About on His Hit ‘Mind Games’ Single

If you needed obscure lyrics, the 1967 work of John Lennon will do. Start with the “looking-glass ties” and “marmalade skies” on “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” As John stated of a distinct Beatles track from that 12 months, “Stick a few images together, thread them together, and you call it poetry.”

He was talking about “I Am the Walrus,” a monitor that took obscure lyrics to a different stage. Yet on tracks like “All You Need Is Love,” his message couldn’t be clearer. Just a few years later, John was singing in probably the most direct approach doable on “Don’t Let Me Down” and “I Want You.”

On his first solo album (1970), he allotted with photographs totally, and followers obtained extra of the identical on 1971’s Imagine. (“The only thing you done was ‘Yesterday,’” he sang of Paul McCartney.) But Mind Games (1973) discovered John again to writing not less than considerably obscurely.

Though you didn’t hear about any “newspaper taxis,” the “druid dudes” and “mind guerrilla” of the title monitor confused many a fan since its launch. In later interviews, John cleared up the place he was going with “Mind Games.”

The unique title was ‘Make Love Not War’

John Lennon, August 1972 | WATFORD/Mirrorpix by way of Getty Images

If you begin on the refrain of “Mind Games,” the track doesn’t appear imprecise in any respect. “Love is the answer,” John sings. “And you know that for sure.” Its simplicity recollects his earlier anthems “All You Need Is Love” and “Give Peace a Chance.” But John’s verses aren’t as clear.

He sings of “playing those mind games together / Pushing the barriers, planting seeds / Playing the mind guerrilla.” At that time, he loses some listeners, though he will get to his “mantra” of “peace on earth” within the subsequent line. In 1980, he informed Playboy’s David Sheff what he’d got down to do.

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“It was originally called ‘Make Love Not War,’ but that was such a cliché that you couldn’t say it anymore,” John stated. “So I wrote it obscurely, but it’s all the same story.” Working within the early ’70s, he needed to counter the concept that the peace motion had failed.

“Everybody was starting to say the Sixties was a joke, it didn’t mean anything, those love-and-peaceniks were idiots,” he informed Sheff. “‘We had fun in the Sixties,’ they said, ‘but the others took it away from us and spoiled it all for us.’ I was trying to say, ‘No, just keep doin’ it.’”

John didn’t imply ‘Mind Games’ to have a destructive connotation in any respect

THE DICK CAVETT SHOW: John Lennon, September 12, 1971. | Walt Disney Television by way of Getty Images

In the 21st century, it’s regular to strategy a track known as “Mind Games” anticipating to listen to about individuals who play together with your thoughts and so forth. (John’s historical past of political activism would make this strategy much more possible.) But he meant the phrase in a constructive approach.

The “mind games” John sang about had been pushing the philosophy of peace and love. He needed individuals to proceed planting the seeds of this splendid and to be, in a phrase, warriors (“guerrillas”) for peace. John stated to “keep playing the mind games forever” with “faith in the future, outta the now.”

Finally, within the fade-out, he sings the unique premise of the track. “I want you to make love, not war / I know you’ve heard it before.” Indeed, listeners of the early ’70s had heard fairly a little bit of that. And John’s option to go the obscure route paid off in an enormous approach.

Of course, his powerhouse vocal and association are what make it work. When you hear individuals doubt the manufacturing expertise of John Lennon, refer them to 1973’s “Mind Games.” It hit No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 and made it even increased (No. 10) on the Cash Box chart that 12 months.

Also seeThe 1st Beatles Song to Feature a John Lennon Guitar Solo

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