John Lennon explains why people love rock and what rock should be

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Why does rock ‘n’ roll appeal to people decades after it was invented? Anyone can try to answer this question, but John Lennon was more qualified than most people. John had his own thoughts on why rock ‘n’ roll resonated – and what the genre should have evolved into during the 1970s.

The Beatles | John Pratt/Keystone/Getty Images

John Lennon on the power of rock music

Sometimes rock journalists guess why rock music matters. Rolling Stone’s Jann S. Wenner took a different approach. He simply asked John in an interview called Lennon Remembers.

“It gets to you, it’s rhythm, go to the jungle and they’ve got rhythm,” John replied. “It’s going all over the world and it’s that simple, you set the pace because everyone’s going.” John also said that the best rock music is “primitive”.

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“She loves You”

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John’s answer might surprise some people. Although The Beatles rose to fame with simple songs like “She Loves You” and “Do You Want to Know a Secret”, many of their later songs are complex. Few would call songs like “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” “primitive”, but John advocates rock ‘n’ roll being primitive. He further developed his feelings about the genre.

“[Rock ‘n’ roll] passed through; it went through me, the only thing that came to me of all the things that happened when I was 15,” John added. “Rock ‘n’ roll was real then, everything else was unreal. The thing about rock ‘n’ roll, good rock ‘n’ roll – whatever sense of good and all that shit – is that it’s real and realism wins you over in spite of yourself. You recognize something real in it, like any real art. … If it’s real, it’s usually simple, and if it’s simple, it’s true.

John Lennon in shirt and tie

John Lennon | Harry Benson/Express/Getty Images

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How John Lennon Said Rock Music Should Evolve

In the same interview, Wenner asked John how he wanted rock music to evolve. John said the genre should avoid “intellectualism”. It’s interesting that one of rock’s most acclaimed forwards feels that way. Additionally, he hoped that rock music would outgrow its “revolutionary image” and that rockers would start cutting their hair. Although John had certain guidelines for rock musicians, he also stated that “rock ‘n’ roll will be all we do with it”.

John may not have liked where rock ‘n’ roll went in the years after his death. The whole genre of progressive rock was about making rock more complex than it started out. According to The New Yorker, philosopher Bill Martin ironically said that the Beatles helped create the genre. More specifically, he felt sergeant. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band inspired many later bands to try to combine many different sounds in their albums.

Additionally, many rock stars after John wore their hair long, from Slash to Jack White. However, John said that rock ‘n’ roll is what we make of it – the myriad developments in the genre certainly prove that.


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