What does The Ballad of John and Yoko mean?

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Beatles: The Ballad of John and Yoko Meaning

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Song Released: 1969


The Ballad of John and Yoko Lyrics

Standing in the dock at Southampton,
Trying to get to Holland or France.
The man in the mac said, "You've got to go back".
You know they didn't even give us a chance.
Christ you know it ain't easy,
You know how hard it can be.
The way...

  1. 1TOP RATED

    #1 top rated interpretation:
    Winnipegger
    click a star to vote
    Sep 15th 2009 report

    Basically, this song is just a narration of recent events in the (then-current) life of John and Yoko, specifically in regard to their wedding and honeymoon.

    Standing in the dock at Southampton,
    Trying to get to Holland or France.
    The man in the mac said, "You've got to turn back".
    You know they didn't even give us a chance.

    Southampton is a sea port on the south coast of England that handles a lot of oceanliner traffic to and from (among other places) Holland and France. Apparently, someone official told them they would be denied entry to either of these countries, probably because they were at the time under indictment for possession of cannibis on October 18, 1968, when their London flat was raided. Usually, people who have been charged but whose trials have not yet occurred are denied admittance to other countries because of the possibility of their being a flight risk.

    Christ you know it ain't easy,
    You know how hard it can be.
    The way things are going
    They're going to crucify me.

    The chorus is all about John speaking about how persecuted he feels, that he feels he is walking a tightrope in regard to the law and pending legal charges, and that this is governing his actions.

    When originally released, many radio stations would blip "Christ"; other stations banned the single outright.

    Finally made the plane into Paris,
    Honeymooning down by the Seine.
    Peter Brown called to say,
    "You can make it O.K.,
    You can get married in Gibraltar, near Spain".

    They finally were able to get to Paris, but were unsure of where to get married. Peter Brown (Apple Press Agent) was given the task of finding a place for the Lennon nuptials, and he finally settled on Gibraltar, a British possession on the very south part of Spain. On March 20, they were married in the British Consulate there.

    Drove from Paris to the Amsterdam Hilton,
    Talking in our beds for a week.
    The newspapers said, "Say what you doing in bed?"
    I said, "We're only trying to get us some peace".

    John and Yoko decided to make their honeymoon a public event for peace and decided to have a bed-in, where they would hold court in a hotel room and invite in reporters and photographers to document the event, which occurred from March 25 - 31, 1969 at the Amsterdam Hilton. Said John: "Our life is our art. That's what the bed-ins were. When we got married, we knew our honeymoon was going to be public anyway, so we decided to make a statement. We sat in bed and talked to reporters for seven days. It was hilarious."

    Saving up your money for a rainy day,
    Giving all your clothes to charity.
    Last night the wife said,
    "Oh boy, when you're dead
    You don't take nothing with you
    But your soul - think!"

    Basically John reminding the listener that life isn't about collecting material goods, because material goods don't do anything for you after your dead, whereas if you lead a charitable life, the karma you gather from doing so will help one tremendously.

    Made a lightning trip to Vienna,
    eating chocolate cake in a bag.
    The newspapers said, "She's gone to his head,
    They look just like two gurus in drag".

    On April 1, the Lennons appeared in Vienna to introduce the concept of Bagism, where they would meet the press while inside of a giant sack. They stayed at the Hotel Sacher, the birthplace of the famous Sacher Torte, a world-renowned type of chocolate cake, which leads to the nickname of the Sacher as being "The chocolate cake hotel". The press was unenthused about Bagism.

    From the 1980 Playboy interview:
    Q.: "What about the reports of you making love in a bag?"
    Yoko: "We never made love in a bag. People probably imagined we were making love. It was just, all of us are in a bag, you know. The point was the outline of the bag, the movement of the bag: how much we see of a person. Inside there might be a lot going on. Or maybe nothing's going on."

    Caught an early plane back to London.
    Fifty acorns tied in a sack.
    The men from the press said, "We wish you success,
    It's good to have the both of you back".

    One of John's ideas after returning to England was to send acorns to world leaders in order to get them to plant them for peace. The English press, which had been merciless covering his drug arrest and his relationship with Yoko, suddenly decided to do an "about face" in their attitude towards the couple, which appeared somewhat hypocritical to John, because they were one of the groups out to crucify him.

  2. anonymous
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    Aug 17th 2019 report

    We ,who witnessed all of this Beatle adventures, are not into interpretation. This song says it all, out front, its like hey we knew John was about P E A C E , but he was also a freak when it came to oriental women, so that PEACE turned into PIECE of yoko's ass, and we knew it, the press, just wouldn't leave them alone, so it got more and more hilarious. But in John's Court I must say, him and McCartney got it all right. The tune turned out to be good to although I think Highly underated due to the fact yoko plays a big part in the song. Too bad so many prejudices existed at the time on love and Peace.

  3. anonymous
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    Jul 20th 2017 report

    John and Yoko Lennon's explanation is enough for me. The song and meaning are again an example of his lyrical / musical genius. ♡♡ THEY fell in love and probably still r.

  4. anonymous
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    Apr 11th 2011 report

    "Obviously this song is about John and yoko.its bout wen they went off try to make peace by staying in bed for a week.yoko actually did "get to his head"! but John didn't believe that.he was in love!!anyways the songs is saying that they went through so much so they can make peace...wich didn't happen >:|"

    You must be very stupid, because John died because of his peace movement!

  5. anonymous
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    Feb 4th 2011 report

    Some small additional notes to Winnepegger's excellent account of the honeymoon and the hypocritical reaction of the press to his playful and artistic jaunt.

    The refrain "Christ you know it ain't easy...they're gonna crucify me" recalled to his comment sometime around 1966 that it seemed the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. He meant the remark as a comment on how overdone the attention to the group was. Of course, the US Bible Belt took the remark the wrong way, even after he explained that he did not mean that this was a good thing, he meant that it was a bad thing. He was vilified for years over that innocent observation.

    As Yoko has commented, John loved using wordplay in his lyrics, often employing words or expressions with double meaning. There is an obvious double-entendre meaning to "...The newspeople said, 'Say, whacha doing in bed,' I said, 'We're only tryin' to get us some peace'"

    At the time, and for the rest of his life, for that matter, John was just making a modest proposal, asking everyone to "Give PEACE a chance." But he was also on his honeymoon with his new wife in bed, and the double-entendre is that he was also trying to get a PIECE [of a--].

  6. LOLA09
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    Jan 9th 2009 report

    this story is about when John nd Yoko were immense supporters of peace and they stayed in bed for a week to support wht they believed in. They were huge peace maniacs... And when John and Yoko fell in love after John divorced. They were peace makers since World War 2 during hte 60's
    - MND

  7. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jan 2nd 2009 report

    Obviously this song is about John and yoko.its bout wen they went off try to make peace by staying in bed for a week.yoko actually did "get to his head"! but John didn't believe that.he was in love!!anyways the songs is saying that they went through so much so they can make peace...wich didn't happen >:|

  8. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Nov 1st 2008 report

    Drag is the term used for clothing worn by someone that is usually worn by the opposite sex. For example, a man is drag is a man wearing a dress, pantyhose, high heels, probably wearing make-up, etc.

    Renee

  9. anonymous
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    Feb 20th 2008 report

    What do they mean when they say, "they looked just like to gurus in drag" What is drag?

  10. anonymous
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    Oct 27th 2007 report

    Yes, I think it's about their wedding and honeymoon.
    but when they had their "bed-in" protest for Peace, they shaved their heads and auctioned it off, they sold their clothes which is "The newspapers said,
    She's gone to his head,
    They look just like two Gurus in a drag." All the media was in their hotel room with them while they were in their PJ's talking politics and peace.
    I think it means that no matter what he did, whether it was good or bad, the media always had something negative to say about him.

  11. anonymous
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    Jan 31st 2007 report

    I think this song is indeed about the wedding of Yoko and John, but it also reveals the problems that celebrities face in general, problems like lack of privacy even at their most personal moments.

  12. anonymous
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    Mar 29th 2006 report

    This is simply about John and Yoko's wedding and honeymoon. It discusses the media and how they interupted the whole thing and how no matter what you do they're going to crucify you. John said to a reporter that he means everyone when he says that line.


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