In His Own Write: John Lennon's Life in Lyrics

More so than any other member of the Beatles, John Lennon wrote about himself. Through his songwriting, he described nearly every aspect of his personal life in a way that no professional biographer could.


John Lennon was born in 1940 during a WWII air raid. His parents, unready for the responsibilities of parenthood, divorced when he was four years old, leaving him in the care of his Aunt Mimi. When he was a teenager, his mother tragically died in an hit-and-run accident shortly after re-entering his life. His relationship with his father didn't develop until much later, leaving him with the feelings of rejection and abandonment described here.

“Strawberry Fields Forever”

Lennon's childhood wasn't all bad, however. He had many happy memories of hanging out in Strawberry Fields park and its nearby orphanage. “Nobody I think is in my tree”, isn't meant to be taken literally, but he did climb trees there for fun.

The Beatles experimented with the idea of a concept EP of songs about their early days. Paul contributed “Penny Lane” and John submitted “Strawberry Fields”. Instead, both songs were released on the same 45, thus creating another double-sided single.

“A Hard Day's Night”

The Beatles weren't necessarily an overnight success, but they reached a height of fame at a speed that was unheard of in those days. Their newfound celebrity required long hours and little time for family, as the newlywed Lennon bemoans in this hit.

“In My Life”

John first worked on this song about life, loss, and love in 1964, but set it aside for awhile. Some lines describing local places were replaced by less specific, but deeply moving lyrics inspired by the deaths of his mother, an uncle who was like a father to him, and two close friends. “I love you more” has been said to refer to his son, Julian.


The pressures of fame drove John into a depression that he would call his "fat Elvis period”. He originally intended “Help” to be a much slower paced song with a mournful tone, but was later convinced to pep it up. Despite its lively beat, Lennon would later go on to describe the lyrics as his personal “cry for help”.

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