The Meaning Behind "Nobody Told Me" by John Lennon, the Hit Single off His First

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Four years after his death, John Lennon popped up on radios all over the world once again, sounding fresh and energized. “Nobody Told Me” was originally intended to represent the next chapter in Lennon’s music career. As it turned out, the song would prove a bittersweet reminder of what might have been.

What was the song about? What other ex-Beatle was the intended target for it? And how did it progress from its initial incarnation to being chosen as first single off Milk and Honey, Lennon’s first posthumous album released in 1984? Let’s go back to find out how “Nobody Told Me” came to be, while also checking out the meaning behind the song.
Writing in His Downtime

When the Cliff’s Notes version of John Lennon’s life story is told, you’ll generally hear that he used the time from 1976 to 1979 to concentrate on his roles as a house-husband and father, spending most of his time in his apartment with wife Yoko and son Sean, before re-emerging with his and Yoko’s album Double Fantasy in 1980.

But that broad overview doesn’t take into account that Lennon was writing all along during that stretch, even if he wasn’t recording and releasing them. In fact, he had the rough sketch of “Nobody Told Me” worked out as early as 1976, taping a crude demo using a drum machine to give him a backbeat.

Because of the occasional writing he did during his hiatus, Lennon headed into the studio with a backlog of songs in excess of what he needed for Double Fantasy (especially since Ono would be contributing half the material.) As he said in an interview in 1980 (as reported by The Beatles Bible), he was already thinking beyond the upcoming album:

Source: Jim Beviglia/


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