Why John Lennon Hated ‘Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da’
John Lennon on "Jealous Guy" - johnlennon / Youtube
In working as a band, it’s inevitable to have disagreements every once in a while. Though the members of The Beatles were no strangers to conflict, the press often exaggerated the tensions between John Lennon and Paul McCartney on occasion. For example, Lennon’s “intense hatred” of the McCartney composition, “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da.”
Paul’s Nigerian friend Jimmy Anonmuogharan Scott Emuakpor inspired him to write “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da” upon his return from India in 1968. “I had a friend called Jimmy Scott who was a Nigerian conga player, who I used to meet in the clubs in London,” McCartney said in The Beatles Anthology. “He had a few expressions, one of which was, ‘Ob la di ob la da, life goes on, bra.’ I used to love this expression… He sounded like a philosopher to me. He was a great guy anyway and I said to him, ‘I really like that expression and I’m thinking of using it,’ and I sent him a cheque in recognition of that fact later because even though I had written the whole song and he didn’t help me, it was his expression.”
Regarding Lennon, the story goes on like this: According to legend, a heroin-addicted John Lennon despised “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” even going so far as to call it an example of “Paul’s granny shit.” He was frustrated by how long it took to record since the fab four had to start the song over twice. Then, by July 8th, Lennon arrived at the studio high on heroin, went straight to the piano, and composed the iconic introduction keys, which was just what the song required, much to everyone’s amazement.
For this reason, everyone assumed that Lennon hated the song and made the amazing piano arrangement to “get it over with.” But McCartney, however, had a different opinion regarding the incident, as he fondly remembered the details in an interview with Howard Stern.
Along the conversation, Stern suggested that Lennon hated “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” to which Paul replied, “Who says?” “John did like that song,” he told the host. “I wrote the song and one thing I always love about the intro there is the piano intro. We all fall in behind him and go, ‘Yes!’ That’s what it needed.”