100 Greatest Beatles Songs

From 'Helter Skelter' to 'Sgt. Pepper's,' ranking of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison's output

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'The Ballad of John and Yoko'
John Rodgers/Redferns48/100

48. 'The Ballad of John and Yoko'

Main Writer: Lennon
Recorded: April 14, 1969
Released: June 4, 1969
9 weeks; No. 8

On March 16th, 1969, Lennon and Yoko Ono flew to Paris to get married, the first stop on a two-week odyssey that included visits to Gibraltar (where they had the ceremony), Amsterdam (where they held the first "Bed-In" for peace) and Vienna (where they gave a press conference from inside a white bag as a peace protest). Hostile reporters accused the couple of co-opting the peace movement as a publicity stunt. "The press came expecting to see us fucking in bed," Lennon told Rolling Stone. "We were just sitting in our pajamas saying, 'Peace, brother.'" The trip became the heart of "The Ballad of John and Yoko." "We were having a very hard time," said Ono, "but he made [the song] into a comedy rather than a tragedy."

Lennon was in a hurry to release it, so he and McCartney overdubbed all of the instruments on April 14th. (Starr and Harrison were away.) "Paul knew that people were being nasty to John, and he just wanted to make it well for him," said Ono. "Paul has a very brotherly side to him."

Appears On: Past Masters

Lennon's Music: A Range of Genius
Photos: John Lennon and Yoko Ono in New York, The Last Years
Special Tribute: John Lennon's Last Days

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