ABOUT THIS INTERVIEW:
On May 11th 1968, John Lennon and Paul McCartney traveled to New York City.
During this trip they would officially announce the Beatles' newly-formed and very non-traditional company, Apple Corps.
They appeared in the following interview which was videotaped by New York educational television station WNDT on May 14th. It was then aired twice on the program 'Newsfront.' The interview was conducted by host Mitchell Krause. While no video copies of this program have surfaced over the years, an audio recording of the interview has luckily survived.
Due to the traditions of the famous songwriting duos that had come before them (Goffin/King, Rogers/Hammerstein) at the time of this interview there were still public misconceptions of Lennon and McCartney's roles within their songwriting
partnership. The show's host incorrectly limits them as: Lennon lyricist and McCartney composer.
It is perhaps interesting to note during this interview, while discussing
Apple Corps and the Beatles, Lennon states: 'We're gonna package peace in a new box.' This is significant because 'ad campaigns for reconsidering peace' would be the thrust of several later projects with Lennon and Yoko Ono, however during this May 1968 interview, he mentions it in a discussion of the Beatles' new direction.
Lennon and Ono were already a couple at this time.
In this conversation, Lennon and McCartney are especially candid and interesting on the topic of racial issues, and also on the topic of the royal family.
Later that evening, following this afternoon interview, Lennon and McCartney would
drop in for a special appearance on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, with guest host Joe Garagiola.
- Jay Spangler, www.beatlesinterviews.org
Q: "We meet two of the famous Beatles quartet, John Lennon lyricist
and Paul McCartney composer, in this country for a brief business visit.
What do you think is the one single thing that most contributed to your phenomenal, unprecedented success? Any single thing?"
JOHN: "Umm, God?"
PAUL: "I'll go along with that."
Q: "So much has been said that you started a trend, and that the
trend that exists today - this whole psychedelic mixed-media world..."
PAUL & JOHN: (laugh)
Q: "...kind of goes back to the early days when you embarked
on that, some have said, rock-strewn path."
JOHN: "We're just part of it, whatever it is."
PAUL: "We didn't set that one. We're just rolling along with
JOHN: "But we're part of it, you know."
Q: "But you were so much ahead, though, as so many have said."
JOHN: "To a degree. There's always somebody a bit ahead."
Q: "What led you down that road in the first place? What brought
you into that medium?"
PAUL: "Progress. Just natural progress as things change. You know,
they just keep changing. You can't help it. And we just (laughs) kept
along with them as they kept changing... And here we are!"
Q: "The millions of young people that now are grown up, I suppose,
had started out with you a few years ago. They've been affected, it's said,
by what you've done, deeply and permanently. Do you think this is true?"
JOHN: "Yeah, in some cases that will be true."
PAUL: "Yeah, and it goes for us, too. We've been affected by
JOHN: "I tell ya, I'm permanently affected by Elvis Presley...
Permanently affected by whoever it is you're affected by."
PAUL: (jokingly) "...scars to prove it."
Q: "Going back again to the early 1960's when you first achieved
your outstanding success. Things were very different in the world
then - the world of popular music and the world of youth, weren't they,
than they are today."
JOHN: "It's gonna be... It's just change, you know. Everything
changes. EVERYTHING was different then, so there's no sort of specifics
about it. The whole thing's continually changing. So we can't really
comment on why one particular man had better white trousers on
in 1933. There's nothing to say about it, but it happened."
PAUL: (jokingly to John) "Wrap up adlib! Close to script!"
Q: "Yeah, we should go back to 'copy' now."
Q: "But changes that did occur in those years... How would you
describe the kind of change? Was it the waking of a sleeping giant?
We talk about young people, and we talk about the fact that so much
has awakened on the scene of life for young people."
PAUL: "You know I mean, none of us know what it is. I don't
think anyone knows what it is. And it's just... it's life, you
know. You appear to grow up, and we started off in leather jackets
chinging away on guitars. And it went through a lot of phases until
it got here. You know, and that's all we can say about it. I don't
know what happened. (laughs) You can't say exactly what went on."
JOHN: "How can you say?"
Q: "Do you think that seven, eight, nine, ten years ago, that
young people were less awake?"
JOHN: "I think they're becoming more aware each generation. I
don't know whether it'll end at some point and go back to the start.
But it seems to be going that way - more aware."
Q: "More new experiences all the time?"
JOHN: "Well of course."
PAUL: "More aware, but no one's quite sure what it is that they're
aware of. But they're aware of it (laughing) whatever it is. (pause) You
know, it's one of those things you can't talk about because it gets
into things you can't put your finger on. (to himself) Wrap up adlib.
Close to script."
Q: "A lot of older people seem to feel that the young people today,
as I suppose older people always felt, are always rebelling against
the older generation. But that this rebellion has gone so much further
than other rebellions."
JOHN: "What will the next one be like, you know."
Q: "They'll rebell against you."
JOHN: "Depending on what we turn into."
Q: "What are you going to turn into?"
JOHN: "Well, if we stay like we are now it mightn't be bad. But
we should progress and be able to still communicate with kids if this
change is as important as it might be. But if it isn't, it's just
the same again. (comically, to the announcer) What's yours?"
Q: "That's a good question. (pause) But as you leave the 20's...
How soon will that be for both of you?"
JOHN: "I'm 27."
Q: "You still have a ways to go, but you talk about yourselves as
gray old men in a sense, compared to those years ago."
JOHN: (giggles) "It's only the way you're hearing it."
Q: "You've made so much money and you've achieved so much success
so early. Does this worry you?"
JOHN: "It's not a worry, it's just... It saved us wasting our
lives achieving it."
PAUL: "Yeah. Our thing just happens to be very condensed and
speeded. It's speeded up..."
JOHN: "We chose a modern form of success."
PAUL: "...very quick, because one second we were just there doing
'that' with 'that much' money. The next second... people normally take a
lifetime to do... it was just all there suddenly, just handed. And we
didn't have to do anything for it."
JOHN: "Except for work, you know."
PAUL: "We had to work and do songs and make records, and that, but
it didn't feel like anything to us. And so, that's incredible, that. 'Cuz
it makes you think. (laughs) It also makes you rich."
JOHN: "It's a way of doing it. There's lots of careers to choose.
And you choose one... Everybody wants to get something, or make something
one way or another. And we chose a modern way making it... because
obviously we didn't want to spend out lives to get to nowhere."
PAUL: "It's like, if you could take a pill to just get famous and
rich, a lot of people would. And ours was a bit like that."
Q: "Was this what you really wanted to do it for... you wanted to
PAUL & JOHN: "Yeah."
JOHN: "You just want to 'make it' whatever you do. You all set
out leaving school or whatever, and you want to make it. So you choose
your field, and you make it or you don't. But MAKE IT, that isn't it
because there's nothing to MAKE. So we were in the position to find out
it's not worth spending your life looking... trying to get cars and kid
Q: "Has the fun gone out of your musical career now that you've
made so much money?"
PAUL & JOHN: "No."
JOHN: "Nothing like that."
PAUL: "You see, you're asking questions which are quite
serious... and you're not asking us, uhh you know, where we get our
hair cut. You can't expect all these sort of happy answers when you're
asking serious questions."
JOHN: "You want the answers. Well, we're giving you the answer,
PAUL: "As we see it."
PAUL: (jokingly) "It isn't very clearly..."
Q: "Now that you have this tremendous influence, which you
obviously have all over the world, do you have a particular feeling
about what you want to do with this power?"
JOHN: "Just, whatever it is, to try and channel it for GOOD...
if we can, you know. That's the only point of doing anything. So we've
got this machine, and we'll try and make use of it, for good, and not
just to have a machine."
PAUL: "You know, you've got your life and you're faced with
choices in it. And for us being suddenly rich and famous, and in a
position to do something, we've got a choice of doing what either
most people do, which is just making more and more money, and getting
more and more rich and famous... or trying to DO something which will
help. And it sounds a bit like charity, but it's obviously the one
we've chosen 'cuz it's just better. And it just might be in the long
JOHN: "Might be good."
PAUL: "Might be good."
Q: "Let's stick with the young people and the areas that you
think are most fruitful to try to help in. I asked before, where
you thought young people were going, and you said well maybe there'll
be a reaction to what they have now. How does this relate to the real
world as you see it... to issues of war and peace, family and country?
JOHN: "All issues are
relative. So it relates like that. It's all just relative to each
other. War (pause) and vegetables. 'Cuz there's relativity and
absolute. And that's how it relates, you know."
PAUL: (chuckles) "Great, Johnny."
Q: "It's kind of hard though for some people to interpret you."
JOHN: "Well, if they can't interpret it, maybe they will later...
or come to their own conclusions. But that's the way I think it is."
PAUL: (to John) "But what do you think about the young people?"
JOHN: "Well... I think they're young, you know, and trying
to find out. That's all."
PAUL: "They seem to be trying to stop wars, and that. "
JOHN: "...which is beautiful."
PAUL: "It just looks as though everyone is trying to stop all
that killing, and all that fighting."
JOHN: "It's a good idea."
PAUL: "It sounds good. It may be just silly to try, but it may
Q: "It may not work."
PAUL AND JOHN: (quiet chuckle)
Q: "The word 'anarchy' has been used to describe some of the..."
JONH: "Well I mean, there always will be that element because,
when they see it as how they see it to become an anarchist, it's 'What
can we do about all that?' I mean, what can you do really but wear a
badge or stand up and shout. So the choice is about shouting or 'let
it roll.' But they're a group of people who will go on forever, but
they don't actually do anything."
PAUL: "Everyone needs someone to say 'This is how you do it. This
is what we want you to do,' you know. The thing is, it would be great if
we knew how you do it. We make guesses, but they're not always right.
They're often wrong, in fact. 'Cuz there's so many phoney institutions
saying 'And this is how you do it!' Nobody can believe them anymore. So
it would be nice for people, for someone to just come along and say..."
JOHN: "Well, it would have to be Jesus, or Buddha or something."
JOHN: "But they don't seem to be around at the moment."
Q: "The whole idea of whether you get involved or whether you
stay out of it - Whether you're turned on or turned off. How do you feel
JOHN: "We believe you should turn on and stay in. Change it, you
PAUL: (jokingly) "Drop in... sometime."
Q: "When you get involved, do you mean getting involved in the
establishment and institutions?"
JOHN: "Well, to change it... because unless you change it, it's
going to be there forever. So the only thing to do is to try and change
it... but not replace it with another set of Harris Tweed suits. And
just change it completely. But how you do that, we don't know."
PAUL: "There's a lot of ways, but the one we've decided on at
the moment is just to try and get into a business, so that we can go
to 'them,' you know, all those big bosses in all those big companies,
and talk to them as though we're..." (laughs)
PAUL & JOHN: "...one of them!"
JOHN: "Of course we're not, so we'll see what happens."
PAUL: "We're not really, but we've got people who are doing it
for us. And it's a bit different from the hippie scene because people
think "Oh, they haven't washed and they've got long hair. Oh that's
naughty,' you know. And people don't communicate with them because
they don't like the look of them, or something."
JOHN: "We're gonna package peace in a new box."
PAUL: "We're trying to get to, like, the people who are sort of
in control, and say you know, 'Come on. Straighten it out. Don't mess
Q: "You went to India and spent time with Maharishi who has had
great impact, you feel, on your whole outlook. Could you decribe how
he's changed things for you?"
JOHN: "We sort of feel that Maharishi for us was a mistake, really.
Meditation we don't think was a mistake. But I think we had a false
impression of Maharishi, like people do of us, you know. But what we do
happens in public, so it's a different scene slightly."
Q: "What was your original impression?"
JOHN: "We thought he was something other than he was."
PAUL: "We thought he was magic, you know, because he's got that
kind of thing. And he sort of, I dont know, the twinkle in the eye. And
you just think he..."
JOHN: "We were looking for it, and probably superimposed it on
PAUL: "Yeah, it was just the right time anyway. There were we,
waiting for someone... the great magic man to come."
JOHN: "Waiting for a guru. He came."
PAUL: "And he came, you know. There he was and he was talking
about it all. And he had great answers, 'cuz he said 'You can sort
yourself out,' that you can calm yourself down just by doing this
very simple thing. And it works, that bit of it. It really does
do it, you know."
JOHN: "But the other bit - He's giving out recipes for something,
then he's still creating the same kind of situations which he's giving
out recipes to cure."
PAUL: "But it seems like the system is more important."
Q: "Sort of a touch of establishment in the Maharishi?"
JOHN: "Something, you know."
PAUL: "He's okay, but the system is more important. If people
watch Maharishi, or watch us, they don't think about the system - don't
think about what it's about, you know."
Q: "He got you to stop taking drugs."
JOHN: "No he didn't. We'd stopped taking drugs a couple of months
before, when we met him. And that was just sort of... The newspapers said,
'Oh! Put it together, we got a title.' But it's just not true."
Q: "You feel that drugs are not necessary anymore for what you
JOHN: "Uhh, I don't know. I'm not making any statements about
what I'm going to do for the next 60 years or whatever it is, because
I've no idea anymore. You can never really know, but just have a vague
PAUL: "Not at the moment, anyway."
JOHN: "It's no use saying 'I will never take drugs' or 'I WILL
take drugs,' because you don't know."
Q: "After the experiences that you've had, do you think that young
people who are your fans, who idolize you, ought to try the same
JOHN: "No. We don't give instructions on how to live your life.
The only thing we can do, because we're in the public eye, is to
reflect what we do. And they can judge for themselves what happens to
us - with Maharishi, with drugs, with whatever we go on. If they're
using us as a guideline. And we can only try and do what's right for us,
and therefore, we hope right for them."
PAUL: "Some fella said to me, 'Have you had LSD, Paul?' And I
said 'Yes.' And it was only 'cuz I was going to just be honest with him.
There's no other reason. I didn't want to spread it or anything, you know.
I'm not trying to do anything except answer his question. But he happened
to be a reporter, and I happened to be a Beatle. So it went into that, you
JOHN: "And it was his responsibility, or his paper's
responsibility and his TV station."
PAUL: "That's the thing - He immediately said 'Oh, it's this man's
responsibility. He's just saying all the kids should take LSD.' And I
didn't, you know. I just said, 'Yes I've taken it. Okay I own up,' you
Q: "Do you think the press distorts a great deal of what you
PAUL & JOHN: Yes!"
JOHN: "I don't think there's anywhere, any truth coming over
about what's happening at all."
Q: "Generally, all the way across the board?"
JOHN: "There is no truth coming out, at all. The only true thing
about newspapers is the name of the newpaper. And I'm not saying that
they are intentionally evil or anything, it's just they can't control
it. And the system won't allow truth to come out."
JOHN: "So there's something wrong with the system."
PAUL: "You know I mean, this - It's a pretty sort of ordinary
interview. It's pretty dull, you know. Except for one or two little
things, which will have been headlines."
Q: "Of course, when someone watches television, they see it."
JOHN: "Television is a bit better, but it's still under the
influence of the system that doesn't really allow truth to come out."
Q: "Well, now you're saying what you think and people are seeing
what you say."
JOHN: "Just for this moment, maybe. If we are saying the truth as
we know it. but in general, I mean... Are you saying that the truth is
coming out all the time? I don't know. You think so? You try, yeah,
you try but you've still got a system which restricts and inhibits
people speaking their mind. I mean, we can speak our mind now about
these subjects. But there will be limits imposed. And Rules."
JOHN: "...which are to safeguard something or other. But
safeguarding it prevents... it has a side effect. And the
choice is, where to draw the line."
PAUL: "It's like, if you were to ask either of us a question that
the answer would be obscene..."
JOHN: "There's a censor."
PAUL: "There's a limit, you know, to where you could go."
JOHN: "We couldn't describe making love to somebody, because the
system doesn't allow that. You couldn't just describe it. That's where
the system's at."
Q: "One of the big controversies in your country had been
recently the whole question of racial integration and of cutting off
immigration, and of asking some of your non-whites to go back home
again. You've been asked about this, undoubtedly."
Q: 'Do you think this is the kind of government policy that you
want in your country?"
JOHN: "We sow what we reap, or whatever it is. And Britain is
paying for what it did to all those countries. And to say, 'Keep out,'
is just barking in the garden, you know. Because whatever is going to
happen will happen like that."
PAUL: "It was just some fella who said in a speech one day..."
JOHN: "He said what a lot of them thought."
Q: "And a lot of people in Liverpool, and other places you know
well, favor what he said, apparantly."
JOHN: "Because those people are all over the place. That's why
the governments are in power."
PAUL: "You know those people, they don't know a thing. They just
JOHN: "Because they're not told anything, as well."
PAUL: "It's people like this - They say "I'm white and he's
black.' Hate, hate, hate. They just hate him."
JOHN: "And he's not brought up any other way."
PAUL: "You know, they don't know anything else than that, so
they've got to agree with this fella who says "We've got a dangerous
JOHN: "And they vote him in, and he just makes them feel alright.
And he tells them that 'You're right! You know what's happening. You
put me in power' But what they don't know is that he knows a bit more
what's going on. That's why he's in power. But he's not going to tell
them what's happening because he wants to stay in power. Because if they
knew, they wouldn't have put him in power, somebody else would be."
PAUL: "But it's not as bad in England as it is here."
JOHN: "It probably is, but it's just a different..."
PAUL: "I don't think it is."
Q: "You're talking about racism?"
JOHN: "Well, it will be then."
PAUL: "I don't think it's as bad, just from what I've seen. It
might be. 'Cuz it's hidden more in England."
JOHN: "That might be worse."
PAUL: "That might be worse, yeah. But there's just not the
numbers going on."
JOHN: "Well, it's just that. England is THAT big, and America is
PAUL: (giggles, jokingly) "It's much worse in England, you
JOHN: (giggling) "Oh no, he was joking then."
Q: (laughing) "Really?!"
JOHN: "He came 'round the circle."
Q: "This business of color, and young people, and people who
follow you... This doesn't have any significance in the mind of many of
your young people?"
PAUL: "No, it's good. Most people don't... It seems to be older
people who really have got hang-ups."
JOHN: "Yes, and musicians and their vibrations don't usually
have this about what street you live on. I mean, they get that scene
sorted out as soon as they meet other musicians. Because it's the music
that counts. There's no common denominator for society like music or
whatever they're going for."
PAUL: "If someone can play guitar, it doesn't matter what colored
hands he uses."
JOHN: "But it also doesn't matter for the carpenter and the
bricklayer, and all that."
PAUL: "But I mean, everyone knows that anyway. There's only a
few... I don't know who these people are who..."
JOHN: (giggling) "They're the ones who vote for those people."
PAUL: (giggles) "You know, there's just some funny people
around who're messing it up."
JOHN: "Lots of them."
PAUL: "Let's find those people."
Q: "Of course, there's people who don't like the long hair..."
JOHN: "Well, we know those people are SICK! And we might all be
sick. But their manifestations of sickness are pretty horrible,
PAUL: "There was some thing in England where a kid went to the
barbers and his Uncle said 'Go and get your hair cut.' And so he went
and he just had a little bit off, 'cuz he had it quite long and he liked
it. And he came back with just a bit off - So his Uncle, his guardian,
got annoyed and dragged him back and had it all off. The kid just come
with a little crewcut, and he was really broken up about it. And the next
morning they found him on the railway lines. The kid has just sort of
laid down with his crewcut. *chop* You know, there's no need for that."
JOHN: "To make haircuts that important is insanity."
Q: "Some people probably say to you, 'Why don't you cut your hair
short? Are you just wearing it that way to be different?'"
PAUL: "No it's just, 'Why don't you wear yours long,' you
JOHN: "We know what we like in that respect. We please
ourselves. And what's it got to do with (pause) some man with one
JOHN: (giggling) "You know that man with one eye that's
always sitting 'round the back!"
JOHN: "...and asking ya why your hair is long!"
PAUL: (laughs) "Yeah, but all those things about hair and
color... You know, all those things that hang people up. There's no
need, 'cuz there's no worry. I mean, those are the least worrying
JOHN: "But they're the causes, aren't they!"
Q: "What about the Queen and royalty in Britain? Is that a
JOHN: "It's not a hang up, but I mean - Imagine being brought
up like that for two-thousand years. You must be pretty freaky. And
they must have a hard time trying to be human beings. I don't know if
any of them will ever make it, 'cuz I don't know much about them.
But, you feel sorry for people like that. 'Cuz it's like us, only
worse! And whether they know what's going on or not is another
PAUL: "They've probably got their own thing, you know, inside
JOHN: "That is a very strange life, isn't it. I mean, that's
another manifestation of craziness."
PAUL: "You don't really TALK to her 'cuz she's the Queen. It's
like you don't really TALK to President Johnson ever. You just sort
of shake hands and APPEAR to talk to him."
JOHN: "And if they BELIEVE that they're royal, that's the
joke. You know, if they believe it..."
PAUL: "It's crazy."
JOHN: "...well they can carry on, you know. Because it's just
very strange to think that you are royal."
PAUL: "They're probably just great and human and have just
got their own scene going, you know."
JOHN: "One or two of them, maybe... (giggles) over
PAUL: "And it's just a very difficult job."
Q: "Do you think it all should end?"
JOHN: "Well, I dont know about that. But it's very costly."
JOHN: "It's priorities really, isn't it."
Q: "It's been said that you have such a tremendous amount of
influence. You said yourself in that very controversial remark one
time that you were more popular than Jesus, and you had to correct
the interpretation of that."
PAUL: "'The Queen is freaky' isn't a bad one."
Q: "Yeah, that's not too bad, either."
PAUL: (jokingly) "Another headline taken out of context yet
Q: "The United States has been plagued by the war in Vietnam,
and the world has been concerned about it. What are your views
about the war?"
JOHN: "It's another piece of insanity. It's all part of the
same insane scene that's going on. There's nothing
else for it... no reason, just insanity."
PAUL: "You know, whoever's right and whoever's wrong, it's
still... the thing that's going on there isn't a good thing."
Q: "Since you're not diplomats, let me ask you to meddle in
American politics as our concluding question. We have a lot of
PAUL & JOHN: "We don't know much about it."
Q: "You know the names..."
Q: "You've heard the names..."
JOHN: "Not really."
PAUL: (jokingly) Eisenhower?"
JOHN: "We hear the sort of Kennedy, and
we met a man called Green who sells plastic flowers to try and get
people to vote for him, which is a good sign of what he is, anyway.
But we don't know much others."
PAUL: (peace symbols) "Doves."
JOHN: "Doves and olives."
JOHN: "Anything about that, my choice would be a dove. But I mean,
it might be an insane dove. That's the risk you gotta take."
Q: "You're not ready to make a commitment?"
PAUL: "Yeah sure. Go on, ask some."
Q: "Would you pick a McCarthy, or a Kennedy?"
JOHN: "A dove."
Q: "Humphrey, Nixon or Rockefeller?"
JOHN: "A dove."
PAUL: "Yeah. You know, it's just too hard 'cuz we don't know
what they are, those people. We see all their pictures in the paper,
but we don't know really what they're doing. Do you?"
Q: "What about Harold Wilson?" (Merseyside member of Parliament
and then-current Prime Minister)
JOHN: "Yes! What's HE doing?!"
JOHN: "I mean, what are they all doing? That's the point."
Q: "Let me just ask this one final question. What do you do
when you talk about the establishment, and you try to put something
in it's place... when you're not satisfied with..."
JOHN: "We're all part of it as well. I mean, the establishment
is abstract and all that bit. We're all part of it. So it's just
to change it anyway you can, if you think you can. That's all you
Q: "Gentlemen, Thank you very much."
PAUL: "Thank you."
Source: Transcribed by www.beatlesinterviews.org from audio copy of TV interview