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Beatles Interviews Database: Lennon & McCartney Interview: Newsfront 5/14/1968
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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,

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 it."

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 them."

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: "Yes."

PAUL: "Yeah."

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."

PAUL: "25."

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 get rich?"

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 gloves."

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, you know."

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 run..."

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 be good!"

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."

PAUL: "Yeah."

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 about that?"

JOHN: "We believe you should turn on and stay in. Change it, you know."

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: " 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 it up.'"

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 him."

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 do?"

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 goal."

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 thing?"

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 know."

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 know."

Q: "Do you think the press distorts a great deal of what you say?"

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."

PAUL: "Yeah."

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."

PAUL: "Mmmm."

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."

JOHN: "No."

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: "Sure."

PAUL: "Yeah."

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 hate."

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 situation here.'"

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 THAT big."

PAUL: (giggles, jokingly) "It's much worse in England, you know!"


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, really. Frightening."

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 know."

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 eye."


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 things around."

JOHN: "But they're the causes, aren't they!"

Q: "What about the Queen and royalty in Britain? Is that a hang up?"

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 subject."

PAUL: "They've probably got their own thing, you know, inside the castle."

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 five-million."

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."

PAUL: (laughs)

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."

JOHN: "Yeah."

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 again!"

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 candidates..."

PAUL & JOHN: "We don't know much about it."

Q: "You know the names..."

JOHN: "No."

Q: "You've heard the names..."

JOHN: "Not really."

PAUL: (jokingly) Eisenhower?"

Q: (laughs)

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 can do."

Q: "Gentlemen, Thank you very much."

JOHN: "Pleasure."

PAUL: "Thank you."

Source: Transcribed by from audio copy of TV interview

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