Happy 70th Birthday John Lennon: Working Class Hero

October 9th will mark John Lennon’s 70th Birthday. This post is about my favorite John Lennon song.

This video is of Green Day’s cover of the John Lennon song “Working Class Hero.” I think this song serves as a good reminder of the social outlook that goes along with the socialist political and economic program. It is this outlook that I so very much relate to. It is probably the reason that I am comfortable with the socialist label. While Lennon’s song “Imagine” addresses a  form of a social utopia, this song addresses socialist social theory, in particular the concepts of alienation and exploitation.

Green Day covered this song as part of a Save Darfur album that was put together by Amnesty International. The best part of the above clip is that this performance was at the American Idol charity show. Like so many charity events, little mention is made about the root causes of poverty and suffering. It is more about the advantaged feeling better about themselves. Green Day brought the issue to the table.

Lyrics to Working Class Hero :

[By John Lennon]

As soon as your born they make you feel small
By giving you no time instead of it all
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all
Working Class Hero is something to be
Working Class Hero is something to be

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you’re clever and despise a fool
Till you’re so f###### crazy you can’t follow their rules
Working Class Hero is something to be
Working Class Hero is something to be

When they’ve tortured and scared you for 20 odd years
Then they expect you to pick a career
When you can’t really function you’re so full of fear
Working Class Hero is something to be
Working Class Hero is something to be

Keep you doped with religon, sex and T.V.
And you think you’re so clever and classless and free
But you’re still f###### peasents as far as I can see
Working Class Hero is something to be
Working Class Hero is something to be

There’s room at the top I’m telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill
Working Class Hero is something to be

Yes, A Working Class Hero is something to be
If you want to be a hero well just follow me
If you want to be a hero well just follow me

Here is the original version:


What is your favorite Lennon song? What do you think of his post-Beatles work? Any thoughts about Lennon are welcome.

23 Replies to “Happy 70th Birthday John Lennon: Working Class Hero”

  1. Mother. You had me, but I never had you.

    One of my all-time favorites, esp. on the demo boot with John’s unprocessed voice. One of the best voices ever in rock and roll.

  2. Seeing as how no one else is commenting, I also hold a special place in my heart for “Yer Blues,” esp. the version sung by The Dirty Mac (John Lennon, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, and Mitch Mitchell) found on the film “The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus.” Yes, I’m a fan.

    My father was of the sky,
    My mother was of the earth,
    and I am of the universe,
    and you know what it’s worth.

    (From memory, may not be totally or even partially accurate.)

  3. “The Dirty Mac” only sang a single song; the one I mentioned. It’s worth listening to for many reasons; but I’m partial to Eric Clapton’s cardigan, uh, I mean, solo.

  4. I had to adjust my Lennon brand glasses to see this thread. Ahem. I am a big fan. Like, such a big fan that I have to temper my enthusiasm so it doesn’t look like I like him as much as I actually do.

    My favorite would probably be I Want You (She’s So Heavy).

  5. When John Lennon died, Frank Sinatra sang his “favorite Lennon & McCartney composition”, “Something in the Way She Moves.” So even more choices.

  6. I am such a huge John Lennon fan — it’s hard to pick a favorite song. I love his first two solo albums. I guess Isolation is one of my favorites. And Jealous Guy.

  7. djinn: George Harrison wrote ‘Something'(an adaptation from James Taylor, I think), so Frankie got that one wrong!

    My favourite Lennon song is ‘Revolution’. There are two versions, the following is my preferred choice:


    More than his songs though, is his wit. The man would leave any of today’s so-called alternative comedians standing. His comment at the Royal Variety Performance when the Beatles were fairly new on the scene, asking the people in the cheap seats to clap along, and those in the posh seats to rattle their jewelery, would still work today.

  8. I really like his post-Beatles work. We’re listening to the radio over the Internet here, and enjoying a whole series of his songs (including some interesting covers by others).

    This is one of the lighter ones, by I want to mention “Beautiful Boy.” I’ve always loved that one — I used to sing it to my sons as a lullaby when they were babies.

  9. I always feel sad for Lennon. He was a lost soul and hurt many people in his life. I am grateful for the Spirit World and opportunities to repent. I hope he takes advantage of that.

  10. I see, in retrospect, that it was not clear that I was attempting, poorly, to make a joke. Facepalm,

    I’m also very fond of “No reply,” my all time favorite stalking song.

    As to John’s character, he won’t win a “father of the year” award for being Julian’s dad, but he put all his star power behind trying to stop the stupid pointless war in Vietnam. Very impressive. I don’t remember any celebrity since doing anything nearly as courageous.

  11. BiV,

    I think that he understood his role as tragic poet. Something like that. I am not saying that he was content…nobody should really be content with the world around us.

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