All the John Lennon References in George Harrison’s ‘All Those Years Ago’

George Harrison‘s “All Those Years Ago” is one of the most famous John Lennon tribute songs. Some of the references to John’s music in “All Those Years Ago” are pretty straightforward. On the other hand, some of the callbacks to John’s life are a little more ambiguous.

George Harrison’s ‘All Those Years Ago’ says that John Lennon sparked controversy
“All Those Years Ago” quotes the title of one of the most famous songs John Lennon ever wrote: “All You Need Is Love.” In addition, George praises John’s imagination. This is a clear throwback to John’s “Imagine.”

The tune also says John provoked controversy. This could refer to any number of things in John’s life. For example, his comment that The Beatles were “more popular than Jesus” inspired outrage in the United States. In addition, many fans felt “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was about LSD. There’s also a line in “All Those Years Ago” about a bad dream, which could allude to John’s solo hit “#9 Dream.”

Strikingly, George notes that John was considered weird during his lifetime. Of all The Beatles, John was considered the most avant-garde, as he gave the world “Revolution 9” and Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins.

George Harrison’s song has a much different view of God than John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’
Notably, “All Those Years Ago” also castigates the world for supposedly forgetting about God. John portrayed a world without religion in “Imagine.” He also wrote a song called “God” that attacked the concept of God in general as well as specific Gods like Jesus and the Buddha.

The lines about God in “All Those Years Ago” are confusing. Are they just lines about the state of religion in the world? Or are they slights against John’s view of religion? It’s up to listeners to decide.

How ‘All Those Years Ago’ performed in the United States and the United Kingdom
“All Those Years Ago” became one of George’s biggest hits as a solo artist. The tune peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for 16 weeks. George included “All Those Years Ago” on his album Somewhere in England. That record reached No. 11 on the Billboard 200 and lasted on the chart for 13 weeks.

According to The Official Charts Company, “All Those Years Ago” was a more modest hit in the United Kingdom. There, the tune hit No. 13 and lasted on the chart for seven weeks. Meanwhile, Somewhere in England reached No. 13 and remained on the chart for four weeks. While the track was a big hit in the 1980s, it is largely ignored by classic rock radio. “All Those Years Ago” was a hit song and its lyrics have a lot of layers.

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