John Lennon Explained the Meaning of His Song ‘Instant Karma!’

John Lennon related “Instant Karma!” to his marriage to Yoko Ono. The tune appeared on an album with a bizarre name.

While it doesn’t get too much attention today, John Lennon‘s “Instant Karma!” has some of the most interesting lyrics of the “Imagine” singer‘s career. John explained his feelings about karma as a concept. He also related “Instant Karma!” to a rough patch in his marriage to Yoko Ono. “Instant Karma!” became a big hit in the United States and the United Kingdom, and it appeared on an album with a bizarre name.

John Lennon’s ‘Instant Karma!’ was taking a ‘cosmic’ concept and bringing it down to earth

The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono features an interview from 1980. In it, John discussed his feelings on a certain metaphysical concept. “It’s like what they say about karma,” he said. “If you don’t get it right in this lifetime, you have to come back and go through it again.” John was equating karma with reincarnation.

“Well, those laws that are sort of cosmically talked about, accepted or not but talked about, apply down to the most minute detail of life, too,” he added. “It’s like ‘Instant Karma!,’ which is my way of saying it, right?”

John Lennon related the song to a time he almost gave up on his marriage

John felt the concept of karma applied to everyday life. “It’s not just some big cosmic thing, although it’s that as well, but it’s also the small things, like your life here and your relationship with the person you want to live with and be with,” he added.

“There are laws governing that relationship, too,” John opined. “You can either give up halfway up the hill and say, ‘I don’t want to climb the mountain, it’s too tough, I’m going to go back to the bottom and start again,’ or you can do it this time.” John related his comment to the time he recommitted himself to his relationship with Yoko after falling in love with May Pang and almost giving up on his marriage.

How ‘Instant Karma!’ performed in the United States and the United Kingdom

“Instant Karma!” became one of John’s biggest hits in the United States. There, it reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for 13 weeks. “Instant Karma!” was John’s highest-charting hit until he released his No. 1 hit “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night.” The former tune appeared on the album Shaved Fish. That compilation reached No. 12 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 32 weeks.

On the other hand, The Official Charts Company says “Instant Karma!” reached No. 5 in the United Kingdom. The tune lasted nine weeks on the chart. Shaved Fish, meanwhile, peaked at No. 8 and remained on the chart for 29 weeks.

Like other John songs, “Instant Karma!” inspired covers. Duran Duran, Tokio Hotel, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and Bleachers have all performed the track. Bleachers’ cover appeared on the soundtrack of the film Minions: The Rise of Gru.

“Instant Karma!” is an awesome song and it has a lot of lyrical layers.

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