Here's Why John Lennon Actually Hated Songwriting

It's human nature to romanticize a particular talent or skill, particularly if you don't have it. For music fans, that skill is songwriting; how do musicians come up with that chord progression, those verses, that bridge that gets under one's skin and wraps around the heart? And that's even without lyrics! The sheer power of music alone can transport us to another plane. But when the artist brings in the lyrics that speak to something in someone and couples them with a voice that suits the words perfectly, well ... That can be something like a religious experience.

One such singer and songwriter was John Lennon, both with and without the Fab Four. Having written beloved songs such as "Don't Let Me Down," "Imagine," and "Dear Prudence," Lennon made it look pretty easy for him. Yet, in his last interview with Rolling Stone before being murdered on the front steps of his apartment just three days later, he was fairly transparent about hating the process of writing the songs that would become inextricably woven into the fabric of our lives.

"Almost every song I've ever written has been absolute torture."

As Lennon told the reporter in the aforementioned Rolling Stone interview, "What I realized when I read [several interviews he'd done in the past] was that I'm always complaining about how hard it is to write or how much I suffer when I'm writing — that almost every song I've ever written has been absolute torture."

As Lennon elaborates, it becomes clear that at least some of the time, he suffered from Imposter Syndrome (in the parlance of our times), in which even the most successful of artists fears deep down that they're a fraud who doesn't know what they're doing. He said (per Rolling Stone), "I always think there's nothing there, it's s***, it's no good, it's not coming out, this is garbage ... and even if it does come out, I think, 'What the hell is it anyway?'"

And he didn't candy-coat the process or give himself much credit even after a song proved that it resonated with people, and went on to success. Lennon said, "I just think, 'That was tough. Jesus, I was in a bad way then' [laughs] ... except for the 10 or so songs the gods give you and that come out of nowhere."

As most any artist of any sort can confirm, that feeling is common; that even one of the most significant songwriters of the twentieth century felt that way about his own work is mindblowing.