June 1, 1969: "Give Peace a Chance," the John Lennon and Yoko Ono "Bed-in" chant

Video Link, from ImaginePeace.com. More about the event on June 1, 1969, on Wikipedia (via Yoko Ono/Imagine Peace).


  1. Damn, that was an eventful year. Fifty days later we walked on the moon. And four and a half months after that, I was born… a couple days after Altamont. When the magic year was effectively over. :^(

  2. Crikey. The day before I was born!

    Did that peace thing every work? I suspect it’s never had a proper chance

  3. John Lennon was a great human being, but check this out!

    “In the future nations will fight each other thousands of miles apart. No soldier will see his enemy. In fact future war will not be conducted by men directly but by the forces which if let loose may well destroy civilization completely. The appalling prospect of a war between nations at a distance of thousands of miles, with weapons so destructive and demoralizing that the world could not endure them. That is why there must be no more war.” -Nikola Tesla 1919

  4. “a moral equivalent to war,”

    It was Paul McCartney who first met Bertrand Russell.

  5. Ever since he was killed, the world have gone down hill.

    The world could really use more Lennon…

    1. And you’re using the internet, a system which allows anyone with access to a computer to get information, share thoughts and stay in touch, to say that.

      I think I’ve spotted a flaw in your argument.

      1. What flaw exactly? The problem is not the speaking part, is the getting people to listen part. The net is like dropping megaphones into a schoolyard. The noise level that follows will be epic…

        Thing is tho, he was low stress high thought. Now we are all high stress, low thought. At least unless we are willing to disconnect ourselves from mass media and read up on things rather then try to keep up with the 1 min pr scare roller-coaster that is TV news delivery.

        Lennon had something, was somehow in tune and in the position to get people to listen. Since then it has become “feel free to fix the issue, just don’t touch my car/gun/candy”.

        1. “the net is like dropping megaphones into a school yard. The noise that follows will be epic”.
          Nice image! Isn’t this what makes the internet so great though?…Now even the nerds, the poor kids, and the exchange students can join the cacophony, and hopefully the chaotic din will drown out the voice of potential Hitlers

        2. “The net is like dropping megaphones into a schoolyard” – and yet here we are talking. More comfortably than a crowded restaurant. If the net were not a potential force for good mid-east dictators wouldn’t be so keen on stifling it.

          I believe in many ways the world is improving and there is cause for hope (not that Lennon did anything to actually help).

  6. As Chief Wiggum would say, “All right, boys, set your nightsticks on ‘whomp'”.

  7. And yet, as a counterpoint to this, his 1970 solo record featured a song called God (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wv3ic6OOXns), with the lyrics:

    “The dream is over
    What can I say?
    The dream is over
    I was the Dreamweaver
    But now I’m reborn
    I was the Walrus
    But now I’m John
    And so dear friends
    You’ll just have to carry on
    The dream is over.”

    He was admitting that the ’60s idealism of peaceful revolution didn’t quite happen in most cases. Quite a change from this bed-in a year earlier. I think he realized that as great as his influence was on culture, he could not alone change society.

    One thing that pacifists don’t like to talk about much is that there’s no such thing as a successful non-violent revolution. Even the Indian liberation movement led by Gandhi was successful in part because of the battles the northerners waged against the British, and not due to the power of Gandhi’s non-violent movement alone. Would Lennon have thrown molotov cocktails in Tahrir Square in Egypt’s somewhat stalled revolution? Would he have taken up arms with the other freedom fighters against Gaddafi’s forces? What is the greater wrong, to kill a man who is slaughtering others, or to stand by in a posture of non-violence while your brothers and sisters are slaughtered? Gandhi erred on the side of an extreme level of non-violent protest, but he did also write, “I do believe that where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence.” Gandhi knew that most people didn’t have the courage to face the rifles in non-violent protest, and would rather see them protest violently against an oppressor than act like cowards.

    1. Not to mention “Taxman” – a Beatles era plea to a left-wing government to lower income tax.


      1. That was George Harrison complaining about having to pay a marginal tax rate of 95%

      2. My how times change. 2010 I was in the 25% tax bracket, but paid an effective rate of 4.7%. I feel poor and I know I don’t pay enough tax.

    2. my interpretation of those lyrics are that Lennon is speaking of the dream of the beatles as being over, not peace. on other words, he couldn’t live the fantasy of being a “fab” for the public anymore. i believe imagine came out in ’71 so he evidently reatained his ideals… just my two cents…

      1. Well, for sure he’s speaking about the Beatles with lyrics like “I don’t believe in kings / I don’t believe in Elvis / I don’t believe in Zimmerman [read: Dylan] / I don’t believe in Beatles / I just believe in me.” But he’s saying look, don’t believe in superheroes, god, whatever. Believe in yourself, find your own path, your own strength. He was a complicated dude. On one hand, I think he loved having a microphone to the world and be controversial, but on the other hand he was tired of the criticism, the backlash, and frustrated at people not getting his message. That was pretty evident in the single “The Ballad of John and Yoko” that he recorded in May of ’69 and released in the States three days after this bed-in, featuring lyrics like, “Christ, you know it ain’t easy, You know how hard it can be, The way things are going,
        They’re gonna crucify me.”

        I didn’t say that Lennon went back on his peace ideals in ‘God’, he just realized that a different path had to be taken. By the end of ’69, there was a sense that the flower power movement was over. That utopian dream was over. And he, and everyone else, had to find a different way to move forward with peace, positive change, everything. And it certainly wasn’t going to be with Lennon as some Gandhi figure. I think he realized that. “I was the Dreamweaver … but now I’m John.”

        He said more or less in that bed-in video, “We’ve got to make peace a product to be advertised, like Tide or Cheer. Pound it into the ears of suburbia until it’s something they want to buy.” But Lennon was not a product middle America wanted to buy at that point. Long-haired hippies in bed (surely on drugs!!) advocating lounging around all day making peace signs. Maybe Paul, but not John.

        And hey, is it wrong for him to say, “hey friends, this isn’t working”? It certainly was tough for the people who saw him as an almost religious figure, or the people who didn’t want to admit the utopian dream was over. But he was being intellectually honest, and I respect him as an artist and person for having the courage to tell it like it was.

  8. Isn’t it amazing that people still talk about this bed-in thing they did after 42 years?

  9. It’s the right message. Direct, straight, and good for everyone. You can call it naive to hope for a world of peace, but what’s the alternative? He was right about peace being best for everyone, but the prospect seems impossible (or scary?) for some people. Peace begins in yourself. When the power of love replaces the love of power, that’s when we’ll have peace.

  10. John Lennon was a great songwriter and in general a force for good. His interviews through the 1970s and up to his death demonstrate a sharp mind. But I don’t think we should look to him for coherent, logical political philosophy.

    Lennon lived contradictions that bordered on hypocrisy. See Elvis Costello’s observation, “Was it a millionaire who sang ‘Imagine no possessions’?” And was the man who admittedly beat his first wife (and more or less ignored his eldest son) in the best position to preach to the world about peace?

    I wish he was still with us. But I have an issue with the divinization of him that has taken over popular culture since December 1980. As McCartney correctly said – and not with malice – “He was no saint”.

    1. Assassination -> divinization (sic – better: deification)

      is as

      Martyrdom -> Sainthood

      Moral: People are still too “religious” in their thinking

      Mr Lennon pointed that out too.

      All people have faults, but some have their good points too, I guess.

    2. Lennon seemed to grasp the error of his ways, and was more present with his second family. I also think he embraced his first son before he was shot.

      That is the thing, people can change. Some do so, recognize the change and accept both their current self and their previous self. Others try to burn their previous self (like say a certain sci-fi author).

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