Knowing for sure what Beatles songs John Lennon liked or not is a surprisingly difficult minefield to manoeuvre through. Unlike his more optimistic writing partner Paul McCartney, who has relatively few bad things to say about any Beatles songs, Lennon has expressed his dissatisfaction with quite a few of the band’s recordings.
When Lennon did like a song, he rarely made a big deal about it. It’s probably safe to say that Lennon was his own worst critic, and if the opportunity came up for him to take issue with something, he would generally take that opportunity. Especially near the end of his life, when The Beatles were an entity firmly rooted in the past, Lennon could talk smack about any song that he liked.
When it came to his favourites, though, Lennon could alternate between gushing and measured praise. Some of those tracks are unexpected: non-singles, deep cuts, and hidden gems that Lennon was proud of. One song that falls into this category would be ‘I’m So Tired’, the laconic song situated on the second side of The Beatles, better known as The White Album.
“‘I’m So Tired’ was me, in India again,” Lennon told David Sheff in 1980. “I couldn’t sleep, I’m meditating all day and couldn’t sleep at night. The story is that. One of my favourite tracks. I just like the sound of it, and I sing it well.”
‘I’m So Tired’ was one of the few songs recorded during the White Album sessions that featured all four Beatles playing together at the same time. This period of the band’s career was marked by tension, especially when Paul McCartney would record multiple instrumental parts himself rather than work with his bandmates, but everyone in the band plays their traditional instruments on ‘I’m So Tired’.
‘I’m So Tired’ is very much John’s comment to the world, and it had that very special line, “And curse Sir Walter Raleigh, he was such a stupid get”. Speak later, Paul McCartney told Barry Miles in the book Many Years From Now: “That’s a classic line and it’s so John that there’s no doubt that he wrote it,” he said. “I think it’s 100 per cent John. Being tired was one of his themes; he wrote ‘I’m Only Sleeping’. I think we were all pretty tired but he chose to write about it.”
Only a few months later, Paul McCartney would sing a brief rendition of the track during the Get Back sessions. In the docuseries The Beatles: Get Back, the detour is used to underscore just how exhausted and inspired the band are, which isn’t surprising when you consider that they released a double album only about a month prior to the start of the sessions for their next record.
Check out ‘I’m So Tired’ down below.