Working Class Hero: Wikis


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"Working Class Hero"
Song by John Lennon with the Plastic Ono Band

from the album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band

Released December 11, 1970
Recorded September 26 – October 9, 1970
Genre Rock
Length 3:48
Label Apple/EMI
Writer John Lennon
Producer John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Phil Spector
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band track listing
"I Found Out"
"Working Class Hero"

"Working Class Hero" is a song from John Lennon's first post-Beatles solo album, 1970's John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.


Track listing

  1. "Working Class Hero" – 4:24
  2. "Working Class Hero" (Radio Edit) – 4:24


The song is a take on the class split of the 1940s and 1950s, and of the 1960s in which he was famous. The song appears to tell the story of someone growing up in the working class of capitalism. According to Lennon in an interview with Jann S. Wenner of Rolling Stone magazine in December 1970, it is about working class individuals being processed into the middle classes, into the machine[1] Lennon stated (in the same interview) that he hoped that it was a warning to the people, a contemporary song for the revolution, for workers, thematically like Give Peace a Chance aimed to replace the older songs like We shall overcome.

What do you think of "Give Peace A Chance?"
As a record?

The record was beautiful.

Did you ever see Moratorium Day in Washington, D.C.?
That is what it is for, you know. I remember hearing them all sing it — I don't know whether it was on the radio or TV — it was a very big moment for me. That's what the song was about.

You see, I'm shy and aggressive so I have great hopes for what I do with my work and I also have great despair that it's all pointless and it's shit. You know, how can you beat Beethoven or Shakespeare or whatever? In me secret heart I wanted to write something that would take over "We Shall Overcome." I don't know why. The one they always sang, and I thought, "Why doesn't somebody write something for the people now, that's what my job and our job is."

I have the same kind of hope for "Working Class Hero." It's a different concept, but I feel it's a revolutionary song.

In what respect?
It's really just revolutionary. I think its concept is revolutionary, and I hope it's for workers and not for tarts and fags. I hope it's what "Give Peace A Chance" was about, but I don't know. On the other hand, it might just be ignored.

I think it's for the people like me who are working class — whatever, upper or lower — who are supposed to be processed into the middle classes, through the machinery, that's all. It's my experience, and I hope it's just a warning to people. I'm saying it's a revolutionary song; not the song itself but that it's a song for the revolution.

[Here we took a break, during which John and Allen Klein went out to discuss the possibility of a single. We began talking again, alone with Yoko, about that.]

The refrain of the song was "Working class hero is something to be".


The song features only Lennon and an acoustic guitar playing basic chords as his backing. The chord progression is very simple, and builds on A-minor and G-major, with a short detour to D-major in one of the lines in the chorus. Lennon's strumming technique includes a riff with a hammer-on pick of the E note on the D string and then a loose A string, which gives the song a beat and character.."[2].


In 1973,[3] U.S. Representative Harley Orrin Staggers heard the song–which features the line But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see–on WGTB and lodged a complaint with the FCC. The manager of the station, Ken Sleeman, faced a year in prison and a $10,000 fine, but defended his decision to play the song saying, "The People of Washington [D.C.] are sophisticated enough to accept the occasional four-letter word in context, and not become sexually aroused, offended, or upset." The charges were dropped.[4] Other U.S. radio stations, like Boston's WBCN, banned the song for its use of the word "fucking".[5] In Australia, the album was released with the expletive removed from the song, with the lyrics censored on the inner sleeve.[6]

Notable covers

"Working Class Hero"
Single by Green Day
from the album Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur
Released 1 May 2007
Format digital download
Genre Alternative rock
Length 4:25
Label Warner Bros./Amnesty International
Writer(s) John Lennon
Producer Green Day
Green Day singles chronology
"The Saints Are Coming"
(with U2)
"Working Class Hero"
"The Simpsons Theme"
Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur track listing
"Jealous Guy"
(Youssou N'Dour)
(12 of Disc 1)
"Working Class Hero"
(Green Day)
(1 of disc 2)
"Power to the People"
(Black Eyed Peas)
(2 of disc 2)

See also


  1. ^ S. Wenner, Jann (January 21, 1971). "John Lennon interview [streaming audio available"]. Rolling Stone Magazine (United States) (74). 
  2. ^ Lennon, John (1983). Lennon: The Solo Years. Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation. pp. 156. ISBN 0881882496. 
  3. ^ Raz, Guy (1999-01-29). "Radio Free Georgetown". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  4. ^ Blecha, Peter (2004). Taboo Tunes: A History of Banned Bands & Censored Songs. Backbeat Books. pp. 160–161. ISBN 0879307927. 
  5. ^ Schechter, Danny (1997). The More You Watch, the Less You Know: News Wars/Submerged Hopes/Media Adventures. Seven Stories Press. p. 106. ISBN 1888363800. 
  6. ^ Blaney, John (2005). John Lennon: Listen To This Book. Paper Jukebox. p. 59. ISBN 095445281X. 
  7. ^ Chart details at
  8. ^


External links


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