Singles they wanted to ban (17)

The Beatles’ track “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” was not censored by the BBC for referencing firearms, or for its phallic implications, but, John Lennon claimed, for being “about shooting up drugs”. Given that the phrase came from Charlie Brown “Happiness Is a Warm Puppy”, it would have been an endearingly innocent heroin reference.

I need a fix cause I’m going down 
Down to the abyss that I’ve left up town 
I need a fix cause I’m going down

But Lennon was talking about a real gun because he took the phrase from the cover of gun magazine called The American Rifleman that was in the studio at Abbey Road.

George Martin showed me the cover of a magazine that said ‘Happiness is a warm gun’. I thought it was a fantastic, insane thing to say. Warm gun means you’ve just shot something.

“Happiness Is a Warm Gun was another one which was banned on the radio -they said it was about shooting up drugs. But they were advertising guns and I thought it was crazy that I made a song out of it. It wasn’t about ‘H’ at all.”

John Lennon used to be irritated by the fact that fans and even the authorities gave or found meanings in his songs that weren’t there. He used to say that more often than not “his songs mean what they say”.