So Sgt. Pepper took you by surprise
You better see right through that mother's eye
Those freaks was right when they said you was dead
The one mistake you made was in your head

Oh, how do you sleep
Oh, how do you sleep at night

You live with straights who tell you, you was king
Jump when your momma tell you anything
The only thing you done was yesterday
And since you're gone you're just another day

Oh, how do you sleep
Oh, how do you sleep at night

Oh, how do you sleep
Oh, how do you sleep at night

A pretty face may last a year or two
But pretty soon they'll see what you can do
The sound you make is muzak to my ears
You must have learned something in all those years

Oh, how do you sleep
Oh, how do you sleep at night


Lyrics submitted by magicnudiesuit

How Do You Sleep? Lyrics as written by John Winston Lennon

Lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing

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How Do You Sleep? song meanings
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49 Comments

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  • +7
    General Comment

    i hate this song. it saddens me, because it captures the bitterness that the ex-beatles felt when they split up, and the (mostly temporary) hatred that they felt towards each other, whereas they had originally been the "fourheaded monster". this song is a thinly veiled attack by john, on paul. the reference to yesterday refers to pauls most famous song. the pretty face thing is rather sadly jealousy, concealed by a taunt, because paul was said to be the best looking beatle (although clearly George was) the dead thing is a reference to the rather brilliant rumour that paul was killed and replaced by a lookalike. jump when your momma tell you is a reference to linda, as paul made sacrifices in his career to be with the woman he loved, as did John, although he fails to see this. as i said this is a horrible song. i am inclined to idolise lennon, but i do find it amazing that he could be so petty, and so unkind to a man that had previously been like his brother. i guess it was just a reaction to the grief he must have felt at the ending of such a powerful relationship. at least they made it up in the end.

    lucyintheskyon June 06, 2002   Link
  • +5
    General Comment

    It's such a sad memento of the end of the dream of the Beatles, and the worldwide community that formed around them. John should have left his song "God" as the last word in coming of age and ending the Beatles, but this song came later. Sad, too, that Ringo and George were there for the session. What a great clash of styles and personalities they were, though. Both very self-centered, both preternaturally talented, but John was intemperate and aggressive, Paul was overly politic and passive-aggressive, it seems. That two such young men could end up in the same four-person band is simply amazing and forms the core of the late 20th century's most important cultural phenomenon.

    Backstageon April 10, 2005   Link
  • +5
    General Comment

    Some write here that they idolize John Lennon and this song is painful for them to hear. I think, if I understand his overall messages, that he would have said "Good -- stop idolizing me. I don't have the whole truth any more than any other person, or book, or ideology. All I have is my story, and I tell it in my music."

    The great and beautiful thing about JL is that he left us, through his art, the story of a human being searching for the truth. And that includes all sides of him -- the transcendent, the playful, the painful, the bitter.

    The breakup was terrifying and painful. What JL wrote here was not noble, or kind, but an honest record of his low point. I'd say that anyone who claims s/he can't identify with that, is not being terribly honest with him/herself.

    Bellweatheron August 19, 2009   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    I heard after time Lennon said he realised the song was about himself and not Paul. Very Freudian.

    mirkinon June 30, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    There are too many references to McCartney for this song not to be about Paul. When John said it was about himself, I think he meant that he shared the flaws he attributed to Paul. I don't think the reference to Sgt Pepper is to the album (why would the record have taken anyone by surprise?). It is probably a euphemism for a drug or a person they both knew as 'Sgt Pepper'. It is a difficult song to listen to but you get the feeling it is written more in exasperation and sadness than real hatred. Listen closely to McCartney's (wonderful) Ram album and this response makes sense. I am sure Lennon wished he'd never recorded this song, though.

    Toby1974on April 05, 2013   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    This song clearly talks about the faux Paul McCartney who replaced the real Paul after his death in 1966.

    kassyoulaion July 09, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    Does anyone else think the line, "The only thing you done was Yesterday." has a double meaning? I think it means the only thing Paul did was the song "Yesterday," but at the same time, he is saying that Paul's success is in the past, and he will end up being a has-been.

    wowthatsbadon December 22, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    It's sad that John felt the way that he expresses in this song. But does anyone have any thoughts on what he means in the first line?

    So Sgt. Pepper took you by surprise

    I don't know.

    erasmus11290on June 08, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I just learned of this song a couple of days ago, i mean, I have heard it, but i guess I really never read into it until a couple of days ago. Obviously this song is about Paul, but, the thing is, when I first heard this, I thought, wow, I cant believe he could write something so mean. But, after listening to it and thinking about it, you almost have to love the song. John has always wrote songs about what he felt passionatly about, be it war, peace, womens rights, etc. and that is what I, and I believe most, love about him. He didnt ignore his feelings on Paul cause they would be viewed as taboo (much like his views on peace) but wrote what he always did, how he felt. Its a powerful song that I think he regretted doing in hindsight, but he wrote what he felt at the time, and that made John great.

    Does this remind n e one else about the rap battles that go on today when people fight through songs. Is this the first one? I wonder

    SMUSER17001926on June 17, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    underoath_55: i think the "mother's eyes" is a reference to paul's She's Leaving Home on sgt. pepper, when her daughter left the house. (some twisted crazy thing: john's the daughter?) "pretty face" is probably a reference to Paul being the "cute beatle"

    personally, this song is quite depressing in some ways (seeing as it's just insults put to music), but I think it's kind of cute. because john must really have loved paul to get so ANGRY and write something like this. aww.

    classicrockgirlon April 24, 2006   Link

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