Did John Lennon Say Life Is What Happens When Your Busy Making Other Plans?

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Song: Beautiful Boy

Album: Double Fantasy

Artist: John Lennon

Writer: John Lennon

John Lennon definitely did say ‘life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. He said it in a song called Beautiful Boy from 1981. The question is whether he originated the saying, as is often claimed. Although Lennon is the originator of many famous quotes, he cannot be credited with this one.

Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) was released on John Lennon’s 1980 album Double Fantasy, which was a dual effort with his wife, Yoko Ono. The song was written for his son, Sean, his only child with Ono. In the song, Sean has had a nightmare and John is comforting him and this becomes John describing the great love he has for his son and how joyful Sean has made his life. The lyrics “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans” appears about two minutes into the song.

Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans

While Lennon is widely remembered for this quote, perhaps because Beautiful Boy is one of his most poignant and effecting songs, the saying has been around since at least the 1950s and has been attributed to various people such as Betty Talmadge, Thomas LaMance, Margarate Millar, William Gaddis, and Lilly Tomlin.

The earliest known appearance appears to have been in a 1957 edition of Reader’s Digest: “Life is what happens to use while we are making other plans.” It is attributed to Allen Saunders.

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