In January 1972 Lennon and Yoko Ono co-hosted five episodes of The Mike Douglas Show on US television. The guests included a number of political figures plus Lennon’s hero Chuck Berry. During the Berry episode Lennon made the statement “Only people can save the world,” while talking about the song ‘Imagine’.
By 1973 he had largely left the days of Comrade Lennon behind, but some elements remained in his songs. ‘Only People’ was apparently based on Ono’s reworking of the earlier phrase: “Only people can change the world.” The sentence appeared on the record’s inner sleeve, credited to her.
That was a failure as a song. It was a good lick, but I couldn’t ever get the words to make sense.
All We Are Saying, David Sheff
‘Only People’ was intended as an inspirational call for people to take charge, but its non-specific nature and plodding rhythm meant it lacked the anthemic qualities of songs like ‘Give Peace A Chance’ and ‘Power To The People’. Lennon himself sounds unconvinced, with phrases such as “Make no mistake its our future we’re making/Bake the cake and eat it too” betraying the aimlessness and lack of conviction which coloured much of his 1973 output.