It Doesn’t Matter Who You Love or How You Love, But That You Love

John Lennon? Rod McKuen? Sally Jessy Raphael? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: There is a popular meme/quotation on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr:

It matters not who you love, where you love, why you love, when you love, or how you love, it matters only that you love.

This saying is attributed to the famous musician John Lennon of the Beatles, but I have not found it in his writings or song lyrics. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: QI has found no substantive evidence that John Lennon employed the above expression. Lennon died in 1980, and the words were linked to him by 1997.

Rod McKuen was a singer-songwriter and poet who achieved a remarkable peak of popularity in the 1960s and 1970s. He performed a large number of well-attended concerts, and he often delivered an emphatic and empathetic message to his fans at the end of a show. In April 1971 “The New York Times” profiled McKuen, and reported his message which was a concise version of the saying listed above. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

He has no solutions to offer, no panaceas to propound and makes no claims to cosmic insights. “I’m not preaching. I’m just talking about the things that move me.” Still, at the end of every public appearance recently, he’s been admonishing his listeners that “it doesn’t matter who you love or how you love, but that you love.”

This, apparently, is a message a great many people want to hear, whether it’s stated directly or merely implied in the way McKuen talks or sings or writes about the things that matter most to him.

QI conjectures that the statement attributed to Lennon was derived from the words of Rod McKuen via extension and elaboration.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading It Doesn’t Matter Who You Love or How You Love, But That You Love


  1. 1971 April 4, New York Times, Says Rod McKuen: ‘It Doesn’t Matter Who You Love or How You Love, But That You Love!’ by William Murray, Start Page SM32, Quote Page SM33, Column 3, New York. (ProQuest)