The Beatles were my favorite group, and John Lennon was my favorite Beatle. As I stated on Ringo’s 70th, I decided I would list my 10 favorite songs of each Beatle on his 70th birthday, or what would be his 70th. Here’s my JL list, with YouTube links throughout.
- Crippled Inside – Frankly, I have lots of #10 choices, but this one jumped out at me this month playing all my Lennon CDs. Maybe it’s because of the juxtaposition between the title and the jaunty melody.
- Mind Games – “Love IS the answer.”
- Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – I had a girlfriend who thought this was the silliest Christmas song ever. (Had she heard Macca’s Wonderful Christmastime?) But I’m very fond, though I tended to cry when I heard it in December 1980. “War is over if you want it.” Idealist? Naive? Don’t care.
- Cold Turkey – with its blistering guitar line, it FELT like drug withdrawal.
- Love – very simple, some say simplistic, song.
- Gimme Some Truth – I like this so much that I tend to sing harmony vocals, mostly a third above the melody, in the “No short-haired, yellow-bellied son of Tricky Dicky” section. Those particular lyrics always amused me.
- Nobody Told Me – I wasn’t really paying attention. When Double Fantasy came out in 1980, I thought that was going to be it for John’s musical output. Then Milk and Honey came out posthumously in 1983, and I felt happy. And I can relate: “Nobody told me there’d be days like these.”
- How Do You Sleep? – from the generally mellow Imagine album, it is a really nasty song directed as his friend and former writing partner. Long before the smackdowns rappers were doing on records, John was dissing Paul, and doing it so well! Love the strings; I even forgive the rhyme of Yesterday and Another Day, since it namechecks a couple of Macca songs. What did it mean that George appeared on the track?
- (Just Like) Starting Over – the first single from Double Fantasy in 1980, I was so glad to hear John having fun after his five-year self-imposed musical exile. Of course, after he died, the irony of this tune became quite unbearable for a while. Now I think of it fondly, though the other, posthumous singles from this album (Watching the Wheels and Woman, et al) I just never listened to enough to really appreciate.
- Instant Karma – always thought it was just the perfect single, from the first two notes, followed by the drum fill. In fact, the little drum solos through I rather like as well. Feels like a follow-up of sorts to the Beatles’ Ballad of John and Yoko.
You’ll note that Imagine did not make the list. I’m afraid that it suffers in my heart from massive overplaying, not just his version but many others, from the 9/11 tribute album to the Glee soundtrack. I’ve just ODed on it, though I always liked the piano part before the vocals come up.
Oh, and happy 35th birthday to John’s son, Sean, who I saw perform a couple years ago.
Picture courtesy of Google
LENNONYC – Preview Excerpt
Watch a clip from the AMERICAN MASTERS: LENNONYC, a new film that takes an intimate look at the time Lennon, Yoko Ono and their son, Sean, spent living in New York City during the 1970s. The film premieres nationally Monday, November 22 at 9pm on PBS.
Salon review: Sundance: John Lennon, angry young man; British hit “Nowhere Boy” delivers a compelling family melodrama about the future Beatle’s Liverpool teen years
What if the Beatles were on Motown Records?: an imaginative fiction.
Julian and Sean Lennon Come Together; Having Grown Up Separately in the Shadow of a Beatle, the Half-Brothers Discuss Their Careers and Their Close Bond (CBS Sunday Morning)
John Lennon: Working Class Mythmaker. I really like this piece. Interestingly, it has a clip about the Beatles and Jesus controversy; the subsequent clip noted the influence of the Ku Klux Klan in the protests.