Ever since I first decided that The Beatles were my favourite band, John Lennon has always been the Beatle that has captivated me the most. From the very beginning, I decided he was my favourite, despite knowing nothing about him. But as time went on, it became clear that John would become my favourite Beatle, regardless. But enough about that. You can read about why John is my favourite Beatle here and here. Today, I’m going to write about my favourite songs of his solo career!
From the minute I first listened to the Imagine album on a plane in January 2014, I immediately became a fan of John’s solo work. I mean, I already knew a few of his tunes. And I liked them a lot. But ever since that day, I have possessed much admiration for his too-short work outside The Beatles. I love his raw, emotional style, and his political themes, and the absolutely beautiful and heart-wrenching lyrics that he wrote so often. So here are some of my favourite John solo tunes, in no particular order… Enjoy!
I just listened to this song for the first time in months. I had forgotten how beautiful it is! John’s voice is heartbreaking; Ringo’s complicated drum fills in the ‘I don’t believe…’ part of the song are very much underrated; the piano, whilst simplistic, is perfect. And the iconic lyrics speak for themselves. Though many people don’t like them, I find them beautiful and heart-wrenching. They are quintessential John.
It was only a few months ago that I began to give this great song its proper due. Naughty me. It’s wonderful! I particularly love the soaring middle eight, with John’s strong, slightly raspy vocals floating above everything, and the piano almost being hammered. And then John’s voice fades into a shimmery organ, and the piano becomes more gentle. And I love that, too.
3. ‘Well, Well, Well’
John’s guitar in this song is awesome! Crunchy and interesting notation, which occasionally clashes with the notes that John is singing, making this cool song sound even cooler! Ringo’s energetic drumming also contributes to the groovy feel of this song. And whilst John’s Yoko-style screaming at the end of the song can be a little confronting at first, I have found myself warming to them…
4. ‘Look At Me’
‘Look At Me’ couldn’t be more different from ‘Well, Well, Well’. The guitar is delicately finger-picked (or Travis-picked) in a similar to the guitar on ‘Dear Prudence’ and ‘Julia’. John’s vocals are so gentle and (in a way) sad, again much like ‘Julia’. The lyrics are beautifully vulnerable. A very delicate song. Though John is the stereotypical rocker in Beatles lore, this song shows that he was just as capable of tender ballads.
5. ‘Jealous Guy’
This was my absolute favourite John solo song for ages. And though I no longer have just one favourite, this song still makes my list. This song is beautiful. Much like ‘Look At Me’, John’s voice seems vulnerably exquisite. John’s piano is also gorgeous — a little more complex than some of his other parts… The Flux Fiddlers’ string overdubs are also the perfect icing on top of a delicious cake! And those lyrics… I wonder who they were for? (I also love Roxy Music’s cover of this song!)
6. ‘Gimme Some Truth’
I recently bought a first-ed. Imagine LP, and this song sounds truly amazing! The drums and guitars boom throughout the room, and John’s yelling vocals just scream! Wow… My favourite thing about this song, however, are the lyrics. In Australia, not many people are fond of our current government, and John’s chiding of “uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites” and “tight-lipped, condescending Mama’s little chauvinists” certainly rings true to many of us at the moment… And George’s solo flat-out rocks!
7. ‘Oh My Love’
What a beautiful song. George’s guitar riff in the beginning almost twinkles, and the piano duet between John and Nicky Hopkins is hypnotic. The lyrics, too, are simple, but convey what John wanted much clearer than more complex words would have. This song has been one of my favourites for ages, and is one I enjoy playing/singing on guitar a lot!
8. ‘Oh Yoko!’
Not one of John’s genius-riddled masterpieces, but a great song, all the same… The song is so upbeat, and it has such a happy air to it! John’s acoustic guitar drives the song along wonderfully, and I love the way he sings the song. And though the lyrics are definitely not one of his better examples, they sure do convey his love for Yoko! And don’t even get me started on that awesome harmonica solo… I can’t help but grin whenever I hear this song!
9. ‘Woman Is The Nigger of the World’
I’m going to be a bit controversial and put this song on my list. Because ever since I first heard it, I have loved it with a passion. Yoko — a fierce feminist — actually coined the phrase in 1969, and after showing John how badly females were being treated by the world, wrote a song with him about it. And you know what? I think John and Yoko had it right. Women were treated like slaves. There is still a gender pay gap. Women are still subject to discrimination, and it is now the 2010s. Go John and Yoko!
10. ‘#9 Dream’
This was one of the later John songs that I listened to, and I love it! Those strings are wonderfully slide-y, and John’s falsetto vocals are gorgeous. I love how the song has so many parts, and how it changes between these so swiftly. Apparently the chorus of ‘oh, bowakwa pousse pousse’ came to him in a dream, and we all know about his fascination with the number nine. And so how this gorgeous cut from Walls and Bridges came about!
And there we go! What’s your favourite John solo tune? Be sure to tell me in the comments!
I hope you’ve all had a great Easter break, and I will be back very soon with another post! But until then, good day sunshine 🙂