Nine Of My Favourite Lyrical Beatles Songs

I love these pictures!

I love these pictures!

In my opinion, The Beatles didn’t just write some of the world’s greatest tunes. They also wrote a lot of the greatest lyrics, too! Sometimes in music, lyrics are sadly underrated. But from being a Beatles fan, I’ve learnt that quality lyrics are just as important as the melody. From 1965 onward, their lyrics were particularly wonderful, proving that they were very talented when it came to writing. But even in the early days, there were still a lot of outstanding examples, too! So today, I thought I would pay homage to The Fab Four’s words of wisdom (pun intended), and list my favourite Beatles songs in the lyrical department. Let the list begin…

‘Across The Universe’

Widely recognised as one of The Beatles’ greatest lyrical songs, I can certainly see why. John’s beautiful metaphors and imagery could probably evoke exquisite scenes in the minds of even those who don’t think of themselves as imaginative. John uses words that just sound good together, too. An absolutely sublime piece of work that could definitely hold its own without the music!

FAVOURITE LINES: “Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes / They call me on and on across the universe.”

‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’

A song shrouded in controversy, the lyrics of ‘Lucy In The Sky’ create much psychedelic imagery. Inspired by Alice In Wonderland, a drawing by the young Julian Lennon (from which the song takes its name) and (probably) acid, the trippy lyrics create beautiful images of (among other things) newspaper taxis, tangerine trees and marmalade skies, tall cellophane flowers and a girl with kaleidoscope eyes…

FAVOURITE LINES: “Picture yourself in a boat on a river / With tangerine trees and marmalade skies / Somebody calls you, you  answer quite slowly / A girl with kaleidoscope eyes…”

‘Hey Bulldog’

This song’s lyrics are complete nonsense. And that is what makes them so good! Ever since I first heard the song, the different phrases have always captivated me. Whether it be words that probably don’t even exist, or the phrases that end each verse that kind of make sense or just a bunch of words piled in probably just ‘cos, the lyrics in this song are absolutely great!

FAVOURITE LINES: “Big man / Walking in the park / Wigwam / Frightened of the dark.”

‘In My Life’

The lyrics for ‘In My Life’ are beautiful! John  talks of his affection for those who have disappeared. But he has never loved anyone like the “muse” for this song. His love for people that went before pales in comparison. But he will never forget those who he has loved before…

FAVOURITE LINES: “And these memories lose their meaning / When I think of love as something new / Though I know I’ll never lose affection / For people and things that went before.”

‘Within You, Without You’

I reckon that this is George’s lyrical masterpiece. The words discuss how humans are only very small; that love could save the world; how the only person who can change themselves is them… Very deep.

FAVOURITE LINES: “When we find it, to try our best to hold it there with our love / With our love, we could save the world, if they only knew.”

‘Piggies’

I love this song! The piggies are of course the posh 1960s conservatives who loved looking down upon youth. George mocks them wonderfully  — he sings of how they always have “dirt to play around in”, and of how they didn’t care of what was going on around them…

FAVOURITE LINE: “Clutching forks and knives to eat their bacon!”

‘For No One’

This is my favourite song ever written by Paul. The lyrics are especially powerful. Lamenting the end of a relationship, Paul sings of how it all went wrong, of how he and his partner fought; of when his other half left him, and of how he will never forget her… Quite sad.

FAVOURITE LINES: “She wakes up, she makes up / She takes her time and doesn’t feel she has to hurry / She no longer needs you.”

‘Blackbird’

The lyrics of ‘Blackbird’ are quite simplistic, but are nonetheless symbolic. Paul encourages the bird to learn to fly, and to learn to see with its various differences. The blackbird has been waiting all its life for the upcoming moment to arise. It then flies into the dark, black night, presumably to face the moment… Supposedly about the Civil Rights Movement.

FAVOURITE LINES: “All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise.”

‘The End’

Ironically, this is the last song that all four Beatles recorded together. Paul wrote the song, and decided that he wanted to end the cycle of solos with a meaningful couplet. And so he wrote two of the most beautiful lines of The Fab Four’s catalogue! The couplet has an air of finality to it, and is a poignant listen near the end of a poignant album. As with ‘Within You Without You’, very deep…

FAVOURITE (AND ONLY!) LINES: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

So hard to chose just nine! Which Beatles song do you think has the best words? What is your favourite Beatles lyric? Be sure to tell me in the comments!

Hope you’re all good, and I will post again soon! ‘Till then, good day sunshine 🙂

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9 Of My Favourite John Lennon Rhythm Guitar Performances

The aforementioned Beatle with the aforementioned instrument.

The aforementioned Beatle with the aforementioned instrument.

Hello (goodbye) all! Happy February, happy British Invasion anniversary (for the 9th) and happy Rooftop Concert anniversary (for the 30th of last month)! And so it’s back to school for tangerinetrees99. To paraphrase John, “Another school year, a new one just begun.” But anyway…

Today I thought I’d do a post around my favourite Beatle. (I think everyone who reads this blog knows which Beatle I’m talking about.) And something which not everyone immediately associates with that particular Beatle; his rhythm guitar skills!

Despite what a few people think, John was an incredibly good rhythm guitarist. (Rhythm guitar, by the way, is the rhythmic strumming of guitar chords, as opposed to lead guitar, which is fingering melodies.) In fact, he was an utter rhythm guitar genius. (And those who play rhythm guitar know that it is a lot harder than it looks.) Changing between dirty, bluesy sloppiness (a la ‘Revolution’) and incredibly precise, near-impossible perfection (a la ‘All My Loving’), with some stabbing proto-punk and tender fingerpicking in between, John helped Ringo make The Beatles drive.  John had a quirky yet strong sense of rhythm and timing, and often relied on the offbeats (beats 2 and 4 in a bar of 4 beats) to create his rhythm part. He also had a penchant for barre chords, also contributing to that distinctive Lennon sound. A deceptively simple concept to follow, John truly was one of the few who innovated rhythm guitar for generations to come. Here are nine of my Lennon rhythm favourites, in no particular order:

9. ‘She’s A Woman’

Despite one missed chord change, John’s barred, offbeat stabs of his Rickenbacker 325 practically sums up his style in one song. As much as I love Paul’s “Little Richard” vocals, my very favourite thing about this song is the rhythm part. Thanks Johnny!

8. ‘All My Loving’

A well-known example of John’s guitar skills, this song is practically impossible to play. Those nay-sayers need to be directed to this song. Just check out those super-fast triplets! Proves that The Beatles were always an incredibly good band, even before Rubber Soul!

7. ‘I’m Looking Through You’

This song is too overlooked. Not only is it one of Paul’s best songs (in my opinion), John’s acoustic guitar is damn groovy! Who can’t dig all those complicated finger movements and rhythms? Definitely one of my favourite songs to play. (George’s groovy distorted lead is cool, too!)

6. ‘Revolution’

As soon as that iconic distorted groove kicks off, John’s guitar work in ‘Revolution’ only goes up. John himself said that he found himself a better guitarist after working on this song! As you probably know by now, I have a penchant for distorted, dirty guitar work, of which John is the master. I seriously dig the sort of bluesy patterns John is beating out on his Casino. (Side note: Nicky Hopkins played keyboard on this track. He is probably the only guy ever to have played on the records of the Beatles, solo-Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Easybeats, Who…)

5. ‘Yer Blues’

Okay. This song was definitely going to be on the list. Again, deceptively simple. Actually near impossible. John’s quirky sense of timing certainly contributes to the absolutely groovy feel of this song! His rhythm part alternates between incredibly precise “frills” at the end of each line and sloppy swinging. I find the distinction between lead and rhythm very fine on this song, which is cool! The Rolling Stones Rock’n’Roll Circus performance of this song (with Eric Clapton on lead, Mitch Mitchell on drums and Keith Richards on bass) shows the distinction a little more, for those interested (also includes John and Mick Jagger doing incredibly bad US accents and being jokey…):

 

4. ‘Across The Universe’

John’s acoustic work here is just gorgeous! Especially the intro. It definitely isn’t as complicated as some of the stuff above. But it’s really beautiful to listen to. And isn’t that what true music is all about?

3. ‘Julia’

John used the fingerpicking technique that Donovan taught him in India on this absolutely heartbreaking track. John uses a few really obscure chords on this song. He really did have an impeccable knowledge of creative harmonies… Totally beautiful. Whilst he was a master of the dirty, sloppy rhythm, his tender fingerpicking is too underrated.

2. ‘Revolution 1’ (‘Kinfauns’ Demo Tapes version)

I know I included the single version of this song above, but I just had to include the ‘Kinfauns’ (George’s house at the time) Demo Tapes version! That guitar work at the beginning is something I love very much. I think John is also playing barre chords (or maybe with a capo), playing true to the “Lennon sound”. The Beatles all sound like they are enjoying themselves very much, which contributes to the fun sound of the demo!

1. ‘I Found Out’ 

Yes, I know this is in fact a song off John’s first solo album. Not a Beatles song (though Ringo does play drums on it). But I had to include it somewhere! That rumbling, dirty distortion is not something you hear every day… Some people even count it as proto punk! A really rockin’ song.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: ‘I’m So Tired’, ‘Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except For Me and My Monkey’, ‘Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)’, pretty much anything on A Hard Day’s Night, ‘Help!’, ‘She Said, She Said’, ‘I’m Only Sleeping’, many other songs…

And there we go! Exposing another exceptionally talented side of John, for which he isn’t always known for… Have you got a favourite Lennon rhythm part? Please tell me in the comments!

Oh, and yesterday, I played my first gig! It was really wonderful! Once I put the videos somewhere, I will post about the experience here, so keep an eye out… But until then, good day sunshine! 🙂

‘Let It Be’/Imagine The Art Of John Lennon

I believe I've posted this before, but I just had to post it again 'cause it's so cute! Taken in the Austrian whilst filming 'Help!'...

I believe I’ve posted this before, but I just had to post it again ’cause it’s so cute! Taken in the Austrian whilst filming ‘Help!’…

I wasn’t too sure what to post today, but I have a couple of Beatle-y/Lennon-y happenings to write about, so here goes! Excuse me if this post is a little mish-mashy (not a word, tangerinetrees99 – not a word), but hope you can follow along!

MY BRAND-NEW LET IT BE DVD

As I’m sure I said in my last post, I ordered a Let It Be DVD, and (of course) the day after I posted, it arrived in the mail! It only had to come from Pasadena (a suburb of Adelaide), after all… I should probably note that the disc is a bootleg – as are all DVDs of Let It Be – so tangerinetrees99 was a very naughty girl 🙂 !! As you can see – as it is far from the official Apple Corps-released (well, not in the case of A Hard Day’s Night) reissues of the other Beatles films – it does not come in a fancy glossy-cardboard gatefold, a slip-cover and a booklet. It is only packaged in a very simple plastic case, with a cover which I assume is an amateur’s Photoshop job. It does have its own charm, though! I’ll post some pictures of it below, and then I’ll write about the film itself, which I watched yesterday.

The front cover

The front cover

The side

The side

The back - with a completely-unrelated picture (not that I care!), a list of all the scenes and some incorrect (both grammatically and historically) information on the film

The back – with a completely-unrelated picture (not that I care!), a list of all the scenes and some slightly incorrect (both grammatically and historically) information on the film

The disc

The disc

And as for the film, I actually really enjoyed it! Despite popular belief, The Beatles are not fighting all the time (there is the famous George-and-Paul argument, after which George leaves the band for a few weeks – the latter is obviously not shown, though…), and they do smile at various points in the film. It was amazing to hear them coming up with songs such as ‘Two Of Us’ (I especially dig that electric version), ‘Octopus’s Garden’ (George was very sweet in that scene!) and ‘Across The Universe’ (again, it sounds groovy on John’s slightly-overdrive Epiphone Casino!). Heather McCartney seemed like a very cute little girl, too. And hearing Paul discuss wanting to begin touring again was interesting – John’s reaction to such mentions, too (sure, he was high on heroin at the time, so probably not a fair judgement – but still…). And of course, the Rooftop Concert! I have seen it in full once before (Mum and I YouTubed it back in January for its – *pauses to do maths sum* – forty-fifth anniversary), but last night was the first time I saw it properly, without trying to read lyrics, or wondering what song was which (that afternoon eight months ago was the first time I heard ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’, ‘The One After 909’ and ‘Dig A Pony’). I actually heard Paul’s joking end to ‘Get Back’, for example (good one, Paul!)… So to end off, I really liked the film, and whilst probably no-one but hardcore Beatlemaniacs would find it enjoyable (they might enjoy it more than, erm, Magical Mystery Tour), I would certainly recommend it! This household is in order for another Beatles Movie Marathon, I think… 🙂

 

‘IMAGINE THE ART OF JOHN LENNON’ EXHIBITION

Also yesterday, I – along with my parents and my godfather – went to see the John Lennon art exhibit I also talked about last post! It was held at Hanrahan Studios – the former home/studio of prominent Australian artist Barbra Hanrahan, and Summer-house of her widowed partner, Jo Steele (a racing-car driver and sculptor) – which was a very nice venue, I must say. John’s works (or authorised prints of them) were displayed out in the large two-story studio, and there was a rather steady stream of people (whom I would assume are fellow Lennon Lovers) going through the exhibit. And my gosh, was John a talented artist! Most of the exhibition was made up of his gorgeous drawings – some very funny puns (his ‘Owls Hooting’ one, for example), some simple ink drawings of him and Yoko, some completely random yet still beautiful – however some were prints of his handwritten lyrics to certain Beatles/solo songs (i.e. ‘Drive My Car’ – found this interesting, as ‘DMC’ is a Paul song -, ‘Day Tripper’, ‘In My Life’, ‘Gimme Some Truth’, ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’, ‘Real Love’ and – of course – ‘Imagine’). Oh, and how could I forget – there was a genuinely-signed Beatles picture, too (for $25, 000, mind you)! As you can probably guess, the prints were very expensive, and most of which were somewhat over $1000. However, there were a few unframed prints of his handwritten lyrics to some Milk and Honey songs sitting on the floor, so we brought home a gorgeous print of the lyrics to ‘I’m Stepping Out’! Here is a picture of it below, and here is their website (which I think I posted before) on which you can look at some of the pictures (it won’t let me save images off it, so I can’t put them directly on here).

Here is our print - it will be going in our living room, once the house has been painted. Too expensive to sit on the floor of my bedroom!

Here is our print – it will be going in our living room, once the house has been painted. Too expensive to sit on the floor of my bedroom!

 

So there we go – my post for the week (I will post more in school holidays, I promise)! I ‘spose I should pause ‘I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party’ (I’m listening to Beatles For Sale), and publish this. Have a fab day, and good day sunshine! 🙂