My Favourite John Lennon Solo Songs

John in 1971.

John in 1971.

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!

1. ‘God’

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.

2. ‘Isolation’

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 🙂

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All Things Must Pass…

Rest in peace, George.

Rest in peace, Georgie.

In Adelaide, it is currently the 29th of November, 2014. The 13th anniversary of George Harrison’s death. There is only one Beatle I haven’t done a ‘Happy Birthday’ post for, and I’m sad that that I have to write an ‘anniversary of death’ post about this particular Beatle beforehand. I’m currently listening to Living In The Material World/All Things Must Pass (I might listen to my Cloud Nine vinyl later) and wearing my Yellow Submarine t-shirt in his memory.

I realise I haven’t done a post on George within this blog yet. In fact, I don’t think I’ve really written about George since June. Rather stupid of me, ‘cos he is my second-favourite Beatle. But anyway, I shall make up for such crimes over the school holidays…

George was the last Beatle I found out about, in around March 2013. I remember a friend (who actually introduced me to The Beatles) coming to school one day and telling me that she’d discovered The Beatles wrote all their own songs, her example being ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ being credited to a ‘George Harrison’. Ah, I thought. The name of the elusive fourth Beatle. And ever since that rainy Autumn day nearly two years ago, I’ve never forgotten that name. For a few months, George was my least favourite Beatle. I don’t know why (nobody told you / how to unfold your love…) — my theory is that I placed him fourth purely because I knew next to nothing about him. But then — about a year ago (December 2013, if my memory serves correct) — George Harrison: Living In The Material World was played on Australian TV. I know for a fact that quite a few George fans have come out of watching that wonderful film, and I am among them. I became so interested with George and his music, and rightfully so. (Though I did love ‘What Is Life’ beforehand.) I can only say that I’ve listened to two of his solo albums in full (plus part of a third), but all of his songs that I’ve heard — Beatles (I’ve obviously heard all of those!) or otherwise — are absolutely impeccable. A truly underrated songwriter, I must say… (Yay! ‘Wah Wah’ — my favourite George song — is playing!).

Last year, I found out what day George died on the, well, day. I remember being quite sad, but George didn’t really mean that much to me at that point. I would have known under one-hundred Beatles songs (I now know over 250 Beatles songs…), and this was pre-Living In The Material World. I was slightly sad this morning, but now I am focusing on remembering George. As my mum said precisely a year ago, ‘Knowing what sort of person he was, George wouldn’t have wanted you to be sad.’ And whilst George’s death is very, very sad (he died far too young), it wouldn’t have been a surprise. By the time he passed on, the cancer had spread to his brain and he was ready to die. His death wasn’t as unexpected as John’s. From what I have read/watched, I think George was ready.

George (and John) inspired me to pick up guitar, earlier this year. And wow, how I thank them! Playing guitar is one of the few factors that completely changed my life in the past couple of years (The Beatles being another), and through it, not only have I come a long way in the music world, I’ve also found a heap of other good music. I can now play the large majority of my favourite songs, and I’m now dabbling in the world of songwriting. In fact, my two guitars are called John and George. And so I thank the two namesakes for inspiring me to try my hand at playing guitar!

Talking of guitar, George really was amazing at the instrument. When I listen to the licks on his solo stuff, they’re not just licks, or riffs. They swirl around the listener’s brain, like a butterfly that has been freed into an open field. They are, quite literally (in my mind), swirls. I count George as one of those iconic guitarists that you can pick from their playing within a few seconds. He really knew how to make his guitar ‘speak’. I also think he was a fabulous musician in general — he played everything from a Moog to violin, showing his versatility. Here are some of my favourite George moments (though I’m going to do a post on my favourite George songs at a later date):

‘Cloud Nine’ is a really groovy song. The guitar is awesome. George sings it wonderfully.

‘Long, Long, Long’ — George’s acoustic work in this song is stellar. The song is stellar. It sits right after a stellar song, as the last track of a stellar side of a stellar double album. (And I’m not being sarcastic. Serious.)

The obligatory ‘My Sweet Lord’! The solo in this is subject to the swirling effect I was discussing above. Beautiful.

(There are so many other George moments I love as well, others off the top of my head including ‘I Dig Love’, the two versions of ‘Isn’t It a Pity’ and ‘Art Of Dying’ — the latter rather appropriate for today, sadly.)

George also seemed like a genuinely nice person. Quite selfless, I think. There are so many stories about him being a really lovely person, ranging from the relatively well-known tale of him mortgaging Friar Park so he could create Handmade Films to fund Life of Brian (thank the not-Messiah (‘He’s not the Messiah! He’s a very naughty boy!) for that!), to him inviting fans to his house to meet him. And whilst he wasn’t perfect, who is?

And I really have only just started listening to the lyrics in his songs (stupid me), and they’re beautiful. I’m currently listening to ‘Beware Of Darkness’, and wow… His words — whether they be about God, or love, or the loss of friendship, or anything in particular — they really talk to those who care to listen. No wonder he is my second-favourite Beatle!

And one final thing: there’s a wonderful George quote that really resonates with me (well, a lot of his quotes resonate with me, but anyway), in particular. I posted it in ‘Words Are Flowing Out’, but here it is, anyway: “It’s nothing to do with how many years old you are, or how big your body is. It’s down to what your greater consciousness is, and if you can live in harmony with what’s going on in creation.” Something happened earlier this year (a story for later) that kind of threw me in at the deep end, and all of sudden made me feel very young. I had never been ‘the youngest’ before. And this quote helped me realise that age doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things. Although I connect with John the most, I feel a special kind of connection with George as well. He reminds me of, well, me a bit. George continuously inspires me, and whilst I’m not a religious person, his principles were very, very sensible. Thank you, George.

But anyway, rest in peace, Georgie. Whether it be the Dylanesque ‘Apple Scruffs’, or the swirling paisley (yep, my term) feel of ‘My Sweet Lord’, the slides on ‘I Dig Love’, or the heavy riffing on ‘Wah Wah’ and ‘What Is Life’, your music really was something special. You were something special. There is so much I could say about you, but I shall cover that another day. We love you and miss you like mad. But as you once said, all things must pass. Wherever you are, I hope you have a beautiful day. Say hello to John for us. tangerinetrees99

image

george with a border collie

george with a tambourine on his head

beautiful picture

‘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! 🙂