Wednesday, 8 December 2010

JOHN LENNON 1940-1980

“Boy you’re going to carry that weight a long time….”

It’s been 30 years since John Lennon was assassinated on the doorstep of his adopted home in New York City, and for someone that has such an influence on me it’s hard to imagine (sorry) that I haven’t actually been alive in his lifetime.

Explaining to someone why John Lennon is such an enduring figure still today is easy on some levels (i.e. the music of a generation that possessed a timeless quality to it) but also I think it's the man himself that hold's the attention and universal love. By no means a perfect being or saint he spoke to the everyman and every woman all living their lives together, the up’s and down’s the good times and the bad. He used his fame and voice to speak for the people who weren’t heard. He also was the seed of a new generation that had come out of the post WW2 years. The generation before had lived through the blitz and just wanted some piece and quiet to raise a family and live their lives (and who could blame them) but Lennon’s generation were the “atom bomb” generation where the whole world could end any day now so what’s the point in sitting around and counting the pennies its time for rock and roll! Before Punk, before Metal, before The Prodigy there was John Winston Lennon and he’d do it all better than you 20 years before you’d even think to.

Celebrity grave robbers like Albert Goldman tried to tarnish the image with stories about violence, drugs and painting Lennon is as bad possible light as possible, although who ever made money saying good things about a celebrity?

I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that although I never met John Lennon face to face or had any contact with him on any level I felt that I knew him through his songs and interviews because he didn’t hold back or sugar coat anything (unlike today’s pop stars that demand a copy of the list of questions by a publicist that will scrutinize every question and prepare ready made answers) you could ask John anything and you’d get a honest response which sometimes could be beautiful, angry, funny or cruel depending on the subject, day or mood of him at the time. Interviews concerning his former “fiancé” Paul McCartney have gone from “the only thing you did was yesterday“and “The sound you make is muzak to my ears” to later on “We are like brothers (McCartney), I’d do anything for him and I’m sure it’s the other way around too”.

Quotes and interviews followed Lennon about his life but at the time of saying any of them he 100% believed it and that is why people loved him, his heart was stapled to his sleeve at all times, it was sincere. He did make innocent and sometimes “angry sixth-former” comments too that sounded stupid and mis-guided by the time they hit the press but although bandwagons were jumped on regularly, they were usually jumped off a month later, everything from primal scream therapy to macrobiotic food, tarot cards, David Peel and left wing “smash the state” revolution on the streets politics, even a cheque that he had signed for a charity made it’s way to the IRA (and then later to the newspapers surprisingly) all happened with his good intentions behind them, only to have to apologize to the various complainers down the line ready with a microphone shoved in his face. Influential people don’t get much higher up the pecking order than Lennon at that time, Richard Nixon has been taped while talking to an aid mentioning “Lennon, he could be a problem, he is the type of person that could sway an election” and ordered phone taps and cars to follow him. Can you imagine that happening to Justin Timberlake?

The music in The Beatles from which he was 1 quarter and half of the greatest pop music song writing partnership of the 20th century is without argument and his solo output although short (only 10 years, 5 of which were spent at home looking after his second child Sean and not releasing anything) So with only a possible space of 5 years he released the songs he is most remembered for from this solo period of his life, still an achievement in a world where pop stars take 4 year breaks between releases and tours. Songs like “Imagine” and “Jealous Guy” are already the new standards of today and the former being lifted to an almost spiritual and political anthem which amazingly I never get bored of hearing even after the millionth run through. Not everything he recorded was 5 stars gold, there were some patchy songs here and there but the good outweighed the bad and as only 1 quarter of the greatest band in history he was never going to be able to carry the entire load by himself. Recently his back catalogue his been re-mastered and loaded onto “Spotify” so if you have a free hour dig out these solo year’s gems and turn of your mind, relax and float downstream with him.

01) Instant Karma (We All Shine On)*
02) Gimme Some Truth*
03) God*
04) Mother*
05) Woman
06) Out The Blue
07) Jealous Guy*
08) Oh Yoko!*
09) Aisumasen (I’m Sorry)
10) Cold Turkey

*=produced by Phil Spector (just for your information..haha, FREE PHIL!)

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