Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Number 639 - John Lennon

Number 639

John Lennon

"I Found Out"

I had two heroes of Humanity that i looked up to when i was a young child/adult. Humans always have heroes that they can aspire to, emulate or even mimic. Its just natural human progression, that is, unless you thought Charles Manson was something Christ like. The heroes that i admired from a young age were of M*A*S*H, he, who taught me humour and how to be empathetic and the other was he, who taught me to acquire wisdom and intellect also with a bucket full of rebellion (coincidentally both were feminists).
With this, as only a man could do, was name one of his children Johnathon and the other son, well, his middle name is Alan. I won't mention that my dog's name was Lennon or my nickname in teenage years as Trapper. (Go figure). There are strong parallels with these two men that are still with me today. I miss J Lennon's voice and i regret never writing to Alan Alda to tell him how great as an influence he was, but hey, they are still with me regardless.
9.10.40 to 8.12.80
Out of all the Beatles, John Lennon had the most interesting -- and frustrating -- solo career. Lennon was capable of inspired, brutally honest confessional songwriting and melodic songcraft; he also had a tendency to rest on his laurels, churning out straight-ahead rock & roll without much care. But the extremes, both in his music and his life, were what made him fascinating. Where was content to be a rock star, Lennon dabbled in everything from revolutionary politics to the television talk-show circuit during the early '70s. After releasing a pair of acclaimed albums, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Imagine, in the early '70s, Lennon sunk into an infamous "lost weekend" where his musical output was decidedly uneven and his public behavior was often embarrassing. Halfway through the decade, he sobered up and retired from performing to become a house-husband and father. In 1980, he launched a comeback with his wife Yoko Ono, releasing the duet album Double Fantasy that fall. Just as his career was on an upswing, Lennon was tragically assassinated outside of his New York apartment building in December of 1980. He left behind an enormous legacy, not only as a musician, but as a writer, actor and activist.
For Beatles see Numbers 947, #894 & #587
About the album in 1970..........
The cliché about singer/songwriters is that they sing confessionals direct from their heart, but John Lennon exploded the myth behind that cliché, as well as many others, on his first official solo record, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. Inspired by his primal scream therapy with Dr. Walter Janov, Lennon created a harrowing set of unflinchingly personal songs, laying out all of his fears and angers for everyone to hear. It was a revolutionary record -- never before had a record been so explicitly introspective, and very few records made absolutely no concession to the audience's expectations, daring the listeners to meet all the artist's demands. Which isn't to say that the record is unlistenable. Lennon's songs range from tough rock & rollers to piano-based ballads and spare folk songs, and his melodies remain strong and memorable, which actually intensifies the pain and rage of the songs. Not much about Plastic Ono Band is hidden. Lennon presents everything on the surface, and the song titles -- "Mother," "I Found Out," "Working Class Hero," "Isolation," "God," "My Mummy's Dead" -- illustrate what each song is about, and charts his loss of faith in his parents, country, friends, fans, and idols. It's an unflinching document of bare-bones despair and pain, but for all its nihilism, it is ultimately life-affirming; it is unique not only in Lennon's catalog, but in all of popular music. Few albums are ever as harrowing, difficult, and rewarding as John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
What did Rolling Stone think about John Lennon?
Both , who coproduced it, and , who played bass on it, say they believe 's "Plastic Ono Band" is "timeless." Indeed, it sounds as if it could have been released yesterday. The instrumentation - Lennon on guitar and piano, Voorman on bass, Ringo Starr on drums - is stripped to the bone. In resonantly simple language - language that deviates sharply from what Lennon dismissed at the time as the "self-conscious poetry" of songs like "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" - he takes on basic issues: death, isolation, anger, class, fear. He attacks what he saw as the illusions of the Sixties, bidding goodbye to that decade with the unsentimental announcement "The dream is over." And when he declares, "Now I'm reborn," in "God" it couldn't be any plainer: the Beatles are dead, and and are standing alone.
The simplicity of the arrangements on "Plastic Ono Band" only increases the power of Lennon's emotion. The anger Lennon had stored up for years - "so much pain/I could never show it," is how he puts it on "'s" chilling coda, "My Mummy's Dead" - burst forth in his sessions with Janov. This passage from Lennon's interview with shortly after the album's release demonstrates how extreme the passions were that he was tapping at the time: "One has to completely humiliate oneself to be what the Beatles were, and that's what I resent. I mean I did it, I didn't know, I didn't foresee; it just happened bit by bit, gradually, until this complete craziness is surrounding you and you're doing exactly what you don't want to do with people you can't stand, the people you hated when you were ten.
"And that's what I'm saying on this album - I remember what it's all about now, you fuckers - fuck you! That's what I'm saying, you don't get me twice
This was tough, uncut stuff, and it didn't send fans of Beatle John scurrying to the record store. "People underestimated it," says Voormann, "and they expected something else. But John couldn't care less." agrees. "Plastic Ono Band" is, she says, "just as important as "Sgt. Pepper," in terms of being a milestone and in terms of the direction that John took after that. The album characterized the direction we were in together, and because of that, a lot of people resented it. Like 'the dream is over/What can I say?' - and they were saying, 'Please, don't let the dream be over. Let us keep on dreamin [edit] (RS)
For Ringo Starr see Number 901
Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number (We only like one song by John Lennon if we liked more, then we wouldve called ourselves "The Rolling Slugs" aye?) and the Album ranked at Number 22
This song has a crowbarred rating of 71 out of 108

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