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Thursday, October 9, 2014

John Lennon - the Skinny

Happy birthday, John Lennon. You would have been 74 years old today and that would have been a delight. At least I hope so. Little Paulie has had a couple of good moments since 1980,the year you died, though admittedly most of his greatest solo moments had come long before 1980, most notably "Band On the Run".  Ringo's last good album was 1973's "Ringo" (most imaginative album title ever), which contained some of the most impressive sales numbers of any of the post-Beatle Fabs and George only hit paydirt with The Traveling Wilburys in the mid-80's many years after his "All Things Must Pass" accolades the year after the Beatles called it quits.


This brings me to John Lennon's solo career. I was quite sad when Lennon died in December, 1980, along with a few billion other fans. We were indignant that our acerbic little Beatle had been taken from us in his prime, post-Beatles, eager to explore the musical harvest that was his to take.


That said, John Lennon's post-Beatle work had thus far proven inconsequential and of little excitement. "Imagine" had been a pretty song, relaying political catchphrases in a melodic manner that lulled us all into a giddy musical effervescence, thinking that perhaps the thoughts of peace might bring about a world of peace. A great 1971 hippie anthem. Nothing ever came of it, however, but John persevered with "Mind Games", shouting the "Mind Guerilla" from the mountaintops. Not a chart topper, but well-meaning, if lazy songwriting. Three chords, til death do us part... I personally enjoyed "#9 Dream" with its "ABOWAKOWA-POSE POSE" refrain but again, I could write a hit song if all that mattered was a melody and some mumbled Apache paraphrasing.


After a brief hiatus, John reemerged with "Walls and Bridges", which was also an exercise in medicocrity, save for "Whatever Gets You Through The Night", the sole chart breaking number, featuring the red-hot Elton John kicking the keys and providing the energy needed to propel this lively dirge to the top of the charts. At this point, we were so hungry for any new Lennon material, we would have sent "Oh, Yoko" to the top ten. (Just kidding!)


Lennon took a much-needed break after Walls and Bridges and spent the next five years raising his son Sean, baking bread and smoking French cigarettes. When he finally emerged from his seclusion in 1979 to record "Walls and Bridges", the world was once again eager and hungry for new Lennon material. He delivered a 50's retread in "(It's Just Like) Starting Over" and the ballad "Woman", a bit of treacle written for the shrew who had stolen been his muse since 1969.  We lapped it up greedily and all too soon thereafter, he was taken from us forever by a crazed douchebag who many wish would be set free on the streets for our own cathartic target practice.


I would like to think that Lennon's work would have matured and been an inspiration to us all and live up to the high praise that the artist, gunned down in prime has garnered. However, using a complicated math theorem and some calculus, paired with some kickass analog stereo gear and a set of vintage BOSS headphones, I have come to the conclusion that John, of all the Beatles, would have had the most disappointing solo career of all.


McCartney went on to produce "Band on the Run" and George became a spiritual icon, a humble rock and roll statesman admired by all, producing some great work as well as Monty Python's "Life of Brian", which gave him everlasting sainthood amongst those who cared. Ringo had his hits early and cashed out and at one point would be noted to being willing to "attend the opening of an envelope" for a free drink and a press clipping. Lennon, however burdened and martyred by the presence of Yoko Ono and four inopportune bullets, had never lived up to the potential of "I Am The Walrus", "Strawberry Fields Forever" or even "In My Life" and I see nothing in his solo work to indicate that he might have done so.


I am not saying that he was shot because of his lack of musical inspiration in his later days, but if I was the attorney for the dildo who shot him... Just sayin'. We'll never know. Happy birthday, John - I wish you'd been around for the ride.

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