If you have been reading any of my blogs then you know by now what a massive Beatles fanboy I am. I have tons of memorabilia (if you ask my wife I have WAY too much) and have been raising my 10 year old boy and 7 year old girl to be fans since birth. I literally put them to sleep every night to Beatles music – and they love it. Yes, they probably love it because their Daddy does, but they also love it for the same reason that Beatles music is still popular today some 40 plus years after they split up – because it is simply some of the greatest music ever written. Ever. I don’t compare the Beatles to other rock or pop acts because they are in a totally different stratosphere. I can only compare them to other all time musical performers and composers like Mozart and Beethoven- and I am being 100% serious. Their music is so timeless and ingrained in popular culture that kids today still love them. Here’s a fact that might blow your mind: When The Beatles released their “1” album (a collection of all their hits that went to #1 on Billboard) in 2000, it went on to be the highest selling album from 2000 – 2009, selling 31 million copies. Think about that for a second. A band that had not put out any new music in decades, a collection of hits their fans already owned, outsold anything “new” or current during that period. Crazy. While I will be doing a top Beatles tunes list in the future, today is about John Lennon. October 9th would have been his 75th birthday, and to this day it really upsets me that he was taken from the world so soon. He was clearly one of the greatest musicians of all time and I always wonder what great music we missed out on. Could the Beatles have ever reunited? We will never know. As a tribute to John, this week’s #thereisnospoonfriday discusses the best John songs of all time. The rules are that he has to have written (or co-wrote) and sung the song himself. By these rules, Beatles songs are in play – not just his solo stuff. Let’s get to it!
5. “Watching The Wheels” – Quite simply one of the most beautiful songs these ears have ever heard. From John’s solo career, this is him in a very pensive state. The piano hook is catchy, touching and a bit haunting all in one, and the lyrics remind me a bit of a song that will appear later in this list. “People say I’m crazy, dreaming my life away” and other lyrics in the song talk about the perceptions fans, critics and others have had of him over the years and how he basically said “F you” to all of their “advice” and followed his own path. Just a truly amazing song from start to finish. Listen to “Watching The Wheels” here
4. “Come Together” – “Abbey Road” is my favorite Beatles album, and is, in my opinion, the band at their absolute apex. Yes, the songs were more solo efforts by each pasted together into a collection of songs, but damn if it all doesn’t make beautiful sense. This is John in the middle of his socially conscious/political period, and this song is both biting and pleading at the same time. He is pleading for people to “come together” all the while chiding the current climate of the period and some of the people in it. Truly a timeless classic by The Beatles, but this is really a “John” song and one that has his trademarks all over it. Listen to “Come Together” here
3. “I Am The Walrus” – Some may be surprised this isn’t my number one “John” tune, but I think you may also end up agreeing with the two I have higher on the list. Either way – this is not only one of the best “John” songs ever, but one of the best songs ever – period. This is John and The Beatles in the middle of their “drug” years, and this song symbolizes that period best for me. I have listened to the lyrics over and over and still cannot make sense of them – but that is kind of the point, no? I can just imagine people in the late 60s hearing this song – it must have absolutely blown their minds. The production by George Martin on this song is amazing, and the music off the charts awesome. I love the “video” promo they did for this – it is all sorts of weird and amazing. Listen to “I Am The Walrus” here
2. “Tomorrow Never Knows” – “Revolver” and also “Rubber Soul” was the real beginning of The Beatles becoming THE BEATLES. This one was on “Revolver” and was the stand out track of an album of amazing songs. This song was unlike anything they had done before, and was 100% John. Almost a chanting type of singing and musical accompaniment, this was tripped out Beatles smack dab in the middle of the hippie era. George Martin produced this with the biggest hodgepodge of random sounds (seagulls?!) ever put on one track. John’s voice here is just absolutely perfect for the song style. I truly love this song. Listen to “Tomorrow Never Knows” here
1.”In My Life” – The greatest song ever written. Even Rolling Stone said so in their “greatest songs of all time” issue (although I am definitely NOT a fan of that publication). This song is simple yet complicated (how about that middle keyboard piece?!) and the lyrics absolutely timeless. John in later years would still cite this as one of his favorite Beatles era songs he ever wrote. The song is literally him looking at his past and current life and all the places and people he has encountered and what it all means to him. I will freely admit this song gets me emotional every damn time I hear it, and that is one of many reasons why it is both my favorite “John” song and my favorite song by ANYONE of all time. Listen to “In My Life” Here
Look, there are SO many great songs written (or co-written) by John that this could literally be my top 100 songs as opposed to 5. These just happen to MY top 5. What are your favorite John Lennon songs? Let me know in the comments section! Happy Birthday John and until next week – there is no spoon.