December 3, 2005

"I wrote Lennon's obituary for this newspaper the day after he was shot, Dec. 8, 1980."

Paul McGrath writes a memorial to John Lennon, which he publishes 5 days before the 25th anniversary of Lennon's death:
By and large, he had found his peace. He had survived his vices, his politics, his rages and his therapies, avoided the junkie's death unlike so many, only to meet a cheap little handgun in the hands of a sad case like so many others he had met, kids who believed in some desperate part of them that this man could actually pull them out of the pit. And he couldn't. All he could do was write and sing, and in those songs tens of millions did in fact find a real solace, a pushing back of the fog and the dark.
I'm going to pick out a set of John Lennon songs to play it as I drive my car -- baby, you can drive my car -- in the next week. I'll reveal the song list later. If you care about John Lennon, tell me, what is your song list?

UPDATE: After collecting 35 songs from my various CDs, I selected these 17:
Happiness Is A Warm Gun
Come Together
Tomorrow Never Knows
Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!
Instant Karma!
Strawberry Fields Forever
Across the Universe
She Said She Said
Don´t Let Me Down
You've Got To Hide Your Love Away
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
In My Life
I'm So Tired
A Day In The Life
I'm going to put the second group of 18 in my car too:
A Hard Day's Night
Please Please Me
Not A Second Time
You Can't Do That
All I've Got To Do
I Call Your Name
Sexy Sadie
If I Fell
I'm A Loser
Ticket to Ride
I'm Only Sleeping
I Feel Fine
Mind Games
I Am The Walrus
All You Need Is Love
You Know My Name (Look up the Number)
Some things about the sequencing I did on purpose. Others I find amusing now that I notice, like that I put the two songs with exclamation points together. These are all songs that appeal to me for one reason or another, and I didn't put them in the order that I favor them, though I did put my favorite one first.

UPDATE: Al Hurd remembers John and lines up 3 discs worth of songs.


me said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
me said...

I just read an Mark David Chapman interview, and it was incredibly pathetic. Like Oswald, Chapman was saved from a suicide attempt, and then later compelled to kill Lennon.

I doubt the Beatles would have played again, nor did they need to. However, Lennon was at an amazing point in his life, having regained his creative juices. He wrote Double Fantasy in a very short period of time, and there were signs that he would have kept writing.

I have about four degrees of separation from Chapman. My brother dated a woman from NYC whose sister worked at the Information Booth at Central Park. Chapman literally asked her where the Dakota was. A few days later he came back to the booth, and asked her out for a date. She went (though she was 17), and he took her to the top of the Empire State Building. She said he was an ok guy, and probably would have gone out again.

A day or two later he killed Lennon.

My favorite Lennon tune is "For the Benefit of Mr. Kite." "Run For Life" is very unusual, as it one of the only pop songs that advocates killing one's significant other in the event of unfaithfulness. And people complain about rap :)

Ron said...

Any such set I would think would include "Julia", "Revolution", "Everybody's got something to hide...", and perhaps the last song of the evening should be "How do you sleep?"

Matt Barr said...

A brief 8-song set:

Across the Universe
(Just Like) Starting Over
#9 Dream
A Day in the Life
Ticket To Ride

Creepy, I made this list before I saw Ron's comment.

paulfrommpls said...

Among my acquaintances, for some reason "Double Fantasy" is nearly universally dismissed. I always liked most of it; I think "I'm Losing You" and "Cleanup Time" are fantastic songs.

Ann Althouse said...

I've got a list of about 35 songs that I'm considering for the final compilation. Only two post-Beatles songs are on the list. I think it's very unlikely that you can guess which two -- though saying that should help.

Dave said...

Doesn't it occur to people by that celebrating the anniversary of Lennon's death, the bastard's name is also invoked?

The bastard being his murderer, not Lennon.

When did we become so demented a society that celebrating the anniversary of a murder became de riguer???

Meade said...

In my opinion, John Lennon was never better than when he covered the greats (Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly, Little Richard...) on his 1975 album, "Rock 'n' Roll." The remastered original is even better, with four bonus tracks including Phil Spector's 'To Know Is to Love Her.' He makes it his own as he does with 'Since My Baby Left Me' and 'Stand By Me.'

Here's a public domain recording of the lads doing 'To Know Her..." from a live BBC radio show in (I think) 1965.

Ann Althouse said...

Dave: I agree. I am marking the quarter century since we lost Lennon. His murderer does not deserve to have his name linked to Lennon forever. He's a meaningless nothing who happened to cross the path of greatness.

Ron said...

hmmm...I'm betting "Woman Is the Nigger of the World" is NOT on Ann's list! Takers?

Meade said...

Ron: That would be a different list, the one with 'Working Class Hero' on it.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I don't own Double Fantasy, but just yesterday, for no apparent reason began singing "Beautiful Boy" to my son.

He corrected me and told me he was handsome. But those lyrics didn't quite fit.

reader_iam said...

Damn, we reach the 25-year mark.

Back then, I was 19 and wondered what in hell the world was coming to.

I still do.m

Stephen said...

Among the Lennon solos: Hard Day's Night, Come Together, Day Tripper, I Don't Want to Spoil the Party, I Feel Fine, I'll Be Back, I'm a Loser, I'm Only Sleeping, In My Life, No Reply, Revolution, Slow Down, Ticket to Ride, Julia, You're Going to Lose that Girl, You've Got To Hide Your Love Away, Help, And Your Bird Can Sing.

miklos rosza said...

"Yer Blues"
"I Found Out"
"She Said She Said"
"Sexy Sadie"
"I Am the Walrus"
"Instant Karma"
"Happiness is a Warm Gun"
"Strawberry Fields Forever"
"Tomorrow Never Knows"
"I'm So Tired"

Mickey said...

Although the Beatles are my fav`s I`ve always leaned to the later stuff. George and Paul really surprised me as musicians early on but Lennon seemed to be the voice,"We`re more popular than Jesus Christ."...
Let it Be..
Dr Robert..
Instant Karma
Come Together..
Strawberry Fields..
The Dream is Over..
Love Me Do..

I miss `em

Saul- WOW !

Tim P said...

Twist and shout
Hard Days Night
Goodmorning (from Sgt. Peppers)
Happy X-mas
You've got to hide your love away
In my Life
Norwegian Wood
A Day in the Life
all you need is love
Strwberryfields Forever
Dear Prudence
Glass Onion
Yer Blues
Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
Revolution (slow vewrsion from the White Album)
Cry Baby Cry
Come Together
The medley side of Abbey Road (so what if it's not all John)
Across The Universe
I Call Your Name (cover of a Mama & Papas song)
Instant Karma
#9 Dream
Working Class Hero
Watching The Wheels
I Found Out
(Hell, the entire Plastic Ono Band Album with Working Class Hero, it's still a classic)

The list goes on....

Wade_Garrett said...

Though its not my favorite Lennon song, I've always liked "Please Please Me." The first please is so innocent and polite, and the second so dirty, that its really quite a clever little song. When I look at those old tapes of the Beatles perfoming it live, with John singing and Paul and George sharing a single microphone off to one side and nodding their heads in unison, I can't help but think "wow, this audience had no idea what changes the next five years had in store."

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

"Jealous Guy"
"Yer Blues"
"I'm So Tired"
"And Your Bird Can Sing"
"She Said She Said"
"Tomorrow Never Knows"

Ann Althouse said...

Richard: John Lennon's own quote about "And Your Bird Can Sing": "Another horror." Also: "Another one of my throwaways."

A lot of people are mentioning "Yer Blues," which didn't jump out at me when I went through the book "Beatlesongs" to quickly pick out the John songs. I guess people like the very raw emotional stuff. I cam close to including "I Want You," but scratched it off at the last minute.

reader_iam said...

Your car list:

Bull's-eye (Bang bang/shoot shoot)!

Troy said...

de rigeur to celebrate someone's murder? Jesus Christ, The Ides of March and Julius Caesar, Thomas Beckett, JFK, MLK RFK... we celebrate "murders" every year -- it is in the final analysis of ocurse -- a date oif death whether it's too soon like Lennon or natural causes at 102 surrounded by family.

My estimation of this group has been lifted by the absence of "Imagine" from the lists.

I would have to go with Happiness is a Warm Gun and I love "Julia" from the Beatles. Instant Karma! is great too and the Double Fantasy stuff is great.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

Mr. L. was never the best judge of his own work.

But don't forget the early songs:

"Yes It Is"
"Every Little Thing"
"When I Get Home"
"All I Gotta Do"
"There's A Place"

And great cover vocals:

"Rock 'n Roll Music"
"Twist and Shout"
"Bad Boy"
"Slow Down"

And "Get Back," a Paul song, for John's lead guitar (squeak!)

Ron said...

Although he lacks the melodrama of being shot down in the streets, why not a George list on the 'anniversary' of his death? We just missed it -- Nov. 29.

It would be quite a nice list indeed...

Nick Watts said...

I was a rebel in high school who had to do his Senior paper on a topic from Britian. I knew nothing about the Beatles, or had I heard much of their music, but I remember Lennon was suppose to be a rebel. I chose to do the paper on Lennon and researched his life. It was obviously amazing.

After I wrote the paper I went out to buy an album to see what this hippy had done. I bought the blue album. I had never heard the later Beatles tunes. I fell in love and they became my favorite band of all time. I was obsessed. I knew the biography of the band before I knew the music.

My favorite Lennon song, therefore, is "Julia."

Second would have to be his rendition of "You Can't Cath Me" on the Rock and Roll solo album.

Nick Watts said...

Ooops. On the "Rock and Roll" album.

miklos rosza said...

Now I have "And Your Bird Can Sing" going through my head.

wildaboutharrie said...

No Reply, Ticket to Ride, I Feel Fine, Mean Mr. Mustard (etc.), I Call Your Name, I'm So Tired, Norwegian Wood, Instant Karma, I'm Only Sleeping.

And I'd put Two of Us on there, even though it was Paul's.

vbspurs said...

I was listening to NPR all day today (as I tend to do on Saturdays, since their programming rocks then), and I heard a wonderful segment on remembering the day John Lennon died.

An interviewer was reminiscing about that fateful night, when he found out that his idol had been killed.

He was walking around NYC, near Central Park, when someone rushed up to him, and said,

"Hey! Did you know John Lennon was just killed??!"

Before he could reply, or even get his thoughts to make sense, the person said,

"Well. Either John Lennon or Jack Lemon. I'm not sure!"

And he just left him standing there.

I love that anecdote.


Russell said...

A slight correction for RLC: "Anna" goes on the covers list, having been written by the great Arthur Alexander.

wildaboutharrie said...

I think I'll add Happy Xmas (War is Over).

Al Hurd said...

Ann, first time commenting, but long time reader. You've given me quite a challenge trying to think of the right songs to remember Lennon by.

I've come up with rather more than a few which you can check out if you have the time to stop by my blog (far too much to post here in your comments.)

It's here:

I will suggest that I agree with the person above that mentioned listening to the B side of Abbey Road. Follow that up with Two of Us and then Dig It from Let it Be and watch the tears flow.

Thanks for throwing the topic out there, and thanks for being such a great inspiration for smaller bloggers like myself. I read you every day.

Al Hurd

SWBarns said...

Sorry to be so late on this but I think "Blackbird" is the most beautiful and poignant of Lennon’s songs.

Ann Althouse said...

"Blackbird" is Paul's.

SWBarns said...

Dang. But it is still a very good song.

Steve said...

For the record, no pun intended: "I Call Your Name" was a Lennon-McCartney composition. The Mamas and the Papas did the cover version.

(Sorry I'm a year and a half late with the correction.)