Thursday, December 08, 2005

Lennon remembered

Over at MSNBC you will find The Beatles - Great Disc Debate -, an ongoing feature where a critic rates the albums of a particular artist. In this case, the Beatles.

I knew it was the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's death before any media told me about it. I remember the day pretty well. I'm probably like most people in that my listening goes in stages - I listen to a lot of Beatles sometimes and then I don't listen quite so much at other times. I will often focus on a particular artist or style of music for a while and then move on to other things. There has been one group, though, that I have continued to listen to and come back to over and over again since I was old enough to buy records - The Beatles. I remember seeing John on the Ed Sullivan show and thinking that playing the guitar and singing like that was something I wanted to do. And I have ever since. Because his album Double Fantasy had recently come out I had been listening to a lot of solo Lennon in the weeks just before he was shot. I went to the Dakota building in New York the summer afterward just to see the place where he lived and died.

Lennon stood for many things, sometimes inconsistently, throughout his life but I prefer to not think of his activism or his performance art with Yoko - frankly, I merely put up with much of that. It's his music that stays with me and, while he did some fine work as a solo artist, clearly his work with Paul, George and Ringo stands above it all. So it is in that spirit that I will look at the MSNBC top five Beatles album list. It's actually a pretty good list:

  1. Revolver
  2. Abbey Road
  3. Sgt Pepper
  4. Rubber Soul
  5. A Hard Day's Night

(They also call the original Yellow Submarine "the dud." Even though they have the more recent Yellow Submarine Songtrack pictured they refer to the original album with only four new songs on it. They're right. While the four new songs are OK, the album simply doesn't live up to the standards of their other albums.)

My quibble with this list is that I would probably put A Hard Day's Night at number four and The Beatles (the White Album) at number five. I've made my appreciation of the White Album known on this blog before (both here and here) but it really is an unparalleled collection of wonderful songs.

So my list looks like this:

  1. Revolver
  2. Abbey Road
  3. Sgt Pepper
  4. A Hard Day's Night
  5. The Beatles (White Album)

So, John, your music is missed. I think I probably wouldn't have liked you as a person - a bit too acerbic for me but, man, you wrote some great stuff.


Beth said...

Yeah, I remember the day vividly. I was a freshman in college. When I walked in the dining hall for breakfast, there was a huge sign hanging up that said IMAGINE. I thought "can it possibly be his birthday? I thought that was in October." After I got back to my dorm a friend told me, altho I have actually blocked out that moment (I remember who told me, but not if it was in person or on the phone). I changed into black and dutifully went to English class, where the professor had on a black armband and spent the first several minutes of the session talking about Lennon.

Ron Hatton said...

Excellent post! Man, sometimes I think we we are twins of different mothers! :-)
Still miss you, John. I'm sorry that more people listen to "Imagine" rather than "Hey, Bulldog": now that was a rocker!
I remember calling my best Beatle-pal in NYC that night. All he could say at that point was "I guess a reunion is out now." There was nothing else for us to say after that, and we didn't bring up John again until the following summer.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that was a sad day. I still love his raw voice on some of those early songs. kb