Beatles – Across The Universe

When I became a Beatles fan way back when I was 8 years old…and up to my teenage years I hardly ever heard this one mentioned by people. I’ve seen its popularity grow through the years. My biggest problem with it is they should have spent more time on it. Lennon accused McCartney of subconsciously trying to destroy it. You could see Paul let out a big yawn while rehearsing in the Let It Be film but that probably had more to do with him being tired after hours of playing in a studio…but maybe Lennon had a point.

One of the reasons John got upset with Paul was because instead of getting professional backup singers or a choir…Paul went out the Abbey Road door and grabbed two “Apple Scruffs” to sing backup on the song. That version did not go on the Let It Be album, however. That version was on a charity album.

This first appeared on No One’s Gonna Change Our World, a 1969 charity album for the World Wildlife Fund. Bird noises were dubbed into this version to create a nature theme. It didn’t sound too bad.

No One's Gonna Change Our World (1969, Vinyl) - Discogs

When I bought the Let It Be album it took a few listens but soon this one intrigued me. The lyrics alone are enthralling because of the imagery. Since I first heard it, the song has taken on huge popularity.

It even had a movie that was made around its title and worked around Beatle lyrics in 2007. That alone boosted its popularity.

I always wondered about the Jai guru deva om phrase. “Jai guru deva, om” translates to “hail to the Heavenly Teacher” or “I give thanks to Guru Dev.” That was a mantra was invented by the Indian guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – the late protégé of Guru Dev.

On February 4, 2008 “Across The Universe” became the first track to be beamed directly into space. It was transmitted through NASA’s antenna in the DSN’s Madrid Deep Space Communication Complex, towards the North Star, Polaris, 431 light-years from Earth. The broadcasting of the Beatles song was done to mark both NASA’s 50th birthday and the 40th anniversary of Across The Universe. Paul McCartney described the transmission as an “amazing feat” adding, “Well done, NASA. Send my love to the aliens!”

David Bowie also did a good version of this song. Liam Gallagher has cited this song as a huge influence on him starting to write songs.

John Lennon: “I was lying next to me first wife in bed, and I was irritated. She must have been going on and on about something and she’d gone to sleep and I kept hearing these words over and over, flowing like an endless stream. I went downstairs and it turned into sort of a cosmic song rather than an irritated song… it drove me out of bed. I didn’t want to write it, but I was slightly irritable and I went downstairs and I couldn’t get to sleep until I’d put it on paper.”

John Lennon: “It’s one of the best lyrics I’ve written. In fact, it could be the best.” He added: “It’s good poetry, or whatever you call it, without chewin’ it. See, the ones I like are the ones that stand as words, without melody. They don’t have to have any melody, like a poem, you can read them.”

John Lennon: “The Beatles didn’t make a good record of it. I think subconsciously sometimes we – I say ‘we’ although I think Paul did it more than the rest of us – Paul would, sort of subconsciously, try and destroy a great song… meaning we’d play experimental games with my great pieces, like ‘Strawberry Fields,’ which I always thought was badly recorded.”

The World Wildlife Fund

Across The Universe

Words are flowing out
Like endless rain into a paper cup
They slither wildly as they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow waves of joy
Are drifting through my opened mind
Possessing and caressing me

Jai Guru Deva, Om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Images of broken light
Which dance before me like a million eyes
They call me on and on across the universe
Thoughts meander like a
Restless wind inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as they make their way across the universe

Jai Guru Deva, Om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Sounds of laughter, shades of life
Are ringing through my opened ears
Inciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love
Which shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe

Jai Guru Deva, Om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva

Bob Dylan – Eat The Document

This is a film I so wish they would clean up and release. I watched a bootleg version of it in the 80s VHS. 

This was a film that covered Bob Dylan on his 1966 European tour backed up by the Hawks that eventually became The Band minus, Levon Helm. The film was to be shown on ABC television but ABC rejected and saying it was “incomprehensible” because Dylan himself was one of the editors and wanted the film to have more of an artistic feel.

It was filmed by D.A. Pennebaker who filmed Dylan’s 65 European tour when he played acoustically called Don’t Look Back. Don’t Look Back is terrific. This film is very disjointed. That is not saying I don’t like it. This is the Dylan period that probably is my favorite. The Hawks are raw and powerful and Dylan was

There are some highlights to this odd film. A spontaneous piano duet with Dylan and Johnny Cash, John Lennon and Bob Dylan very high riding around in a cab, and the famous concert where an audience member yells out “Judas” because of Dylan’s conversion to electric music. After the Judas remark, he proceeds to tell Robbie Robertson to play it loud and they kick off in a vicious “Like a Rolling Stone.” My favorite live version of that song. Those folk music fans were harsh.

The film is disjointed and frustrating to watch because some of the songs you want to see and hear are there…but only partly. You will be seeing Dylan performing something and then flash away to something else. Some of the concert footage and film from this ended up in the Martin Scorsese movie No Direction Home…I would recommend No Direction Home to everyone.

Bob was pale and nervous and there is no secret he was doing drugs heavily throughout this movie. After the tour, Dylan had a motorcycle wreck heard around the world and after he recovered he didn’t tour for years.

The cab ride with John Lennon is historical now. Both of them in sunglasses and Lennon trying to inject humor into the situation and Dylan is ok at first and then starts getting sick as the filming stops.

If you are a Dylan fan it’s worth a watch. I’m glad we have “No Direction Home” to see some clear film segments on that tour. Eat The Document has not been officially released but you can get a bootleg of it or watch most of it on youtube.

John Lennon – How Do You Sleep?

How Do You Sleep? is very powerful…but you do feel for Paul McCartney. Paul did have lyrics on the Ram album about John and Yoko but you had to look for them. In this song…there is no looking…even the average fan would know exactly who he was singing about. To me, the most vicious line is The sound you make is muzak to my ears. 

The song is on the album Imagine. This John Lennon song is direct and to the point. His feud with Paul was in the papers and after what John took as lyrics aimed at him and Yoko from Paul’s album Ram…it culminated with this song.

John has said that “How Do You Sleep” was like one of Dylan’s nasty songs and mentioned, “Like a Rolling Stone.” The big difference though was that Bob veiled the identity of his target. This song was vicious but not as vicious as it could have been if Ringo and other musicians hadn’t intervened.

Yoko and Allen Klein were feeding some lines about Paul to John during the recording. Ringo was upset with the content and simply said: “That’s enough, John”. Alan White ended up playing the drums on the track.

This song can be hard to listen to as a Beatle fan but it is a catchy dark gritty pointed song. I have always liked it. George Harrison’s slide guitar cuts through and doesn’t have the sweet sound he uses for his songs. It also shows you where George was at the time with Paul. This is not John’s best song by any measure but the music has an intensity about it and is very powerful. It’s ironic, but even without Paul being there he helped pull it out of John.

Paul did later admit that a few lyrics on “Ram” were pointed at John and Yoko but John, never one to hint…went for the throat. He would later soften and say the song was more about himself than Paul.

John and Paul would later repair the relationship…never to the point of working together again but on a friendly basis. They would keep in touch over the years by talking on the phone, in letters, and face to face at times.

John Lennon: “It’s not about Paul, it’s about me. I’m really attacking myself. But I regret the association, well, what’s to regret? He lived through it. The only thing that matters is how he and I feel about these things and not what the writer or commentator thinks about it. Him and me are okay.”

John Lennon: “You know, I wasn’t really feeling that vicious at the time,” “But I was using my resentment toward Paul to create a song, let’s put it that way. He saw that it pointedly refers to him, and people kept hounding him about it. But, you know, there were a few digs on his album before mine. He’s so obscure other people didn’t notice them, but I heard them. I thought, well, I’m not obscure, I just get right down to the nitty-gritty. So he’d done it his way and I did it mine.

Paul McCartney: “You hear the stories from various angles and apparently people who were in the room when John was writing that, he was getting suggestions for the lyrics off Allan Klein,” he said. “So, you see the atmosphere of ‘Let’s get Paul. Let’s nail him in a song…’ And those things were pretty hurtful.”

How Do You Sleep

So Sgt. Pepper took you by surprise
You better see right through that mother’s eyes
Those freaks was right when they said you was dead
The one mistake you made was in your head

Ah, how do you sleep
Ah, how do you sleep at night

You live with straights who tell you, you was king
Jump when your momma tell you anything
The only thing you done was yesterday
And since you’re gone you’re just another day

Ah, how do you sleep
Ah, how do you sleep at night

Ah, how do you sleep
Ah, how do you sleep at night

A pretty face may last a year or two
But pretty soon they’ll see what you can do
The sound you make is muzak to my ears
You must have learned something in all those years

Ah, how do you sleep
Ah, how do you sleep at night

Beatles – I’ve Got A Feeling

I’m glad the Let It Be album is getting a new life because of the Get back film.   It’s not Revolver by any means but it was never meant to be. Let It Be started off as an album that would feature minimum overdubs and get back to playing as a band. I’ve Got A Feeling is a mix of two unfinished songs, Paul McCartney’s “I’ve Got a Feeling” and John Lennon’s “Everybody Had a Hard Year.”

John Lennon did have a hard year. He got divorced, battled heroin addiction, police drug raid, Yoko had suffered a miscarriage and he was convicted of drug possession.

John had worked on this song earlier. After meeting with Paul at his St. John’s Wood home in London sometime in December of 1968 to merge both of their songs into one, John met with the others at Twickenham Studios on January 2nd, 1969, with an arrangement that was already formulated, right down to the synchronized vocals of both composers in the final verse. All that was left was to finalize the arrangement with George and Ringo and to rehearse it repeatedly before it was ready to record.

The Beatles recorded this live on the Apple rooftop, which was used in their movie, Let It Be. John Lennon’s guitar sounds downright nasty and George’s compliments that sound with clean licks off of his Fender.

The Let It Be album peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Charts, Canada, and The UK in 1970.

The version of I’ve Got a Feeling which was released on Let It Be was recorded during the rooftop concert. The studio take was released on the 1996 Anthology 3. Let It Be… Naked, which was a remix album that came out in 2003, patched two different rooftop concert takes.

I would have loved to hear Elvis do a cover of this song…but I can’t imagine him singing the “wet dream” part but it would have been interesting.

Pearl Jam also did a version of this song.

I’ve Got A Feeling

I’ve got a feeling, a feeling deep inside
Oh yeah, oh yeah.
I’ve got a feeling, a feeling I can’t hide
Oh no, oh no, oh no.
Yeah, I’ve got a feeling.

Oh please believe me, I’d hate to miss the train
Oh yeah, oh yeah.
And if you leave me I won’t be late again
Oh no, oh no, oh no.
Yeah, I’ve got a feeling, yeah.

All these years I’ve been wandering around,
Wondering how come nobody told me
All that I was looking for was somebody
Who looked like you.

I’ve got a feeling, that keeps me on my toes
Oh yeah, oh yeah.

I’ve got a feeling, I think that everybody knows
Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah.
Yeah, yeah, I’ve got a feeling, yeah.
Yeah

Ev’rybody had a hard year
Ev’rybody had a good time
Ev’rybody had a wet dream,
Ev’rybody saw the sunshine
Oh yeah, oh yeah.

Ev’rybody had a good year,
Ev’rybody let their hair down,
Ev’rybody pulled their socks up,
Ev’rybody put their foot down.
Oh yeah, oh yeah.

Yeah I’ve got a feeling
A feeling deep inside
Oh yeah, oh yeah.

I’ve got a feeling, a feeling I can’t hide
Oh no
Oh no no no

Yeah yeah yeah yeah
I’ve got a feeling
I’ve got a feeling

John Lennon – Nobody Told Me

Double Fantasy was released in 1980 and I did like the album…but it was a little too pop-leaning in some songs. That album also takes me back to that awful time right after John was murdered. Three years later another album came out and this single was released. I’ve always liked this song. It sounded so much like the old John Lennon. It was quirky and had cool wordplay. It wasn’t John’s best song by any means and no it wasn’t close to Watching The Wheels or Starting Over but it had an edge to it that the other album didn’t.

This single was released in 1983. The song was originally written by John for Ringo Starr to sing on his “Stop and Smell the Roses” album. He even gave Ringo the demo. Ringo didn’t end up recording it because of the tragedy.

There is a lyric “There’s a UFO over New York and I ain’t too surprised” and it was taken from an actual incident. In 1974, John and May Pang (his girlfriend while separated from Yoko) were living in an apartment overlooking New York’s East River, when John saw what he thought was a UFO. May Pang said he yelled out the window “come back – take me!”

The song was off the “Milk and Honey” album with tracks from John and with Yoko. It peaked at #5 in the Billboard 100, #4 in Canada, and #6 in the UK. John wrote the song in 1976 and the working title was “Everybody’s Talkin.”

I liked the song the first time I heard it. It was a fun song and I was happy to hear something new from him. I really could hear Ringo doing this one. The two songs that hit from “Milk and Honey” were Stepping Out and this one.

“Nobody Told Me”

Everybody’s talking and no one says a word
Everybody’s making love and no one really cares
There’s Nazis in the bathroom just below the stairs
Always something happening and nothing going on
There’s always something cooking and nothing in the pot
They’re starving back in China so finish what you got Nobody told me there’d be days like these
Nobody told me there’d be days like these
Nobody told me there’d be days like these
Strange days indeed — strange days indeed Everybody’s runnin’ and no one makes a move
Everyone’s a winner and nothing left to lose
There’s a little yellow idol to the north of Katmandu
Everybody’s flying and no one leaves the ground
Everybody’s crying and no one makes a sound
There’s a place for us in the movies you just gotta lay around

Nobody told me there’d be days like these
Nobody told me there’d be days like these
Nobody told me there’d be days like these
Strange days indeed — most peculiar, mama

Everybody’s smoking and no one’s getting high
Everybody’s flying and never touch the sky
There’s a UFO over New York and I ain’t too surprised

Nobody told me there’d be days like these
Nobody told me there’d be days like these
Nobody told me there’d be days like these
Strange days indeed — most peculiar, mama

Beatles – Let It Be

Today I’m guest hosting on “Once Upon a Time in the 70s.” If you can please give them a visit and leave a comment…I would appreciate it! They have a great site and they will be guest hosting my site one day this week! Now back to our song…

This one has always been a favorite of mine. Many people I know thought it was a religious song because of Mother Mary but Mother Mary was Paul’s mother. It does have a gospel feel though.

From Yesterday to Let It Be: how Paul McCartney grappled with his mother's  death in his songs

It’s always had a calming effect on me. The song is part of my DNA and although it’s been played quite a bit on radio…I can still enjoy it.

Paul McCartney has said he wrote “Let It Be” and “The Long and Winding Road” on the same day. How is that for a day’s work?

One thing that makes the song unique is what solo are you going to hear from George? The single version of the song has a good solo, but the album version has the best. On January 4, 1970, Paul, George, and Ringo went into the studio to clean up tracks for the album release. George put down one of my favorite solos of all time. It’s the solo that has some growl to it and is highly melodic. Later on, in 2003 when Let It Be Naked was released…yet another version of the solo was on there but not as good as the distorted version.

On October 31st, 1956, Paul’s mother Mary Patricia McCartney had passed away from breast cancer. Paul had said she was the unsung leader of their family. John and Paul bonded later on when John’s mother was killed by getting hit by a car.

The song was on the Let It Be Album. The album had the largest initial sales in US record history up to that time: 3.7 million advance orders. That is going out on top. Let It Be peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, Canada, New Zealand and #2 in the UK. The album peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Charts, Canada, and the UK in 1970.

At the time some critics didn’t like the album as much. I’ve always liked the raw feel of it. The album contained Let It Be, The Long and Winding Road, Get Back, and I’ve Got A Feeling…plus a song that could have been a single…The Two Of Us. It shows what high standards they were held to.

I bought the Let It Be at a yard sale when I was a kid. The single had a B side that I had never heard of at the time.  The song is called You Know My Name (Look Up The Number). It’s so off the wall it has to be heard…not described. It is basically John and Paul making a comedy record…with Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones on sax.

Paul started to write this during the White Album sessions but instead of Mother Mary…it was Mother Malcome after their roadie Mal Evans. He also sings a ling about Brother Malcome in a video I have below. Mal Evans has said that during the White Album sessions Paul had a vision of him saying Let It Be. I have Mal’s quote below.

Mal Evans: “Paul was meditating one day, they were writing all the time, and I came to him in a vision. I was just standing there, saying, “Let it be, let it be,’ and that’s where the song came from. It was funny; I had driven him back from a session one night (at Twickenham Film Studios in London, January 1969) a few months later. It was three o-clock in the morning, it was raining, it was dark in London and we were sitting in the car, just before he went in, just laughing and talking. He said, ‘Mal, I’ve got a new song and it’s called “Let It Be,” and I sing about “Mother Malcolm,” but he was a bit shy. So, he turned to me and said, ‘Would you mind if I said, “Mother Mary,” because people might not understand?’ So, I said, ‘Sure.’ But, he was lovely.”

Paul McCartney: “One night during this tense time, I had a dream. I saw my mum, who’d been dead ten years or so. And it was so great to see her because that’s a wonderful thing about dreams: you actually are reunited with that person for a second; there they are and you appear to both be physically together again. It was so wonderful for me and she was very reassuring. In the dream she said, ‘It’ll be all right.’ I’m not sure if she used the words ‘Let it be’ but that was the gist of her advice. It was, ‘Don’t worry too much, it will turn out okay.’ It was such a sweet dream. I woke up thinking, ‘Oh, it was really great to visit with her again. I felt very blessed to have that dream. So that got me writing the song ‘Let It Be.’ I literally started off ‘Mother Mary,’ which was her name. ‘When I find myself in times of trouble,’ which I certainly found myself in. The song was based on that dream.”

“She was reassuring me, saying, ‘It’s going to be OK, just let it be.’ I felt so great. She gave me the positive words. I woke up and thought, ‘What was that? She said ‘Let It Be.’ That’s good.’ So I wrote the song ‘Let It Be’ out of positivity.”

From Songfacts

Since Let It Be was The Beatles’ last album, it made an appropriate statement about leaving problems behind and moving on in life. The album was supposed to convey an entirely different message. It was going to be called “Get Back,” and they were going to record it in front of an audience on live TV, with another TV special showing them practicing the songs in the studio. It was going to be The Beatles getting back to their roots and playing unadorned live music instead of struggling in the studio like they did for The White Album. When they started putting the album together, it became clear the project wouldn’t work, and George Harrison left the sessions. When he returned, they abandoned the live idea and decided to use the TV footage as their last movie. While the film was being edited, The Beatles recorded and released Abbey Road, then broke up. Eventually, Phil Spector was given the tapes and asked to produce the album, which was released months after The Beatles broke up. By then, it was clear “Let It Be” would be a better name than “Get Back.”

According to McCartney, this is a very positive song, owing to its inspiration. One night when he was paranoid and anxious, he had a dream where he saw his mother, who had been dead for ten years or so – she came to him in his time of trouble, speaking words of wisdom that brought him much peace when he needed it. It was this sweet dream that got him to begin writing the song.

Many have been moved by the song on a deeply personal level, including Corden, who broke down when they sang it together. “I remember my granddad, who was a musician, sitting me down and telling me, ‘I’m going to play you the best song you’ve ever heard,’ and he played me that,” he said. “If my granddad was here right now he’d get an absolute kick out of this.” McCartney replied, “He is.”

It was John Lennon who wanted Phil Spector to produce the album. Spector worked on Lennon’s “Instant Karma” and was known for his bombastic “Wall Of Sound” style. McCartney hated Spector’s production, and in 2003 he pushed to have the album remixed and released without Spector’s influence. The result was Let It Be… Naked, which eliminated most of Spector’s work and is much closer to what The Beatles intended for the album. “Maggie Mae” and “Dig It” were removed, and an entirely different guitar solo was used for this song.

The Beatles weren’t the first to release this song – Aretha Franklin was. The Queen of Soul recorded it in December 1969, and it was released on her album This Girl’s In Love With You in January 1970, two months before The Beatles released their version (she also covered The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby” on that album).

Aretha recorded it with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, who were a group of musicians that owned their own studio in Alabama, but would travel to New York to record with Aretha. David Hood, who was their bass player, told us that Paul McCartney sent demos of the song to Atlantic Records (Franklin’s label) and to the Muscle Shoals musicians. Said Hood, “I kick myself for not grabbing that demo. Because I think they probably dropped it in the garbage. Our version was different. We changed it a little bit from his demo, where their version is different from that demo and from Aretha’s version, as well. Just slightly, but little things.”

In April 1987, this was released as a charity single in aid of The Sun newspaper’s Zeebrugge ferry disaster fund. Featuring Paul McCartney, Mark Knopfler, Kate Bush, Boy George and many others, it was called “Ferry Aid” and spent three weeks at #1 in the UK. 

Billy Preston added organ and electric piano to this track. Preston was such a significant contributor to the Let It Be album that John Lennon floated the idea of making him a full band member. Preston’s contributions were more than musical: He came in after George Harrison got frustrated with the sessions and quit the band. After his bandmates agreed to his terms (including abandoning a live performance they had planned), Harrison returned to the sessions after 12 days and arranged for Preston to join them. Having Preston there kept tensions at bay and greased the creative gears, allowing them to complete the album that was looking precarious when he arrived.

This was the first Beatles song released in The Soviet Union. The single made it there in 1972.

In 2001, McCartney helped organize the “Concert For New York,” to benefit victims of The World Trade Center disaster. He closed the show with this, inviting the other acts and some New York cops and firefighters on stage to sing with him.

This song was played at Linda McCartney’s funeral.

On July 18, 2008, Paul McCartney joined Billy Joel onstage at Shea Stadium in New York and played this as the final song of the final concert at Shea. As a member of The Beatles, McCartney played the first stadium rock concert when they performed at Shea on August 15, 1965.

Until 1994 and the recordings for “Free As A Bird,” the session for this song on January 4, 1970 was the last Beatles recording session. Lennon wasn’t present that day, as he was on holiday.

A cover by American R&B artist Jennifer Hudson featuring the Roots, who are the house band on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, debuted at #98 on the Hot 100 in February 2010. She recorded it for the Hope For Haiti Now charity telecast after the earthquake that devastated the country. It was the third time the song had entered the US singles chart as Joan Baez’s version peaked at #49 in 1971.

A month after Jennifer Hudson’s version reached the Hot 100, Kris Allen took the song to the chart for a fourth time when his cover debuted at #63. Allen’s cut charted after he performed the song on American Idol, with proceeds from its digital sales benefiting Haiti earthquake relief efforts through the Idol Gives Back Foundation.

John Legend and Alicia keys performed this song on the tribute special The Beatles: The Night That Changed America, which aired in 2014 exactly 50 years after the group made their famous appearance on Ed Sullivan Show. Legend introduced it as “a song that has comforted generations with its beauty and its message.”

Sesame Street used this with the title changed to “Letter B.” The lyrics were changed to list words that begin with B.

Paul sings “Brother Malcolm” in this rough version near the end

Let It Be

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be, be

And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me
Shinin’ until tomorrow, let it be
I wake up to the sound of music, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

And let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Beatles – One After 909

A pure rock and roll song by The Beatles. It’s always a joy to listen to because it goes back to their roots They played this song live in the early days before Beatlemania. When they recorded the final version on the roof you could see they were having a good time. George’s guitar playing on this is perfect.

A song that was recorded in January of 1969 but was written by John and Paul  in the 1950s. Being a very early attempt at songwriting, John Lennon reluctantly brought it forward for The Beatles to record when they were looking for new material in early 1963. They recorded it but didn’t have a take that they liked.

In 1969 John pulled out “One After 909” from his memory and presented it again. On this occasion, it was reworked with enthusiasm and with a different feel and arrangement, the result becoming a cool presentation of early Beatlemania at their final live performance on the rooftop in 1969.

John, Paul, and George were talking about the song and John said he always wanted to change the words. Paul said no…it’s great like it is so they played the song on the rooftop. It would be included on the Let It Be album released in 1970

The song was about a lady who tells her boyfriend she is leaving on the train that leaves after train number 909. He begs her not to go, but she does anyway. He packs his bags and rushes after her and discovers that she is not on “the one after 909,” so he goes home depressed and goes into the wrong house.

John Lennon: “I wrote it when I was about seventeen, either right before or after ‘Hello Little Girl,’ and it was resurrected for (the ‘Let It Be’) album, probably for lack of material. Nine has always been around. I’m not sure why. I was born on the ninth of October, I lived at nine Newcastle Road, ‘Revolution 9.’ Numerologically, I’m apparently a number three or six, so I’m not sure where the nine comes from…but it’s all part of nine.”

Paul McCartney:It was a number we didn’t used to do much but it was one that we always liked doing, and we rediscovered it. There were a couple of tunes that we wondered why we never put out; either George Martin didn’t like them enough to or he favored others. It’s not a great song but it’s a great favorite of mine because it has great memories for me of John and I trying to write a bluesy freight-train song. There were a lot of those songs at the time, like ‘Midnight Special,’ ‘Freight Train,’ ‘Rock Island Line,’ so this was the ‘One After 909.’ She didn’t get the 909, she got the one after it! It was a tribute to British Rail, actually. No, at the time we weren’t think British, it was much more the Super Chief from Omaha.”

One After 909

My baby said she’s trav’ling on the one after 909
I said move over honey I’m traveling on that line
I said move over once, move over twice
Come on baby don’t be cold as ice.
Said she’s trav’ling on the one after 909.

I begged her not to go and I begged her on my bended knees,
You’re only fooling around, you’re fooling around with me.
I said move over once, move over twice
Come on baby don’t be cold as ice.
Said she’s trav’ling on the one after 909.

I got my bag, run to the station
Railman says you’ve got the the wrong location
I got my bag, run right home
Then I find I’ve got the number wrong

Well she said she’s trav’ling on the one after 909
I said move over honey I’m traveling on that line
I said move over once, move over twice
Come on baby don’t be cold as ice.
Said she’s trav’ling on the one after 909.

I got my bag, run to the station
Railman says you’ve got the the wrong location
I got my bag, run right home
Then I find I’ve got the number wrong

Well she said she’s trav’ling on the one after 909
I said move over honey I’m traveling on that line
I said move over once, move over twice
Come on baby don’t be cold as ice.
Said she’s trav’ling on the one after 9-0,
Said she’s trav’ling on the one after 9-0,
Said she’s trav’ling on the one after 909.

Beatles – Help! ….Album

I don’t post many albums, but I wanted to go over this one. This will be the UK version of the album. The American version was a different album with the soundtrack music replacing some of the songs.

In my opinion, it was one of the most important albums the Beatles ever released. The album signaled a change with the Beatles. Rubber Soul is usually credited as the album that represented the Beatles transformation from pure a rock/pop band into something more. I’ve always seen Help! as the bridge from Beatlemania to the middle period of Rubber Soul and Revolver. With songs like You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away, The Night Before, I’ve Just Seen A Face, and Ticket to Ride it was apparent that a change was coming.

Was the album as good as Rubber Soul? No, but it cleared the way for the change that was coming. In 1963 the Beatles released She Loves You…4 years later they recorded A Day In The Life. That is only 4 years…it would be like building a go-cart and 4 years later building a rocket and going to the moon. There were steps in between though and Help! was one of them. What makes the Beatles so special is they didn’t repeat themselves. They progressed with every album into a different sound and feel. It wasn’t only drugs but social issues, fame, isolation, and superior songwriting skills.

You can tell pot had some influence on this album. Most of the songs were not as fast-paced with a beat group mentality. You still had some songs that were the Beatles that everyone knew at the time. Songs like You’re Going to Lose That Girl, and the two covers Act Naturally and Dizzy Miss Lizzy. I’ve always liked You’re Going to Lose That Girl with the call and response and Ringo did an excellent job on Act Naturally.

I think the most underrated song on the album is The Night Before. If any other band did this song…it would have been a single. Other songs that I like (that were not hits) are It’s Only Love (although Lennon hated it), I’ve Just Seen A Face, I Need You, and Another Girl.

I shouldn’t rate Beatle albums because it’s hard for me to be objective about them but I would give this 5 out of 5 stars. A fun movie also if you get a chance …watch it.

Track Listing

Help!
The Night Before
You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away
I Need You
Another Girl
You’re Going To Lose That Girl
Ticket To Ride

Act Naturally
It’s Only Love
You Like Me Too Much
Tell Me What You See
I’ve Just Seen A Face
Yesterday
Dizzy Miss Lizzy

Beatles – Ticket To Ride

According to John Lennon, when the Beatles were in Hamburg, prostitutes had to have a piece of paper proving they have a clean bill of health…as in a Ticket To Ride. McCartney said it was “a British Railways ticket to the town of Ryde on the Isle of Wight.” Lennon’s description caught a 9-year-old boy’s imagination much more.

George Harrison came up with the way the riff was played. Ringo came up with a distinctive staccato drum pattern for this song based on the way George played it. He said a big part of his drumming style is being a left-handed drummer trying to play right-handed.

I remember this the most by it being used in the Beatles movie Help! in the scene where The Beatles ski… poorly. Copies of the original single released on Capitol Records say: “From the United Artists Release ‘Eight Arms To Hold You’,” which was the original working title of Help!

Mark My Words: Movie Review: The Beatles in Help! (1965)

The Beatles were one of the first groups to make music videos, which were done so they could promote their songs without showing up at TV stations. They made one for “Ticket To Ride” in a shoot where they did four other songs as well. All the footage was shot in the studio; this one saw the band performing in front of oversized tickets for trains and busses.

The song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, Canada and the UK in 1965.

Carl Palmer: “One of the most exciting, rhythmical patterns and parts and songs that I ever heard, which I thought was really big-time and had it all going is a track by The Beatles called ‘Ticket To Ride, the drum part on that I always thought was exceptional.”

From Songfacts

The Beatles taped a performance of this song that was broadcast on an episode of Ed Sullivan Show that aired September 12, 1965 (the last Ed Sullivan show broadcast in black and white). The Beatles recorded it prior to their Shea Stadium concert that took place August 15.

The Carpenters covered this in 1969 with the gender reversed to suit lead vocalist Karen Carpenter (“he’s got a ticket to ride…” Their mellow version was released as the duo’s first single and included on their first album, which was also called Ticket To Ride. Their rendition didn’t chart, but made its way onto plenty of light rock playlists.

In Stephen King’s 1977 novel The Shining, a supernatural Big Band ensemble plays a swing version of this at The Overlook Hotel.

Ticket To Ride

I think I’m gonna be sad
I think it’s today, yeah
The girl that’s driving me mad
Is going away

She’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
But she don’t care

She said that living with me
Is bringing her down yeah
For she would never be free
When I was around

She’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
But she don’t care

I don’t know why she’s ridin’ so high
She ought to think twice
She ought to do right by me
Before she gets to saying goodbye
She ought to think twice,
She ought to do right by me
I think I’m gonna be sad
I think it’s today yeah
The girl that’s driving me mad
Is going away, yeah

She’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
But she don’t care

I don’t know why she’s ridin’ so high
She ought to think twice
She ought to do right by me
Before she gets to saying goodbye
She ought to think twice
She ought to do right by me
She said that living with me
Is bringing her down, yeah
For she would never be free
When I was around

Ah, she’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
But she don’t care

My baby don’t care, my baby don’t care
My baby don’t care, my baby don’t care
My baby don’t care, my baby don’t care

Beatles – Penny Lane

I love the visuals in this song. I’ve never had the pleasure of being there but it feels like I’m standing in the middle of Penny Lane in 1967.

This song was part of what I think was the best single ever released. Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields. Both of the songs are connected with Liverpool. Both John and Paul wrote about places where they grew up.  Paul explained that Penny Lane was a suburban district where, until age four, he lived with his mother and father.

The Beatles did not include these two songs on Sgt Pepper. They recorded singles and albums separately for the most part. They ended up on the Magical Mystery Tour album in America.

Lennon and McCartney were competitive and for the most part it was a good competitiveness that resulted in timeless songs that will be still remembered 100 years from now.

They made promotional films for both songs. This must have been a shock to some people. They had not seen the Beatles since the year before…they had ditched the mop tops and gone weird…that must have been in some people’s minds. The music had a sophistication that earlier songs didn’t have.

The single only made #2 in the UK…it was locked out of the #1 position by no other than Elbert Humperdinck with Release Me. It did peak at #1 in the Billboard 100, #1 in Canada, and #1 in New Zealand in 1967.

In 1967, Capitol released Beatles music on a new but short-lived format called “Playtapes.” These tape cartridges did not have the capabilities to include entire albums, so a truncated four-song version of “Magical Mytery Tour” was released in early 1968 in this portable format, some rare copies having a picture from the “Help!” soundtrack album on the front of the tape. “Penny Lane” was one of the four songs on this release. These Playtapes are highly collectable today.

Paul McCartney: “When I came to write it, John came over and helped me with the third verse, as often was the case. We were writing childhood memories: recently faded memories from eight or ten years before, so it was a recent nostalgia, pleasant memories for both of us. All the places were still there, and because we remembered it so clearly we could have gone on.” John himself relates: “We really got into the groove of imagining Penny Lane, you know – the bank was there, and that was where the tram sheds were and people waiting and the inspector stood there, the fire engines were down there. It was just reliving childhood.” In John’s Playboy interview of 1980, he concurs about his input in writing the song: “I wrote some of the lyrics. I can’t remember which. It was all Paul’s melody.”

“There was a barber shop called Bioletti’s with head shots of the haircuts you can have in the window and I just took it all and arted it up a little bit to make it sound like he was having a picture exhibition in his window. It was all based on real things; there was a bank on the corner so I imagined the banker, it was not a real person, and his slightly dubious habits and the little children laughing at him, and the pouring rain. The fire station was a bit of poetic license; there’s a fire station about half a mile down the road, not actually in Penny Lane, but we needed a third verse so we took that and I was very pleased with the line ‘It’s a clean machine.’ I still like that as a phrase, you occasionally hit a lucky little phrase and it becomes more than a phrase. So the banker and the barber shop and the fire station were all real locations.”

Here are the two videos…Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane… See those glasses that John Lennon slips on in the Penny Lane Video? The square ones…I have some identical from that time period…they are really cool.

Penny Lane

In Penny Lane, there is a barber showing photographs
Of every head he’s had the pleasure to know
And all the people that come and go
Stop and say, “Hello”

On the corner is a banker with a motorcar
And little children laugh at him behind his back
And the banker never wears a mac
In the pouring rain, very strange

Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
There beneath the blue suburban skies
I sit, and meanwhile back
In Penny Lane there is a fireman with an hourglass
And in his pocket is a portrait of the Queen
He likes to keep his fire engine clean
It’s a clean machine

Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
A four of fish and finger pies
In summer, meanwhile back
Behind the shelter in the middle of the roundabout
The pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray
And though she feels as if she’s in a play
She is anyway

In Penny Lane, the barber shaves another customer
We see the banker sitting waiting for a trim
And then the fireman rushes in
From the pouring rain, very strange

Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
There beneath the blue suburban skies
I sit, and meanwhile back
Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
There beneath the blue suburban skies
Penny Lane!

George Harrison – All Those Years Ago

I remember this George Harrison song well in 1981. This song was tribute to John Lennon, who was shot and killed the year before. The song had a bouncy melody and it was originally wrote for Ringo. After Lennon was murdered George re-wrote the lyrics to show is feelings for John.

Ringo did end up playing on the track with Paul and Linda McCartney, and Denny Laine from McCartney’s band Wings. Long time Beatle producer George Martin produced this for Harrison. Geoff Emerick, one of The Beatles sound engineers, also had a hand in this tune.

This appeared on the album Somewhere In England. I bought the single and then the album. The album peaked at #11 in the Billboard Album Charts, #13 in the UK, and #14 in Canada. The song peaked at #2 in the Billboard Album Charts, #13 in the UK, and #3 in Canada in 1981.

Al Kooper: “George was in the kitchen, white as a sheet, real shook up. We all had breakfast. He took calls from Paul and Yoko, which actually seemed to help his spirit, and then we went into the studio and started the day’s work. Ray and I kept George’s wine glass full all day…”

All Those Years Ago

I’m shouting all about love
While they treated you like a dog
When you were the one who had made it so clear
All those years ago

I’m talking all about how to give
They don’t act with much honesty
But you point the way to the truth when you say
All you need is love

Living with good and bad
I always looked up to you
Now we’re left cold and sad
By someone the devil’s best friend
Someone who offended all

We’re living in a bad dream
They’ve forgotten all about mankind
And you were the one they backed up to the wall
All those years ago
You were the one who imagined it all
All those years ago

All those years ago
All those years ago

Deep in the darkest night
I send out a prayer to you
Now in the world of light
Where the spirit free of lies
And all else that we despised

They’ve forgotten all about God
He’s the only reason we exist
Yet you were the one that they said was so weird
All those years ago
You said it all though not many had ears
All those years ago
You had control of our smiles and our tears
All those years ago

All those years ago

All those years ago

All those years ago

John Lennon – Mother

This came off of John Lennon’s debut solo album….John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. The church bell heard at the start of this track was actually faster and higher-pitched initially, and John actually slowed it down to make it sound spookier and more haunting.

What I’ve told people is if you have a party going on…don’t play this album! Don’t get me wrong…this is one of the great solo Beatle albums but it’s not a toe tapper to say the least. It’s probably my favorite Lennon album. This song is obviously about his mom Julia.

This is one of three songs which Lennon wrote for his mother, along with “Julia” and “My Mummy’s Dead”.

He lost his mother when he was 17. She was walking to catch a bus and was hit at a crosswalk and killed instantly. The driver was Eric Clague an off-duty cop… he was also a learner-driver and shouldn’t have been on the road unaccompanied, and he was suspended from the force because of it…he was never charged with being drunk, and alcohol wasn’t mentioned at the inquest.

His Aunt Mimi raised John from a youth when his mom and dad split up and his dad left never to be seen by John again until he was famous. He lost his mom when he was young and permanently at 17 when she was killed.

Lennon wrote this while he was undergoing Primal Scream therapy by psychotherapist Arthur Janov… where he was dealing with a lot of issues that were detailed in the lyrics.

The album peaked at #6 in the Billboard Album Charts, #2 in Canada, and #8 in the UK in 1970.

Lou Reed: “That was a song that had realism,” “When I first heard it, I didn’t even know it was him. I just said, ‘Who the f–k is that? I don’t believe that.’ Because the lyrics to that are real. You see, he wasn’t kidding around. He got right down to it, as down as you can get. I like that in a song.”

From Songfacts

This features Klaus Voormann on bass and Ringo Starr on drums. In addition to his work in music, Voorman is an artist, and designed the cover of The Beatles album Revolver. He also played bass with Manfred Mann. 

On many of his early solo recordings such as this one, Lennon’s arrangements are more simpler and sparser than on the Beatles songs. In the January 1971 edition of Rolling Stone, he explained this was because, “I’ve always liked simple rock.” The former Beatle added: “I was influenced by acid and got psychedelic, like the whole generation, but really, I like rock and roll and I express myself best in rock. I had a few ideas to do this with ‘Mother’ and that with ‘Mother’ but when you just hear, the piano does it all for you, your mind can do the rest. I think the backings on mine are as complicated as the backings on any record you’ve ever heard, if you’ve got an ear.

Anybody knows that. Any musician will tell you, just play a note on a piano, it’s got harmonics in it. It got to that. What the hell, I didn’t need anything else.”

Producer John Leckie explained to Uncut magazine August 2010 that the screams heard on this track were actually edited into the song once the rest of the vocal had been recorded. Lennon would attempt the screaming finale every night, careful never to try it in the daytime in case it destroyed his voice. “The screams were double-tracked,” Leckie pointed out. “John didn’t like the raw sound of his own voice. He always wanted lots of stuff on it. Spector’s contribution, really, was to be generous with reverb and echo.”

Arthur Janov created primal scream therapy, which he detailed in his book The Primal Scream. Folks were always sending Lennon books, and a copy of Janov’s book found him. Lennon was intrigued because the therapy reminded him of the screaming Yoko would often do in her works, but then he looked into it as a way of helping him resolve issues from his childhood. John and Yoko invited Janov to England, where they met with him to vet his practice. They liked what they heard and decided to try some sessions when they went to Los Angeles. For Lennon, it was a breakthrough, and led to this song.

“It’s just a matter of breaking the wall that’s there in yourself and come out and let it all hang out to the point that you start crying,” Yoko said in describing the therapy (Uncut, 1998). She added: “He was going back to the days of when he wanted to scream, ‘Mother.’ He was able to go back to that childhood, that memory.”

This is the theme song to the FX TV series Better Things, which stars Pamela Adlon as a single mom to three girls. To get the song, she wrote a letter to Yoko Ono and lobbied FX to budget for it.

David Bowie covered this in 1998 for a Lennon tribute collection that never came to fruition. His take was done in collaboration with longtime producer Tony Visconti. It remained unreleased until January 8, 2021, when it was made available for the first time to mark what would have been Bowie’s 74th birthday.

Mother

Mother, you had me
But I never had you
I, I wanted you
You didn’t want me
So, I
I just got to tell you
Goodbye
Goodbye

Father, you left me
But I never left you
I needed you
You didn’t need me
So, I
I just got to tell you, mm
Goodbye
Goodbye

Children, don’t do
What I have done
I couldn’t walk
And I tried to run
So, I
I just got to tell you
Goodbye
Goodbye

Mama don’t go
Daddy come home
Mama don’t go
Daddy come home
Mama don’t go
Daddy come home
Mama don’t go
Daddy come home

Mama don’t go
Daddy come home
Mama don’t go
Daddy come home
Mama don’t go
Daddy come home
Mama don’t go
Daddy come home

Mama don’t go
Daddy come home
Mama don’t go
Daddy come home

Beatles – Christmas Time Is Here Again

It’s that time of year…and this is one holiday song that is on my list and not worn out. I first heard this in 1994 when I bought the Beatles Anthology album. I never knew of this song before. this song was never officially released until it appeared as the B-side to “Free As A Bird” in 1994. I’ve posted it every year since I’ve blogged and will continue to do so…it’s repetitive butI like it…it drives home the point.

My friend Dave posted this song a few days ago and he has more info than I do so check it out.

The song, credited to Lennon-McCartney-Harrison-Starkey. The original version was distributed to The Beatles fan club in 1967. It’s the only song ever written specifically for the Beatles Fan Club members. Along with the Beatles…actor Victor Spinetti  and roadie Mal Evans were on the recording.

Between December 1963 to December 1969, sent out 7 flexi discs that had  spoken and musical messages to their official fan clubs in the UK and the US at Christmas time.

The Beatles recorded this in 1967 and wasn’t released until 1994 paired with “Free As A Bird”. It is a fun Christmas song that will stick in your head. The Beatles did not release a Christmas song commercially… only to their fan club when they were active.

Many performers of this era like The Beach Boys and The Four Seasons released Christmas songs, but The Beatles never had an official Christmas release.

Christmas time is here again

Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again

Ain’t been round since you know when
Christmas time is here again
O-U-T spells “out”

Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again

Ain’t been round since you know when
Christmas time is here again
O-U-T spells “out”

Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again

Ain’t been round since you know when
Christmas time…[music continues and fades to background]

[spoken]

This is Paul McCartney here, I’d just like to wish you everything you wish yourself for Christmas.

This is John Lennon saying on behalf of the Beatles, have a very Happy Christmas and a good New Year.

George Harrison speaking. I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas, listeners everywhere.

This is Ringo Starr and I’d just like to say Merry Christmas and a really Happy New Year to all listeners

[a John Lennon pastiche at this point, very hard to understand]

John Lennon – Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

Merry Christmas everyone… another year older…and a new one just begun.  Dave just covered this one a few days ago.

This is my favorite Christmas song hands down. This song gets me in the Christmas mood like no other. The song is highly idealistic but that is alright. It was the early seventies and the time for idealism.

In 1969 John and Yoko had rented billboard spaces in 12 major cities around the world, for the display of black-and-white posters that declared “WAR IS OVER! If You Want It – Happy Christmas from John & Yoko”. Two years later this slogan became the basis for this song when Lennon decided to make a Christmas record with an anti-war message…plus John said he was sick of White Christmas.

War is Over - John & Yoko Billboard - Time Square - NYC 1969. | Yoko, War, John  lennon

John’s voice goes so well with this song. The song peaked at #2 in the UK charts in 1971….the song did peak at #42 in the Billboard 100 in 2019.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote this in their New York City hotel room and recorded it during the evening of October 28 and into the morning of the 29th, 1971 at the Record Plant in New York. It was released in the US for Christmas but didn’t chart. The next year, it was released in the UK, where it did much better, charting at #2. Eventually, the song became a Christmas classic in America, but it took a while.

Lennon originally wrote this as a protest song about the Vietnam War, and the idea “that we’re just as responsible as the man who pushes the button. As long as people imagine that somebody’s doing it to them and that they have no control, then they have no control.”

The children’s voices are the Harlem Community Choir, who were brought in to sing on this track. They are credited on the single along with Yoko and The Plastic Ono Band.

I think of High School when I hear this song. Our school had a Christmas poster contest and a buddy and I made a poster as a joke and wrote “So this is Christmas and what have you done another year over, and a new one just begun” and won first prize…with an assist from John.

This didn’t appear on an album until 1975, when it was included on Lennon’s Shaved Fish singles compilation. This is one of the first Lennon albums I bought.

Happy Xmas (War is Over)

(Happy Christmas Kyoko)
(Happy Christmas Julian)

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very Merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong
And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let’s stop all the fight

A very Merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
A new one just begun
And so happy Christmas
We hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very Merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
War is over, if you want it
War is over now

Happy Christmas

December 8, 1980…Lennon

Damn this date. Every Dec 8th I can’t help but think of where I was at when I heard.  Get Back only heightened the anger and confusion over what happened.

It’s odd to think the Beatles had only been broken up for 10 years when this happened…to a 13 year old at the time…that was a lifetime but in reality it’s nothing.

Since second grade, I’d been listening to the Beatles. While a lot of kids I knew listened and talked about modern music …I just couldn’t relate as much. By the time I was ten I had read every book about The Beatles I could get my hands on. In a small middle TN town…it wasn’t too many. I was after their generation but I knew the importance of what they did…plus just great music. The more I got into them the more I learned about the Who, Stones, and the Kinks. I wanted to get my hands on every book about the music of the 1960s. Just listening to the music wasn’t enough…I wanted to know the history.

I spent that Monday night playing albums in my room. Monday night I didn’t turn the radio on…I’m glad I didn’t…The next morning I got up to go to school and the CBS morning news was on. The sound was turned down but the news was showing Beatle video clips. I was wondering why they were showing them but didn’t think much of it.

Curious, I walked over to the television and turned it up and found out that John Lennon had been shot and killed. I was very angry and shocked. The bus ride to school was quiet, at school, it was quiet as well. Some teachers were affected because John was their generation. Some of my friends were shocked but some really didn’t get the significance at the time and some didn’t care. A few but not many kids acted almost gleeful which pissed me off…It was obvious their parents were talking through them.

I went out and bought the White Album, Abbey Road and Double Fantasy in late December of 1980…I can’t believe I didn’t have the two Beatle albums already…now whenever I hear any song from those albums they remind me of the winter of 80-81. I remember the call-in shows on the radio then…pre-internet… people calling to share their feelings for John or hatred for the killer.

The next few weeks I saw footage of the Beatles on specials that I had never seen before. Famous and non-famous people pouring their heart out over the grief. Planned tributes from bands and everyone asking the same question…why?

My young mind could not process why a person would want to do this to a musician. A politician yea…I could see that…not that it’s right but this? A musician? Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, and JFK were before my time.  By the mid-1970s John had pretty much dropped out of sight…John and Yoko released Double Fantasy on November 17, 1980, and suddenly they were everywhere…Less than a month later John was murdered. The catchwords were Catcher in the Rye, Hawaii, handgun and insane. The next day we were duly informed on who killed John in the First, Middle, and Last name format they assign to murderers.

I didn’t want to know his name, his career, his wife’s name, his childhood…I just wanted to know why… he says now…”attention”

I noticed a change happened after that Monday night. John Lennon was instantly turned into a saint, something he would have said was preposterous. Paul suddenly became the square and the uncool one and George and Ringo turned into just mere sidemen. Death has a way of elevating you in life. After the Anthology came out in the 90s that started to change back a little.

I called my dad a few days after it happened and he said that people were more concerned that The Beatles would never play again than the fact a man, father, and husband was shot and killed. He was right and I was among those people until he said that. Dad was never a fan but he made his point.

Below is a video of James Taylor telling on how he met the killer a day before Lennon was murdered.