Elton John – Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)

This song was one of my favorite Lennon tribute songs.

This song is a tribute to John Lennon, who was murdered in 1980. Elton John’s songwriting partner Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics, but Elton certainly felt a connection to the song, as he was good friends with Lennon and is the Godfather of Lennon’s second son, Sean. Elton appeared onstage with John at his final concert in 1974.

Empty Garden peaked at #13 in the Billboard 100, #8 in Canada, #14 in New Zealand, and #51 in the UK in1982

Some of the other songs that are tributes to John are Queen – Life Is Real, George Harrison – All Those Years Ago, Paul McCartney – Here Today, Bob Dylan – Roll On John, and Paul Simon – The Late Great Johnny Ace.

From Songfacts

In the John/Taupin songwriting partnership, Bernie writes the lyrics first and Elton then puts them to music. When writing for the Jump Up album, Elton had some melodies handy and asked Taupin to write words to those, which he did. Taupin has described those songs as “awful” and said, “it’s a very messy album.” “Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny),” however, was written their traditional way with the lyrics first, and Taupin has said that it’s the only good song on the album.

When he performed this at a sold-out Madison Square Garden show in August 1982, Elton was joined onstage by Lennon’s wife Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon.

 

Empty Garden

What happened here
As the New York sunset disappeared
I found an empty garden among the flagstones there
Who lived here
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
And now it all looks strange
It’s funny how one insect can damage so much grain

And what’s it for
This little empty garden by the brownstone door
And in the cracks along the sidewalk nothing grows no more
Who lived here
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
And we are so amazed, we’re crippled and we’re dazed
A gardener like that one no one can replace

And I’ve been knocking but no one answers
And I’ve been knocking most of the day
Oh and I’ve been calling, oh hey hey Johnny
Can’t you come out to play

And through their tears
Some say he farmed his best in younger years
But he’d have said that roots grow stronger, if only he could hear
Who lived there
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
Now we pray for rain, and with every drop that falls
We hear, we hear your name

And I’ve been knocking but no one answers
And I’ve been knocking most of the day
Oh and I’ve been calling, oh hey hey Johnny
Can’t you come out to play

And I’ve been knocking but no one answers
And I’ve been knocking most all the day
Oh and I’ve been calling, oh hey hey Johnny
Can’t you come out, can you come out to play, Johnny
Can’t you come out to play in your empty garden, Johnny
Can’t you come out to play in your empty garden, Johnny
Can’t you come out to play in your empty garden, Johnny
Can’t you come out to play in your empty garden, Johnny
Can’t you come out to play in your empty garden, Johnny
Can’t you come out to play in your empty garden, Johnny

 

John Lennon – Jealous Guy

Lennon wrote this when he was in The Beatles. They recorded it as a demo called “Child of Nature,” which he’d written about their trip to India to study with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It didn’t make it onto any Beatles albums, so Lennon used it on his Imagine album with the lyrics changed to reflect his jealous nature. It was not released as a single in 1971.

The single reached #80 in the Billboard Hot 100 in1988, in conjunction with the release of the film Imagine John Lennon.

Joey Molland and Tom Evans of Badfinger both played acoustic guitar on this track. Badfinger was signed to the Beatles-run Apple label and George Harrison recommended to Lennon, “if you need some guitar players on Imagine, use the Badfinger guys.”

John Lennon said this about the song: My song, melody written in India. The lyrics explain themselves clearly: I was a very jealous, possessive guy. Toward everything. A very insecure male. A guy who wants to put his woman in a little box, lock her up, and just bring her out when he feels like playing with her. She’s not allowed to communicate with the outside world – outside of me – because it makes me feel insecure.

From Songfacts

John Lennon confronts the green-eyed monster in this song, where he sings about the fits of jealousy that controlled him. At the time, he was married to Yoko Ono, who believes the jealousy Lennon describes is not sexual, but more an unfounded feeling of inadequacy. “He was jealous about the fact that I had another language in my head, you know, Japanese, that he can’t share with me,” she told Uncut in 1998. “It was almost on a very conceptual, spiritual level. It wasn’t on a level of physical or anything ’cause I just would never give him a reason for that.”

Paul McCartney stated in the February 1985 issue of Playgirl: “He (John) used to say, ‘Everyone is on the McCartney bandwagon.’ He wrote ‘I’m Just a Jealous Guy,’ and he said that the song was about me. So I think it was just some kind of jealousy.” 

Speaking with Rolling Stone months after Lennon’s death, she said that he made her write out a list of all the men she slept with before they met. “He wrote a song, ‘Jealous Guy,’ that should have told people how jealous he was,” she said. “After we started living together, it was John who wanted me there all the time. He made me go into the men’s room with him. He was scared that if I stayed out in the studio with a lot of other men, I might run off with one of them.”

Klaus Voormann played bass on this track. He was an old friend of the Beatles and designed the cover of Revolver. Other musicians were Jim Keltner on drums, Alan White on vibes and John Barham on harmonium. 

In 1981 Roxy Music recorded this as a tribute to Lennon, who was murdered on December 8, 1980. Their version went to #1 in the UK. Many other groups have covered it as well, including The Faces and The Black Crowes.

Joey Molland recalled working with Lennon in an interview with Gibson.com, “It was great! He was just a plain-talking, regular guy. No b.s. at all. Now, of course, he was John Lennon, so he had that energy about him; he kind of lit up the room, you know? But he welcomed us, said he was thrilled to have us, and then he said, ‘The first song we’re going to do is something called ‘Jealous Guy.” It was pretty amazing, sitting there with your headphones on, hearing John Lennon singing this fantastic song. Totally remarkable.”

Yoko Ono contributed to the track’s lyrics. However, because of the public’s negative attitude towards her at the time, her role was downplayed. She told NME: “Well, if it was just John, [he] would have given me the right credit, but it was a difficult time. No famous songwriter would have thought of splitting the credit with his wife.”

Yoko added regarding her influence on the track: “I think it’s a good song from a women’s point of view as well. John was trying to create a fun song about going on a trip to Rishikesh. That might have been great too, but it ended up not being that.”

Jealous Guy

I was dreaming of the past
And my heart was beating fast
I began to lose control
I began to lose control
I didn’t mean to hurt you
I’m sorry that I made you cry
Oh my I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy

I was feeling insecure
You might not love me anymore
I was shivering inside
I was shivering inside
Oh I didn’t mean to hurt you
I’m sorry that I made you cry
Oh my I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy

I didn’t mean to hurt you
I’m sorry that I made you cry
Oh my I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy

I was trying to catch your eyes
Thought that you was trying to hide
I was swallowing my pain
I was swallowing my pain
I didn’t mean to hurt you
I’m sorry that I made you cry
Oh no I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy
Watch out baby I’m just a jealous guy
Look out baby I’m just a jealous guy

Beatles – I’m So Tired

Another gem from the White Album. John Lennon loved to sleep…he referenced it in another song on Revolver named “I’m Only Sleeping.” Paul would have a songwriting session planned with Lennon and would arrive at John’s house only to have to wake him up. I’ve always liked this song and fit perfectly with the diverse song styles of the album.

John wrote this at a transcendental meditation camp in India when he couldn’t sleep. He was meditating day and night, and after three weeks of meditation and lectures by the Maharishi, he thought of his future wife Yoko Ono while his current wife Cynthia was there with him.  and came up with the song. He even thought of inviting Yoko with him along with Cynthia… that would have added some spice to the trip. Bringing a date on a trip with your wife…probably a bad idea.

John mumbles something at the end of the song.

Mark Lewisohn’s book “The Beatles Recording Sessions” explains this final bit of Lennon mumbling as “Monsieur, monsieur, how about another one?“, insinuating that he was requesting another attempt at the backing vocals.  This final mumbling was the only one that made it onto the finished mix.

In 1969 when the “Paul is dead” rumor went around the world people insisted  when the mumbling at the end of this song was played backward, John was saying “Paul is dead, miss him, miss him, miss him!”  This made for yet another clue for the poor departed Paul …but of course was not true and Paul was and is very much alive… but it did ruin a lot of record player needles in the process of trying to find out.

John said this about the song: “One of my favorite tracks. I just like the sound of it, and I sing it well“.

From Songfacts

The voice at the end sounds like, “Paul is dead man, miss him,” when played backward. This helped fuel rumors that McCartney was dead and replaced by an actor that looked like him.

The line “When I hold you in my arms, and feel my finger on your trigger” from “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” appears in bootlegged, unreleased versions of this song as “When I hold you in your arms, when you show each one of your charms, I wonder should I get up and go to the funny farm.” 

The word “get” as used in this song is a well-known term as a quite mild insult that is still commonly used on Merseyside. Lennon is cursing Sir Walter Raleigh (who is credited with introducing tobacco to Britain from America in the 16th century) for indirectly getting him hooked on cigarettes.

At the bottom below the lyrics, I found a version of Paul singing the song and having a good time. It possibly is from the Let It Be sessions…I’m not sure.

I’m So Tired

I’m so tired, I haven’t slept a wink
I’m so tired, my mind is on the blink
I wonder should I get up and fix myself a drink
No, no, no.

I’m so tired, I don’t know what to do
I’m so tired, my mind is set on you
I wonder should I call you but I know what you would do

You’d say I’m putting you on
But it’s no joke, it’s doing me harm
You know I can’t sleep, I can’t stop my brain
You know it’s three weeks, I’m going insane
You know I’d give you everything I’ve got
For a little peace of mind.

I’m so tired, I’m feeling so upset
Although I’m so tired, I’ll have another cigarette
And curse Sir Walter Raleigh
He was such a stupid get.

You’d say I’m putting you on
But it’s no joke, it’s doing me harm
You know I can’t sleep, I can’t stop my brain
You know it’s three weeks, I’m going insane
You know I’d give you everything I’ve got
For a little peace of mind.

Give you everything I’ve got
For a little peace of mind.

I’d give you everything I’ve got
For a little peace of mind.

My Favorite Singers

There are so many singers that I cannot possibly list them all. I could make a top 30 and not get them all. This is my personal favorite top 10 plus some extra.

For the most part, I like singers with soul and meaning to their singing…not vocal gymnastics.

1…Aretha Franklin – Aretha could make any song better by singing it.

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2…Van Morrison, Them and Solo  – Probably my favorite male singer.

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3…John Lennon, Beatles – John hated his voice and always wanted an effect on it…It didn’t need it…one of his best performances was “A Day In The Life”

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4…Bob Dylan – Bob changed popular singing.  I would rather hear Bob sing than many of the great traditional singers.

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5…Elvis Presley – Hey he’s Elvis…

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6…Otis Redding – Just a fantastic singer and performer and just taking off before he was killed in a plane crash.

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7…Mick Jagger, Rolling Stones – Mick makes the most out of his voice.

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8…John Fogerty…CCR – If I could have the voice of anyone…it would be Fogerty. The power that John has is incredible…his voice is its own instrument.

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9…Janis Joplin – She put everything she had in each song. Her last producer Paul A. Rothchild was teaching Janis how to hold back and sing more traditional to save her voice for old age…which never came.

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10…Johnny Cash – Last but far from least.  Only one man can sound like Cash…and that is Cash

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Honorable Mention…any of these could have easily been on the list.

Steve Marriott, Paul McCartney, Levon Helm, Bessie Smith, Little Richard, Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, Elton John, Neil Young, Roy Orbison, Smokey Robinson, Sam Cooke, Joe Cocker, Billie Holiday, Freddie Mercury, Kate Bush, Ella Fitzgerald, Paul Rodgers, David Bowie.

 

 

 

 

John Lennon’s Gypsy Caravan

The caravan was initially bought by Lennon as a gift for his son Julian’s fourth birthday. He hired the pop art designing trio from Amsterdam who called themselves ‘The Fool’ to paint his son’s extravagant present with the famous Sgt Pepper motif and the art designs that were so popular amongst travelers at that time.

Lennon also had “The Fool” paint his Rolls Royce in a Sgt Pepper era motif.

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In 1967 John bought a small 21-acre island called Dorinish. He at first planned to build a house on it but never did. He did stay at the island some and had the caravan floated out to it for a while. Through the years he would take the caravan out some.

After John was murdered, Ringo Starr took ownership as part of the late Beatles estate.  In 1982, he called in Cookham-based vintage caravan restorer John Pockett to restore it. In September 1983 it was restored to its former glory from Mr. Pockett’s Cookham workshop and was placed beside Ringo’s swimming pool.

In 2013 it was found at Ringo Starr’s former Surrey home under a tarp. A charitable trust, the Ascot Lawyers Foundation, has taken ownership of the piece of Sgt Pepper memorabilia. They working on restoring it.

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http://delightmakers.com/project/john-lennon-gypsy-caravan/

John Lennon – #9 Dream

The number 9 popped up constantly in Lennon’s life. The song peaked at #9 (what else?) in the Billboard 100, #23 in the UK and #35 in Canada in 1974. I’ve always liked this unusual song and its approriate dream-like qualities.

John Lennon was born on October 9, 1940, in Liverpool
Liverpool has 9 letters
The Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, first saw the Beatles play in the Cavern club on November 9, 1961.
The Beatles’ record contract with EMI was secured on May 9, 1962.
The Beatles played the Ed Sullivan show on February 9, 1964.
John Lennon met Yoko Ono on November 9, 1966.
John and Yoko lived at the Dakota apartments on West 72nd Street (7+2=9)
Construction started on the Dakota in 1881 (1+8=9 and 8+1=9, 9+9=18, 1+8=9)
Their son Sean was born on October 9, 1975.
John Lennon was murdered on December 8, 1980, in New York City at 10:50 pm, but because of the 5 hour time difference, it was December 9 in England, his place of birth.
1980: 1+9=10+8=18, 1+8=9.
He was taken to Roosevelt hospital on 9th avenue, where he was pronounced dead at 11:07 pm (1+1+7=9)

From Songfacts.

The mystery voice that calls Lennon’s name “John” during the first bridge was performed by his lover, May Pang – on the second bridge he reversed the tape of her saying his name. According to May Pang’s book Loving John, Lennon told her that he did not know what the song was about, but it was not about her. He also did not “convince” her to sing the vocals, she sang them because the female vocalist scheduled for the session did not show up. (Thanks to David Thoener, who was an engineer at the sessions.)

John admitted that he “borrowed” the string arrangement from Harry Nilsson’s “Many Rivers To Cross” from Nilsson’s album Pussy Cats – which John produced!

#9 Dream

So long ago
Was it in a dream?
Was it just a dream?
I know, yes I know
It seemed so very real
Seemed so real to me

Took a walk down the street
Through the heat whispered trees
I thought I could hear
Hear
Hear
Hear

Somebody call out my name (John)
As it started to rain
Two spirits dancing so strange
Ah! Bowakawa, pousse pousse
Ah! Bowakawa, pousse pousse
Ah! Bowakawa, pousse pousse

Dream, dream away
Magic in the air
Was magic in the air?
I believe, yes I believe
More I cannot say
What more can I say?

On a river of sound
Through the mirror go round, round
I thought I could feel
Feel
Feel
Feel
Music touching my soul
Something warm, sudden cold
The spirit dance was unfolding
Ah! Bowakawa, pousse pousse
Ah! Bowakawa, pousse pousse
Ah! Bowakawa, pousse pousse
Ah! Bowakawa, pousse pousse
Ah! Bowakawa, pousse pousse
Ah! Bowakawa, pousse pousse
Ah! Bowakawa, pousse pousse
Ah! Bowakawa, pousse pousse
Ah! Bowakawa, pousse pousse
Ah! Bowakawa, pousse pousse
Ah! Bowakawa, pousse pousse
Ah! Bowakawa, pousse pousse

 

December 8, 1980

I wrote this back in May but since it’s December 8th I thought I would repost it…I can’t believe it’s been 38 years ago… Seeing that date depresses me…this was not the way to start the decade that was my teens.

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.