Beatles – Yer Blues

Great hard bluesy song on one of my favorite Beatle albums…The White Album. This is one reason I like the White Album so much. The variety it gives you is off the charts…but there is no mistaking who the band is in every song. The Beatles kept their style through the lush soft songs to the hard ones.

What I like about it is the rawness. This song and Helter Skelter have enough to spare.

The room they recorded this in was called Room 2A, which was next to the control room of EMI Studio Two and was a mere 8 ft. by 15.5 ft. The room had been used for storing four-track machines before it was emptied. It was very tight quarters for The Beatles once they set everything up. That added to the sound. They jammed together from 7pm to 5am and after 14 takes produced this song.

John Lennon wrote this in India while The Beatles were on a retreat learning meditation with the Maharishi.

Lennon was self-conscious about singing the blues.

John Lennon: “There was a self-consciousness about suddenly singing blues,” John continues. “Like everybody else, we were all listening to Sleepy John Estes and all that in art school (in the late ’50’s).  But to sing it, was something else. I was self-conscious about doing it.”

Ringo Starr: “We were just in an 8 foot room, with no separation, just doing what we do best: playing.”

A 9 minute version with Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Mitch Mitchell was performed on the Rolling Stones’ Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus. They called themselves the Dirty Mac.

Yer Blues

Yes, I’m lonely
Want to die
Yes, I’m lonely
Want to die
If I ain’t dead already
Oh, girl, you know the reason why

In the morning
Want to die
In the evening
Want to die
If I ain’t dead already
Oh, girl, you know the reason why

My mother was of the sky
My father was of the earth
But I am of the universe
And you know what it’s worth

I’m lonely
Want to die
If I ain’t dead already
Oh, girl, you know the reason why

The eagle picks my eye
The worm he licks my bone
I feel so suicidal
Just like Dylan’s Mr. Jones

Lonely
Want to die
If I ain’t dead already
Oh, girl, you know the reason why

Black cloud crossed my mind
Blue mist round my soul
Feel so suicidal
Even hate my rock and roll

Want to die
Yeah, want to die
If I ain’t dead already
Oh, girl, you know the reason why

 

John Lennon – Slippin’ and Slidin’ 1975

Sorry if you have seen this twice but it only posted for a second and then vanished.

I usually feature originals but I found this video of John covering Slippin and a Slidin’ that I never have seen before and I had to include it. My son listened to John Lennon’s Rock and Roll album (made up of entirely covers of mostly 50s Rock and Roll) and he flipped over it. Afterward, he played it so much I relistened to it and John’s love of that music really came through.

The song was on the Rock and Roll album released in 1975. I could listen to John sing the phone book.

The album made it to #6 in the Billboard 200, #6 in the UK, and #5 in Canada. Stand By Me made it to #20 in the Billboard 100. John Lennon did not make another album until Double Fantasy in 1980.

 

Slippin’ and Slidin’

Slippin’ and a slidin’, peepin’ and a hidin’, been told long time ago,
Slippin’ and a slidin’, peepin’ and a hidin’, been told long time ago,
I been told, baby, you been bold, I won’t be your fool no more.

Oh, big conniver, nothing but a jiver, done got hip to your jive,
Oh, big conniver, nothing but a jiver, done got hip to your jive,
Slippin’ and a slidin’, peepin’ and a hidin’, won’t be your fool no more.

Oh Malinda, she’s a solid sender, you know you better surrender,
Oh Malinda, she’s a solid sender, you know you better surrender,
Slippin’ and a slidin’, peepin’ and a hidin’, won’t be your fool no more.

John Lennon – Love

A simplistic beautiful song by John Lennon. Love was on the John Lennon album Plastic Ono Band. Phil Spector produced this as well as playing the piano on it.

The Lettermen recorded the song in 1971. This single became a top 20 hit on the Japanese Oricon singles chart and hit number 42 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming the only charting version of the song in the US and the last charting single of the group’s career.

Other covers included The Dream Academy, Barbara Streisand, and many others.

John’s version charted when he was killed in the UK at #41  in 1981. It also charted at #58 in Japan in 1998.

The Plastic Ono Band album peaked at #6 in the Billboard Album Charts, #8 in the UK, and #1 in Canada in 1971.

 

Love

Love is real, real is love
Love is feeling, feeling love
Love is wanting to be loved

Love is touch, touch is love
Love is reaching, reaching love
Love is asking to be loved

Love is you
You and me
Love is knowing
We can be

Love is free, free is love
Love is living, living love
Love is needing to be loved

Beatles – Day Tripper

One of the greatest rock guitar riffs…this was credited to Lennon – McCartney and they both worked on it.

This was released as a double-A-sided single with “We Can Work It Out.” It peaked at #1 in the UK and #5 in the Billboard 100.

“We Can Work It Out” got more airplay in the US. In America, the single was released on the same day as the Rubber Soul album, although neither song was on that album. The Beatles were popular enough to support the output…they thought of releasing singles and albums as two different things. What other bands would not place both of these songs on their new album?

A great rock song that still sounds good today.

Paul McCartney: “That was a co-written effort; we were both there making it all up but I would give John the main credit. Probably the idea came from John because he sang the lead, but it was a close thing. We both put a lot of work in on it.”

John Lennon: “Day Trippers are people who go on a day trip, right? Usually on a ferryboat or something. But the song was kind of – you’re just a weekend hippie. Get it?”

 

From Songfacts

John Lennon’s lyrics were his first overt reference to LSD in a Beatles song. The song can be seen as Lennon teasing Paul McCartney about not taking acid.

In 2004, Paul McCartney did an interview with the Daily Mirror newspaper where he explained that drugs influenced many of The Beatles’ songs. He singled this one out as being about acid (LSD), but also said that people often overestimate the influence of drugs on their music.

The Beatles had some fun with the line, “She’s a big teaser,” which they jokingly worked up as “she’s a prick teaser.” In context with the next line, “She took me half the way there,” it’s pretty clear what’s going on. The group managed to slip in subtle sexual innuendo in a few of their songs, including “I’m Down” and “Please Please Me.”

A short promotional film of The Beatles lip-synching to this song was made for the TV special The Music Of Lennon and McCartney, which first aired December 17, 1965 in the UK. It was one of the first music videos. 

Jimi Hendrix sometimes covered this at his concerts.

James Taylor did a cover version on his album Flag

With a packed schedule and feverish demand for TV appearances, The Beatles made music videos for five on their songs, including this one, at a one-day shoot at Twickenham Film Studios in London on November 23, 1965. They did three different versions of “Day Tripper,” lip-synching the song while having fun with the set pieces.

Day Tripper

Got a good reason
For taking the easy way out
Got a good reason
For taking the easy way out now
She was a day tripper
One way ticket, yeah
It took me so long to find out
And I found out

She’s a big teaser
She took me half the way there
She’s a big teaser
She took me half the way there, now
She was a day tripper
One way ticket, yeah
It took me so long to find out
And I found out
Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah

Tried to please her
She only played one night stand
Tried to please her
She only played one night stand, now
She was a day tripper
Sunday driver, yeah
It took me so long to find out
And I found out

Day tripper, day tripper, yeah
Day tripper, day tripper, yeah
Day tripper, day tripper, yeah

A Matter of…Pee

Those crazy 70’s rock stars…a note left in red ink by no other than John Lennon.

This is a note from an upset John Lennon to Phil Spector. It seems that Keith Moon and Harry Nilsson supposedly…relieved themselves in the recording console in an unnamed studio. John was quite certain of that fact. The studio was threatening to evict them but John wasn’t having it. John didn’t date the note but it was from John Lennon’s “lost weekend” period between 73-75… the note sold for over $88,000.

This is what the note said.

“Phil –

See you around 12:30

Should you not yet know it was Harry and Keith who pissed on the console. Jerry now wants to evict us or that’s what Capitol tells us. Anyway tell him to bill Capitol for the damage if any. I can’t be expected to mind adult rock stars nor can May (Pang, Lennon’s personal assistant) besides she works for me not A+M. I’m about to p..s off to Record Plant (another recording studio) because of this crap.”

John Lennon Letter to Phil Spector Going Up For Auction

There are a million articles on this subject…here is one of the more complete ones.

https://faroutmagazine.co.uk/john-lennon-keith-moon-phil-spector-a-matter-of-pee-letter/

John Lennon – Slippin’ and a Sliding’

I usually feature originals but I found this video of John covering Slippin and a Slidin’ that I never have seen before and I had to include it. My son listened to John Lennon’s Rock and Roll album (made up of entirely covers of mostly 50s Rock and Roll) and he flipped over it. Afterward, he played it so much I relistened to it and John’s love of that music really came through.

The song was on the Rock and Roll album released in 1975. I could listen to John sing the phone book.

The album made it to #6 in the Billboard 200, #6 in the UK, and #5 in Canada. Stand By Me made it to #20 in the Billboard 100. John Lennon did not make another album until Double Fantasy in 1980.

 

Slippin’ and Slidin’

Slippin’ and a slidin’, peepin’ and a hidin’, been told long time ago,
Slippin’ and a slidin’, peepin’ and a hidin’, been told long time ago,
I been told, baby, you been bold, I won’t be your fool no more.

Oh, big conniver, nothing but a jiver, done got hip to your jive,
Oh, big conniver, nothing but a jiver, done got hip to your jive,
Slippin’ and a slidin’, peepin’ and a hidin’, won’t be your fool no more.

Oh Malinda, she’s a solid sender, you know you better surrender,
Oh Malinda, she’s a solid sender, you know you better surrender,
Slippin’ and a slidin’, peepin’ and a hidin’, won’t be your fool no more.

John Lennon – Cold Turkey

Not the most pleasant song available from John but it does get your attention. I do like the guitar sound that John and Eric Clapton get in this song.

This song is about drug withdrawal. Quitting “Cold Turkey” means abruptly stopping drug use and the effect it has on your body and mind. John Lennon quit cold turkey because he wanted to get off drugs and start a family with Yoko.

John wanted to record this with the Beatles but they rejected it so he went off and recorded it on his own.

Eric Clapton and John played guitar on this, Ringo drummed, and Klaus Voormann played the bass, It was released as a single in 1969 as The Plastic Ono Band. The song peaked at #30 in the Billboard 100, #14 in the UK, and #30 in Canada.

This was Lennon’s second single away from The Beatles. “Give Peace A Chance” was released a few months earlier. This was also the first song John took complete credit for as he dropped the McCartney from Lennon and McCartney.

Its first public performance on September 13, 1969, was recorded and released on the Live Peace in Toronto 1969 album by the Plastic Ono Band.

John Lennon: “Cold Turkey was banned. They thought it was a pro-drugs song. But I’ve always expressed what I’ve been feeling or thinking at the time. So I was just writing the experience I’d had of withdrawing from heroin. To some it was a rock ‘n’ roll version of The Man With The Golden Arm because it showed Frank Sinatra suffering from drug withdrawal.”

From Songfacts

Lennon performed this on September 13, 1969 at The Toronto Rock and Revival Show, where he introduced his Plastic Ono Band (at least the configuration of it for this show). Eric Clapton was on guitar, Klaus Voorman on bass, and Alan White on drums. Yoko Ono was also part of the act, and she made an impact during “Cold Turkey.” As the song played, she emerged from a bag on stage, stepped up to a microphone, and made turkey-sounding noises (not out of character). The set was released as a live album called Live Peace In Toronto 1969.

Eric Clapton played some of the guitar on this. Lennon asked Clapton to join The Plastic Ono Band, but Eric declined.

Lennon wrote and recorded this song before attending Arthur Janov’s Primal Scream therapy workshop, which played a part in his song “Mother.” The screams he used in “Cold Turkey,” he was actually emulating Yoko singing.

When John Lennon decided to return his MBE (Member of the British Empire) award on November 25, 1969, he sent it to Queen Elizabeth II with a note explaining, “I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against ‘Cold Turkey’ slipping down the charts.”

Cold Turkey

Temperature’s rising
Fever is high
Can’t see no future
Can’t see no sky

My feet are so heavy
So is my head
I wish I was a baby
I wish I was dead

Cold turkey has got me on the run
My body is aching
Goose-pimple bone
Can’t see no body
Leave me alone

My eyes are wide open
Can’t get to sleep
One thing I’m sure of
I’m at the deep freeze

Cold turkey has got me on the run
Cold turkey has got me on the run

Thirty-six hours
Rolling in pain
Praying to someone
Free me again

Oh I’ll be a good boy
Please make me well
I promise you anything
Get me out of this hell

Cold turkey has got me on the run

Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows

Turn off your mind relax and float down stream… 

Like “A Hard Day’s Night,” the title came from an expression Ringo Starr used. Ringo’s turn of the phrase took the edge off the heavy philosophical lyrics. Working titles for the song before Ringo gave them inspiration were “Mark I” and “The Void.”

It was on what perhaps is the greatest Beatle album…Revolver.

The inspiration for the song came from a book entitled “The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based On The Tibetan Book Of The Dead.” This book was published in August of 1964 by Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, and Richard Alpert

The Beatles made “tape loops”…short tapes of grandfather clocks, sitars, seagulls, laughter, and other things. They brought them to the studio and put them together at different speeds, played forward, and backward. That is what you hear at the beginning.

John wanted his voice to…sound like the Dalai Lama chanting from a mountaintop, miles away or like a group of Tibetan monks chanting on a mountain top. Well, that was impractical so John suggested they suspend him from a rope in the middle of the studio ceiling, put a mike in the middle of the floor, give him a push and he’d sing as he went around and around. They didn’t do that either but they ended up putting Lennon’s voice through a Leslie Speaker Cabinet (a rotating speaker cabinet) and that made John happy.

Tomorrow Never Knows was a great innovation. It opened the door to Sgt Pepper and was one of the great psychedelic rock songs.

John Lennon on LSD: “Leary was the one going round saying, ‘take it, take it, take it,’” Lennon remembered in 1980, “and we followed his instructions in his ‘how to take a trip’ book. I did it just like he said in the book, and then I wrote ‘Tomorrow Never Knows,’ which was almost the first acid song: ‘Lay down all thought, surrender to the void,’ and all that sh*t which Leary had pinched from ‘The Book Of The Dead.’”

From Songfacts

John Lennon wrote this, and described it as “my first psychedelic song.”

The book is a reinterpretation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead and a guide to understanding it through psychedelic drugs. Lennon would read it while tripping on LSD, and according to his biographer Albert Goldman, he recorded himself reading from the book, played it back while tripping on LSD, and wrote the song.

The most overt reference to the book is the line:

Turn off your mind
Relax and float downstream
It is not dying

The book states: “Whenever in doubt, turn off your mind, relax, float downstream.”

To accompany the psychedelic imagery in Lennon’s lyric, each Beatle created strange sounds which were mixed in throughout the recording, often backward and in different speeds. Their producer, George Martin, was older and more experienced, but he allowed the group to experiment in the studio as much as they pleased.

The night before they recorded this song, Paul McCartney created 16 tape loops of guitar sounds and odd vocals that he brought in to the studio to create some of the effects. Several people remember standing around the room holding pencils for the tape to loop around and back into the recording machine as the various sound effects and instrumentation were faded in and out.

John Lennon used only one chord in this whole song, which creates a hypnotic feeling. For his vocals, he asked producer George Martin to make him sound like the Dali Lama.

Drugs influenced the creation of this song, but the Beatles recorded sober. “We would have the experiences and then bring that into the music later,” Ringo Starr explained.

George Harrison played a droning Indian instrument called a tambura on this track, which added an ethereal feel to the soundscape.

The musical break that comes in about a minute into this song consists mostly of guitars that were heavily processed. This wild passage makes use of just about every studio trick at their disposal, including passing from one channel to the other. Those listening in mono (often in cars) didn’t get the full experience.

This was the first track recorded for the Revolver album, but the last one on the tracklist.

On May 6, 2012, this song was featured in an episode of the popular American TV series Mad Men. The episode was set in 1966, and part of the plot was the ad agency in the show helping a client capitalize on Beatlemania. This was a big deal, since Beatles songs are very rarely licensed for TV shows – at least in their original versions. Cover versions and performances (think American Idol) show up from time to time, since those just have to be approved by Sony/ATV, which owns the publishing rights. Getting permission to use an actual Beatles recording requires permission from Apple Corp, which is controlled by The Beatles and their heirs.

The Wall Street Journal reported the payment for the song at $250,000, and that Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner had to reveal to Apple exactly how the song would be used, which was a big deal since he is very secretive about scripts. In the episode, the main character Don Draper has trouble adapting to changing musical times. He plays this song to see what all the fuss is about, and after a character-developing montage while the song is playing, he switches it off. The song then comes back to play over the closing credits.

Phil Collins covered this on his debut solo album, Face Value, in 1981, using synthesizers to create many of the unusual sounds. Like The Beatles did on Revolver, Collins used it to close the album. 

Our Lady Peace remade this song for the soundtrack to the movie The Craft. It’s played during the opening credits. 

Oasis pays tribute to this song in “Morning Glory” with the line:

Walking to the sound of my favorite tune
Tomorrow never knows what it doesn’t know too soon

The Beatles were a huge influence on Oasis.

This song is featured on the 2006 Beatles album Love (a soundtrack to the Cirque du Soleil show based on their music) remixed with “Within You Without You.” 

Tomorrow Never Knows

Turn off your mind relax and float down stream
It is not dying, it is not dying

Lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void
It is shining, it is shining

Yet you may see the meaning of within
It is being, it is being

Love is all and love is everyone
It is knowing, it is knowing

And ignorance and hate mourn the dead
It is believing, it is believing

But listen to the colour of your dreams
It is not leaving, it is not leaving

So play the game “Existence” to the end
Of the beginning, of the beginning

Toronto Rock and Roll Revival 1969

Since I posted Paul McCartney’s Concert for Kampuchea yesterday I thought I would concentrate on the festival John Lennon popped up at in 1969… The Toronto Rock and Roll Revival. Unlike Kampuchea which was spread out on multiple days and nights, this festival was held on one day September 13, 1969.

John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band just played fifties songs plus John’s new song that Beatles rejected…Cold Turkey. The reason for the fifties’ songs was because the band had limited time to rehearse and they wanted to do songs they all knew.

It was a great festival lineup but it’s remembered mostly by John Lennon’s participation. The Doors were the headliners and John only agreed to do it

The concert was conceived by promoters John Brower and Ken Walker with financial backing from Eaton’s department store but stymied by poor ticket sales, the venture began to lose support. The festival was almost canceled but Brower called Apple Records in the UK to ask John Lennon to emcee the concert. Lennon agreed to appear on the condition he would be allowed to perform.

The Lennons flew in from England with a makeshift band that included Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann, Alan White, and Yoko. They arrived at the backstage area at about 10 p.m, while Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys were singing Good Old Rock ‘n’ Roll to an audience of about 20,000.

Lennon was quoted as saying “I threw up for hours until I went on” because it had been three years since he played live in a concert setting. The band went on and did a good job…ragged but it was a hastily assembled band with only a rehearsal on the plane ride and backstage.

John Lennon:  “The ridiculous thing was that I didn’t know any of the lyrics. When we did Money and Dizzy, I just made up the words as I went along. The band was bashing it out like hell behind me. Yoko came on stage with us, but she wasn’t going to do her bit until we’d done our five songs….Then after Money there was a stop, and I turned to Eric and said, ‘What’s next?’ He didn’t know either, so I just screamed out ‘C’mon!’ and started into something else.”

Little Richard: “I remember the show that people were throwing bottles at Yoko Ono. They were throwing everything at her. Finally, she had to run off the stage. Oh, boy, it was very bad.”

John Lennon: And we tried to put it out on Capitol, and Capitol didn’t want to put it out. They said, ‘This is garbage; we’re not going to put it out with her screaming on one side and you doing this sort of live stuff. And they just refused to put it out. But we finally persuaded them that, you know, people might buy this. Of course it went gold the next day.”

John Lennon and Yoko’s setlist

  • Blue Suede Shoes.
  • Money (That’s What I Want)
  • Dizzy Miss Lizzy.
  • Yer Blues.
  • Cold Turkey.
  • Give Peace a Chance.
  • Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow)
  • John John (Let’s Hope for Peace)

Performers 

John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band

Whiskey Howl

Bo Diddley

Chicago

Junior Walker and the All Stars

Tony Joe White

Alice Cooper

Chuck Berry

Cat Mother and the All Night News Boys

Jerry Lee Lewis

Gene Vincent

Little Richard

Doug Kershaw

The Doors

Kim Fowley The Master of Ceremonies

Screaming Lord Sutch

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Janglin’

Alex Ebert and Jade Castrinos starting this hippie type band in 2007. The consisted of 10-12 members at once. They tried to have a so-called campfire feel. If a musician messed up that was alright. Musicians would drop and reappear on a tour. They had one song that got a ton of airplay called Home in 2010.

This song resembles Instant Karma by John Lennon.

Janglin’ was used in commercials and it spiked its popularity in 2010.

In 2014, the band parted ways with Jade Castrinos, changing the dynamic of the band considerably…she and Ebert had broken up.

The band is named after a character from a novel Ebert was writing – Edward Sharpe is an otherworldly figure who comes to Earth to offer enlightenment to the masses, but finds himself getting distracted by the beautiful women.

Most listeners who weren’t buying this hippie vibe agreed that it was convincing, and even after they found an audience with this song, Ebert stayed steady to his creed, often blurring the lines between Edward Sharpe and his true self.

 

Janglin’

Well our mama’s they left us
And our daddy’s took a ride
And we walked out of the castle
And we held our head up high
Well we once were the Jesters
In your Kingdom by the sea
And now we’re out to be the masters
For to set our spirits free – set free

[Chorus]
We Want to feel ya!
We don’t mean to kill ya!
We come back to Heal ya – Janglin soul
Edward and the Magnetic Zeros

Well your wartime is Funny
Your guns don’t bother me
I said we’re out to prove the truth of
The man from Galilei
Well your laws are for Dummies, yes
Your institutions dead
I say we’re out to blow the trumpet
To wake you all from bed – from bed

[Chorus]

We carry the mail
We carry it home
We carry the Mail now
We carry it home
Scare up your Letters
Give us your Tails
Blowing like Whale now to
Magnetic Ears
WOW!

U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday

Of all the U2 songs this one is probably on the top of my list. The drum pattern sounds like they are marching off to battle. It’s raw and you can hear the conviction in what Bono is singing. The Edge’s guitar is crunchy and perfect.

The drum-beat was composed by Larry Mullen Jr., which was recorded in a staircase of their Dublin recording studio because producer Steve Lillywhite was trying to get a full sound with natural reverb.

“Bloody Sunday” was a term given to an incident, which took place on 30th January 1972 in Derry, Northern Ireland where British Soldiers shot 28 unarmed civilians who were peacefully protesting against Operation Demetrius. Thirteen were killed outright, while another man lost his life four months later due to injuries. It was reported that many of the victims who were fleeing the scene were shot at point-blank range.

The first person to have addressed these events musically was John Lennon who composed “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and released it on his third Solo album “Sometime In New York City”. His version of the song directly expresses his anger towards the massacre

The song peaked at #7 in the US Billboard Top Tracks Chart.

 

From Songfacts

There are two Bloody Sundays in Irish history. The first was in 1920 when British troops fired into the crowd at a football match in Dublin in retaliation for the killing of British undercover agents. The second was on January 30, 1972, when British paratroopers killed 13 Irish citizens at a civil rights protest in Derry, Northern Ireland. The song is more about the second Bloody Sunday. 

The lyrics are a nonpartisan condemnation of the historic bloodshed in Ireland – politics is not something you want to discuss in Ireland. Bono’s lyrics in the song are more about interpersonal struggles than about the actual Bloody Sunday events.

Bono used to introduce this at concerts by saying: “This is not a rebel song.”

U2 has played several times at Croke Park, the site of the 1920 Bloody Sunday in Dublin. They first performed there in 1985 on the Unforgettable Fire tour.

Bono started writing this with political lyrics condemning the Irish Republican Army (the IRA), a militant group dedicated to getting British troops out of Northern Ireland. He changed them to point out the atrocities of war without taking sides.

While performing this, Bono would wave a white flag as a call for peace.

Bono was trying to contrast the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre with Easter Sunday, a peaceful day Protestants and Catholics both celebrate.

The music video for this song was taken from a live performance that’s part of their Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky concert film. The concert took place June 5, 1983 at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. Directed by Gavin Taylor, it captures the live energy of the band as they fight through the wind and rain to deliver a high-energy performance. At this time, U2 liked their videos shot outdoors in a natural setting.

Larry Mullen’s drums were recorded in a staircase of their Dublin recording studio. Producer Steve Lillywhite was trying to get a full sound with a natural echo.

Steve Wickham, who went on to join The Waterboys, played the electric fiddle on this track.

This took on new meaning as the conflict in Northern Ireland continued through the ’90s.

U2 recorded this in Denver for their Rattle And Hum movie on November 8, 1987. It was the same day as the Enniskillen massacre, where 13 people in Northern Ireland were killed by a bomb detonated by the Irish Republican Army (the IRA). Angered by these events, U2 gave a very emotional performance.

The version on U2’s live album Under A Blood Red Sky was recorded at a show in Sankt Goarshausen, Germany on August 20, 1983.

In 2003, The Edge inducted The Clash into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In his speech, he said, “There is no doubt in my mind that “Sunday Bloody Sunday” wouldn’t – and couldn’t – have been written if not for The Clash.”

A live version of this song plays during the end credits of the 2002 movie Bloody Sunday, which is a documentary-style drama recreating the events of January 30,1972 in Derry, Ireland. It stars James Nesbitt (you may remember him as “Pig Finn” from Waking Ned Devine) as a local Member of Parliament who is involved with the Civil Rights Movement.

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Yeah
Hmm hmm

I can’t believe the news today
Oh, I can’t close my eyes
And make it go away
How long
How long must we sing this song?
How long? How long

’cause tonight we can be as one
Tonight

Broken bottles under children’s feet
Bodies strewn across the dead end street
But I won’t heed the battle call
It puts my back up
Puts my back up against the wall

Sunday, bloody Sunday
Sunday, bloody Sunday
Sunday, bloody Sunday

(Oh, let’s go)

And the battle’s just begun
There’s many lost, but tell me who has won?
The trench is dug within our hearts
And mothers, children, brothers, sisters torn apart

Sunday, bloody Sunday
Sunday, bloody Sunday

How long
How long must we sing this song?
How long? How long

’cause tonight we can be as one
Tonight tonight

Sunday, bloody Sunday
Sunday, bloody Sunday

(Yeah, let’s go)

Wipe the tears from your eyes
Wipe your tears away
Oh, wipe your tears away
I wipe your tears away
(Sunday, bloody Sunday)
I wipe your blood shot eyes
(Sunday, bloody Sunday)

Sunday, bloody Sunday (Sunday, bloody Sunday)
Sunday, bloody Sunday (Sunday, bloody Sunday)

(Yeah, let’s go)

And it’s true we are immune
When fact is fiction and TV reality
And today the millions cry
We eat and drink while tomorrow they die

(Sunday, bloody Sunday)

The real battle just begun
To claim the victory Jesus won
On

Sunday, bloody Sunday
Sunday, bloody Sunday

View at Medium.com

View at Medium.com

View at Medium.com

Beatles – Don’t Let Me Down

This song was the B side to Get Back. This song was credited to John and Paul but it’s a clear John song that he wrote directly to Yoko. Don’t Let Me Down should have been on the Let It Be album in my opinion. It would have made it a stronger album but Phil Spector decided to took it out.

This one is one of my favorite late Lennon Beatle songs. I liked the time signature change in this song. All measures are in 4/4 time except for the eighth measure, which is in 5/4, the extra beat needed in order to fit in John’s first verse lyric “Nobody ever loved my like she…

The song peaked at #35 in the Billboard 100 in 1969. It’s a powerful and sincere love song by John.

Billy Preston, who The Beatles met when he was on tour with Little Richard in 1962, played keyboards on this track. Preston was one of the few outside musicians (excluding members of orchestras) to play on any Beatles song.

George Harrison brought Preston in to play on the sessions. It was a smart move by George. Not only did Preston bring his talents in the mix but his presence helped smooth the tensions the band had at the time. He did the same thing on the White Album sessions by bringing Eric Clapton in to play on While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

From Songfacts

John Lennon dedicated this song to Yoko Ono. It was the first song he wrote for Yoko, whom he married on March 20, 1969.

This was one of the songs The Beatles played at their impromptu rooftop concert in 1969. The concept of the album was The Beatles performing new songs for a live audience, with film footage of their rehearsals used to make a documentary TV special. George Harrison didn’t like the idea, and when things got tense during recording, he left the sessions and returned only after they agreed to cancel the live performance. The Beatles were still under contract to make another movie, so they decided to use the rehearsal footage as their last movie, Let It Be. In order to end the movie, they needed a big scene, so they went to the roof of Apple Records and started playing. John Lennon forgot some of the words to this song while the Beatles were playing their rooftop concert. 

When Apple Records remixed the album Let It Be and released it in 2003 as Let It Be… Naked, this was included. An alternate take was used. It was the only song on the new album that did not appear on the original.

Lennon asked Ringo to crash his cymbals loudly to “give me the courage to come in screaming.”

Billy Corgan’s band Zwan covered this. They rearranged the entire song so only the melody was the same. They added a guitar solo at the end. Others artists to cover the song include Randy Crawford, Crown of Thorns, Dylan & Clark, Garbage, Gene, Marcia Griffiths, Taylor Hicks, Julian Lennon, Annie Lennox, Maroon 5, Matchbox Twenty, The Persuasions, Phoebe Snow, Stereophonics and Paul Weller. >>

Garbage lead singer Shirley Manson is from Edinburgh, and in 1999 they played this song at the opening of the newly-elected Scottish Parliament, which was celebrating autonomy after 300 years of British rule.

Don’t Let Me Down

Don’t let me down, don’t let me down
Don’t let me down, don’t let me down

Nobody ever loved me like she does
Oh, she does, yeah, she does
And if somebody loved me like she do me
Oh, she do me, yes, she does

Don’t let me down, don’t let me down
Don’t let me down, don’t let me down

I’m in love for the first time
Don’t you know it’s gonna last
It’s a love that lasts forever
It’s a love that had no past

Don’t let me down, don’t let me down
Don’t let me down, don’t let me down

And from the first time that she really done me
Oh, she done me, she done me good
I guess nobody ever really done me
Oh, she done me, she done me good

Don’t let me down, don’t let me down
Don’t let me down

John Lennon – Stand By Me

This is the version I like best…and I love Ben E. King’s version. I think it’s the reverb and John’s voice that makes this one the one I listen to the most.

“Stand By Me” was the name of a gospel hymn written by the Philadelphia minister Charles Albert Tindley in 1905. His hymn became popular in churches throughout the American South and was recorded by various gospel acts in the 1950s. The most popular adaptation was by The Staple Singers, who recorded it in 1955. It was this version that Ben E. King heard; he pushed The Drifters to record it, but the group’s manager rejected it.

Ben E. King, Jerry Leiber, and Mike Stoller wrote the song based off the old hymn.

This was on John Lennon’s Rock and Roll album (made up of entirely covers of mostly 50s Rock and Roll). This version peaked at #20 in the Billboard 100 in 1975 for John…and at #4 in 1961 for Ben E. King.

Ben E King:  “David Ruffin from the Temptations did a great version of it. And, of course, the one that held up in my head the most was John Lennon’s version. He took it and made it as if it should have been his song as opposed to mine.

From Songfacts

Ben E. King recorded this shortly after leaving The Drifters in 1960. It gave him a solid reputation as a solo artist.

After leaving The Drifters, King auditioned for the wildly successful songwriting/production team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, singing a few popular songs before doing what he had of “Stand By Me,” which was just a few lines of lyrics with some humming to fill in the words. He agreed to collaborate on the song with Leiber and Stoller, who gave it a more contemporary sound and polished it into a hit. The bassline at the beginning was Stoller’s idea.

The song was credited as being written by Leiber, Stoller and King. Charles Albert Tindley, who composed the original hymn, was left off the composer credits as his work had been sufficiently transformed. This wasn’t the first time Tindley was omitted from the credits of a song he originated: he also wrote “I’ll Overcome Someday,” which eventually became “We Shall Overcome.”

In an interview with the TV station WGBH, Jerry Leiber explained: “Ben E. is not a songwriter, he’s a singer, he might have written two songs in his whole career. I would guess that this comes out of church. The whole ‘stand by me’ and the way the release takes out, it sounds like a gospel-type song.”

This was used in the 1986 movie of the same name starring River Phoenix. The film was based on a short novel by Stephen King called The Body, but that title was a little to gruesome for a movie hoping to appeal to a wide audience.

Rob Reiner, who directed the film, met the song’s co-writter Mike Stoller at a party, and convinced him to play some of his classic songs on a piano while Reiner sang along. Months later, Reiner got the idea to use “Stand By Me” as the title and incorporate it into the movie when he heard the song at his house. This played up the friendship of the young boys in the film and downplayed the role of the dead body they find, which was a good move at the box office. The movie was a hit and propelled the song back to the charts, introducing the track to a new generation.

When this was first released in 1960, it charted US #4 and UK #27. When it was re-released to coincide with the movie, it hit US #9 and UK #1. Now a hit with two generations, the song started showing up at weddings and other special occasions, becoming a timeless classic.

The movie Stand By Me is set in 1959 – a little before this song was released, but pretty close. When Rob Reiner asked to use the song, its composers Leiber and Stoller thought he would want to re-record it with a contemporary artist like Tina Turner, but Reiner wanted the original so it fit the era. It was surprising then when the song vaulted up the charts, since it was the exact same song released in 1961.

According to BMI, this was the fourth most-played track of the 20th Century on American radio and TV.

This song has made an astounding nine appearances on the US Hot 100, plus two more that “bubbled under.” Here’s the breakdown:

1961, #4 – Ben E. King
1964, #102 – Cassius Clay
1965, #75 – Earl Grant
1967, #12 – Spyder Turner
1970, #61 – David & Jimmy Ruffin
1975, #20 – John Lennon
1980, #22 – Mickey Gilley
1985, #50 – Maurice White
1986, #9 – Ben E. King (re-release)
1998, #82 – 4 The Cause
2010, #109 – Prince Royce

Sean Kingston sampled this on his 2007 hit “Beautiful Girls.” Other songs that have used pieces of “Stand By Me” include “A Little Bit of Soap” by De La Soul (1989), “My Darlin'” by Miley Cyrus feat. Future (2013), and “Marvin Gaye” by Charlie Puth (2015).

Dionne Warwick sang backup on this song as part of a trio known as The Gospelaires. Soon after, songwriter Burt Bacharach helped Warwick launch a successful solo career. 

This was not released on an album until it had been out as a single for two years.

Cassius Clay (who would later change his name to Muhammad Ali) recorded this in 1963 on an album called I Am The Greatest!. In 1964, when he beat Sonny Liston to become the heavyweight boxing champ, Clay’s version of “Stand By Me” was released as a single, with his spoken-boast song called “I Am The Greatest” as the flip side. The single made the Billboard charts, bubbling under at #102 on the Hot 100.

During an interview with Spinner UK,  Now there’s a [Dominican] singer named Prince [Royce] – he has a version out there that I think is brilliant. And then there’s Sean Kingston, with ‘Beautiful Girls’ [chuckles] – that’s another one that did well. So many of them have done well. As a songwriter, it pleases me a lot – you don’t always have a chance to write a song that people can relate to.”

The Bachata singer Prince Royce released a cover of this song (with mostly Spanish lyrics) in 2010 as his first single. Royce had been selling cell phones in New York City when he started shopping his demo CD around. When he got little reaction to the songs he wrote, he decided to record one that was familiar, and he chose “Stand By Me” because it was one of his favorite songs. The ploy worked, as it garnered attention and jumpstarted his career.

Florence + The Machine covered the song for Final Fantasy XV. Her version features in the video game’s trailer. “I’ve always seen Final Fantasy as mythical, beautiful and epic,” Florence Welch said. “‘Stand By Me’ is one of the greatest songs probably of all time and you can’t really improve on it, you just have to make it your own. For me it was just about bringing the song into the world of Florence + The Machine and the world of Final Fantasy.”

In England, this was used in commercials for Levi’s jeans in 1987 before the movie was released there. The exposure helped lift the song to #1 UK. “When A Man Loves A Woman” by Percy Sledge, used in the same group of Levi’s ads, went to #2 at the same time.

Budweiser used a version of this song by Skylar Grey in a commercial that aired during the 2018 Super Bowl between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots. The spot shows the beermaker’s plant in Cartersville, Georgia transforming to process water as part of disaster relief efforts in the wake of hurricanes and wildfires.

This has been played at countless weddings, but none more prominent than the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018. Before exchanging their vows in Windsor Castle, Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir performed a stirring gospel rendition of the song, which was chosen by the couple.

An ambient version by the artist Bootstraps (Jordan Beckett) got the attention of music supervisors and landed a number of placements, including the Power Rangers movie (2017) and episodes of MacGyver, Lethal Weapon and Hawaii Five-0.

Bootstraps included the song on his 2016 album Homage at the last minute. In a Songfacts interview, he explained why it works so well in visual media. “A lot of my songs that have done really well in the sync world are pretty linear – they don’t have these big, huge chorus hits,” he said. “‘Stand By Me,’ which has hands down been the biggest sync song I’ve done, has no kick drum. It has a lot of atmospherics, and the chorus is kind of slowly growing into a swell. So it’s really good for an editor, and that’s just the pragmatics of TV and film.”

 

Stand By Me

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we see
No I won’t be afraid
No I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

And darling, darling stand by me
Oh, now, now, stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me

If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
And the mountain should crumble to the sea
I won’t cry, I won’t cry
No I won’t shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

And darling, darling stand by me
Oh, stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me, stand by me

Whenever you’re in trouble won’t you stand by me
Oh, now, now, stand by me
Oh, stand by me, stand by me, stand by me

Darling, darling stand by me
Stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me, stand by me

John Lennon – Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

My favorite Christmas song hands down. Yea I’m biased because I am a Beatles fan but this one is great. 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.

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.

From Songfacts.

John and Yoko spent a lot of time in the late ’60s and early ’70s working to promote peace. In 1969, they put up billboards in major cities around the world that said, “War is over! (If you want it).” Two years later this slogan became the basis for this song when Lennon decided to make a Christmas record with an anti-war message. John also claimed another inspiration for writing the song: he said he was “sick of ‘White Christmas.'”

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.

Lennon and Ono produced this with the help of Phil Spector. Spector had worked on some of the later Beatles songs and also produced Lennon’s “Instant Karma.” It was not Spector’s first foray into Christmas music: he and his famous session stars (including a 17-year-old Cher) spent six weeks in the summer of 1963 putting together A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector, featuring artists like The Ronettes and Darlene Love. Unfortunately, the album was released on November 22, 1963, which was the same day US president John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The album sold poorly as America was focused on news of the killing.

This was originally released on clear green vinyl with Yoko Ono’s “Listen, The Snow Is Falling” as the B-side.

At the beginning of the song, two whispers can be heard. Yoko whispers: “Happy Christmas, Kyoko” (Kyoko Chan Cox is Yoko’s daughter with Anthony Cox) and John whispers: “Happy Christmas, Julian” (John’s son with Cynthia). >>

This being a Phil Spector production, four guitarists were brought in to play acoustic guitars: Hugh McCracken (who had recently played on the Paul McCartney album Ram), Chris Osbourne, Stu Scharf and Teddy Irwin. According to Richard Williams, who was reporting on the session for Uncut, when Lennon taught them the song, he asked them to “pretend it’s Christmas.” When one of the guitarists said he was Jewish, John told him, “Well, pretend it’s your birthday then.”

As for the other personnel, Jim Keltner played drums and sleigh bells, Nicky Hopkins played chimes and glockenspiel. Keltner and Hopkins were part of Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band, and a third member, Klaus Voorman, was supposed to play bass on this track, but got stuck on a flight from Germany. One of the guitarists brought in for the session covered the bass – which one nobody seems to remember.

John Lennon was shot and killed less than three weeks before Christmas in 1980. The song was re-released in the UK on December 20 of that year, reaching #2 (held off the top spot by “There’s No One Quite Like Grandma” by St. Winifred’s School Choir). It made the UK Top 40 again in 1981 (#28), 2003 (#32) and 2007 (#40). Also in 2003, a version sung by the finalists of the singing competition Pop Idol reached #5.

The Fray were the first to chart with this song in America, reaching #50 in 2006; Sarah McLachlan’s version went to #107 that same year. Other artists to cover it include The Alarm, The Cranes, The December People, and Melissa Etheridge (in a medley with “Give Peace a Chance”). 

The Australian artist Delta Goodrem also covered it in 2003, taking it to #1 in her native country as a double-A-side single with “Predictable.” 

Though now a Christmas standard, Lennon originally penned 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.”

This didn’t appear on an album until 1975, when it was included on Lennon’s Shaved Fish singles compilation. Most Christmas songs are compiled with other songs of the season, but Shaved Fish listeners got to hear it year round.

 

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

John Lennon – Watching The Wheels

My favorite song off of John and Yoko’s album Double Fantasy released in 1980. Three singles off of the album made it to the top ten. (Just Like) Starting Over, Woman, and Watching The Wheels which peaked at #10 on the Billboard 100.

This song was John describing his absence from the music scene since 1975. As always he was straightforward and honest. People could not believe he gave up a career to stay at home with his family. Nowadays no one would blink an eye with waiting 5 years for an album. His last album Rock ‘n’ Roll (old rock and roll covers) was released in 1975.

I found this on The Beatles Bible…Engineer Tony Davilio… “Jack” is Jack Douglas the producer

Jack heard this guy named Matthew Cunningham playing dulcimer on the street and he was good. This guy was a real hippie with stringy long hair. He was a typical street musician. They brought him in to play dulcimer on Watching The Wheels. He came in looking pretty spaced out. When you play the dulcimer you sit in that Indian position on the floor. Jack told me, ‘Tony, go out there and make sure he’s in tune.’ So I went over to the piano and plucked out some notes and he kept shaking his head and said, ‘That sounds sour, that’s not in tune,’ but it was. So he’s sitting there playing along with the track and the tape stops. John was standing up in the control room and said something to him over the talkback. Matt squinted his eyes, looking at him, and said, ‘What’s your name?’ And John gets back on the talkback and says ‘My name’s John.’ This guy’s just staring at him and goes, ‘Hi, John.’ And then John says, ‘Hi, Matt’ and then I see them all laughing in there because this guy didn’t know who he was. Apparently, he was the only person in the country who wouldn’t know John Lennon.

From Songfacts

John Lennon wrote this ode to inactivity to explain what he had been up to in the last six years. Until Double Fantasy, his last album was Walls And Bridges, which was released in 1974. He was no longer interested in fame, and dedicated himself to family: his wife Yoko and young son Sean (John became the world’s most famous househusband, baking bread and feeding Sean).

The song makes a statement that taking it easy and spending time with loved ones is anything but crazy. Working way too hard in an attempt to be a productive as possible, on the other hand, can be quite unfulfilling in the end.

The mindset Lennon describes in this song is a stark contrast to his 1973-’74 self, when he embarked on his “lost weekend,” leaving Yoko and engaging in self-destructive behavior. He returned to Yoko in 1975, sinking into domestic life.

Explaining the message of this song after Lennon’s death, Yoko said: “Let’s have that inner space to dream, the dream power.”

Watching The Wheels

People say I’m crazy
Doing what I’m doing
Well, they give me all kinds of warnings
To save me from ruin
When I say that I’m okay, well they look at me kinda strange
“Surely, you’re not happy now, you no longer play the game”

People say I’m lazy
Dreaming my life away
Well they give me all kinds of advice
Designed to enlighten me
When I tell them that I’m doing fine watching shadows on the wall
“Don’t you miss the big time boy, you’re no longer on the ball?”

I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

Ah, people ask me questions
Lost in confusion
Well, I tell them there’s no problem
Only solutions
Well, they shake their heads and they look at me, as if I’ve lost my mind
I tell them there’s no hurry, I’m just sitting here doing time

I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round

I just had to let it go
I just had to let it go
I just had to let it go