John Lennon – (Just Like) Starting Over

Yesterday I posted a Wings song so today I’ll even it up with John.

Great song but every time I hear it…it’s December 1980 again and I’m watching news stories about Lennon’s death. Double Fantasy was a strong comeback album for John…a little more Yoko than I would have liked but a good album all the same.

When it was released Ringo had said John Lennon sounds like Elvis at the beginning of this song…then he said no…he doesn’t sound like Elvis…he is Elvis. John Lennon himself said: “All through the taping of ‘Starting Over,’ I was calling what I was doing ‘Elvis Orbison.’ It’s like Dylan doing Nashville Skyline, except I don’t have any Nashville, being from Liverpool. So I go back to the records I know – Elvis and Roy Orbison and Gene Vincent and Jerry Lee Lewis.”

The song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, #1 in the UK, #1 in Canada and #2 in New Zealand.

From Songfacts

This song embodied the sense of renewal in Lennon and Yoko’s professional and personal lives during the writing and recording of Double Fantasy. “It was kinda obvious what ‘Starting Over’ was about,” said journalist David Sheff, who did the last major interview with Lennon, to Mojo. “He’d been untrusting of Yoko, she’d been untrusting of him, all that kind of stuff. But in that one song was this incredible optimism and joy.”

This was released in the United States October 27, 1980, which was the same day Mark David Chapman bought the gun he would use to kill Lennon on December 8. “Starting Over,” which came out in the UK on October 24, was Lennon’s first release since 1975. The Double Fantasy album was issued on November 17.

Lennon wrote this while vacationing in Bermuda earlier in the year.

Despite being the first single in five years from one of the most famous musicians on the planet, this song took a while to catch on. In America, it entered the Hot 100 on November 1, 1980 at #38 and made a slow but steady climb up the chart. Here’s the progression:

Nov. 8: #32
Nov. 15: #10
Nov. 22: #9
Nov. 29: #8
Dec. 6: #6
Dec. 13: #4
Dec. 20: #3
Dec. 27: #1

When Lennon was killed, fans quickly scooped up the single along with lots of other Lennon material, but it took a few weeks for the chart to reflect these sales. When it hit #1, it stayed there for five weeks.

This was recorded at The Power Station in New York City. Musicians included Tony Levin on bass, Earl Slick on guitar, and Andy Newmark on drums.

Double Fantasy was released on David Geffen’s record label, DGC. Many labels were competing for the album, but Geffen impressed Lennon when he wrote directly to Yoko and agreed to release it without hearing it first. All of Lennon’s previous albums were released on The Beatles’ label, Apple.

John and Yoko were considering doing a tour when this was climbing the charts.

This was one of the last songs recorded for the album. Lennon was not sure he should record it, but his producer and session musicians convinced him it would be a hit. It became the first single from Double Fantasy.

The day this was released, Yoko Ono hired a skywriter to write “Happy Birthday” above New York.

The copy of Double Fantasy that Mark Chapman asked Lennon to autograph might be the most valuable record in the world. The record, which figured in the court case, not only has Lennon’s autograph but also boasts Chapman’s fingerprints on the cover. In 2003, the record was sold for £525,000 but its value has since rocketed.

(Just Like) Starting Over

Our life together
Is so precious together
We have grown, we have grown
Although our love is still special
Let’s take a chance and fly away
Somewhere alone

It’s been too long since we took the time
No-one’s to blame, I know time flies so quickly
But when I see you darling
It’s like we both are falling in love again
It’ll be just like starting over
Starting over

Everyday we used to make it love
Why can’t we be making love nice and easy
It’s time to spread our wings and fly
Don’t let another day go by my love
It’ll be just like starting over
Starting over

Why don’t we take off alone
Take a trip somewhere far, far away
We’ll be together all alone again
Like we used to in the early days
Well, well, well darling

It’s been too long since we took the time
No-one’s to blame, I know time flies so quickly
But when I see you darling
It’s like we both are falling in love again
It’ll be just like starting over
Starting over

Our life together
Is so precious together
We have grown, we have grown
Although our love still is special
Let’s take a chance and fly away somewhere

(Over and over and over)

Starting over (over and over and over)

(And over and over and over)

(Over and over and over)

(And over and over and over)

Beatles – Revolution 9

My son walked into his first college Music Appreciation class in August. The Professor was waiting for everyone and played this piece by The Beatles. He turned around and asked the class…Is this considered music or not?

Bailey wasn’t the only one who knew this strange piece and in the end…the Professor said yes it was music…like art, music can come in different forms.

I went to youtube to see some of the comments…I’m going to list a few.

“This is what it feels like to have anxiety.”
“I use this song to test my sanity”
“Terrifying for sure, but it’s kind of beautiful in an abstract way”
“I listened to She Loves You right before this. I can’t believe it’s the same band”
“Still better than Justin Bieber” 

And last but not least: “Listened to this blind drunk and by the end, I swear I saw John wearing Ringo’s skin as an overcoat”

I remember listening to this at 2 in the morning alone in the dark in around 1981…scared me to death. The memory has stayed with me to this day. I have grown to appreciate this sound collage. They were trying something new…and it is interesting.

John Lennon wrote this with contributions from Yoko and George Harrison. It’s a highly experimental piece, which Lennon once called “The music of the future.” It is the most controversial and bizarre track on the album.

John Lennon: “an unconscious picture of what I actually think will happen when it happens; that was just like a drawing of revolution.” “All the thing was made with loops, I had about thirty loops going, fed them onto one basic track. I was getting classical tapes, going upstairs and chopping them up, making it backward and things like that, to get the sound effects. One thing was an engineer’s testing tape and it would come on with a voice saying ‘This is EMI Test Series #9.’ I just cut up whatever he said and I’d number nine it. Nine turned out to be my birthday and my lucky number and everything. I didn’t realize it; it was just so funny the voice saying ‘Number nine’; it was like a joke, bringing number nine into it all the time, that’s all it was.”

From Songfacts

This was made by layering tape loops over the basic rhythm of “Revolution.” Lennon was trying to create an atmosphere of a revolution in progress. The tape loops came from EMI archives, and the “Number 9” voice heard over and over is an engineer testing equipment.

Paul McCartney and Beatles producer George Martin hated this and tried to keep it off the album.

This is the longest Beatles song – it runs 8:15. It also took longer to complete than any other track on album.

This helped fuel the “Paul is dead” rumors. If played backwards, you were supposed to hear the car crash where Paul died, and a voice saying “Turn me on, dead man.” Also, playing the line, “I’m not in the mood for wearing clothing” in reverse eventually becomes a rather odd but clear reversal, “There were two, there are none now.”

This is referencing the rumor that Paul McCartney died in a car with “Lovely Rita” and that the two were burned away after the wreck.

The rumor took off in October 1969 when a listener called the radio station WKNR in Detroit and told the DJ Russ Gibb about the backward message. When Gibb played it backwards on his show, listeners went wild and spent the next week calling in and offering their own rumors. The story quickly spread, and McCartney helped it along by laying low and letting it play out.

Lennon felt the number 9 was quite significant. He was happy that, after he changed his name to John Ono Lennon, his and Yoko’s names collectively contained 9 O’s. >>

According to the book The Beatles, Lennon And Me, by John Lennon’s childhood friend Pete Shotton, One evening, Lennon was with Shotton in the attic of his Kenwood home, tripping on LSD and smoking a few joints. They messed about with John’s Brunnel recorders, fiddling with feedback, running recordings backwards and creating tape loops. Opening the windows for some fresh air, John and Pete began to shout whatever was on their minds at the trees outside, the recorder running. This night’s lark was to later captured on “Revolution 9.” >>

Marilyn Manson released their own version of this on the B-side of the single for “Get Your Gunn.” It was called “Revelation 9” and ran 12:57. >>

This was parodied on an episode of The Simpsons. When the guys for a group called The B-Sharps, Barney meets a girl during recording. He exclaims at the studio that he’s making the music of all time. The song is Barney’s girl friend (with striking resemblance to Yoko Ono) saying “Number 8” and Barney burping. >>

Charles Manson thought that when they screamed the words “Right!” it was actually “Rise!” meaning the black community rising over the white people. Charles Manson was of course crazy, and thought The Beatles were warning about a race war.

Revolution 9

lyrics?… Oh, yea…Number 9, Number 9…then the madness starts.

Beatles – Nowhere Man

This song’s harmonies are great and so is the incredibly treble solo in the middle. John wrote this song. John wrote this song after he spent all night trying to write a song. He eventually gave up and laid down and then the song came to him. The song peaked at #3 in the Billboard 100 in 1966.

John: “I’d spent five hours that morning trying to write a song that was meaningful and good, and I finally gave up and lay down.  Then ‘Nowhere Man’ came, words and music, the whole damn thing, as I lay down…So letting it go is what the whole game is.  You put your finger on it, it slips away, right?  You know you turn the lights on and the cockroaches run away.  You can never grasp them.”

The guitar solo was performed by both John and George in unison on their identical Sonic Blue Fender Stratocasters. George: “I decided I’d get a Strat, and John decided he’d get one too.  So we sent out our roadie, Mal Evans, said go and get us two Strats.  And he came back with two of them, pale blue ones.  Straight away we used them on the album we were making at the time, which was ‘Rubber Soul.’  I played it a lot on that album, (most noticeably) the solo on ‘Nowhere Man’ which John and I both played in unison.”

The Beatles pushed the engineers to add treble to the solo that John and George were playing. Run it through and put the treble on it again and again. The Engineers said, “We can’t do that”…Paul told them that it was ok…if it is terrible we simply won’t use it…they kept on pushing and it worked perfectly. The engineers were also afraid of getting fined by EMI for doing things against regulations…with the Beatles though it soon became commonplace.

This shows how the Beatles were changing the rules as they were going along. Not only in writing superb songs but pushing the limits of the studio as well as doing things that pop stars just didn’t do before them…

From Songfacts

John Lennon came up with this after struggling to write a song for the album. Said Lennon: “I thought of myself sitting there, doing nothing and getting nowhere.”

This was used in the animated Beatles movie Yellow Submarine. They sing it to Jeremy Hillary Boob, Ph.D., who describes himself as an “eminent physicist, polyglot classicist, prize-winning botanist, hard-biting satirist, talented pianist, good dentist too.” The Beatles decide to take him Somewhere, and he eventually helps them to defeat the Blue Meanies. >>

This starts with a three-part harmony sung by Lennon, Harrison, and McCartney.

This is probably the first Beatles song that has nothing to do with love.

Typical of many John Lennon compositions are the “falling” melodies, which can be heard in “Nowhere Man.” Folk music often has falling melodies, indicating melancholy. In Baroque music, a falling melody means sadness. 

There is a very audible feedback 38 seconds into the song after the word “missin’.”

Natalie Merchant performed this at the 2001 special, Come Together: A Night For John Lennon’s Words And Music. She did a mellow version, as the show was also a tribute to victims of the terrorist attacks on America.

In a 1971 interview with Rolling Stone, Lennon recalled the background to this song: “I remember I was just going through this paranoia trying to write something and nothing would come out so I just lay down and tried to not write and then this came out, the whole thing came out in one gulp.”

In 2003, John Lennon’s original handwritten lyrics to this song were auctioned at Christie’s of New York for $455,500. 

One of the many songwriters influenced by The Beatles is Graham Gouldman of 10cc, who toured with Ringo’s All-Starr Band in 2018. According to Gouldman, this song is an example of how they would create a two-part harmony, but leave out third part, which is implied. “That’s screaming out for the third harmony, but they never did it,” he told Songfacts. “And in your head, you sing along, if you’re musical, the third harmony.”

Nowhere Man

He’s a real nowhere man
Sitting in his nowhere land
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody

Doesn’t have a point of view
Knows not where he’s going to
Isn’t he a bit like you and me?
Nowhere man please listen
You don’t know what you’re missing
Nowhere man, The world is at your command

He’s as blind as he can be
Just sees what he wants to see
Nowhere man, can you see me at all
Nowhere man don’t worry
Take your time, don’t hurry
Leave it all till somebody else
Lends you a hand
Ah, la, la, la, la

Doesn’t have a point of view
Knows not where he’s going to
Isn’t he a bit like you and me?
Nowhere man please listen
You don’t know what you’re missing
Nowhere man, The world is at your command
Ah, la, la, la, la

He’s a real nowhere man
Sitting in his nowhere land
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody

John Lennon – Working Class Hero

This song was a favorite of mine of John Lennon when I was younger. He took some flak about this one and Imagine when it came to being a Working Class Hero and having all of his possessions. His answer was

“What would you suggest I do? Give everything away and walk the streets? The Buddhist says, “Get rid of the possessions of the mind.” Walking away from all the money would not accomplish that. It’s like the Beatles. I couldn’t walk away from the Beatles. That’s one possession that’s still tagging along, right?”

When I was 18 this song was a powerful one to listen to…It still is…For me, the song was about the differences between the social classes. How some could be exploited and how people use ideologies to justify manipulating people. The song was on John’s debut album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.

Boston’s WBCN banned the song for its use of the word “f_ _king”.In Australia, the album was released with the expletive removed from the song and the lyrics censored on the inner sleeve.

From Songfacts

This song caused a fair amount of controversy for John Lennon, as his detractors pointed out that he was raised in an upper-middle-class home by his aunt and had no right to call himself a working-class hero. In an interview with Rolling Stone just three days before his death, Lennon explained: “The thing about the ‘Working Class Hero’ song that nobody ever got right was that it was supposed to be sardonic – it had nothing to do with socialism, it had to do with ‘If you want to go through that trip, you’ll get up to where I am, and this is what you’ll be.’ Because I’ve been successful as an artist, and have been happy and unhappy, and I’ve been unknown in Liverpool or Hamburg and been happy and unhappy.”

The final take as it appears on the album is actually a composite of two different performances done at two different studios. If you listen carefully (it might require headphones) you can clearly hear the sound of the guitar and vocals change where the edit was made about halfway through the song. 

The word f–king appears twice in the lyrics. On the printed lyrics that came with the album, the word was obscured.

Why did Lennon curse in the song? Yoko Ono explained in a 1998 interview with Uncut: “He told me, ‘That’s part of being working class. It won’t be working class if what you say is all very clean and very proper.”

The line, “If you want to be like the folks on the hill” is a reference to the Beatles song “The Fool On The Hill.”

Green Day recorded this for the benefit album Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, and they also performed the song on the 2007 season finale of American Idol. In their version, the last two lines are from the original John Lennon song – John sings them. 

Lennon told the January 1971 edition of Rolling Stone about this song: “I think its concept is revolutionary, and I hope it’s for workers and not for tarts and fags. I hope it’s what “Give Peace A Chance” was about, but I don’t know. On the other hand, it might just be ignored. I think it’s for the people like me who are working class – whatever, upper or lower – who are supposed to be processed into the middle classes, through the machinery, that’s all. It’s my experience, and I hope it’s just a warning to people. I’m saying it’s a revolutionary song; not the song itself but that it’s a song for the revolution.”

This song seemed to resist all Lennon’s efforts to record a satisfactory vocal. Tape op Andy Stephens recalled to Uncut magazine August 2010 that he watched the former Beatle obsess about it day after day, singing “an endless number of takes… well over 100.. Probably 120, 130.”

Stephens added that Lennon became more frustrated as each take passed. “If the mix in his headphones wasn’t exactly what he wanted, he would take them off and slam them into the wall,” he recalled. “he wouldn’t say, ‘Can I have a bit more guitar?’ He would literally rip the cans off his head and smash them into the wall, then walk out of the studio.”

Working Class Hero

As soon as you’re born they make you feel small
By giving you no time instead of it all
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you’re clever and they despise a fool
Till you’re so f_ _king crazy you can’t follow their rules
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

When they’ve tortured and scared you for twenty-odd years
Then they expect you to pick a career
When you can’t really function you’re so full of fear
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV
And you think you’re so clever and classless and free
But you’re still f_ _king peasants as far as I can see
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

There’s room at the top they’re telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be
If you want to be a hero well just follow me
If you want to be a hero well just follow me

David Bowie – Young Americans ——— Songs that reference Richard Nixon

Do you remember, your President Nixon? Do you remember, the bills you have to pay
For even yesterday?

This song and album had to be a shock at the time. Bowie went from Glam Rock to more of a soul sound within a year. Young Americans peaked at #28 in the Billboard 100, #33 in Canada, #18 in the UK, and #7 in New Zealand. The album peaked at #5 in the Billboard Album Chart in 1975.

Young Americans was the first Bowie album that guitarist Carlos Alomar played on. Bowie first saw Alomar playing in the house band at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, and convinced him to play on this album and join the tour. Alomar became a major contributor, playing on several of Bowie’s albums and coming up with guitar riffs for songs like “Fame” and “Golden Years.”

John Lennon appeared on the album on songs Across The Universe and Fame.

From Songfacts

Bowie never was a young American – he was born and raised in England. Bowie said that this was the result of cramming his “whole American experience” into one song.

This was recorded between tour dates at Philadelphia’s Sigma Sound Studios, which was the capital of black music in the area. The soul influence had a very obvious effect on Bowie’s style. He even completely redesigned the stage for the rest of his Diamond Dogs tour.

Over the course of about eight very creative days, Bowie recorded most of the songs for Young Americans at Sigma Studios. He usually recorded his vocals after midnight because he heard that’s when Frank Sinatra recorded most of his vocals, and because there weren’t so many people around.

Sigma had a staff of very talented producers and musicians (known as MFSB – the same folks who had a #1 hit with “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)”), but Bowie used his own people – Tony Visconti produced this track.

The line near the end, “I heard the news today, oh boy,” is a reference to the Beatles song “A Day In The Life.” John Lennon worked with Bowie on “Fame” and also Bowie’s cover of “Across The Universe.” Both songs are on this album.

The lead instrument in this song the saxophone, which was played by the American jazz player David Sanborn. He was just starting to get noticed when Bowie brought him in to play on this.

Bowie hired Luther Vandross, who had yet to establish himself as a solo artist, to sing backup and create the vocal arrangements on the Young Americans album.

Near the end of the song, Bowie sings, “Black’s got respect and white’s got his soul train.” Soul Train is an American TV show targeted to a black audience that started in 1970. The show featured lots of very expressive dancing as well as a musical guest, and in November 1975, Bowie became one of the first white singers to perform on the show, something he was very proud of. The “Young Americans” single was released in February 1975, so Bowie performed “Fame” and “Golden Years,” which was his current single.

The album was going to be called “Dancin'” before Bowie decided to name it after this track.

At a performance at Giants Stadium, Bowie stopped after singing the line, “Ain’t there one damn song that can make me…”, and dropped to the stage, where he stayed for 10 minutes. The crowd went nuts, but got concerned after a while. Bowie did it to see what kind of reaction he would get.

The Cure did a version of this in appreciation of Bowie, their longtime friend. The lyrics “Do you remember President Nixon?” were changed to “…President Clinton?” The Cure’s version was originally released on a British radio demo CD only, but can now be found on various bootlegs.

Young Americans

They pulled in just behind the bridge
He lays her down, he frowns
Gee my life’s a funny thing, am I still too young?
He kissed her then and there
She took his ring, took his babies
It took him minutes, took her nowhere
Heaven knows, she’d have taken anything, but

All night
She wants the young American
Young American, young American, she wants the young American
All right
She wants the young American

Scanning life through the picture window
She finds the slinky vagabond
He coughs as he passes her Ford Mustang, but
Heaven forbid, she’ll take anything
But the freak, and his type, all for nothing
Misses a step and cuts his hand, but
Showing nothing, he swoops like a song
She cries where have all Papa’s heroes gone?

All night
She wants a young American
Young American, young American, she wants the young American
All right
She wants the young American

All the way from Washington
Her bread-winner begs off the bathroom floor
“We live for just these twenty years
Do we have to die for the fifty more?”

All night
He wants the young American
Young American, young American, he wants the young American
All right
He wants the young American

Do you remember, your President Nixon?
Do you remember, the bills you have to pay
For even yesterday?

Have you have been an un-American?
Just you and your idol singing falsetto ’bout
Leather, leather everywhere, and
Not a myth left from the ghetto
Well, well, well, would you carry a razor
In case, just in case of depression?
Sit on your hands on a bus of survivors
Blushing at all the afro-Sheilas
Ain’t that close to love?
Well, ain’t that poster love?
Well, it ain’t that Barbie doll
Her heart’s been broken just like you have

All night
All night was a young American
Young American, young American, you want the young American
All right
All right you want the young American

You ain’t a pimp and you ain’t a hustler
A pimp’s got a Cadi and a lady got a Chrysler
Black’s got respect, and white’s got his Soul Train
Mama’s got cramps, and look at your hands ache
(I heard the news today, oh boy)
I got a suite and you got defeat
Ain’t there a man you can say no more?
And, ain’t there a woman I can sock on the jaw?
And, ain’t there a child I can hold without judging?
Ain’t there a pen that will write before they die?
Ain’t you proud that you’ve still got faces?
Ain’t there one damn song that can make me
Break down and cry?

All night
I want the young American
Young American, young American, I want the young American
All right
I want the young American, young American whoa whoa

Young American, young American
I want what you want
I want what you want
You want more
I want you
You want I
I want you
I want what you want
But you want what you want
You want I
I want you
And all I want is a young American
Young American

John Lennon – Gimme Some Truth ——— Songs that reference Richard Nixon

Since I blog about the seventies a bunch I thought this reference in songs would fit the loose format I have here…songs that reference Mr. Richard Milhous Nixon. This should be fun. We will start with this John Lennon song “Gimme Some Truth.” In this case “tricky dicky” will work as a reference.

No short-haired, yellow-bellied, Son of tricky dicky’s, Gonna mother hubbard soft soap me, With just a pocket full of hopes, Money for dope, money for rope

Don’t hold back John…tell us how you really feel. John was working on this song during the Let It Be sessions. He would record it two years later and it would be on the Imagine album. Lennon’s contempt for politicians came through rather well on this song.

George Harrison played guitar on this song. Their old friend from Germany Klaus Voormann (Bass player and Graphic Artist) played bass and the great Nicky Hopkins, who was on practically everyone’s records played the piano. Alan White who later joined Yes played drums. It was recorded at Ascot Sound Studios, Lennon’s recording studio at his Tittenhurst Park home, in May 1971.

John Lennon 1968

“I think our society is run by insane people for insane objectives, and I think that’s what I sussed when I was 16 and 12, way down the line. But, I expressed it differently all through my life. It’s the same thing I’m expressing all the time, but now I can put it into that sentence that I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends. If anybody can put on paper what our government, and the American government and the Russian, Chinese, what they are actually trying to do and what they think they’re doing… I’d be very pleased to know what they think they’re doing, I think they’re all insane!”

From Songfacts

There is a book written by Jon Wiener of the same title revealing a compilation of FBI files on Lennon, who was investigated as a drug user and radical. The FBI feared Lennon would disrupt the Republican National Convention in 1972.

Lennon referred to President Richard Nixon in this song as “trick-dicky,” a nickname that became popular during the Watergate hearings. There are many lyrical references to politicians as deceiving, slick, and cowardly characters.

Cover-ups such as the My Lai massacre in Vietnam frustrated Lennon into writing this song, demanding simple truth.

Mother Hubbard in the lyrics refer to the poem, which is itself, a cover-up:
“Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard
To get her poor doggie a bone,
When she got there
The cupboard was bare
So the poor little doggie had none”
The Old Mother Hubbard referred to in this rhyme’s words allude to the famous Cardinal Wolsey. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was the most important statesman and churchman of the Tudor history period in 16th century England. Cardinal Wolsey proved to be a faithful servant but displeased the King, Henry VIII, by failing to facilitate the King’s divorce from Queen Katherine of Aragon who had been his queen of many years. The reason for seeking the divorce and hence the creation of the Old Mother Hubbard poem was to enable him to marry Anne Boleyn with whom he was passionately in love. In the Old Mother Hubbard song King Henry was the “doggie” and the “bone” refers to the divorce (and not money as many believe) The cupboard relates to the Catholic Church although the subsequent divorce arranged by Thomas Cramner resulted in the break with Rome and the formation of the English Protestant church and the demise of Old Mother Hubbard – Cardinal Wolsey. Another rhyme reputedly relates to Cardinal Wolsey.

“Softsoap” is slang – It alludes to liquid soap, likening its slippery quality to insincere flattery. Its figurative use was first recorded in 1830. “Yellow-bellied” is slang for cowardly.

George Harrison played guitar on this.

Gimme Some Truth

I’m sick and tired of hearing things from
Uptight short sided narrow minded hypocritics
All I want is the truth, just give me some truth
I’ve had enough of reading things
By neurotic psychotic pigheaded politicians
All I want is the truth, just give me some truth

No short-haired, yellow-bellied
Son of tricky dicky’s
Gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocket full of hopes
Money for dope, money for rope

No short-haired, yellow-bellied,
Son of tricky dicky’s
Gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocket full of hopes
Money for dope, money for rope

I’m sick to death of seeing things from
Tight-lipped condescending mama’s little chauvinists
All I want is the truth, just give me some truth
I’ve had enough of watching scenes from
Schizophrenic egocentric paranoiac primadonnas
All I want is the truth just give me some truth

No short-haired, yellow-bellied,
Son of tricky dicky’s
Gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocket full of hopes
It’s money for dope, money for rope

I’m sick to death of hearing things from
Uptight short sided narrow minded hypocritics
All I want is the truth, just give me some truth
I’ve had enough of reading things
By neurotic psychotic pigheaded politicians
All I want is the truth, just give me some truth
All I want is the truth, just give me some truth
All I want is the truth, just give me some truth

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