John Lennon – Isolation

Many people posted this song during the lockdown and I can see why.

I always liked the song and understood that isolation doesn’t equate to loneliness. You can be in a crowd of people and yet feel isolated or alone. You can be physically isolated from others yet still feel very much connected to others.

The bass player on this track was Klaus Voormann, who was a friend of the Beatles from their Hamburg days. He was also an artist… he is the artist who designed the cover of Revolver. Ringo Starr also lends a hand with drums on this track.

JLPOBCover.jpg

The song was released on his true debut album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band in 1970. Arguably one of if not his best album. Like Paul’s debut this one was not big in production but unlike Pauls…this album was not light pop songs. You can feel John releasing his inner feelings for everyone to see on this album. Not an album to play to get a party going. You can hear John’s disillusionment with life, fame, and his three former bandmates.

This was during the time John Lennon went to see Doctor Arthur Janov in scream therapy. A way to bare his soul for his feelings like his mom that was killed when he was a teenager.

John Lennon: ‘Isolation’ and ‘Hold On John’, they’re the rough remixes. I just remixed them that night on seven-and-a-half [inches per second tape] to take them home to see what else I was going to do with them. And then I didn’t really, I didn’t even put them onto fifteen [IPS], so the quality is a bit hissy on ’em too. By the time I’d done everything, I started listening. I found out it’s better that, with ‘Instant Karma’ and other things, you remix it right away that night. I’d known that before, but never followed it through.

I usually don’t pay much attention to covers. I ignore actors turn singers but I did find a very good version of this song out there. In 2020 Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp recorded this song and Beck’s guitar work is great. Depp also does the vocals justice in this.

Isolation

People say we got it made
Don’t they know we’re so afraid
Isolation
We’re afraid to be alone
Everybody got to have a home
Isolation

Just a boy and a little girl
Trying to change the whole wide world
Isolation
The world is just a little town
Everybody trying to put us down
Isolation

I don’t expect you, to understand
After you caused so much pain
But then again, you’re not to blame
You’re just a human, a victim of the insane

We’re afraid of everyone
Afraid of the sun
Isolation
The sun will never disappear
But the world may not have many years
Isolation

Billy Joel – Say Goodbye To Hollywood

I missed this song when it came out on Joel’s 1976 album Turnstiles but I earned about it later in 1981.

in the early eighties I joined Columbia House I ordered Billy Joel’s album Songs in the Attic. I ordered it right after I purchased his album Glass Houses at a record shop. This song really caught my attention, and I became a fan of Joel that year.

This was released in the US as the B-side to “I’ve Loved These Days” a month before it was put out as an A-side single. Neither song charted. In 1981, a live version recorded at the Milwaukee Arena was released on Joel’s Songs In The Attic album. It peaked at #17 in the Billboard 100 and #27 in Canada.

Joel’s influence was The Ronettes, specifically their song “Be My Baby. Joel was a big fan of ’60s girl groups and loved both Phil Spector’s production and Ronettes lead singer Ronnie Spector’s voice. Joel met Ronnie a few times over the years, but only after he wrote the song.

When he wrote this song, Joel had recently moved from Los Angeles to New York, which helped inspire it. He didn’t care for the west coast.

Ronnie Spector, who was the influence on this song, released her own version in 1977. Her version was produced by Little Steven and was backed by The E Street Band.

Ronnie Spector: “In a way it’s my life story ’cause I was married in Hollywood, I lived in Hollywood, my life fell apart in Hollywood and now I am saying goodbye to Hollywood.”

From Songfacts

This song is a look at the temporary nature of most relationships, as people are always coming in and out of our lives. It’s told through the eyes of two characters, Bobby (in the first verse) and Johnny (in the second). They do their time in Hollywood, but now find themselves moving on with their lives, a natural progression in the series of hellos and goodbyes in life.

On The Howard Stern Show, Joel explained that he wrote “Say Goodbye To Hollywood” in a high key that was challenging to sing – he had an easier time hitting those notes when he wrote the song.

Say Goodbye To Hollywood

Bobby’s driving through the city tonight
Through the lights
In a hot new rent-a-car
He joins the lover in his heavy machine
It’s a scene down on Sunset Boulevard

[Chorus: ]
Say goodbye to Hollywood
Say goodbye my baby
Say goodbye to Hollywood
Say goodbye my baby

Johnny’s taking care of things for awhile
And his style is so right for Troubador’s
They got him sitting with his back to the door
Now he won’t be my fast gun anymore

[Chorus: ]

Moving on is a chance that you take every time you try to stay together
Say a word out of line and you find that the friends you had are gone
Forever…forever
So many faces in and out of my life
Some will last, some will just be now and then
Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes
I’m afraid it’s time for goodbye again

[Chorus: ]

(Repeat 3rd verse)

[Chorus: ]

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/

Ramones – Rock ‘n’ Roll High School

This song was the title song for the movie The Ramones made in 1980. I got a VHS copy of this movie in the early 80s and loved it.

The Ramones first recorded this song with producer Ed Stasium, who produced their previous album Road to Ruin. The band started working with Phil Spector soon after, and Spector remixed this song for the film. This is the version that was released as a single and included on the film’s soundtrack.

This song has a fifties sound to it and it does sound commercial for the Ramones but it never made it into the Billboard 100 but it did manage to get to #67 in the UK in 1979. It was not the hit they were hoping to have.

The song clocked in at a little over 2 minutes…true Ramones fashion. This is one band I regret never getting to see live.

From Songfacts

The Ramones wrote this song for the movie Rock ‘N’ Roll High School, which is about a student who leads a rock rebellion against the school administration. In the film, the student, Riff Randell (played by P. J. Soles), writes the song in her songwriting class (somehow this school she found so stifling offered a songwriting class and a means for her to work up a professional demo) and plays it to her classmates during gym class.

Determined to get the song to her favorite band, the Ramones, she is thwarted by the principal and stages a protest in retaliation, taking over the school with her fellow students. In the final scene, she leads the students out of the school in apparent surrender, but then introduces the Ramones, who have joined them to perform the song. While they play, Riff hits the plunger and blows up the building as the horrified teachers look on.

The film is campy in the tradition of Animal House, and it captured the punk attitude of rebellion with a heaping of humor. It was released independently, so it was never big at the box office, but Rock ‘N’ Roll High School earned an excellent review from the influential movie critics Siskel & Ebert, and quickly gained a cult following.

Rock ‘N’ Roll High School director Allan Arkush was a big Ramones fan, and pushed to make them the band in the movie. When he met with the band’s manager, Danny Fields, Arkush pitched him the story of the band playing while the school blows up. Fields was sold.

Much of the Ramones brand of punk rock was influenced by early rock and roll.

When Spector produced the Ramones End of the Century album, he had them record a new version, employing his “wall of sound” technique. While the original begins with eight seconds of drums, this rendition opens with the sounds of students mulling about at school, a class bell, and a sustained guitar note played by Johnny Ramone.

This guitar note became the stuff of legend when tales were told of Specter making Johnny play it over and over for eight hours. When Johnny walked out, Spector ordered him back in, and Johnny retorted, “What you going to do, shoot me?” (this exchange is captured on tape).

Spector is often said to have brandished a gun either at this point or at another point in the session, but Marky Ramone tells us that this is overblown – Spector carried a gun but never threatened them with it.

The album took about six months to make, which was an eternity by Ramones standards, although most of that time was Spector working without the band. The album was a modest success, going to #44 US and outselling previous Ramones efforts, but it left the band divided – Joey and Marky loved it, but Dee Dee and Johnny felt traumatized by the experience.

If the Ramones were ever going to score a hit single, this would have been it. The song was the title track to a movie, and the renown hitmaker Phil Spector had his hands on it. It was not to be: the song didn’t crack the American charts and the Ramones never did have a commercial breakthrough.

A video was made for this song using the 1980 End of the Century release. The video is based on the movie, with most of the band in detention and Marky dressed like a woman, playing the role of the principal in the film, Miss Togar. When MTV launched in 1981, it got some spins, but the Ramones never became video stars.

The version sung in the movie by P.J. Soles was also included on the soundtrack album.

According to Joey Ramone, the movie was going to be called Disco High School, since disco was big at the time. Director Allan Arkush managed to make it a rock movie starring the Ramones.

Joey says that when they blew up the high school at the end, they were really destroying the school and the explosions were frightening. The band was under strict instructions not to turn around until cameras stopped rolling. When they did, they saw the school up in flames.

Imploding the set did more than just create a great visual: it made it impossible to do re-shoots, ensuring that it couldn’t be reverted to Disco High.

The End Of The Century album cover was shot by Mick Rock, whose famous clients include David Bowie, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. He was warned before the shoot that the Ramones did not like photographers, but the session went well and resulted in one of the more memorable images of the band, with them wearing colorful T-shirts and no leather.

“It only took about an hour,” Rock told Songfacts. “They came, I did some Polaroids. They didn’t really comment much, but at least they liked them enough for one to appear on the album cover.”

Rock ‘n’ Roll High School

Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school

Well I don’t care about history
Rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school
‘Cause that’s not where I wanna be
Rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school
I just wanna have some kicks
I just wanna get some chicks
Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school

Well, the girls out there knock me out, you know
Rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school
Cruisin’ around in my GTO
Rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school
I hate the teachers and the principal
Don’t wanna be taught to be no fool
Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school
Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school

Fun fun, rock ‘n’ roll high school
Fun fun, rock ‘n’ roll high school
Fun fun, rock ‘n’ roll high school
Fun fun, oh baby
Fun fun, oh baby
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school
Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school
Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school

I don’t care about history
Rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school
‘Cause that’s not where I wanna be
Rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school
I just wanna have some kicks
I just wanna get some chicks
Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school
Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school

Fun fun, rock ‘n’ roll high school
Fun fun, rock ‘n’ roll high school
Fun fun, rock ‘n’ roll high school
Fun fun, oh baby
Fun fun, oh baby
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school
Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school
Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school
Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school