Friday, December 08, 2006

We All Shine On

Twenty-six years ago today John Lennon was shot, and killed, outside of his apartment building in New York City. I had planned on playing something in tribute on the Hopscast, but I don’t think I’ll be able to work it into the set. Lennon, who would have been 66 by now, is probably still the most “universal” modern pop musician. I think the only person who can compete with his status in almost every country of the world is Bob Marley. I don’t want to get into a debate, but I’d say that Lennon has had a much greater influence musically and possibly socially than Marley.

Here are five of my favorite post-Beatles Lennon songs, many of which have been played on All You Need Is Hops.

1) God

God is a concept, by which we can measure our pain” … “I don't believe in Beatles, I just believe in me, Yoko and me”… “The dream is over.”

That says is all, simply devastating. Featured on Episode 5 of All You Need Is Hops

2) Imagine

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

One of the greatest songs ever written; so simple yet so powerful. I still thing this impacts people today. It should have been #1 but I’ve simply heard it way too many times.

3) Working Class Hero

“There's room at the top they are 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”.

As song that both urges working class people to rise up and stand up for their rights, and warn them that they’re better off not doing so. This song really represents Lennon’s classic inner struggle that was brought on often in his songs. The best example of that (in the Beatles era) was Revolution where he said “if you’re talking about destruction don’t you know you can count me out / in”. I think this echoes those emotions. Featured on Episode 6 of All You Need Is Hops

4) Watching the Wheels

“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”

Finally a song that is a little more lighthearted. In today’s age, where aging rockers aren’t really something unusual, many don’t really produce anything interesting. They just tour on their greatest hits (exceptions such as Springsteen, Neil Young and Paul Simon certainly exist). However, Lennon seemed to graciously accept that he was getting older and offered a fresh perspective in this song. The origins apparently stem from him having beers in a bar in the Bermuda.

About the trip - The story how he got to the Caribbean is interesting as well. Lennon’s mid-life crisis involved him buying a 43 foot boot schooner (“a schooner IS a sailboat you idiot” – that’s from Mallrats – sorry) He could have bought a car, a new house, got divorced. But apparently he loved the ocean. In June 1980, a few months before he was murdered, Lennon along with a small crew, including a man named Captain Hank, took a 600 mile trip from New York to Bermuda. The trip ended a long drought of inactivity and inspired him to write new songs. During the trip the boat hit a Gilligan’s Island like storm and they almost capsized. However, the small crew was able to work through the storm to keep the boat afloat. More impressively, Lennon was right alongside with them. Apparently, the trip was a life-changing event and something that meant a lot to Lennon. While in Bermuda he went out for beers with a few journalists at a bar that was decorated with rotating wheels. One of them asked him why he wasn’t back in New York, you know in “the big time” and the song was born. Several other tunes were penned during his stay. Sadly, his plans to return the next year were never able to be realized.

5) Gimme Some Truth

“I’m sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth
I’ve had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth”

A lot of songs could have made this list and I struggled to pick song #5, but this one had to make the cut just because it still seems so relevant today. It’s also a great representation of Lennon’s angry political side. Featured on Episode 5 of All You Need Is Hops

note: the voice at the begining is Vin Scelsa, a radio hero of mine.

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