JOHN LENNON-“you say you want a revolution”-my top Lennon picks-by JOHN EMMS

The day John Lennon was murdered on December 8th 1980 I had just came home from working the afternoon shift (3-11) at the McIntyre  mine. My wife and daughter Amanda (then only just over a year old) were already in bed.

I went downstairs to the rec room and put on ABC’s Monday Night Football.

However I had the sound down and was playing a cassette variety tape I was putting together for an X-Mas party.

I went upstairs for a sandwich and  I believe I may have seen a photo of John Lennon then or on Nightline later that night.

It was not till the next day when I turned on the radio in my old 1977 Sport Fury I heard the news. I remember sitting in the vehicle in utter disbelief.  I have to admit I was devastated. I had every John Lennon solo album on vinyl (still have those copies) and had followed his career after The Beatles.

Some of my songwriting and guitar style has been influenced by Lennon. No question about it

For example the fact of following major chords with a minor chord right after (Nowhere Man) or adding seventh chords and bridge minor chords and double tracking your vocals (No Reply)  In addition I always liked the way Lennon’s rhythm guitar parts stood out on The Beatles recordings (I Feel Fine). 

Lennon’s guitar work had a rough style that I still use today with The Shaftmen

These were all direct John Lennon influences. 

Ok folks.. we will no doubt leave out a lot of fan faves,  but here are my top John Lennon songs in no particular order

Nowhere Man- 3 part harmonies and cool guitar solo by Lennon and George Harrison. “Doesn’t have a point of view, knows not where he’s going to, Isn’t he a bit like you and me?

Mind Games-The title track and lead single to one of the my fave Lennon solo albums whenever I hear it I turn it way up. Notable that Lennon played the slide guitar parts

I Am The Walrus-“Sitting on a cornflake waiting for the van to come” Amazing it was the B side to Hello Goodbye

God-” I don’t believe in Elvis, I don’t believe in Zimmerman, I don’t believe in Beatles, I just believe in me, Yoko and me..that’s reality”

Revolution-Nasty swabs of dirty guitar, outstanding lyrics and the room overtones on the recording are killer. Wow and love the video.

Sexy Sadie-One of my faves from the White Album, and written in India. One of the coolest bridge patterns of any Beatles track

Imagine-World anthem. Will always be that special

Don’t Let Me Down-Check out youtube video version. Billy Preston, Ringo, Paul’s high neck bass runs, George’s telecaster chords and of course John’s vocal. (even when he forgets the words) Wow.

Come Together-Opening track on Abbey Road Wow. Still sounds amazing today. Note that Lennon played the funky electric piano on here.

Working Class Hero-“They hurt you at home, they hit you at school, they hate you if your clever, they despise a fool, Till your so fucking crazy you can’t follow their rules”

Woman-Definite Beatle-esque vibe, love the vocal on this recording. 

Happy X-mas War Is Over-featuring The Harlem community choir. Another christmas standard

Strawberry Fields Forever-“Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see. It’s getting hard to be someone, but it all works out, It doesn’t matter much to me”

Help-Lennon’s gorgeous acoustic guitar, George’s descending guitar lines and an honest as all hell double tracked vocal from John

Nobody Loves You When Your Down and Out-You have to hear this track from Walls and Bridges-Check out the bridge vocal

A Day in The Life-We used to sit and listen (on vinyl) to Sgt Pepper and stunned on that last piano chords this ending track  over and over.

Watching The Wheels-This indicated Lennon’s prowess as songwriter and musician in the last year of his life. His third and final single from Double Fantasy

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, radio show host and musician

JOHN’S SOLO CD is available on Apple itunes http://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/close-another-door/id392307439

john emms (@emmsreviews) / Twitter

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December 2010

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