Forget The Walrus, He’s Just John

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John Lennon is my favorite artist. If I had to choose one person’s work to experience for the rest of my life I would pick Lennon over anybody in any medium and I’m not even including his Beatles songs. As a solo artist, I think he’s been mostly overlooked beyond Imagine which may or may not have to do with all the turmoil he was involved in post-Beatles (Yoko Ono, Bed-Ins, fighting deportation, oh, and The Beatles broke up!). The attention he received at the time seemed focus on everything but his music but you could also argue his songs were not as creative or radio friendly as his Beatles work. I would argue his solo work is far deeper and more substantial than his Beatles songs because they are far more revealing, which is why they might not be as easy to accept. He tears down his Beatles persona in several songs the most popular being Watching The Wheels. He tears down his own writing partner, Paul McCartney on How Do You Sleep? and he tears down everything except for a belief in himself and Yoko on God. In a lot of songs he also takes measure of who he is and it isn’t always favorable like in Steel and Glass where there’s even a sense of helplessness from one of the most outspoken people in the world. “You can’t pull strings if your hands are tied.” His songwriting grew more personal and daring after leaving the Beatles whether he was talking about women, family or his own mental state. On Out of the Blue, to paraphrase a little bit he confesses to surviving the long slow knife that was his life long enough to fall in love with his soul mate. He pulled no punches in his solo work which was an evolution from his previous songs where he hid behind characters or wrote nonsense phrases based on his love of Lewis Carroll. He gradually dropped those devices and laid everything out in the open. His five year musical hiatus probably didn’t help his solo legacy even though Double Fantasy was successful. Critics didn’t seem to like that album and it wasn’t Yoko’s songs they really had a problem with, they thought a happier John Lennon was a dull boy. Those songs include: Just Like (Starting Over), Cleanup Time, I’m Losing You, Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy), Watching The Wheels, Woman and Dear Yoko. All of those songs show a man who was in the process of getting his life in order with all the bumps in the road and false starts included. His life was cut short, so we will never know if he would have succeeded balancing being John Lennon with all the responsibilities of being a husband, father and megastar. I like to speculate he would have done it, with more missteps all along the way, but he would have got there. Don’t believe me? Well his first album had a song called Isolation and his last album had a tune called Hard Times Are Over.  

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