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Friday, November 03, 2006

John Lennon - Strawberry Fields forever

JohnL001Of the four former Beatles, Lennon had perhaps the most varied recording career. While he was still a Beatle, Lennon and Ono recorded three albums of experimental and difficult music, Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins, Unfinished Music No.2: Life with the Lions, and Wedding Album. His first 'solo' album of popular music was Live Peace in Toronto 1969, recorded in 1969 (prior to the breakup of The Beatles) at the Rock 'n' Roll Festival in Toronto with The Plastic Ono Band, which included Eric Clapton and Klaus Voormann. Apparently, they learned the whole set of songs on the plane from England to Canada. Lennon remembered that the conversation was mostly questions like, "Is it in E, or A?"

He also recorded three singles in his initial solo phase, the anti-war anthem "Give Peace a Chance", "Cold Turkey" (about his struggles with heroin addiction) and "Instant Karma!"

Following The Beatles' split in 1970, Lennon released the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album, a raw, brutally personal recording, which was directly inspired by what he had experienced earlier that year while going through Primal therapy with Dr. Arthur Janov in Los Angeles. (For more on this subject, see the webpage, "John Lennon - Primal therapy,"which includes an account of one of John's therapy sessions written by Pauline Lennon.) The influence of the therapy, which in part consists of screaming out one's emotional pain, is apparent in songs like "Mother" ("Mama don't go!/Daddy come home!"), "Remember," "Isolation," "I Found Out", "My Mummy's Dead," and "Well Well Well".

12-08-2005029The centrepiece of the album is "God", in which he lists all of the people and things he no longer believes in -- ending with "Beatles". Lennon's growing politicalJohnL002 radicalisation is especially evident in the song "Working Class Hero", whose lyrics show clear traces of Primal therapy all the way through (beginning with "As soon as you're born they make you feel small ... 'til the pain is so big you feel nothing at all"). The song's repeated use of the word "fucking" got it banned from the airwaves. Lennon continued his effort to demythologise his old band and reclaim his individuality with a lengthy, no-holds barred interview published in Rolling Stone magazine. Many consider Plastic Ono Band to be a major influence on later hard rock and punk music.

That album was followed in 1971 by Imagine, Lennon's most successful solo album, which alternates in tone between dreaminess and anger. The title track has become an anthem for anti-religion and anti-war movements, and was matched in image by Lennon's "white period" (white clothes, white piano, white room, etc.). He specifically wrote one track, "How Do You Sleep?" as a biting personal attack against McCartney, but later admitted that, in the end, it was really about himself. George Harrison played slide guitar on the incisive song.

JohnL003Perhaps in reaction, his next album, Some Time in New York City (1972), was loud, raucous, and explicitly political, with songs about prison riots, racial and sexual relations, the British role in the sectarian troubles in Northern Ireland, and his own problems in obtaining a United States Green Card. Lennon had been interested in left-wing politics since the late 1960s, and was said to have given donations to the Trotskyist Workers Revolutionary Party.[8]

It was during the period of the recording of this album that his links to this group were perhaps at their strongest. On 30 August 1972 Lennon and his backing band Elephant's Memory staged two benefit concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York; it was to be his last full-length concert appearance. Lennon and Ono also did a week-long guest co-host stint on the Mike Douglas Show, in an appearance that showed Lennon's wit and humour still intact.

In 1972, Lennon released an anti-sexism song, "Woman Is the Nigger of the World", implying that as black people were discriminated against in some countries, so were women globally. Radio refused to broadcast the song, and it was banned nearly everywhere, although he managed to play it to television viewers during his JohnL003second appearance on The Dick Cavett Show.

Lennon rebounded in 1973 with Mind Games, which featured a strong title tune and some vague mumblings about a "conceptual country" called "Nutopia", which satirised his ongoing immigration case. His most striking song of that year was the wry "I'm the Greatest", which he wrote for Ringo Starr's very successful Ringo album.

John Lennon - Live - 1971

Track1 – live in New York 11/71

Track2 to track10 – Live in Toronto 09/69

Track4 / 8 / 9 – Live in Ann Arbour 10/12/71

Ripped from More records production – Italy 1991




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