WTM #1075: Lennon Dead 29 Years

wReck thiS meSS ~ R
adio Patapoe 88.3
Amsterdam ~ Ethno-Illogical Psycho-Radiographies


07 December 2009 // 16.30-18.30

“Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue with that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first – rock and roll or Christianity.”
• John Lennon

Guilt for being rich, and guilt thinking that perhaps love and peace isn’t enough and you have to go and get shot or something.
• John Lennon

Two Virgins [exc.] > John Lennon & Yoko Ono [Two Virgins / Apple vinyl]
Give Peace A Chance > Toots & The Maytals [Tribute: Trojan Beatles Box]
Give Peace A Chance > John Lennon & Yoko Ono
Instant Karma > Shockabilly [Heaven / Fundamental vinyl]
Isolation > John Lennon [John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band / Apple vinyl]
Two Virgins [exc.] > John Lennon & Yoko Ono [Two Virgins / Apple vinyl]
In His Own Write > John  Lennon + Beatles
Happy Xmas (War Is Over) > John Lennon & Yoko Ono
Spaniard in the Works > John Lennon
Twist & Shout > John Lennon [The Beatles: Please Please Me / Parlophone/EMI]
Ya Ya [Dorsey] > John Lennon [Rock & Roll / Parlophone vinyl ]
The Ballad Of John And Yoko > The Beatles
Tomorrow Never Knows > Suns Of Arqa
Tomorrow Never Knows > Gary Lucas & Jozef van Wissem [The Universe of Absence / BVHaast]
Cold Turkey > John Lennon
Strawberry Fields Forever [alt.] > John Lennon
John Sinclair > John Lennon
What’s the New Mary Jane > John Lennon
And I Love Her > Byron Lee [Tribute: Trojan Beatles Box]
Jealous Guy > Bryan Ferry [20 Greatest Hits / Virgin vinyl]
All You Need Is Love > The Beatles
Jealous Guy > John Lennon
Don’t Let Me Down > Marcia Griffiths [Tribute: Trojan Beatles Box]
God > John Lennon [John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band / Apple vinyl]
Mummy > John Lennon [John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band / Apple vinyl]
Two Virgins [exc.] > John Lennon & Yoko Ono [Two Virgins / Apple vinyl]
Hand in Hand [I Wanna Hold Your Hand] > Tobi Rix
She Loves You > Peter Sellers
Chords Of Fame > Phil Ochs & John Lennon
Making of John Lennon’s Working Class Hero > John Lennon / BBC
Working Class Hero > John Lennon [John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band / Apple vinyl] That’s My Life > Freddy “John’s Father” Lennon
Penny Lane > Balsara & His Singing Sitars
Reggae And Shout (Twist And Shout) > The BLACK Beatles [Tribute: Trojan Beatles Box]
Twas a Night Like Ethel Merman > John Lennon
I’m A Man > John Lennon
In My Life Dub > The Pioneer All Stars [Tribute: Trojan Beatles Box]
You Know the Name, Look up the Number > John Lennon
Two Virgins [exc.] > John Lennon & Yoko Ono [Two Virgins / Apple vinyl]

As usual, there is a great woman behind every idiot.
• John Lennon

I realize that through my exposure to new and old pop music for me is a kind of obscurity. And when I annually go to Concerto, one of the best record stores in the world  with a stack of received CDs that I never play at home or on the radio. [I seldom make ‘best in the world’ type proclamations, BTW. In fact, I get downright irritated as a registered legal Grumpy Old Man®. For some reason, being the ‘best’ is important to Americans, even if it isn’t true, it’s more about acting like it is. It’s like religious belief or a suspension of disbelief. It also offers the proclaimer certain bragging of territoriality rights. Everyone in NYC seems to ‘know’ where to get the best pizza, best falafel, best Chinese [food that is], best sushi, best dim sum… And this has little to do with knowledge and much more to do with the decline of meaning, the decreased impact of words on people drowning in words and so with each proclamation one realizes having to compete with the screams of thousands of others who are trying to get your attention and your money and so you turn to super-super-superlatives like best escalates to fucking best to fucking king shit best in the whole world and pretty soon its Chicken Little time….

At Concerto, for 40 cds I get about 70 euros and then it is play time [an incredible 2 hrs annually spent just browsing and finding a much smaller stack of CDs I will probably actually play [home & radio]. This happens near Xmas and I usually leave the house by bike at 9.45 so that I am there when it opens and so you have the whole 4-storefront store to just about yourself and some other early risers. This is as close as shopping gets to heaven. Most shopping is hell or one step up from hell on the way to purgatory…

Everybody loves you when you’re six foot in the ground.
• John Lennon

JOHN LENNON: His death came pretty much full circle with his death, dying on his birthday or thereabouts. I mention this for a number of reasons. My daughter has to do a ‘spreekbeurt’ [oral report] at school and has chosen the Beatles. We have read a photo book with minimal text and are now reading SHOUT, which begins with the death of Lennon. And that is where I found the birth-death factoid. It makes me wonder whether MD Chapman planned this celebratory day consciously. We have also been watching this 5-DVD box set of The Beatles produced by Neil Aspinall / J. Clyde www.beatles.com, which is excellent in brings to light many great enjoyable incidents and film footage I had never seen before. It also makes all those dreamers of instant popstardom take notice: they were no overnight successes, struggling for years in grungy clubs and rehearsing day after day after day. My daughter liked the series through part 8 when they were still relatively happy as a group of good friends. But she became increasingly depressed [temporarily sad] as things began to unwind with the failure of Apple and the appearance of Yoko Ono and a kind of waywardness.

She came to the Beatles very indirectly during our Youtube musicology lessons. Somehow we moved from High School Musical bits on Youtube to first Michael Jackson and then Prince [hard to find on YT] and James Brown and Elvis especially the great old video of “Jailhouse Rock.” This was my attempt to show her where the dance gestures, moves, routines, stunts come from and this works really well as pedagogical tool. She also watches some of those Disney teen in school comedies [there are so many] and there is often a ‘rock’ group like say the Jonas Brothers. It was from this point that we moved backwards to the Monkees and their TV show and she fell instantly in love with some of the wacky routines. I noted that the Monkees were ‘influenced’ [I don’t know if that’s too honorable of a term] by the Beatles especially “Hard Day’s Night” which you can also see in 10 minute sections. It is not a horrible way to see it. She learned a lot about musical pop history, about the Beatles as songwriters, as idols, as comedians, but also the historical mid-1960s context. But what she liked first and foremost was the wacky humor [she also loves the 3 Stooges] and then started singing along with some of the early songs and doing kind of 60s style dances along with them. She knows a bunch of the songs, is now proselytizing and trying to convince her friends of how great they were.

She also wants to play guitar and for Xmas we got her a Beatles songbook for piano. She brought it to music lessons and her teacher seemed enthusiastic enough so that they watched some Beatles on Youtube and then they picked out “Norwegian Wood” to start with. A day later she tried it at home on her own and I could not believe it – she could play it, recognizably enough. This for someone who plays no musical instrument except a turntable is nothing short of magic.

Paloma wavers when it comes to her favorite. She likes all 4 for different reasons. The good things is that I am learning as well. I liked the Beatles when I was young and growing up in NJ and took the British invasion as – ironically enough – a call to liberation. From what I don’t know but I was absolutely fascinated by Swingin’ London, by the weird bright colored clothes, the carefree sense of living with your own [rock] music as permanent soundtrack. I bought these Teen mags that focused on the Brit Invasion and I just absorbed all of the band names, the hair, the tight pants, the cool pointy half-hi black boots. I liked the Beatles in the beginning and never disliked them but as a contrarian I began to notice that other groups were interesting – Animals, Searchers, Rolling Stones, but especially the Dave Clark 5. The DC5 had their own really cool, clean, sharp look and their sound with a saxophone, well, I was hooked… The point being, I started to do what I have done ever since: ignore the popular, most famous and look at some of the also-rans, the rest and what you notice is injustice, neglected genius, great songs… But my daughter’s interests help me learn things I just never knew. Maybe I will also tell her that I used to sing along with a pencil mic to all the Brit Invasion bands in my room and when I was done rerereading the pop mag I would cut out the haircuts and try to position them on my head to see how I would look as a Beatle.

In this selection I have tried for eclecticism: The Trojan box of reggae interpretations [thanks Black Sifichi] is most interesting [not all equally good] but really cool takes on the Beatles. Somehow it makes sense since early reggae was influenced by the same soul, early r’n’r as the Beatles. The “Jealous guy” version I first heard when I worked for an office supply warehouse on 16th street with Robert O. And we used to sing along to the periodic good song that WNEW-FM would play to the utter consternation of the bosses. Our singing wasn’t the greatest. Weird thing is – not really – is that I came to Lennon’s version via the hit Bryan Ferry version. Lennon’s Working Class Hero and God are 2 songs that still impress lyrically. I also really like the early Lennon-Ono Band period, that really violent guitar work. The weirdest piece is the one supposedly by his real father Freddie Lennon singing in English but also Africaans [SA]. Most weird annoying is The Dutch Spike Jones, Toby Rix’s version of I Wanna Hold Your Hand.

Two summers ago I was with Paloma alone in NYC and to end our day at the Museum of Natural History we walked to Strawberry Fields where Lennon’s fans continue to gather like some time warp hippie gathering, scraggly types selling memorabilia or drawings of Lennon or buttons and tee shirts and playing his music. Well, I told her the whole story and tried to explain the fanatical part of fandom and she seemed to get the message, I mean a fan’s dog with a Lennon tee shirt on – you get the message loud and clear.

Then we walked past the Dakota doorway where it all happened and she was very moved by it all. The entire larger notion of murder, of life ending of why people do this to each other… But why John she wanted to know. We’ll never know exactly but chapman had something in his head [Catcher in the Rye] of wanting to save young people from being misled by a false messiah but that’s probably giving MDC too much credit. I had had to coe up with a similar story that couldn’t be BS or evasive when we were in the Sacre Couer and there in pre-comic book style, the visual panels tell the story of Jesus but not exactly WHY he had to die. One way I explained it was that both Lennon and Jesus agitated for peace and peace is not in the best interests of many people, who thrive [power, wealth] on the idea of permanent war/threat. This she really got. Not that Lennon was Jesus in any way and indeed John was persecuted for his quite innocent off the cuff humorous remark about the Beatles being more famous than Jesus was a point well taken on many levels… But lost to another sort of fanatic – fundamentalists [and record store owners?] urged people to burn their records…. She did not understand this level of fanaticism. This will take time.

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