John Lennon (1940 – 1980)

I have written articles dedicated to The Beatles as a band, so in this blog post, I won’t go into detail of those years in Lennon’s career. As I have done for Elton and Bob Dylan, I want to have a spotlight blog post about John Lennon. He was the guiding spirit of The Beatles and the one who formed the band. The one thing I like most about his writing is that he was an open book, he wrote honestly and about himself, especially as a solo artist. 

Lennon was born in 1940 in Liverpool. He was left by his mother to live with his aunt and uncle, his father also abandoned him, years later he started to have a relationship with his mother but sadly she was killed in a car accident. He found refuge in rock and roll. His first band was The Quarry Men and it was during a show with that band that he met Paul McCartney. From there George was added to the band, members left until the core three remained with Pete Best who later would be replaced by Ringo Starr. The Beatles first break came when they met George Martin who signed them to EMI and recorded their first album Please Please Me and from then on, they would go on to be the most successful band in rock music. The Beatles were active from 1963 to 1970 when they decided to go their separate ways. John Lennon was bitter about the whole Beatle experience, I think it was more because of how hard was the break – up, in later years he was clear that he resented what they had to go through, but not the rest of The Beatles and the music they did. He did say in interviews circa 1974 that the relationships between the band members were healed and that he was open to a reunion, sadly that did not happen, at least while John was alive, they did record using a Lennon demo for The Beatles Anthology. 

Lennon was releasing singles while he was still a Beatle. Give peace a chance is one that he released and became an anthem for the peace movement. Instant Karma was another song he released at the same time as Let it be. But on April 1970, Paul made it official, The Beatles were no more a unit. They would all go on to successful solo careers. For Lennon, it was harder, because I think people did not understand some of the things he was doing, for being active in political activities and Yoko Ono. I have nothing against Yoko, he loved her and he had every right to love who he wanted and she did not split The Beatles. Yes, I wish she was not present in some of John’s albums but I just skip her songs if I don’t like them. I admire the fact that he stood by what he believed in and not give in to the pressures of fame or pleasing everyone. The one stain for me in terms of John Lennon is that he never really responded to Julian and sadly he never got the chance to repair his relationship with his first son, just like John, Julian was robbed of the opportunity of building a relationship with his father when John was murdered. 

In 1970, Lennon released his first solo album, Plastic Ono Band. The album was well received by critics. The album is raw and is one of the most honest records ever in terms that Lennon laid it all in there. His feeling towards his parents with the song Mother. Working class hero is a look at the pressures that society impose on you. The song God where John tells his fans that the dream is over and they have to carry on. The album is well regarded, it is considered one his best works. 

In 1971, Lennon wanted to make a more commercial album, with that in mind he recorded the album Imagine. I think this is his best work, the arrangements are well thought of, the songs are good and he manages to combine songs that expressed his views with songs about love or other topics. The album includes the song Imagine, a song that is widely known as one of his best songs. The album is enhanced by the presence of George Harrison on lead guitar on most of the tracks. With Ringo playing drums on his first album, this marked another collaboration with a fellow Beatle. This was a time where Lennon was really active, he did a week as a co-host of the Mike Douglas show where he invited guest like Chuck Berry, activist Jerry Rubin and, a black panther member. By this time, he moved to New York City and released his third album Sometime in New York City. This is his worst regarded album failing both critically and commercially. 

His next album came at a hard time for Lennon and it showed on some of the lyrics. The album Mind Games marked the beginning of John and Yoko’s separation. The album is a huge improvement from his last album. The album received a mix reception, though I consider it to be a good album with good songs. I think Lennon never again allowed himself the pressure of producing Beatle like music to please fans, he wrote what he felt, and because of that I like his music more than McCartney’s even though he was more successful. This was a period where Lennon said he lived like he was 15, saying he has not been single since his early 20’s and began drinking a lot. Something that he decided to move away from by returning to New York leaving LA. In a way it was a period where he is seen in pictures with people that he left behind to be with Yoko. He lived with Ringo for a while, he is seen hanging out with Paul McCartney after the strain in their relationship those pictures were nice to see. During that time, he recorded the albums Rock and Roll and Walls and Bridges. Walls and Bridges would include Lennon’s first number one song in Whatever gets you through the night, a song featuring Elton John. The album was better received than his last two albums. Fulfilling a promise, he made to Elton, Lennon played live in Elton’s concert on Madison Square Garden on Thanksgiving Day 1974. There he reunited with Ono and retired from making music for 5 years. 

He had to battle immigration and the US government who wanted him out of the United States and it was in 1975 where he finally, after fighting for years, he received his green card and was able to stay. He also became a father for a second time when Sean Lennon was born on October 9th1975, the same day as John’s birthday. He dedicated those 5 years to taking care of Sean while Ono handled the business. 

In 1980, John began writing music again and decided to record an album. The album Double fantasy was released on 1980. Some say the album only became successful after what happened, but I believe that Lennon’s songs on the album are among his best. Starting Over is a great song with a classic feel, Woman is a beautiful song and Watching the Wheels and inside look at how John felt those 5 years he was retired from the public life. 

Sadly, on December 8th1980, John was gunned down, I won’t even mention his name because in part he wanted the fame. The world mourned the loss of a man that with The Beatles brought joy with his music, not a perfect man and he always admitted that, but he was a true gifted artist that wrote beautiful music and even if we don’t agree with how he did it, he did try to make it a better world. 

Click on the picture to get your favorite Lennon music. 

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One thought on “John Lennon (1940 – 1980)

  1. It’s true Lennon lived his way, had sensitivity as evidenced in songs like Imagine, and in his fight against Vietnan’s war. Congrats for your comments.


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