October 24th, 2007 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments
When John started writing for the Beatles, his writing did not immediately show that he was destined to be shpeiling some of the most poetic and fundmental statements in history in the form of the pop song. The Beatles early songs already clearly show their musical genius but lyrically, they are just worded well; the subject is always just women and loving them, being heatbroken by them, etc. what people wanted to hear songs about back in the day. The songs about romance are often brilliant and are often more revealing of the characters of the songwriter than people are aware. They’re not revolutionary but people could get a sense of John as a bit of a jealous guy (a future song title of his) from songs like “You Can’t Do That” and “Run For Your Life”, a sensitive guy who’s been hurt in songs like “If I Fell”, “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” and “Ticket to Ride” and a sort of loser who’s always losing his girl to some other jackass in songs like “This Boy”, “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl” and “I’m A Loser”.
Everyone knows that the Beatles broke free of that and started writing about more complex topics. John often wrote introspective songs, songs about life and the nature of the universe, politics and society and those he loved. He was the first Beatle to break the mold when he wrote Nowhere Man, no doubt one of the Beatles’ greatest songs (that list of greatest songs is reaaaaallly long though). He claims to have just been sitting around, trying to write a song, getting a little frustrated and then he went and sat down on the couch, having given up. Suddenly he realized that he was a sort of “Nowhere man” just sitting in his “nowhere land”. Hey, maybe that could make a good song?
The rest of Rubber Soul is about girls, but the songs are far more complex than before.
Drive My Car is about a bitch who’s all stuck up.
Norwegian Wood is a one night stand.
You Won’t See Me is also about a bitch who’s mindfucking Paul.
Think For Yourself is about a mindless comformist ditz…who’s also a bitch.
The Word is about how awesome love is but the revealing line is “in the begining I misunderstood/But now I’ve got it, the word is good”.
Michelle is about trying to truly express one’s feelings of love and resorting to french.
What Goes On is about trying to understand why women act as ridiculous as they do.
Girl (a Lennon classic) is about loving a girl hopelessly, painfully and just being emotionally fucked. “When I think of all the times I’ve tried so hard to leave her/she will turn to me and start to cry/and she promises the earth to me and I believe her/after all this time I don’t know why” and “was she told when she was young that pain would lead to pleasure?” reveal how incredible Lennon has become with wielding his words even at this point which is still relatively early in the Beatles’ carreer.
I’m Looking Through You is about realizing someone isn’t who you thought they were.
In My Life is another big one for Lennon. About life and losing people in the rush of it all; about those memories that stay with you forever, haunting you, cheering you. At the end of the day though, his love for this person makes everything else pale in comparison. Though he’ll never lose affection for the people and memories of his past, he can look forward because his new love means more to him than anything he’s ever felt.
Wait is about hoping the one you love will wait for you until you get back from..wherever you are, maybe not being sure if they still want you and understanding why they might not, if they dont.
If I Needed Someone is about not wanting to be emotionally involved at the moment but letting someone know that if you did, they’d be first on the list.
Run For Your Life is John telling you not to cheat on him…because he’ll kill you.
As you can see, The Beatles no longer just want to hold your hand. They’ve grown up a bit and are thinking in more complex terms.
Why the change? People attribute it to many things. Some would say that the Beatles were just getting older and more mature and it was reflected in their songwriting. Makes sense. Another theory is that they were inspired by Bob Dylan’s more complex songs…that or his weed…or both. Acid also was one of the pushers. You don’t write lyrics like “I am he as you are he as you are me as we are all together” if you’re not trippin’ balls.
Another interesting thing I heard was that it was all Yoko Ono.
Yoko Ono? The dreaded Yoko Ono who fucked John’s head up and broke up the beatles and sings like nails on a chalkboard? Yes, the same Yoko Ono.
She hooked up with John somewhere around ’64, ’65, so the time period fits: that’s when the Beatles started getting more sophisticated. She was also an artist, an extremely iconoclastic and uncompromising artist. John loved this about her. He loooooved it, and I can understand that. Sure, maybe she wasn’t the prettiest by conventional standards but does John really need to prove to people he can get a hot girl at the point, he’s a fucking Beatle, he could get just about any girl in the world at this point. I dig artsy girls too.
As this one guy was telling me, Yoko pushed John to experiment more, to write songs that were more art than pop. Makes sense. John wanted Yoko to respect him and he wanted to respect himself. He wasn’t the type of guy who wanted to be singing “I wanna hold your hand” his whole life (as great as the song is), he wanted to sing “Revolution”, “Strawberry Fields” and “Imagine”. Yoko helped him to realize this in himself. It makes sense.
Is it correct? Maybe, maybe not. What makes the most sense is that it’s really a combination of all the things above. The fact is, Johns writing by the time of Revolver had become superhuman. It’s almost as if Acid gave him magical word powers or something. The things that he writes are beyond brilliant.
His major accomplishments on that album are “She Said, She Said”, “And Your Bird Can Sing” and “Tomorow Never Knows”.
She Said, She Said is reportedly about a conversation John had with Easy Rider star Peter Fonda. Fonda was supposedly telling John how he’d discovered how it felt to be dead, to be born, other groovy stuff. The revealing line in this song is “When I was a boy/everything was right”, telling us how he doesn’t dig all this complicated acid bullshit, he misses how simple everything was when he was a child. A theme he returns to in Strawberry Fields.
In And Your Bird Can Sing he shpeils philosophical, saying “when your prized possesions start to bring you down/you may be awoken”. This is reflective of The Beatles’ interest in Eastern spirituality and philosophy in which it is advised not to become attached to our possesions let alone have any.
In Tomorow Never Knows he quotes the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Basically, he’s giving you advice on how to handle your next trip. Relax and float downstream, it is shining, it is shining…
On Sgt. Peppers, he writes A Day in the Life, possibly the greatest song ever written. All he’s doing is reading the news: there was a car crash, he saw a movie, they found out how many holes there are in the Albert Hall
, ynow… the usual stuff, but fuck! They make it so damn ominous.
The brilliance of this is subtle but it’s definitly there. Every day of our lives is exactly that: A day of ours lives. A million things happen to a million people in a million places. People die, people are born, wars are started, holes are counted-it’s all just another day. So what? That’s life.
But that’s everything also, thats not nothing. Our lives are made up of just such days. It’s the most important thing there is. It’s just a day in the life but it is A DAY IN THE LIFE. It’s all there is=it’s everything. Do you get it? Sounds stupid but it’s true. The Beatles got it.
“Let me take you down cuz I’m going to
Nothing is Real
and there’s nothing to get hung about
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 doesnt matter much to me
Noone I think is in my tree
I mean it must be high or low
that is you cant ynow tune in but its alright
that is i think its not too bad
Always know sometimes think its me
but you know i know when its a dream
i think i know i mean, er yes, but its all wrong
that is i think i disagree”
I don’t even know what to say about lyrics like those. They’re not all supposed to make sense, you make sense out of them. But how can you not be given goosebumps by something lines like “it’s getting hard to be someone but it all works out/it doesnt matter much to me”? It’s an amazing song because it really doesn’t say one thing definitly. It’s just sort of like a stroll through thoughts. “I think I know, I mean, er yes, but it’s all wrong….that is I think I disagree”. It’s not easy to truly write honestly, you’ve got all kinds of egotistic bullshit stopping you, you don’t even realize. John had at this point achieved the ability to write completely honestly and well. His words never seem cheap or tossed off, instead, each seems like exactly what it should be, exactly where it should be.
“nothing you can make that cant be madenooone you can save that cant be savednothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time
all you need is love”
It’s not fucking hippie jargon. Think about it. Life is really pretty pointless, we get so caught up in our own bullshit, we forget that it all means nothing in the grande scheme of it all. You should just learn how to live happily and let others live happily, don’t get so caught up in shit. Love is all you need.
By the time the White Album was made, John could take a shit and it would still blow your mind to peices. Go back and really listen to songs like Because (Abbey Road), Across the Universe (Let it Be), Instant Karma (John Lennon single), Real Love (Anthology), Gimme Some Truth, How and Oh My Love (Imagine), Remember and Isolation (Plastic Ono Band), and Watching the Wheels (Double Fantasy). Lennon isn’t idolized for nothing. The man lived a big life. He accomplished a great deal and he will accomplish a great deal more in the future. He inspires all kinds of people every day. He was one of the greatest artists of the last century and a huge force in this world. He’s changed my life for sure. If you haven’t heard these songs or listened to them in the way I have, maybe you should give them that chance. They might just change your own life.