Rarities, Oddities, and other fun stuff
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John Ono Lennon, MBE, born John Winston Lennon (9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) was an English musician, singer and songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as a founding member of The Beatles. Together with Paul McCartney, he formed one of the most celebrated songwriting partnerships of the 20th century. Born and raised in Liverpool, Lennon became involved as a teenager in the skiffle craze; his first band, the Quarrymen, evolved into the Beatles in 1960. As the group disintegrated towards the end of the decade, Lennon embarked on a solo career that produced the critically acclaimed albums John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Imagine, and iconic songs such as "Give Peace a Chance" and "Imagine". After his marriage to Yoko Ono in 1969, he changed his name to John Ono Lennon. Lennon disengaged himself from the music business in 1975 to devote time to raising his infant son Sean, but re-emerged with Ono in 1980 with the new album Double Fantasy. He was murdered three weeks after its release. Lennon revealed a rebellious nature and acerbic wit in his music, writing, drawings, on film and in interviews. Controversial through his political and peace activism, he moved to New York City in 1971, where his criticism of the Vietnam War resulted in a lengthy attempt by Richard Nixon's administration to deport him, while some of his songs were adopted as anthems by the anti-war movement.
John Lennon - WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS – "With a Little Help from My Friends" (originally titled "A Little Help from My Friends") is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, released on The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967. The song was written for and sung by The Beatles' drummer Ringo Starr as the character "Billy Shears". This version features Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono. Unreleased version.
John Lennon - BEAUTIFUL BOY -- "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)" is a song written and performed by John Lennon. It was released on the 1980 album Double Fantasy, the last album by Lennon and Ono released before his death. Unreleased version.
John Lennon - IMAGINE -- "Imagine" is a song written and performed by English musician John Lennon. Its lyrical statement is one of positivism and hope. It challenges the listener to imagine a world at peace and without the divisiveness and barriers of religious denominations and nationalities, and to consider the possibility that the focus of humanity should be living a life less attached to material possessions. The lyrics also suggest that people should be willing to share resources freely, versus accumulating, competing and warring over them. The song's lyrics call for a unity of humanity for the greater good of the world. Unreleased version.
John Lennon - MIND GAMES (MAKE LOVE NOT WAR) -- "Mind Games" is a song written by John Lennon, released as a single in 1973 on Apple Records. This song, which was begun in 1969 and can be heard in the Beatles' Let It Be sessions, was originally titled "Make Love Not War," a popular hippie slogan at that time. The original Lennon demo for "Make Love, Not War" is available on the John Lennon Anthology.
John Lennon, Yoko Ono, et. al. – GIVE PEACE A CHANCE -- "Give Peace a Chance" is a song written by John Lennon in Montreal, Canada, originally under the moniker Lennon–McCartney, released as a single in 1969 by the Plastic Ono Band on Apple Records. The song was written during Lennon's ‘Bed-In’ honeymoon in Montreal, Canada. When asked by a reporter what he was trying to achieve by staying in bed, Lennon answered spontaneously "All we are saying is give peace a chance"; He sang the song several times during the Bed-In. Finally, on 1 June 1969, in Room 1742 at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, André Perry recorded it using a simple setup of four microphones and a four-track tape recorder rented from a local recording studio. The recording session was attended by dozens of journalists and various celebrities, including Timothy Leary, Allan Rock, Rosemary Woodruff Leary, Petula Clark, Dick Gregory, Allen Ginsberg, Murray the K and Derek Taylor, many of whom are mentioned in the lyrics. Lennon played acoustic guitar and was joined by Tommy Smothers of the Smothers Brothers, also on acoustic guitar. When released in 1969, the song was credited to Lennon–McCartney. On some later releases, only Lennon is credited; viz. the 1990s reissue of the 1972 album Live in New York City, the 2006 documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon, and the 1997 compilation album Lennon Legend: The Very Best of John Lennon and its DVD version six years later. Lennon later stated his regrets about being “guilty enough to give McCartney credit as co-writer on my first independent single instead of giving it to Yoko, who had actually written it with me.”. However, it has also been suggested that the credit was a way of thanks to McCartney for helping him record "The Ballad of John and Yoko" at short notice. Unreleased version.
John Lennon - JEALOUS GUY (CHILD OF NATURE) -- "Jealous Guy" is a song written and performed by John Lennon which first appeared on his 1971 album Imagine. It is one of the most commonly covered Lennon songs. The song's genesis came in India, after The Beatles attended a lecture by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi about a "son of the mother nature". This inspired both Paul McCartney and John Lennon to write songs about the same subject. McCartney's composition "Mother Nature's Son" was selected for The Beatles (The White Album), while Lennon's song "Child of Nature" was not. However, both were demoed at George Harrison's Esher home in May 1968. The demo featured Lennon's double-tracked vocal and playing an acoustic guitar. After that, Lennon continued to play it into the Get Back sessions. Eventually, the lyrics were scrapped and replaced by the now well known "Jealous Guy" lyrics for Imagine. From the Esher Demos. Unreleased.
John Lennon - WATCHING THE WHEELS -- "Watching the Wheels" is a single by John Lennon released posthumously in 1981 after his murder. In "Watching the Wheels" Lennon addresses those who were confounded by his "househusband" years, 1975-1980. During this period, he "retired" from the music industry to concentrate on raising his son Sean with Ono. The acoustic demo of "Watching the Wheels" is featured in the ending credits to the 2009 film Funny People.
John Lennon - WOMAN -- "Woman" is a song written and performed by John Lennon from his 1980 album Double Fantasy. Lennon wrote it as an ode to his wife Yoko Ono, and to all women. The track begins with Lennon whispering, "For the other half of the sky ...", a paraphrase of a Chinese proverb, once used by Mao Zedong. In an interview for Rolling Stone magazine on 5 December 1980, Lennon said that "Woman" was a "grown-up version" of his song "Girl". In 1965, Lennon's then-songwriting partner and fellow Beatle band mate, Paul McCartney, had written a different song entitled "Woman" for Peter & Gordon using a pseudonym. Thus, both Lennon and McCartney have individual credit for writing different charting songs with the same title. Unreleased version.
John Lennon - MAGGIE MAE -- "Maggie May" (or "Maggie Mae") is a traditional Liverpool folk song about a prostitute who robbed a sailor. It has been the informal anthem of the city of Liverpool for about 180 years. The Beatles performed a brief extract of the song in a jokey manner during their Get Back sessions, in early 1969, at a point in the proceedings when they were warming up in the studio by playing old rock and roll and skiffle songs that they had known and played in their teenage years. Though the performance, which trails off after just 39 seconds and was obviously tongue-in-cheek, is truncated, the recording was included on the 1970 album drawn from those sessions, Let It Be, appearing immediately after the title song. The version they performed was spelt "Maggie Mae" on the track listing and all four Beatles were credited as arrangers of the traditional song, thus allowing them to collect the writers' share of the publishing income for this public domain song. The song had been a staple of the repertoire of The Quarrymen, the skiffle group formed by Lennon that evolved into The Beatles in 1960. Unreleased version.
The Beatles - AIN’T SHE SWEET -- "Ain't She Sweet" is a song composed by Milton Ager (music) and Jack Yellen (lyrics). It became popular in the first half of the 20th century, one of the hit songs that typified the Roaring Twenties. Both Ager and Yellen were elected to membership in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. "Ain't She Sweet" was also performed by The Beatles with John Lennon on lead vocals. It was recorded on June 23, 1961 at the Friedrich-Ebert-Halle, Hamburg, Germany with Pete Best on drums, and produced by Bert Kaempfert, released as a single in 1964, May 29 on Polydor NH 52-317 (UK).,[ and included on the Anthology 1 album in 1995. A different rendition, recorded during a jam session in 1969 with Ringo Starr on drums, was released on the Beatles' Anthology 3 - it is the only song which appears on two of the Anthology records. A solo version of the song was also included in the John Lennon Anthology box set. From “Anthology, Vol. 1”.
John Lennon - MAYBE BABY -- "Maybe Baby" was originally recorded by The Crickets (with Buddy Holly) in 1957. It was written by Norman Petty and Buddy Holly. The rather simple lyrics are augmented by a characteristic twangy percussive accompaniment (rockabilly), especially effective in the 8-bar instrumental introduction, and the short conclusion. Unreleased version.
The Beatles - NORWEGIAN WOOD (TAKE 1) - "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" (also known as simply "Norwegian Wood") is a song by The Beatles, first released on the 1965 album Rubber Soul. John Lennon wrote most of the song, and finished writing the words with Paul McCartney. (credited to Lennon–McCartney). It is the first example of a rock band playing the sitar in one of their songs; it was played by George Harrison. Lennon started composing the song on his acoustic guitar in January 1965, while on holiday with his wife, Cynthia, in the Swiss Alps. Lennon later explained that the lyric was about an affair he had been having. “I was very careful and paranoid because I didn't want my wife, Cyn, to know that there really was something going on outside of the household. I'd always had some kind of affairs going on, so I was trying to be sophisticated in writing about an affair. But in such a smoke-screen way that you couldn't tell. But I can't remember any specific woman it had to do with.” Unreleased version.
The Beatles - JULIA -- "Julia" was written by John Lennon (credited to Lennon–McCartney) and features Lennon on vocals and acoustic guitar. It was written during the Beatles' 1968 visit to Rishikesh in northern India, where they were studying under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It was here where Lennon learned the song's finger-picking guitar style from the Scottish musician Donovan. No other Beatle sings or plays on the song. While Paul McCartney made several "solo" recordings attributed to the group, dating back to his famous song "Yesterday", this is the only time that Lennon played and sang unaccompanied on a Beatle track. "Julia" was written for John's mother, Julia Lennon (1914–1958), who was knocked down and killed by a car driven by a drunk off-duty police officer when John was 17 years old. Julia Lennon had encouraged her son's interest in music and bought him his first guitar. But after splitting with John's father, she started a new family with another man and left John to be raised by her sister, Mimi; though she lived just a few miles from John, Julia did not spend much time with him for a number of years. Their relationship began to improve as he neared adolescence, though, and in the words of his half-sister, Julia Baird: "As he grew older, John would stay with us more often. He and Daddy got along well enough, and in the evenings when our daddy, a headwaiter, was at work, John and Mummy would sit together and listen to records. She was an Elvis Presley fan from the word go, and she and John would jive around the room to Heartbreak Hotel and other great Elvis songs. John inherited his love of music from her, and she encouraged him to start with piano and banjo, making him play a tune again and again until he got it right." Unreleased version.
The Beatles - I’M SO TIRED -- "I'm So Tired" is a song by The Beatles from their double-disc album The Beatles (also known as The White Album). It was written and sung by John Lennon, though credited to Lennon–McCartney. Lennon wrote the song at a Transcendental Meditation camp when he could not sleep. The Beatles had gone on a retreat to study with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh, India. After three weeks of constant meditation and lectures, Lennon missed his soon-to-be wife, Yoko Ono, and was plagued by insomnia that inspired the song. One of dozens of songs the Beatles wrote in India, "I'm So Tired" detailed Lennon's fragile state of mind. It was also an open letter to Ono, whose postcards to Lennon in India were a lifeline. "I got so excited about her letters," he said. "I started thinking of her as a woman, and not just an intellectual woman." Lennon later said of it: "One of my favourite tracks. I just like the sound of it, and I sing it well". Unreleased version.
John Lennon - REVOLUTION -- "Revolution" is a song by The Beatles written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. The Beatles released two distinct arrangements of the song in 1968: a hard rock version as the B-side of the single "Hey Jude", and a slower version titled "Revolution 1" on the eponymous album The Beatles (commonly called the "White Album"). Although "Revolution" was released first, it was recorded several weeks after "Revolution 1" as a re-make specifically designed to be released as a single. A third connected piece written by Lennon is the experimental "Revolution 9", which evolved from an unused portion of "Revolution 1", and also appears on the White Album. "Revolution" was inspired by political protests in early 1968. Lennon's lyrics expressed doubt about some of the tactics. When the single version was released in August, the political left viewed it as betraying their cause. The release of the album version in November indicated Lennon's uncertainty about destructive change, with the phrase "count me out" recorded differently as "count me out, in". In 1987, the song became the first Beatles recording to be licensed for a television commercial, which prompted a lawsuit from the surviving members of the group. Unreleased version.
The Beatles - DON’T LET ME DOWN -- "Don't Let Me Down" is a song by The Beatles (with Billy Preston), recorded in 1969 during the Get Back (Let It Be) sessions. John Lennon wrote it as an anguished love song to Yoko Ono. Paul McCartney interpreted it as a "genuine plea", with Lennon saying to Ono, "I'm really stepping out of line on this one. I'm really just letting my vulnerability be seen, so you must not let me down." Lennon's vocals work their way into screams, presaging the primal scream stylings of the following year's John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album. Unreleased version.