[lastfm]John Lennon[/lastfm], born October 9, 1940, died December 8th, 1980. Ironically, a man who took a very high profile and active role in standing up for peace and love of fellow humankind, was killed by a deranged mad man with a gun; everything John spoke out against, almost since the beginning of Beatlemania and all during his solo years after the breakup.
This weekend would have been John’s 70th birthday. For those of us who grew up during Beatlemania (1964-1970) and also enjoyed the music of the ex-band members, each as solo artists and each with many of their own hits, it’s almost impossible to believe so much time has passed.
On the Sgt. Pepper album, when we first heard “When I’m 64,” it seemed like such a very long time in the future when that age would come to pass for John, Paul, George and Ringo.
Now, Paul and Ringo have long passed that mark, and both John and George never lived to see it.
On this 70th anniversary of John’s birth in Liverpool on Oct. 9th, 1940, we present John’s ALL-TIME TOP TEN as a solo artist.
We should note that in a recent poll on John-Lennon.com, “Imagine” was named his most popular song, by far.
This is a compilation of his songs that sold the most and did the best on the national charts.
1. (Just Like) Starting Over — from his “Double Fantasy” album, the album that was climbing the charts when he died. This song hit #1 on December 27th 1980, almost three weeks after his death, and stayed on top for 5 weeks. The sales were no doubt spurred on by the tragic events of that early December.
2. Whatever Gets You Through The Night — surprisingly, John was the LAST Beatle to have a number one song as a solo artist, and this was the one that finally got him to the top, behind [lastfm]George Harrison[/lastfm], the first ex-Beatle to hit the top of the charts with “My Sweet Lord,” [lastfm]Paul McCartney[/lastfm], the second Beatle to reach #1 as a solo artist with “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” and even [lastfm]Ringo Starr [/lastfm], who beat John to #1 with his first chart-topper, “Photograph” (George Harrison sang harmony on “Photograph” and played 12 string guitar). John’s “Whatever Gets You Through The Night” also had a little superstar help with [lastfm]Elton John[/lastfm] singing back up vocals. The Plastic Ono Nuclear Band was also featured on the tune.
3. Woman — also from “Double Fantasy.” This was a love song of appreciation to Yoko.
4. Instant Karma (We All Shine On) — with George Harrison on guitar and [lastfm]Billy Preston[/lastfm] on keyboards, this was John’s first TOP TEN song as a solo act in early 1970.
5. Imagine — “Imagine there’s no Heaven. It’s easy if you try. No hell below us. Above us, only sky.” This was and still is John’s signature song after the breakup of the Beatles. In simple terms, he was saying that if we all had nothing to fight over; no long standing feuds over religion, over possessions, over who’s country was right or wrong; if there were no roadblocks to peace, then love would spread all over the world and we could all live as “one.” It may have been a very unreachable and unrealistic point of view, but it was one he deeply believed in and one that defined “John Lennon.”
6. Nobody Told Me — released more than two years after John’s death, John wrote this song for Ringo’s album “Stop And Smell The Roses.” Ringo didn’t have the heart to record it, so Yoko released it on “Milk And Honey.”
7. #9 Dream — the mystery voice that calls John’s name in this song was his lover, May Pang. John told her he didn’t know what the song was about, but that is WASN’T about her. A very influnential music magazine in the U.K. said this about the song, “…..a depressing hunk of sentimental bushwah with a chorus in phony Haitian.” It was a part of the “Walls And Bridges” album.
8. Watching The Wheels — another one off the “Double Fantasy” album, this is a song that explains what John was doing between his album “Walls And Bridges” and “Double Fantasy.” The song makes a statement that taking it easy and spending time with loved ones is anything but crazy.
9. Power To The People — a popular phrase in the 60’s and early 70’s, John said he wrote the song much in the same way he wrote “Give Peace A Chance.” He wrote it so people could sing it. “It was another quickie.”
10. Give Peace A Chance — recorded in a hotel suite in Montreal, Canada, all he was saying was, well, you know…..
and….we’d have to give a special mention to John’s very sentimental song from “Double Fantasy,” about his only child with Yoko, “Beautiful Boy.” At the end of the tune when he sings “darling, darling, darling, darling Sean,” one could hear just how much love John had in his heart for his son. The touching musical tribute is almost like an eternal reminder to Sean about his father’s love; a love so deep that John actually took 5 years out of his musical life and dedicated himself as a “house husband” to raise his boy.