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Sunday, December 27, 2020

Lennon Tribute Song "The Man from the Lonely Hearts Club Band" by David Jameson

2:31 PM Posted by Nicole M


Guitarist David Jameson performs his tribute to John Lennon, "The Man from the Lonely Hearts Club Band"

Longtime Beatles fan and musician David Jameson originally wrote this song (along with his friend and collaborator William Hills) in 1981 to honor Lennon after the occasion of his untimely passing. Now, Jameson's recent recording of the tribute is available to watch on YouTube. Check it out below!

Sunday, December 13, 2020

"John Lennon: Why We Still Care" by Jude Southerland Kessler

2:28 PM Posted by Nicole M

 Adapted with permission from Octopus' Garden fanzine, Volume 30, Issue #2, December 2020.

John Lennon: Why We Still Care by Jude Southerland Kessler
Author of The John Lennon Series

Four decades after his passing…and still we pause, celebrating the life of John Lennon, looking back not with misty-eyed nostalgia but with clear-headed vision that embraces both his many strengths and his many weaknesses.

John Lennon was no saint…that’s for sure. He never – not even as a teen – suffered fools lightly, and when the press (in 1963-66) asked him ridiculous questions such as “What do you do with all that hair while you sleep?” he, often as not, presented a jaw-clinched, disgusted visage and threw them a sharp retort. He admitted that he had “a chip on [his] shoulder bigger than his feet,” and so his ire often flared in instances through which Paul was able to maneuver with some politically-correct response. And yes, John was often jealous and sharp-tongued…and infrequently physical with Cynthia.

But despite the faults that his latter-day detractors have hurled at him, he is still the most exceptional individual I’ve ever known. John Lennon endured a string of life tragedies that none of us could weather, and ultimately, he used them for good. He used them to create beautiful, haunting, lasting lyrical compositions…he gave us the soundtrack of our lives.

Look, John had every reason to be bitter. At age five, his parents (for very complicated reasons) surrendered him to his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George to rear – and although George Toogood Smith was truly “too good” (exceptionally kind and loving), Mimi was not. She was the soul of decorum and discipline. And when six-year-old John – begging for love – would ask her, “Mimi, why are you here every day when I come home from school?” she would only respond, “Because it’s my duty to do so.” Mimi taught John many important things: to study, go to church, mind his manners, behave…but she never taught to him to love.

As John grew into his preteen years, he “found out” that his mother, Julia, lived only about a mile from Mimi’s house. And he began to visit her frequently, getting to know his two half-sisters, Julia and Jacqui. It was a bond John cherished, but the knowledge that his mother didn’t “despise children,” after all – that she wanted her two girls and not him – was a heavy cross to bear. Alone in his bed at Mendips, he wondered what he’d done to make her push him aside. He yearned for her love and attention.

But that doubt must have been dispelled somewhat when, after the loss of John’s beloved Uncle George (when John was almost 15…a time when he needed a “father” most), Julia came back into his life as his best friend. For two years, his mother and he bonded. Julia encouraged John to skip school and hang out with her. She taught him to play banjo, told him he “had music in his bones,” played her rock’n’roll records for him, and helped him form a skiffle band, the Quarry Men. She invited the fledgling band to practice in her acoustically excellent bathroom, and many times, she banged on pots and pans, their drummer. Julia was beloved by them all, part of their group. However, on 15 July 1958, she was hit by a drunk driver and instantly killed. And once again, John lost her. But this time forever, to death.

If this had been John’s last tragedy, he would have been completely justified in being angry at the world. Even at this juncture, he had every reason to give up and quit – to become a delinquent, a criminal, a bitter hermit — withdrawn from society. And many (including Dave Bennion, the “Head Boy” or Prefect at Quarry Bank Grammar) thought Lennon would do just that.

But instead of surrendering to a life of sorrow, John began to write songs born of the pain. And over the next five years, he wailed at the microphones of Merseyside and Hamburg and then the U.K. and finally, the world, for Julia. He told us all, “If she’s gone, I can’t go on, feelin’ two foot small.” And, “I’m a loser, and I’m not what I appear to be,” and “I’ve got every reason on earth to be mad, ’cause I just lost the only girl I had. If I could get my way, I’d get myself locked up today, but I can’t so I’ll cry instead.” Using his loss to weave beauty, John Lennon created The Beatles. He relentlessly pushed them — when on many occasions, such as December of 1960, they gave up and returned to “regular jobs” — to achieve, conquer, succeed.

In his life, John did many great things. He was a talented writer, penning two award-winning books of wry, satirical poetry and prose. He was a gifted single-line artist whose gallery still tours the world to critical acclaim. He was a global advocate for peace. He was a fighter for Irish independence, writing two songs for the cause and leading the New York City march on BOAC on behalf of the Irish people. John had myriad talents.

But today, we remember him most because he left us the example of a life well-lived. He left us an example of a man who never surrendered to the lashing that the world can dole out. John never let the unending tragedies that tried to crush him snuff out his soul.

After the loss of his mother, John went on to endure the death of his soul mate, Stu Sutcliffe. And John suffered at the hands of an unfeeling press when a remark he’d made to close journalist friend Maureen Cleave was lifted by Datebook magazine, taken out of context, and used to generate a hate campaign against John and The Beatles. In later life, John suffered a messy divorce from a girl he had once loved deeply. And in his last decade, he and his second wife, Yoko Ono, lost babies to miscarriages. Even John’s solo career was rocky: his music was banned by the BBC for his support of Ireland. Life for John Lennon was never ever easy.

And yet, John never surrendered. On certain days, when I feel down or depressed or hurt or angry, when I threaten to throw up my hands and walk away…I think of John. I think of his resolve and his “toppermost of the poppermost” attitude and his unflinching determination. In a year of political vitriol and insults, serious health issues, economic distress, and personal challenges, I look to him as a life model. And researching and writing about his life with sincere admiration for 35 years, I repeat about John Winston Lennon the very best compliment that I could ever give to anyone: he never gave up.

And that…that is why we still care.   

Octopus' Garden Review of "John Lennon, 1980" Book

2:17 PM Posted by Nicole M

Adapted with permission from Octopus' Garden fanzine, Volume 30, Issue #2, December 2020. Review by Tom Aguiar.

John Lennon, 1980: The Last Days in the Life by Kenneth Womack, Omnibus Press.

Nineteen-eighty was a landmark year for John Lennon, as he was ending his self-imposed exile and rediscovering his muse in dramatic fashion with the release of his and Yoko’s most mature album to date, Double Fantasy.

John had left music behind five years earlier and dedicated himself to the role of househusband and father to his son Sean. He had missed his older son Julian’s childhood and was determined not to make the same mistake again.

He claimed that he spent his time baking bread and that was true, at least until the thrill wore off and it became routine and then he stopped. He continued to write little snippets here and there, never fully giving up his music.

During the period leading up to 1980, John and Yoko continued to work on the longform adaptation of "The Ballad of John and Yoko," and purchased El Solano in Palm Beach, Florida. Bag One Productions and Joko Films had been inactive and subsequently dissolved leaving just Lenono Music, which ended up encapsulating all of their projects. John even became interested in sailing and took lessons.

The beginning of the return of John’s muse began in Bermuda, but it was the trip aboard the Meghan Jaye that really reawakened his musical spirit. It was a trip into the unknown for John, who had always held dreams of going to sea, just like his father. A few days into the trip, the boat ran into a storm and the crew was incapacitated by illness. During the storm, John had to take the wheel. As his courage rose, he was able to sail the Meghan Jaye through the tempest, shouting and singing.

Once settled in Bermuda, John felt an onrush of songs. Visiting a garden, John viewed a plant called Double Fantasy and thought it would be a great title. John feverishly wrote and recorded songs that just came pouring out of him.

Back in New York, John and Yoko entered the studio to record the album. John was still apprehensive but as time went on, he felt more and more that the album would be a success. Encouragement from Yoko, producer Jack Douglas, and the music involved raised the excitement level within John. Soon he would begin to talk about touring.

Renowned music historian Kenneth Womack reveals in vivid detail the events of that pivotal year. John had found his muse in unforgettable moments of creative success. Womack’s skill as a researcher uncovers many incidents that contributed to John’s return to artistic success in Bermuda and the studio. John was ready to have an unprecedented year and was ready for anything. Double Fantasy was completed and a success, and John was now working on his next album, Milk and Honey, as he returned from the Record Plant recording studio on December 8, 1980.

Womack describes what happened next with one sentence, “All that changed at 10:45 PM” and the reader immediately knows. Womack deals with the aftermath by visiting the legacy that John left on the world through the eyes of Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and all of John’s fans. There were tributes such as Strawberry Fields, a statue of John in Cuba, and a memorial in Bermuda, and those are things on which Womack focuses. It’s the story of John Lennon’s life, not his death.

Womack is a renowned author, researcher, and master storyteller. and John Lennon 1980: The Last DaysIn The Life is one of his best. Where Womack surpasses himself is that he able to take the renaissance that John experienced, lift it off the pages, and place it into the soul of the reader. Yes, John had a renaissance and the reader is able to actually feel it through Womack’s writing. That is very rare for any author and it is a tribute to Kenneth Womack’s skills as a writer. He is a master and if I could give this book a grade higher than A plus, I would.