Thursday, December 8, 2011

John Lennon Death Anniversary

John Lennon Death Anniversary

On the 31st anniversary of his death, here is a look at some of his best solo tracks

John Lennon, the founder of the Beatles, was shot and killed 31 years ago today on Dec. 8, 1980 at the age of 40. Since then, his second wife Yoko Ono has turned him into an icon, a martyr for peace. In truth, he was a man of many flaws and probably experienced more in his 40 years than anyone else has in an entire life.

In ten years as a solo artist, he released seven albums and several singles. Here is a chronological list of some of his best songs.

1. “Instant Karma!,” single, 1970
Before Lennon even released his first solo studio album, he had already released three singles and a live album. All three of those singles - “Give Peace A Chance,” “Cold Turkey” and “Instant Karma!” - are amazing tracks. “Instant Karma!” is the most polished of the three (obviously, since it wasn’t recorded in a hotel room) and the best. It’s an inspiring song that shows off the best of Lennon. “Instant Karma” can be good or bad and the only thing that makes that difference is how you act in life. I think “We all shine on” is a more inspirational chant than “Give peace a chance,” only because Lennon is talking on a more personal level than a universal level. Both serve different purposes, but I find myself listening to “Instant Karma!” more often.

2. “Love,” John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, 1970
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band could very well be the best album recorded by any individual member of the Beatles after the break-up. It’s an album where the artist lays everything out in front of the audience. He held nothing back, from writing about the isolation he and Ono felt in “Isolation” to the fact that the 1960s are over and people had to face facts in “God.” However, “Love” is a pure piece of emotion. Lennon tries to answer “What is Love?” and he does it probably better than any other musician.

3. “Working Class Hero,” John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, 1970
Even though I find the track overrated, much like “Imagine,” “Working Class Hero” is still an important track and necessary to include on the list. It’s autobiographical yet universal because so many people have felt that way, even though Lennon’s life was so full of extremes.

4. “Imagine,” Imagine, 1971
If you play a message over and over and over again, does it then lose its meaning? I always wonder about that with “Imagine” because a radio station somewhere in the world is playing it at any time. Would the song’s power still be there if you only heard it once a month or once a year? I think so, because it has a simple, memorable message that hits universal themes. Lennon was best when he wrote about abstract ideas (which is why the literal songs on Some Time In New York City are so bad) and “Imagine” is the ultimate example of that. “You may say, I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

5. “Oh My Love,” Imagine, 1971
Co-written with Ono, “Oh My Love” is a quieter moment on the Imagine album and probably one of the best love songs Lennon wrote. It’s short, simple and speaks for itself. What a wonderful track. And yes, that's George Harrison in the video. Harrison played guitar on most of Imagine, just as Ringo Starr played drums on all of Plastic Ono Band.