As I write this, the hour is well past midnight across the Atlantic. It’s October 9th there in Liverpool, and John Lennon has turned seventy.
I’ve been listening the past few days to Lennon music, either the music he recorded himself, or covers of his music recorded by others (I’m particularly fond of Green Day’s “Working Class Hero” from Amnesty International’s Instant Karma project, though I think that Elbow’s version of the same song is far superior).
Today, in particular, I did a chronological listen from John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band through to Rock ‘N Roll. Yes, even the agitprop album Sometime in New York City and the underwhelming Mind Games.
I’m now listening to the Double Fantasy-era music. Like a fair number of Lennon fans, I can hardly stomach the Yoko Ono tracks scattered in the midst of Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey. I, who can listen to (and enjoy) “Revolution #9” when listening to “The White Album,” cannot be bothered to listen to Yoko Ono’s caterwauling unless absolutely forced to do so.
In college, I used my stereo to make a mixtape of just the Lennon tracks from Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey. That tape, well-worn within a year, became my preferred way of listening to late-period Lennon. (Yes, almost all of the Lennon tracks from Double Fantasy were on The John Lennon Collection, but I liked having all of the late tracks in a single place.)
Then, a few years ago, using the magic of Winamp, I made a playlist of my mp3s and called it “Double Honey.” But it’s a little different than what I did with a cassette tape. “Double Honey” skips back and forth from Double Fantasy to Milk and Honey, except for one point where I felt it made more artistic and aesthetic sense to not do that. (If I stuck with my every-other-track plan, “Watching the Wheels” would follow “Borrowed Time,” but it actually makes sense for the tracks to go the other way.) And while in this list I have “Grow Old With Me” listed as coming from Milk and Honey, my Winamp playlist in fact uses the version orchestrated by George Martin from wonsaponatime. (I also feel old. I remember excitedly buying wonsaponatime more than a decade ago.)
Without further ado, “Double Honey”…
(Just Like) Starting Over (Double Fantasy)
I’m Stepping Out (Milk and Honey)
Cleanup Time (Double Fantasy)
I Don’t Wanna Face It (Milk and Honey)
I’m Losing You (Double Fantasy)
Nobody Told Me (Milk and Honey)
Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) (Double Fantasy)
Watching the Wheels (Double Fantasy)
Borrowed Time (Milk and Honey)
(Forgive Me) My Little Flower Princess (Milk and Honey)
Woman (Double Fantasy)
Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him (Milk and Honey)
Dear Yoko (Double Fantasy)
Grow Old With Me (Milk and Honey)
What to do for his birthday? I leave that up to you. Listen to “Imagine” or “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Watch A Hard Day’s Night or Yellow Submarine. Walk up to a stranger on the street and tell them to give peace a chance or that all you need is love. Tell a friend that life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. Find your own way to commemorate it. Radio stations will be; I fully expect a heavy rotation of Beatles and Lennon solo music on the classic rock station tomorrow.
Happy birthday, John Lennon.