On Remembering John Lennon

Thirty-one years ago today, John Lennon was gunned down outside his apartment building in Manhattan. He was two months past his fortieth birthday.

I’ve had a tradition, going back more than a decade, of listening to Lennon hardcore on the anniversary of his death. Today, I generally didn’t. I put on a CD at work this morning (specifically, Starbucks’ Remember collection from a few years ago, which leads off with “#9 Dream,” my favorite solo Lennon song), but then I spent most of the day listening to 1) a podcast documentary on the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, 2) a Carbon Leaf playlist, 3) Florence + The Machine’s new album Ceremonials (which doesn’t wow me the way Lungs did), and 4) Melody Gardot’s My One and Only Thrill. No particular reason, except that I needed background music more than anything else today.

So I’ve put in my favorite solo Lennon album, Rock ‘N’ Roll. Yes, I love Lennon’s album of 50s and 60s rock covers, and I love it more than his other, more commercial albums. It’s Lennon’s fun album. He sounds like he’s enjoying himself, and he cuts loose on these old standards. I have a particular fondness for his version of “Stand By Me,” and I love his “Just Because,” even though (or maybe because) he sounds a bit sloshed. 😉

Don’t get me wrong, I like or love the other albums, except for those strange albums he did with Yoko — Two Virgins, with its Lennon penis; Life with the Lions, and The Wedding Album. And Sometime in New York City, frankly, isn’t very good. Okay, and Mind Games is an album that doesn’t do a lot for me. But I like or love the rest! As long as I skip the Yoko tracks of Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey, that is…

I can vaguely remember Lennon’s death. But I didn’t really know who he was until the mid-80s, and it wasn’t until I was in high school that I began to understand who the Beatles were and the differences between them. In college I became an amateur Beatleologist of sorts; I even wrote a paper on Lennon’s personality for a Psychology class.

I might as well fire up “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).” If it weren’t for Ringo’s Christmas album (which is surprisingly good and belongs in his top tier of work), I’d call this the best Christmas song by a Beatle, but I’ll put it in the top three.

Happy Xmas, everyone.

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