Review #223: Imagine, John Lennon
#223: Imagine, John Lennon
There was a time in my life that the Beatles became very important to me. (How many people in the history of time have said that?) It was my junior year of undergrad, and I was listening to Revolver (#11) every day, which is kind of an unstable place to be.
Then I started working at a boutique hotel in D.C. called The Mansion On O Street. The “Mansion” was really three row houses that were connected by over 70 “secret doors.” It was rock and roll themed, and it often felt like a tiny other dimension.
One of the themed rooms you could stay in was called the John Lennon Room. It was draped all over in white fabric and played Beatles outtakes on a loudspeaker when someone wasn’t staying there. The main attraction? A handwritten noted from John Lennon to his dry cleaners lambasting them for not cleaning the laundry properly, hanging up in the bathroom. It was the coolest place on Earth.
I spent many working hours in the John Lennon room, but I almost never listened to Lennon’s solo music — other than “Imagine,” of course, which I’ve heard so many times at this point that it’s lost all meaning to me, even the communist one. “Imagine” is so soft songwriter-y that I guess I expected the rest of the album to be exactly the same. But there were more fun ones than I thought — some yelling-along songs, even, including “I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier, Mama” and “How Do You Sleep?” (which is definitely Lennon’s way of scolding Paul McCartney).
Speaking of Paul McCartney, I kept wishing he would show up. (I have such a crush on him.) No such luck, but “Gimme Some Truth” has George Harrison on slide guitar, and that’s probably better, if you have a crush on George Harrison.
Of course, there’s plenty more songs that have the dreamy quality of the title track: “Jealous Guy” and “Oh My Love” are both kind of sweet, if not a little slow. And of course, this wouldn’t be a John Lennon album without some reference to Yoko Ono, namely “Oh Yoko!” Like most songs about Yoko Ono, it can grate on you if you let it. But it’s kind of nice to get a fun song after all of these dreamy meditations and 12-bar blues.
There was a time in my life that the Beatles became very important to me, and then there was a time when they weren’t. In that way, I’m just like John Lennon.
Other highlights: I love the progression from “How Do You Sleep?” to “How?” “Crippled Inside” is a jam, but has maybe not aged so well in terms of political correctness. Something about Lennon’s rock and roll voice over a 12-bar blues, i.e. “It’s So Hard” feels so right.
Further Listening: Any Beatles’ outtake.
IS RS FULL OF IT? Yes.