The room where I teach is high ceilinged, so there is plenty of room for the large, framed picture of the Beatles that hangs on the wall over the blackboard.
The picture is actually a print of a black & white photograph taken by Rowland Scherman. It captures the Beatles on-stage and mid-song (my guess is: “All My Loving”) at the Washington Colliseum in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, February 11, 1964. In the picture, John Lennon stands on the right, playing his black Rickenbacker.
On an adjacent wall, there is a larger, also-framed, full-color poster that features the cover images from all 12 British-release Beatles albums. (This poster was produced in 1987 by Apple Corps, LTD.)
Given these two art works and the fact that I use several Beatles songs in my teaching, my guitar students are pretty quick to get the idea that I like the Beatles. So, inevitably, I am asked what my favorite Beatles’ song is.
For a good number of years, my answer was not a song, but an album (bands put out albums in those days, I point out), and I would name Rubber Soul. But lately, given some careful analysis of my listening habits and my performance repertoire (both solo and with the band, Merseyside, back in the early ’90’s), I’m going with the album A Hard Day’s Night.
This was the first album I bought on CD, the one I most often grab to play in the car or at home when I need guaranteed sing-along tunes. It is the album that contains the most Beatles songs that I’ve learned how to play.
It also contains a high percentage of “John” songs.
As you know, John Lennon and Paul McCartney were a songwriting team and all songs that they published as members of the Beatles bore the authorship line: Lennon & McCartney. But that doesn’t mean that they each paticipated equally in the creation of every song.
Early on, they wrote, as John put it: “nose to nose.” But as their career progressed, they would write individually and bring what they had to the other for comments and contributions. It was this inevitable auditioning of each writer’s songs to the other that made each of them want to have the best possible song or song idea ready when they made their “presentation” to their respective and respected bandmate.
I have a book: Beatlesongs (1989) by William J. Dowlding. The first part of its subtitle tells what it’s about: “Firsthand quotes, little-known facts and details about the production of each song/album, including: where song ideas came from; who contributed how much to each song… and much more.”
The author gives extensive details on each Beatles song and actually rates each song on a percentage system under “authorship,” giving full to partial song writing credit to John and/or Paul. For instance: “Eight Days A Week” is listed as: McCartney (.7) and Lennon (.3). “In My Life” is Lennon (.65) and McCartney (.35).
The album A Hard Day’s Night has 13 songs. Mr. Dowlding gives 10 of them completely (1.00) to John. Only one, “Things We Said Today” is given completely to Paul.
I cannot imagine my life or our world without the music of the Beatles. There would have been no Beatles without John Lennon, or to be fair, without Paul McCartney.
But today is the 70th anniversary of the birth of John Lennon.
He was born John Winston Lennon on October 9, 1940 in Liverpool, England. He was the first and only child of Julia Stanley Lennon and Freddy Lennon. He was raised by his mother’s sister, Mimi, who bought him his first guitar when he was 16 years old.
He met Paul McCartney on July 6, 1957. (See my post from July 6, 2010.)
As I’ve done in past posts, I invite you to share your favorite Lennon & McCartney song or Beatles album (or memory or thought). Is you favorite a “John” song? Do you have a favorite song or album from John’s post-Beatle solo work? All you have to do is click on “Leave a comment” below and send it off.
John Lennon died on December 8, 1980 in New York City.