February 6 – A Different Kind Of Tribute To John

Musicians were as horrified by the murder of John Lennon as the rest of us. Maybe even more so, so it’s little surprise that a number of tributes to John in music were made shortly afterwards. While George Harrison (“All Those Years Ago”), Paul McCartney (“Here Today“) and Elton John (“Empty Garden”) were among the ones who created new songs in his honor, Roxy Music went a different route and covered a Lennon song. “Jealous Guy” came out this day in 1981 , only eight weeks after John’s death. It became the band’s first British #1 song after having eight prior top 10s.

Roxy were touring that winter and obviously shocked by the news of Lennon’s death. They decided to play one of his songs in their concerts, at the time in Germany, to remember him by. It’s not clear why they landed on “Jealous Guy”, but it was a good call, partly because it wasn’t one casual fans were familiar with so there wasn’t a base line to compare it to in many people’s heads. Crowds loved the song and thus the band went into the studio and recorded it quickly, with Bryan Ferry playing the synthesizers, singing (and whistling) with his partners Andy MacKay and Phil Manzanera adding their usual horns and guitars, respectively. Andy Newmark, their drummer at the time did his thing and Gary Tibbs played bass.

Of course diehard Lennon fans recognized the song, it had been released on John’s 1971 Imagine album. As we found out last year in the Get Back documentary, it somewhat dates back farther. John wrote the basic song in 1968, but wrote lyrics about their trip to India and called it “Child of Nature.” He played it for the band, but the other three Beatles didn’t seem all that interested, so it was shelved until it was time for John to go solo. By which time, he’d totally re-written the lyrics into what we know.

What was “Jealous Guy” about? Well, most think it was about his relationship with Yoko Ono, but it might not have been a simple “I’m jealous of her looking at other guys” sort of situation. After his death, Yoko said “he was jealous about the fact that I had another language in my head, you know, Japanese, that he couldn’t share,” adding “it wasn’t on a level of physical…I just would never give him a reason for that.” John himself had said more bluntly “when you’re in love with somebody, you tend to be jealous and want to own them and possess them 100%”. And then of course, there was a dissenting voice in Paul McCartney, who thought it was about him. He told reporters, after Lennon’s death John had whined “everyone is on the McCartney bandwagon” so he figured it was written about him .

Whatever the inspiration in John’s mind, it was a lovely song that largely went unnoticed until ’81 and the Roxy cover. Years later, the original was put out as a 7” single, reaching just #65 in Britain.

As for the Roxy cover, it hit #1 in Australia and Belgium as well and earned them a gold single in the UK. Curiously, it was knocked out of the #1 slot there by… John Lennon and his “Woman.” They continued to play it regularly in concert through the years and North American listeners who missed out on their studio single, got to buy a live version off the 1983 The High Road release.


December 23 – John & Yoko Were Saying Give Peace A Chance To PM

1969 was a big year for John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It was their wedding year, Year of Peace and year of Canada, That culminated in the pair meeting Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau at Ottawa’s Parliament this day 53 years ago.

The three chatted for over 50-minutes and afterwards Lennon said “if all politicians were like Mr. Trudeau, there’d be world peace,” something Trudeau was very proud of. (And yes, it is Pierre’s son Justin who is now Canadian PM). Trudeau was the only world leader that the pair got to meet directly to campaign for peace with. Lennon had been having difficulties getting into the U.S. so chose Canada as an alternative “home base”. Canada had in general more liberal views than the States and didn’t view Lennon and his left-leaning politics with nearly as much suspicion as their Nixon-era neighbors. The couple thus spent much of the summer and fall between Toronto and Montreal, spending time in both as well as at Ronnie Hawkins farm in between, and having an outdoor concert in Toronto in September where he played his anti-war anthem “Give Peace A Chance” publicly for the first time. The song had been recorded in a Montreal hotel room that summer, when the pair were staging their famous “Bed in for Peace,” and had among the crowd on the recording Tommy Smothers, playing guitar, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, cartoonist Al Capp and popular Canadian radio DJ David Marsden.The single was Lennon’s first solo one and was a top 10 hit in Canada, as well as the UK and Germany.

December 3 – Mojo’s #1 All-time Not Quite Good Enough For A Single?

A lot of artists can put out albums that have two or three really good singles on them. Not so many can put out albums that have two or three really good singles and have the rest of the record filled with tracks equally as good. Such was the magic of the Beatles at their prime, as we found out this day in 1965, when they put out Rubber Soul. It’s worth mentioning that was only five months after their previous release, Help!

Rubber Soul boasted two classic singles – “Nowhere Man” and “Michelle”. But many debate over whether these were even the highlights of the record, which also boasted “Norwegian Wood”, “You Won’t See Me” and a song Mojo once picked as the greatest ever – “In My Life.”

In My Life” was a John Lennon tune (*) and one he considered his “first real major piece of work. Up until then it had all been glib and throwaway.” Some might disagree with that, but few would argue that it was a vast maturing of sound from say “I Want To Hold Your Hand” only a couple of years earlier. Take for instance that nice little bit of keyboard work, which was actually played by George Martin, inspired by a work of Bach. Martin played it on a piano, but at Lennon’s suggestion, they ran the tape slow while recording then sped it up, resulting in a unique sound many thought was a harpsichord. Even though he’d refer to it as “the pot album” because of their habits at the time, Lennon said compared to earlier works, “we were more precise about making the album.”

The lyrics too reflected a new direction and serious introspection. They came about when a journalist asked John why he didn’t write songs about himself or his own life. John rose to the challenge and created a poignant look back at his life in Liverpool with reflections about his friends and relatives like “some are dead and some are living, in my life I’ve loved them all.”

The song is considered a classic, and with good reason. Rolling Stone‘s consistently rated it among the top 100 greatest songs of all-time and pick it as the Beatles fifth best. Canada’s CBC list it among their 50 best. Yet for all that, it was never released as a single, even as a b-side. Such was the strength of their catalog back then. Curiously, it is certified gold in the UK, solely on the strength of digital sales.

And you might be wondering what that * was for earlier. Well, it was widely recognized as a Lennon song, but as was their agreement back then, it was credited to Lennon & McCartney. The pair shared credit no matter which of them did most of the creation. But which one did has been a bit of a controversy around “In My Life.” Lennon certainly did the lyrics, but who really wrote the tune is a mystery; both claim to. McCartney said of it “I liked ‘In My Life.’ Those were John’s words and I wrote the tune for it.” He said he wrote it as something of an homage to Smokey Robinson’s writing. Lennon however disagreed, saying he wrote it primarily although Paul helped finish the bridge off. So serious is that debate that Harvard University had a study to run computer analytics; they found it was over 80% likely John wrote the tune.

John or Paul or both, it’s a great tune. Another mark of that – artists ranging from Johnny Cash to Ozzy Osbourne to Bette Midler have covered it!

November 18 – Captain Fantastic Saluted Sgt. Pepper

One good turn deserves another. So it was fitting that two of Britain’s biggest icons would help one another out. The biggest Brit act of the ’60s were The Beatles and the biggest of the ’70s, Elton John. As it worked out, Elton’s rein on the charts really took off right about when The Beatles broke up. We don’t know if Elton was friends with Paul, George or Ringo but we do know he and John Lennon struck up quite a friendship.

In 1974, Elton helped John out with the song “Whatever Gets You Through The Night” which became John’s first American #1 single. So Lennon decided to return the favor, double-fold. He visited Elton that summer at the Caribou Ranch in Colorado and worked on Elton’s version of the Beatles’ favorite, “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” Lennon played guitar and sang the backing vocals on it and then did the same on the song “One Day at a Time” an album cut off his Walls and Bridges album. While neither was used on the album Elton was cutting at the time, Caribou, they were released as a 7” single on this day 45 years back. The timing was perfect for Elton as his Greatest Hits was newly released and dominating sales charts but it lacked any new material that would have kept Elton front and center on the radio over the Christmas season.

Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” did just that. It quickly got to #1 in the U.S. and Canada and #3 in Australia. In the States, it was his third chart-topping single; in Canada where it spent four weeks on top, it became his sixth #1.

This of course bested The Beatles version in at least as much as the Fab Four original wasn’t released as a single, although it was an immensely popular album track off Sgt. Pepper… While credited to Lennon and McCartney as writers, history suggests that John had a lot more to do with writing it than Paul did. And while speculation runs rampant to this day about the song being a hidden ode to acid – note the initials, L.S.D. in the title – John always denied it. He says he got the idea from a picture young Julian Lennon drew for him with a flying girl, and when he asked his son what it was the reply was the song title. Lennon says he filled out the lyrics by drawing on Alice In Wonderland . Now, where Lewis Carroll got the inspiration for the shrinking girl, smoking caterpillar, top-hatted rabbit and so on is an entirely different story!

It wasn’t the only tie between the two superstars that year. Elton had apparently liked “Whatever Gets You Through The Night” so much he said to Lennon that it was a sure-fire #1 song. Lennon doubted it and bet Elton about it. The song was, so Lennon lost the bet… but the fans won. As “payment” Lennon appeared during an Elton John concert in New York City that fall and the pair played three songs together: “Whatever Gets You Through the Night”, this one, and “I Saw Her Standing There.” Sadly, it was the last concert appearance for Lennon. While not a hit in its own right, the three songs on the concert were made available as part of both Elton and Lennon compilations later on in their careers.

October 9 – Remembering John

The concept of positive prayer…if you can imagine a world at peace, without denominations…not a world without religion, but without this ‘My God is bigger than your God’ thing, then it can be true.” So said John Lennon in an interview not long before he was killed, speaking about his best-selling and best-known solo song. (“Imagine”, obviously.) He said it was largely inspired by poems his wife Yoko Ono had written, and she has been given co-credit for the writing of that song since. Today we remember John on what would have been his 82nd birthday.

Needless to say, as famous as John was on his own, he was better known for his work in The Beatles, and more specifically, with Paul McCartney, as half of the most successful and beloved writing teams of rock and pop history . Here’s what he said about coming up with what would be their biggest-selling single, “I Want To Hold Your Hand” : “We wrote a lot of stuff together, one on one, eyeball to eyeball…I remember we got that chord that made the song. We were in Jane Asher’s house, downstairs in the cellar playing on the piano at the same time. And we had the ‘oh youuuuu, got that something’ then Paul hits this chord and I turn to him and say ‘that’s it! do that again!’ In those days we used to absolutely write like that.”

Two memorable tracks that still resonate 50 years or more after they were first heard. Something many artists dream of achieving, but for John, just a small part of the legacy. For example, while “I Want To Hold Your Hand” was a smash #1 hit in both Britain – where he was born and grew up – and the U.S. – where he of course lived and died after The Beatles -, “Imagine” surprisingly hit #1 in the UK but stopped at #3 in the States. But consider the list of songs John either wrote (entirely or co-wrote) or sang on that topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, beyond “I Want to Hold Your Hand” –

with the Beatles-

She Loves You”

Can’t Buy Me Love”

A Hard Day’s Night”

I Feel Fine”

Ticket to Ride”


We Can Work It Out”

Paperback Writer”

Hello, Goodbye”

Hey Jude”

Get Back”

and solo –

Starting Over”

and then the songs which hit #1 in Britain, but not the States:

From Me to You”

Yellow Submarine”

Lady Madonna”

The Ballad of John and Yoko”

Imagine” (solo)

Woman” (solo)

and then the opposite, #1 hits in the U.S. but not UK

Love Me Do”

Eight Days A Week”

Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever”

Let It Be”

The Long & Winding Road”

Whatever Gets You Through the Night” (solo)

Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds” (Elton John)

Fame” (David Bowie)

With a legacy like that, no wonder he’s been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice. The sad part of course is one wonders just how much greater the legacy would have been had he gotten to live out the second half of the 80+ years since his birth.

August 30 – John Said If George Can Do It, So Can I

Call it playing catch-up or call it being a terrific humanitarian…likely both were true, and about 30 000 New Yorkers were all the better off for it this day in 1972. That was the day John Lennon held two concerts, an afternoon and an evening one, at Madison Square Garden. The concerts were quickly arranged benefit shows, and although no one knew it at the time, they’d be the last full concerts Lennon would ever give. He was the only one of the Beatles who never toured as such after the Fab Four split up.

Lennon decided to do the shows to raise money for the Willowbrook School after seeing a TV news story about it. Willowbrook was a state-run school for mentally disabled kids and none other than Geraldo Rivera, an up-and-coming newsman at the time, brought to light stories of both abuse of the children and poor conditions at the school caused by disrepair. Lennon and Yoko Ono felt moved to act, and so the concerts were arranged, with all proceeds going to the school. They brought in Stevie Wonder, Roberta Flack and Sha Na Na to play on the bill as well; in a surprisingly magnanimous move, Lennon also invited Paul McCartney, who declined.

The idea was wonderful, but it was also highly reminiscent of a double concert George Harrison had done the year before to raise funds for Bangladeshi relief at the same venue. As even the Beatles Bible point out, “the success of George Harrison’s ‘Concert for Bangladesh’ the previous year may well have influenced his decision.” No doubt it irked him a little to see Harrison come to the Big Apple – John’s adopted hometown – and become a hero, not to mention score a hit record, with a charity event that was exactly the type of thing they’d expect Lennon and Ono to do.

Whether a bit of jealousy played a role or not, it was hard to argue with Lennon’s gesture. They sold tickets at between $5 and $10 (depending on seat location) and both shows sold out quickly. ABC filmed it and turned it into a TV special, paying $350 000 to the cause for the rights.

Lennon and his wife brought in session drummer Jim Keltner, and the Elephant’s Memory Band (a group of session musicians from the New York area who often backed Lennon at the time) to play, with John playing rhythm guitar himself. They rehearsed for three days. After Rivera welcomed them to stage for the afternoon show, it was apparent to some that a bit more practice might have helped. The sound was a bit off, and at one point John joked “welcome to the rehearsal.” They played 17 songs, starting with “Power to the People” through a finale of “Hound Dog”. He powered through his Beatles tour de force “Come Together” and a number of his early hits or near-hits like “Imagine,” “Cold Turkey” and “Instant Karma”. Yoko took center stage to do a couple of numbers, “Born in a Prison” and “Sisters, Oh Sisters.” The evening set apparently sounded a bit better, and had 14 songs, including “Give Peace A Chance” to end it. The two Yoko songs were dropped from the bill, with no record of if any fans felt short-changed because of it.

The shows ended up raising over a million dollars for the school, making it a great humanitarian success. Commercially, it wasn’t a massive, or immediate hit. In 1986 (after John’s death of course) a live album and videotape of it were put out, produced by Yoko.

Two surprises came of that fact. One, she chose the afternoon set to use, which even the musicians themselves thought the lesser of the two, performance-wise, and two, that she had an unusual lack of egotism, basically editing herself out of the record. Her songs weren’t included and on songs where she was singing harmony, her voice was mixed very low so as not to detract from Lennon’s. The video had a different selection of songs. Rolling Stone would say of it while it “could have used a few more hours of practice” it was still a decent listen as “classic Lennon, because it’s all here – his humor, pain, anger and unshakeable faith in the power of rock’n’roll to change the world.” Traits his ex-bandmate George Harrison would no doubt admire. The album was a minor success, hitting #41 in the U.S. and eventually going gold.

What no one there knew of course was that it was going to be the last time to see John do a concert of his own. Even though he was active recording through the ’70s and up until his death in 1980, he gave up playing live entirely after this show. The only exception was a brief appearance, also at Madison Square Garden, to be on stage with his friend Elton John in 1974 at one of his concerts.

May 15 – Fab Three Remembered John

Tragedy can put things in perspective. Not exactly a consolation, but a fact and an explanation for a great song that came out this day in 1981. George Harrison gave us his first single off the Somewhere in England album, “All Those Years Ago” , not only a tribute to John Lennon, but the closest thing we’d get to a Beatles reunion.

Harrison had remained friends with Ringo Starr, and was in 1980, both working, slowly, on his own album, and helping Ringo put together his Stop & Smell the Roses album. Harrison added some guitar work to the record and wrote a song for it, “Wrack My Brain.” He also wrote a version of “All Those Years Ago”, and they did the preliminaries, with Ringo doing the drumming of course. However, Starr didn’t really love the song, and turned it down.

Meanwhile, through rather good fortune that seemed anything but to Harrison originally, Warner Bros. – who distributed his own Dark Horse Records – refused to put out the version of Somewhere in England he turned in late in ’80. They noticed that George had only had one minor hit (the under-rated “Blow Away”) in years and thought the album he finished was rather bland and totally lacking commercial appeal. They even rejected the cover photo.

Harrison was upset, but grudgingly agreed to go back, rework a track or two and add a couple of new songs. Then, of course, John Lennon was murdered. Harrison remembered the old song he’d written for Ringo, and quickly rewrote the lyrics as a love song to John, with lyrics like “we’re living in a bad dream” and “you point to the truth when you say ‘All You Need Is Love’.” He kept the recording of Ringo doing the drums – session superstar Herbie Flowers did the bass by the way – and then, in an act of generosity, called up Paul McCartney. McCartney, along with his Wings bandmates (at that point just his wife Linda and Denny Laine) came by and recorded backing vocals, making it the first time the three had been together on a record since they finished Let It Be some 11 years earlier. Harrison finished it off with a touching video, a slideshow of pictures highlighting John.

It was a good song, and a timely one, and it helped put George back on the musical map, briefly at least. In his UK, it only got to #13 surprisingly, but elsewhere it was very well-received. In Canada it got to #3, in Ireland, #4; it also made the top 10 in Australia and several European lands. In the all-important U.S. market, it was a chart-topper on Adult Contemporary stations (an indication of the aging of the Beatles fans perhaps) and got to #2 on the singles chart, only kept from the top by Kim Carnes mega-selling “Bette Davis Eyes.”

It didn’t help the album out that much though; Somewhere in England peaked in the teens (#11-19) almost worldwide and quickly disappeared, it became George’s first post-Beatles album to not get a gold record (or better) in the U.S. Harrison would be almost invisible in the music world until his big comeback in 1987, Cloud Nine, which had another look back at the Beatles, “When We Were Fab.”

February 13 – Beatles Made Two Spots Tourist Destinations With One Record

Pop music took a quantum leap forward on this day in 1967 with The Beatles introducing us to their developing artistry that would soon flourish on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Band. The teaser was two of their best-loved songs released on one 7” single: “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Officially it was a “double A-side record” although most charts considered “Penny Lane” the real “single.” The single was the band’s answer to pressure to keep putting out radio hits while in the (by their standards) lengthy stretch between the Revolver and Sgt. Pepper… albums.

The record displayed the increasingly separated writing styles of the lead duo – McCartney’s more straight-forward pop sensibilities on “Penny Lane” compared to Lennon’s more experimental, polarizing sounds, as heard on “Strawberry Fields Forever.” However, both were revolutionary for the time in content and delivery. Both songs ushered in the real-psychedelic period for the band, which in turn was largely responsible for the public “turning on” to that whole sound so characteristic of the late-’60s. And they recorded promotional clips for both songs… music videos in more modern parlance. The videos were premiered just before the record came out, in the U.S. on Ed Sullivan and at home on Top of the Pops.

As “out there” as the songs seemed, they were based on memories of the pair’s childhood and youth in Liverpool (albeit as seen through a rearview mirror made of LSD). Penny Lane was a real street in Liverpool. McCartney remembered “it was really a place that John and I knew…I’d get a bus to his house and I’d have to change at Penny Lane (an important bus staging place in the city)…so we often hung out at that terminus.” Many of the people mentioned in the song are based on characters Paul knew when young. Likewise, Strawberry Fields was a park just outside of Liverpool where young John attended a number of garden parties.

Although Tim Sheridan of Mojo suggests “Strawberry Fields Forever” is “perhaps the greatest work of the psychedelic era” and Rolling Stone have “Penny Lane” on their list of the 500 greatest songs of all-time, not everyone was as enthused when the single came out, particularly in their homeland. The NME wrote befuddedly “the most unusual and way-out single The Beatles have yet produced. Quite honestly, I don’t know what to make of it.” The Daily Mail was blunter in their panning of it: “What’s happening to the Beatles? They have become contemplative, secretive, exclusive and excluded.” Over here, reaction was a bit better, especially from Time magazine, which said “they have bridged the heretofore gap between rock and classical…to achieve the most compellingly original sounds heard in pop music.” Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys was said to wearily complain “they did it already- what I wanted to do with Smile” when he heard “Strawberry Fields Forever” the first time.

Most of their fans, of course, loved it. The single hit #1 in Canada and in the U.S. “Penny Lane” became their 14th chart-topper, with “Strawberry Fields Forever” getting to #8. In the UK, it hit #2…not bad, but the first one of theirs since “Please Please Me’ not to get to #1. Those who didn’t get the 7” record were able to buy both songs late the same year as they were tacked onto the Magical Mystery Tour album.

Lennon said “Strawberry Fields Forever” was his best work within the Beatles, and he demanded they cut several versions of it to put together the best possible single. A discarded version was put on their Atnhology 2 compilation in the ’90s. Fittingly, a memorial for Lennon in New York’s Central Park is named “Strawberry Field.”

February 6 – Would John Have Been Jealous Of Bryan’s Take On Song?

Just like the general public, the music world was understandably shocked and saddened by the murder of John Lennon in 1980. Roxy Music led the way in reacting in song, with their version of Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” released this day in 1981. Among the significant tribute songs that followed were Lennon’s ex-bandmate George Harrison’s “All Those Years Ago”, which came out May ’81 and Elton John’s “Empty Garden” which he put out the following year.

Jealous Guy” was a Lennon song he wrote and first did a demo of in 1968. It was considered for use on The Beatles “White Album”, while it was known as “Child of Nature,” we can see a snippet of John singing that in the Get Back movie. Lennon wrote it while in India, being taught by a maharashi and was trying to come to grips with his personal nature and less-attractive personality traits. The Fab Four didn’t use it, so Lennon recorded it after their breakup, for the Imagine album – by now retitled. Among the musicians on it were two of the members of Badfinger, pianist Nicky Hopkins and even Mike Pinder of the Moody Blues.

Roxy Music were on tour in Europe at the time Lennon was killed. “We were due to play a show in Germany,” Bryan Ferry remembers. “We thought we should do something special, because we were all fans of his. His version is beautiful.” the band began adding it to their live shows, and then quickly recorded it in the studio. “It was a proper tribute record,” Ferry says.

The public approved. At least the European ones. The single became a top 10 hit in France, Ireland, Switzerland and other places and at home in the UK it became their long-awaited first #1 song. They’d had two singles stall at #2 there before. Oddly, it did far better than Elton or Harrison’s tributes in Britain, but barely got noticed here in North America where the other two were big hits. Roxy Music also released a live version of “Jealous Guy” on their 1983 live album, The High Road.

January 27 – Lennon’s Last Goodbye

Like a ghost coming out of the radio. A friendly, benevolent “Spirit of Christmas Present” type one perhaps, but a ghost nonetheless. A little spooky. That was likely many peoples reaction to hearing brand new John Lennon over three years after he was murdered. His final album, Milk & Honey came out in North America on this day in 1984, a few days after its UK release. Depending on your definitions, it was the eleventh studio album he’d worked on outside the Beatles, when you include the Plastic Ono Band and collaborations (such as this) with his wife, Yoko Ono.

Rewind about five years and Lennon was back in a happy place with Yoko, and getting interested in getting back to music after a five year or so absence. We know of the famous Double Fantasy album which came out mere days before he was killed. But he and Yoko had planned on putting out two albums close together, of which Double Fantasy was the first. They’d already begun to work on the second part, or as Rolling Stone call it “a companion piece” by that time. Grief and respectfulness delayed the arrival, but Yoko decided John would want to have his last works heard, and she wanted to give some parting impressions of her departed loved one, so Milk & Honey resulted. Apparently four tracks – two by Lennnon (“I’m Stepping Out” and “I Don’t Want To Face It”) and two by Ono – were outtakes from the Double Fantasy recording sessions – and most of the remaining tracks were demos for the planned follow-up. Yoko recorded one or two entirely after John’s death, including the poignant “You’re the One.” The even more poignant and ironic “Grow Old With Me” was just from a home tape John had apparently made.

The result was a bit uneven to say the least. Many of the tracks had John on guitar and some keyboards and a host of fine studio musicians from the Double Fantasy sessions, like drummer Andy Newmark are here as well. And although (according to Rolling Stone) producer Jack Douglas was back but un-credited, the album has a somewhat unfinished feel. Perhaps signifying the unfinished nature of John’s life when it was taken away from him. Allmusic didn’t mind its roughshod approach. “The ad libs and studio chatter that might not have made the final cut give us more of a glimpse of Lennon’s delightfully quirky personality,” they decided.

Allmusic would be of an undecided opinion of it, giving it 3-stars, noting it was “rougher and less polished” than most of his material, and figuring the single “Nobody Told Me” was “maybe the best thing to come out of John’s 1980 sessions.” Rolling Stone thought that song had a nice similarity to “Eight Days A Week” but “lyrics that barely make sense” and for the most part, Yoko’s contributions were superfluous while “four of the six new Lennon compositions recycle basic rock riffs to accompany simple, repetitive, even cliched lyrics.”

While “Nobody told Me” was a hit – top 10 in the U.S., Canada, Australia and the UK (the only one of those where he’d have another top 10, albeit an old one, when “Imagine” recharted in 1999) – the album wasn’t met with the enthusiasm one might expect new stuff from the “Beatles” canon to warrant. It got to #3 in the UK, but only #11 in the U.S. and dropped off the charts quickly.

Strangely, it wasn’t even the last we’d hear from John. About a decade later the old Beatles song “Free As a Bird” he sang was finally mastered and finished off and released as a new single after the remaining Beatles and Jeff Lynne had worked on it.