Monday, August 22, 2011

Whenever You're In Trouble

If the sky that we look upon...

In the early 1970s, Paul McCartney was vilified for recording and releasing a series of wimpy songs (and insanely uneven albums).

During that same period, John Lennon struggled to find his own voice, careening from the stark primal scream of Plastic Ono Band to hopeful hippie anthems ("Happy Xmas"), unashamed rockers ("Instant Karma"), odd anthems ("Imagine"), and sappy mystic anthems ("#9 Dream"). Not to mention Sometime in New York City, about which the less said the better.

When the Beatles broke up, Lennon was freed from the need to compete with Paul McCartney for leadership of the biggest band in history. But he drifted, trying to find his voice (which, he famously tried to disguise in whatever way he could because he didn't like the sound of it).

So tonight, with wispy clouds passing overhead and a cool breeze blowing in off the water, I find myself thinking about a John Lennon song. It's not his best song, not his biggest hit, and not even a song he wrote.

But, somehow, while recording an album of oldies with Phil Spector, Lennon was able to shrug off the need to be the voice of his generation long enough to deliver his most relaxed and confident vocal performance since the Beatles broke up.

RIP Jerry Leiber, who wrote (with Mike Stoller) classic songs like "Kansas City," "Charlie Brown," "Ruby Baby," "Jailhouse Rock," "Searchin," "Love Potion #9," and of course "Stand By Me."


Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Ah, thanks for the best Leiber tribute i've read yet & maybe the best ever get to the heart of it post-Beatles Lennon commentary as well. What a magnificent song; what a magnificent performance.

Steven said...

Miss you John.