by Garrett Sawyer
John Lennon's first two solo albums were back-to-back masterpieces: "Plastic Ono Band" and "Imagine". Here are more of the best John Lennon songs that didn't make it to the Billboard top 40:
This song was a composite. Lennon told Rolling Stone how he put it together "from three songs, almost". Musically it was arranged like "Mother", except with Billy Preston added on piano.
He starts by expressing his view of God as a measurement of pain, explaining to Rolling Stone that when he wrote the line he felt like he had been crucified, "So, I know what they're talking about now."
The second part rolls into a litany of people and things that Lennon didn't believe in. When he wrote the song the first few just rolled out.
He later joked that it had become like a shopping list, even considering adding a line with a blank so that the listener could fill in whoever they didn't believe in.
He finally ended with "Beatles", as if we needed to be reminded of the finality with which the Beatles had broken up. (Sample Lyric: "The dream is over. What can I say?").
2) "Gimme Some Truth"
Here's John Lennon's catalogue of disasters. In verse after verse he lists all of the people he can't stand, slaps them all around a lot and ends each entry with "All I want is the truth. Just gimme some truth."
Among the targets of Lennon's acid pen were hypocrites, politicians, chauvinists, and primma donnas all lovingly blasted to bits. In the refrain he takes aim directly at Richard Nixon, whose "tricky dicky" nickname had been a standard for years.
Unnamed in the song (but one of its biggest inspirations) was Lennon's frustration with the cover-up of the My Lai massacre. Thus, when he demands the truth you know what he's talking about.
This was another quasi-Beatle effort, with George Harrison playing lead electric guitar. (Sample Lyric: "I'm sick to death of seeing things from tight-lipped, condescending, mamas little chauvinists").
3) "How Do You Sleep?"
The good news for Paul McCartney was that he wasn't featured in "Gimme Some Truth". The bad news is that he was featured in this one. When McCartney released "Ram" the leadoff song "Too Many People" took a couple of swipes at Lennon. Lennon promptly returned the favor.
The innumerable references and put downs are unmistakable. Lennon even started the song with a low cacophony of voices similar to those found at the beginning of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and begins singing the words "So Sgt. Pepper took you by surprise ... ".
Again, George Harrison played lead slide guitar. We can only speculate how much pleasure he took in doing so. (Sample Lyric: "The sound you make is muzak to my ears. You must have learned something in all those years").
In my final segment I'll finish with more of the best John Lennon songs from the last part of his solo career that never made it to the charts.
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