♫ Rain ♫

Well, wouldn’t you just know it?  I mentioned yesterday when I played ♫ Paperback Writer ♫ that Roger had sent me Rain (the song, not the precipitation that falls from the sky), and told me it was the ‘B-side’ to Paperback Writer.  Then he said that it was his favourite Beatles tune, but he didn’t specify which, so I guessed Paperback Writer.  WRONG!  He meant Rain.  So tonight I must make amends, and thus I give you … Rain!

According to SongFacts …

John Lennon wrote most of Rain. It was his first song to get really deep, exploring themes of reality and illusion – after all, rain or shine is just a state of mind.  

This was the first song to use a tape played backwards, which created the strange audio effect. John Lennon discovered the technique when he put the tape for “Tomorrow Never Knows” on the wrong way. He was stoned at the time, and producer George Martin had to convince him that using a backward recording for the entire song was a bad idea.

Ringo Starr has said this is his best drumming on a Beatles song. “I felt ‘Rain’ – that was another character playing drums itself,” he told Yahoo Entertainment. “The way I play, I’m more of there’s breaks and tom-toms, and [‘Rain’] was all on the snare. So I used to say that. That drove people mad.”

Said John Lennon …

“After we’d done the session on that particular song – it ended at about four or five in the morning – I went home with a tape to see what else you could do with it. And I was sort of very stoned and tired, you know, not knowing what I was doing, and I just happened to put it on my own tape recorder and it came out backwards. And I liked it better. So that’s how it happened.”

Rain peaked at #23 in the U.S., but being a ‘B-side’, it did not chart in the UK … or if it did, I’m not seeing it.  However, Rolling Stone magazine ranks Rain 463rd in its list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. On a similar list compiled by the New York radio station Q104.3, the song appeared at number 382.

And now, Sir Roger, I give you … Rain

Rain
The Beatles

If the rain comes
They run and hide their heads
They might as well be dead
If the rain comes
If the rain comes

When the sun shines
They slip into the shade
(When the sun shines down)
And sip their lemonade
(When the sun shines down)
When the sun shines
When the sun shines

Rain, I don’t mind
Shine, the weather’s fine

I can show you
That when it starts to rain
(When the rain comes down)
Everything’s the same
(When the rain comes down)
I can show you
I can show you

Rain, I don’t mind
Shine, the weather’s fine

Can you hear me?
That when it rains and shines
(When it rains and shines)
It’s just a state of mind
(When it rains and shines)
Can you hear me?
Can you hear me?

Sdeah reiht edih dna nur yeht
Semoc niar eht fi
(Rain)
Niar
(Rain)
Senihs nus

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Lennon John Winston / Mccartney Paul James

♫ Paperback Writer ♫

Yesterday, Roger sent me a link to a Beatles’ song, Rain, that I only vaguely recalled.  When I told him that I barely remembered that one and that perhaps it didn’t play well over here, he told me that it was the “B” side to this one, Paperback Writer, which I definitely recall!  Roger ended his comment with, “One of my favourite Beatles’ songs”, but I wasn’t sure if he meant Paperback Writer or Rain!  For tonight, since Roger is a published author, I am going to assume he meant this one, but if by chance I’m wrong, I’ll play Rain one day soon!

Paperback Writer was largely written by Paul McCartney (though the song is credited to McCartney-Lennon), who based the lyrics on a challenge made to him by his Aunt Lil. McCartney recalled …

“The idea’s a bit different. Years ago, my Auntie Lil said to me, ‘Why do you always write songs about love all the time? Can’t you ever write about a horse or the summit conference or something interesting?’ So, I thought, ‘All right, Auntie Lil.’ And recently, we’ve not been writing all our songs about love.”

According to SongFacts …

Paul McCartney wrote this after helping some friends, including John Dunbar, set up the Indica Bookshop (in the basement was the Indica Gallery, where John Lennon eventually met Yoko Ono), in January of 1966. Paul was the first customer of the shop.

This song was a sort of an homage to lots of authors, including John Lennon, who had already written two books: In His Own Write and A Spaniard In The Works. He also was thinking of the author Martin Amis, whom he had just developed a passion for. 

The song is sung from the perspective of an author soliciting a publisher. A “paperback” is cheaper than a traditional hardcover book, and at the time was considered of lower quality and written for mass consumption. The implication is that the writer isn’t all that good.

The first #1 hit for The Beatles that was not about love.

John Lennon and George Harrison sang the French nursery rhyme “Frére Jacques” in the background. The Frére Jacques part has nothing to do with John Lennon – Paul just thought it was clever – but it does translate to “Brother John.”

Check out the charts …

I don’t think I’ve seen a song with so many #1 slots!  Okay, enough babbling … this one’s for you, Sir Roger!

Paperback Writer
The Beatles

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
It’s based on a novel by a man named Lear
And I need a job
So I wanna be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

It’s a dirty story of a dirty man
And his clinging wife doesn’t understand
His son is working for the Daily Mail
It’s a steady job
But he wants to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

Paperback writer (paperback writer)

It’s a thousand pages, give or take a few
I’ll be writing more in a week or two
I could make it longer if you like the style
I can change it ’round
And I wanna be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

If you really like it you can have the rights
It could make a million for you overnight
If you must return it you can send it here
But I need a break
And I wanna be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

Paperback writer (paperback writer)
Paperback writer (paperback writer)
Paperback writer (paperback writer)
Paperback writer (paperback writer)
Paperback writer (paperback writer)

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul McCartney
Paperback Writer lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

The Beatles – Paperback Writer Lyrics | Genius Lyricshttps://genius.com › The-beatles-paperback-writer-lyrics
Paperback Writer Lyrics: Paperback writer (writer, writer) / Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book? / It took me years to write, will you take a look?

♫ Hey Jude ♫

I played Hey Jude back in June 2019, but tonight in my musical quest for just the right song, I came across an interesting version that, of course stars Paul McCartney, but also some other non-Beatles talent, such as Elton John, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Sting, and more.  I loved it, and thought maybe it was a good enough reason to play this song again tonight!  I’m also including the original Beatles’ version for any purists out there who don’t like the compilation!  Two things stood out for me in this joint effort by Paul and the others … first, the camaraderie between them all … they just really all seemed happy to be there, happy to be a part of it all.  And second … I had a crush on Paul McCartney as a teenager, but I have to say that like a fine wine, he only got better with age!  His persona is so much more relaxed, so much more … personable now than in the early years.  But, that’s just my opinion, and as we’ve all agreed, music tastes are very much individual and personal, so I’m eager to hear what you all think!

Released in 1968, Paul McCartney wrote this as “Hey Jules,” a song meant to comfort John Lennon’s 5-year-old son Julian as his parents were getting a divorce. The change to “Jude” was inspired by the character “Jud” in the musical Oklahoma!

Says Paul McCartney …

“John and his wife Cynthia had divorced, and I felt a bit sorry for their son, who was now a child of a divorce. I was driving out to see the son and Cynthia one day and I was thinking about the boy whose name was Julian – Julian Lennon, and I started this idea, ‘Hey Jules, don’t make it bad, it’s gonna be OK.’ It was like a reassurance song.

So that was the idea that I got driving out to see them. I saw them and then I came back and worked on the song some more. But I like that name, Jude.”

And according to the all-grown-up Julian Lennon …

“Paul told me he’d been thinking about my circumstances, about what I was going through and what I’d have to go through. Paul and I used to hang out quite a bit – more than Dad and I did… There seem to be far more pictures of me and Paul playing at that age than me and Dad. I’ve never really wanted to know the truth of how Dad was and how he was with me. There was some very negative stuff – like when he said that I’d come out of a whisky bottle on a Saturday night. That’s tough to deal with. You think, where’s the love in that? It surprises me whenever I hear the song. It’s strange to think someone has written a song about you. It still touches me.”

At the time of its release, it was the longest song ever released as a single.  Hey Jude was a number-one hit in many countries around the world and became the top-selling single of 1968 in the UK, the US, Australia and Canada.

The only complaint I have about this song is that never-ending “na-na-na-na-na …” at the end.

Hey Jude
The Beatles

Hey Jude, don’t make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better

Hey Jude, don’t be afraid
You were made to go out and get her
The minute you let her under your skin
Then you begin to make it better

And anytime you feel the pain
Hey Jude, refrain
Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders
For well you know that it’s a fool
Who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder
Na-na-na, na, na
Na-na-na, na

Hey Jude, don’t let me down
You have found her, now go and get her (let it out and let it in)
Remember to let her into your heart (hey Jude)
Then you can start to make it better

So let it out and let it in
Hey Jude, begin
You’re waiting for someone to perform with
And don’t you know that it’s just you
Hey Jude, you’ll do
The movement you need is on your shoulder
Na-na-na, na, na
Na-na-na, na, yeah

Hey Jude, don’t make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her under your skin
Then you’ll begin to make it better
Better better better better better, ah!

Na, na, na, na-na-na na (yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (Jude Jude, Judy Judy Judy Judy, ow wow!)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (my, my, my)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (Jude, Jude, Jude, Jude, Jude)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (yeah, you know you can make it, Jude, Jude, you’re not gonna break it)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (don’t make it bad, Jude, take a sad song and make it better)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (oh Jude, Jude, hey Jude, wa!)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (oh Jude)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (hey, hey, hey, hey)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (hey, hey)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (now, Jude, Jude, Jude, Jude, Jude)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (Jude, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (yeah, make it, Jude)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (yeah, yeah yeah, yeah! Yeah! Yeah!)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude

Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul McCartney
Hey Jude lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

♫ Come Together ♫

I was in the shower yesterday evening when this song popped into my head.  What is it about the shower?  I dunno, but that’s where I get most of my inspiration for my music posts!  Perhaps the water droplets beating down on my poor empty head, or perhaps because that’s the only place I can sing without the cats howling and the girls running out of the house screaming?  Anyway, I only knew two lines of the lyrics, so my vocalization in the shower amounted to a lot of dum-dum-dum-dee-dum-da-la-dum.

I must confess complete ignorance about the origins of this song … never in a million years would I have guessed that John Lennon wrote this as a campaign song for … of all people … Timothy Leary!  Yes, Timothy Leary of 1960s LSD fame once decided to run for Governor of California, and asked John Lennon to write a song for him … this is that song!

After Timothy Leary decided against using this song for his political campaign Lennon added some nonsense lyrics and brought it to the Abbey Road sessions.  In a 1980 interview with Playboy magazine, John Lennon said:

“The thing was created in the studio. It’s gobbledygook. ‘Come Together’ was an expression that Tim Leary had come up with for (perhaps for the governorship of California against Reagan), and he asked me to write a campaign song. I tried and I tried, but I couldn’t come up with one. But I came up with this, ‘Come Together,’ which would’ve been no good to him – you couldn’t have a campaign song like that, right?”

According to SongFacts …

John Lennon was sued for stealing the guitar riff and the line “Here comes old flat-top” from Chuck Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me.” The lawsuit did not come from Berry, but from Morris Levy, one of the music industry’s most infamous characters (see our interview with Tommy James for more on Levy). He owned the song along with thousands of other early rock songs that he obtained from many poor, black, and unrepresented artists. Levy sued the Beatles, or more accurately, John Lennon, over the song around the time the Beatles broke up.

For years, Lennon delayed the trial while he and the Beatles tried to sort out all the legal and business problems that plagued Apple Records. Finally, in an attempt to avoid the court room as much as he could (Lennon felt like he was appearing in court more often than not), he settled with Levy. Lennon agreed to record his Rock N Roll album, which was just a series of cover songs, including three songs Levy owned (including “You Can’t Catch Me”) on the tracklist.

The deal made sense: Lennon always wanted to make a covers album, and Levy wanted the value of his songs to increase (when a Beatle re-records a song, that is just what happens). To make a long long long story short, Lennon recorded the album over the Lost Weekend, a year-or-two period when he was separated from Yoko Ono and lived in Los Angeles. During that time he was often drunk or high, and was rather sloppy and useless. Levy was getting frustrated with the lack of progress. Phil Spector was the producer, but in a fit of madness (which was not too unusual for Spector) he ran away and stole the recording session tapes. Levy invited Lennon to his upstate New York recording studio, and that is where he finally recorded the album, which ended up with only two Levy songs: “You Can’t Catch Me” and “Ya Ya.” 

The Beatles recorded this on July 21, 1969 and it was the first session John Lennon actively participated in following his and Yoko’s car accident 3 weeks earlier. John was so insistent on Yoko being in the studio with him that he had a hospital bed set up in the studio for her right after the accident, since she was more seriously injured than he was.

The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) banned this because of the reference to Coca Cola, which they considered advertising.  That might ‘splain why it didn’t chart in the UK … or much of anywhere outside the U.S.  When rumors were spreading that Paul McCartney was dead, some fans thought the line “One and one and one is three” meant that only George, John and Ringo were left. The line “Got to be good lookin’ cuz he’s so hard to see” was supposed to be Paul’s spirit.  🙄  Sheesh … some people will buy into anything!

Come Together
The Beatles

Here come old flat top
He come grooving up slowly
He got joo joo eyeball
He one holy roller
He got hair down to his knee
Got to be a joker he just do what he please

He wear no shoe shine
He got toe jam football
He got monkey finger
He shoot Coca-Cola
He say I know you, you know me
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free

Come together, right now, over me

He bag production
He got walrus gumboot
He got Ono sideboard
He one spinal cracker
He got feet down below his knee
Hold you in his armchair you can feel his disease

Come together, right now, over me

He roller coaster
He got early warning
He got muddy water
He one mojo filter
He say, “one and one and one is three”
Got to be good looking ’cause he’s so hard to see

Come together, right now, over me

Oh

Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah

Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Oh

Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Lennon John Winston / Mccartney Paul James
Come Together lyrics © Sony/atv Tunes Llc

♫ Hello Goodbye ♫

Given that I have played a large number of Beatles songs since starting these music posts back in 2018, I was really surprised to find one that I like and hadn’t played!  An added bonus, the song went to #1 in Canada, the UK, the U.S., and almost every other country in the Western World!

Written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney, this was the first song released by The Beatles after the death of their manager, Brian Epstein in August 1967.  Paul McCartney wrote this. His friend and Brian Epstein’s assistant, Alistair Taylor, who was visiting McCartney, asked Paul one day how he wrote his many songs, and how he came up with his ideas. Paul took him into his dining room to give him a demonstration of his hand-carved harmonium. As an experiment, Paul asked Taylor to shout out the opposite of whatever he sang, such as black and white, yes and no, hello and goodbye, etc. From this, the song was born.

John Lennon hated the song. He viewed it as an inconsequential song of McCartney’s, saying it was “three minutes of contradictions and meaningless juxtapositions.” What further infuriated Lennon was that his I Am The Walrus, was issued as the B-side to McCartney’s A-side Hello GoodbyeI Am The Walrus?????  Okay, who knew?  Lennon pushed for I Am the Walrus to be the A-side instead, but then ceded to McCartney and Martin’s insistence that Hello, Goodbye was the more commercial of the two tracks.  That turned out to be a good decision, for while this one charted at #1 almost everywhere, I Am The Walrus charted only at #56 and only in the U.S.  I listened to I Am The Walrus and had I even kinda sorta liked it, I was going to add it in this post, but … 🥺

In 2009 The Performing Rights Society announced this as the most ever played Beatles song in public places in the UK. One of the reasons for this is that this was the first Beatles single release after BBC Radio 1 started broadcasting and the station played this song endlessly.

Admittedly, this song’s lyrics are silly, but there’s something about that catchy tune that makes the toes tap and the lips smile.

Hello Goodbye

The Beatles

You say, “Yes”, I say, “No”
You say, “Stop” but I say, “Go, go, go”
Oh no
You say, “Goodbye”, and I say, “Hello, hello, hello”
I don’t know why you say, “Goodbye”, I say, “Hello, hello, hello”
I don’t know why you say, “Goodbye”, I say, “Hello”

I say, “High”, you say, “Low”
You say, “Why?” And I say, “I don’t know”
Oh no
You say, “Goodbye”, and I say, “Hello, hello, hello” (hello, goodbye, hello, goodbye)
I don’t know why you say, “Goodbye” (hello, goodbye)
I say, “Hello, hello, hello” (Hello, goodbye, hello, goodbye, hello, goodbye)
I don’t know why you say, “Goodbye”, I say, “Hello” (hello, goodbye)

Why, why, why, why, why, why, do you say, “Goodbye, goodbye, bye, bye”
Oh no
You say, “Goodbye”, and I say, “Hello, hello, hello”
I don’t know why you say, “Goodbye”, I say, “Hello, hello, hello”
I don’t know why you say, “Goodbye”, I say, “Hello”

You say, “Yes”, I say, “No” (I say, “Yes”, but I may mean, “No”)
You say, “Stop”, I say, “Go, go, go”, (I can stay still it’s time to go)
Oh, oh no

You say, “Goodbye”, and I say, “Hello, hello, hello”
I don’t know why you say, “Goodbye”, I say, “Hello, hello, hello”
I don’t know why you say, “Goodbye”, I say, “Hello, hello, hello”
I don’t know why you say, “Goodbye”, I say, “Hello-wow, oh hello”
Hela, heba, helloa hela, heba, helloa hela, heba, helloa
Hela, heba, helloa (hela) hela, heba, helloa hela, heba, helloa
Hela, heba, helloa
Hela, heba, helloa
Hela, heba

Writer/s: John Lennon, Paul McCartney
Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

♫ Imagine ♫

Now, I know that I played this song three times during 2018, once during 2019, and twice last year.  And, I know that a couple of my beloved friends/readers do not care much for John Lennon.  But tonight, after the second mass shooting here in the U.S. in just over a week … well, I felt no song in my heart except this one … this one that let’s us dream of a better world.  I have never felt more hopeless than I do tonight … if there is hope for us in this world, it is to live life as John Lennon sings … a world with “nothing to kill or die for”.

And so, I ask you, dear friends, to listen to this song … really listen … even if you don’t like Lennon, or you’re tired of me playing it … just listen.  Let the words of hope wash over you.  If we can’t make a difference, if you truly think we are just doomed … then why do you love the ‘good people’ posts so much?  You love them for the same reasons I do … because they give us hope for the future … for humanity.  Now, don those headphones, sit back and close your eyes, and just absorb the music, okay?  Love ‘n hugs!

Imagine
John Lennon

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine all the people
Living for today (ah ah ah)

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

Songwriters: John Winston Lennon
Imagine lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Downtown Music Publishing, BMG Rights Management

♫ A World Without Love ♫ (Redux)

A few nights ago, I played a song by Chad & Jeremy, “Yesterday’s Gone”.  A couple of comments mentioned another duo, famous around the same time, Peter & Gordon.  Which made me think of their #1 hit song in both the U.S. and UK, “A World Without Love”.  But alas, I played this one in 2019 and had forgotten!  Well, tonight I’m playing it again … it’s the eve of New Year’s Eve, I must get up early to finish my grocery shopping, and I have much to do tomorrow, so I’m taking the easy way out, and hoping you’ll enjoy it anyway!


I’m taking you way back tonight … 1964.  I was thirteen years old and had just gotten my first full-time job … making $100 per week!  I thought I was rolling in dough!  That was also the year I became a serious smoker, learned to drive a stick shift, and learned to kiss with my eyes closed!  It was, obviously, a memorable year.  Among the memories from that year is this song by British duo Peter and Gordon.

I did not know that John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote this song. It is the biggest hit they wrote that was not released by The Beatles. It became the first and biggest hit for Peter & Gordon.  The song was originally meant to be recorded by The Beatles, but that plan was vetoed by John Lennon. Peter Asher explained: “John thought the first line ‘Please lock me away’ was laughable.”

Peter Asher and Gordon Waller, then (1965) and 40 years later (2005)

Peter & Gordon were Peter Asher and Gordon Waller. Paul McCartney went out with Asher’s sister, the actress Jane Asher, which is how he met Peter. This song found its way to Peter Asher when Paul McCartney was living in the Asher household at 57 Wimpole Street in London during his time dating Jane Asher. He played the song for Peter while in his bedroom.  According to Asher …

“Paul had played Gordon and me that song at some point, just in passing. It was really just half a song. It didn’t yet have a bridge. Gordon and I were working at clubs in London at that time, and we got offered a record deal by EMI, who saw us as an English version of The Kingston Trio, or a Peter, Paul and Mary type of thing. We did the American folk song ‘500 Miles,’ and that was the song they were thinking would be our first single. Anyway, we signed the record deal with EMI, and set the date for our first recording session. At that point I went to Paul and asked him if that orphaned song was still up for grabs, since we needed three or four songs to record on that first day in the studio. Paul said we could have it, so I asked him to finish the bridge. And he did. As I recall, the bridge came in the nick of time for us to record; World Without Love’ at that first session.”

An interesting side note:  Peter Asher would go on to become the manager of James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt.  Asher is still alive and active in the music business today, but Gordon Waller died in 2009.

A World Without Love
Peter and Gordon

Please lock me away
And don’t allow the day
Here inside where I hide
With my loneliness

I don’t care what they say I won’t stay
In a world without love

Birds sing out of tune
And rain clouds hide the moon
I’m OK, here I’ll stay
With my loneliness

I don’t care what they say I won’t stay
In a world without love

So I wait and in a while
I will see my true love’s smile
She may come, I know not when
When she does I lose
So baby until then

Lock me away
And don’t allow the day
Here inside where I hide
With my loneliness

I don’t care what they say I won’t stay
In a world without love

So I wait and in a while
I will see my true love’s smile
She may come, I know not when
When she does I lose
So baby until then

Lock me away
And don’t allow the day
Here inside where I hide
With my loneliness

I don’t care what they say I won’t stay
In a world without love

I don’t care what they say I won’t stay
In a world without love

Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul Mccartney
A World Without Love lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

♫ Happy Xmas (War Is Over) ♫

Most Christmas songs are cheery, evoking visions of sleigh bells, mistletoe, presents, and the like.  This one, however, is a bit different and given the chaos and angst around the world today, I think is more appropriate than the other sort to play on Christmas Eve.  This song asks us to think about those who live in fear, and collectively bring about the end of war. The call to action is the refrain “war is over, if you want it.”

John Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote this in their New York City hotel room and recorded it during the evening of October 28 and into the morning of the 29th, 1971, at the Record Plant in New York. It was released in the US for Christmas, but didn’t chart. The next year, it was released in the UK, where it did much better, charting at #4. Eventually, the song became a Christmas classic in America, but it took a while, and it only reached #42 at best.

John and Yoko spent a lot of time in the late ’60s and early ’70s working to promote peace. In 1969, they put up billboards in major cities around the world that said, “War is over! (If you want it).” Two years later this slogan became the basis for this song when Lennon decided to make a Christmas record with an anti-war message. John also claimed another inspiration for writing the song: he said he was “sick of ‘White Christmas.'”

The children’s voices are the Harlem Community Choir, featuring thirty children, most of them four to twelve years of age, who were brought in to sing on this track. They are credited on the single along with Yoko and The Plastic Ono Band.

Lennon and Ono produced this with the help of Phil Spector. Spector had worked on some of the later Beatles songs and also produced Lennon’s Instant Karma. It was not Spector’s first foray into Christmas music: he and his famous session stars (including a 17-year-old Cher) spent six weeks in the summer of 1963 putting together A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector, featuring artists like The Ronettes and Darlene Love. Unfortunately, the album was released on November 22, 1963, which was the same day US president John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The album sold poorly as America was focused on news of the killing.

At the beginning of the song, two whispers can be heard (not by me, of course, but perhaps you will hear them). Yoko whispers: “Happy Christmas, Kyoko” (Kyoko Chan Cox is Yoko’s daughter with Anthony Cox) and John whispers: “Happy Christmas, Julian” (John’s son with Cynthia).

John Lennon was shot and killed less than three weeks before Christmas in 1980. The song was re-released in the UK on December 20 of that year, reaching #2.

Why not “Merry Christmas” or “Merry Xmas”? In England, “Happy Christmas” is a more common seasonal greeting and helped differentiate it from the holiday standard Merry Christmas Baby. More confusing to Americans is “Father Christmas,” which is the English version of Santa Claus.

I was reminded of this song by our friend David when he sent it to me earlier this evening.  There are several versions, and I am playing two of them tonight.  The first is family-friendly and depicts normal Christmas scenes, while the second is far more graphic, depicting actual scenes of death and the results of war — so graphic, in fact, that YouTube has a disclaimer which you must click on in order to see the video, but … while it isn’t cheerful, I think it’s important … it reminds us that we in the West, despite our troubles, have been living a rather homogenized life, that we have never actually known what it’s like to be treated as ‘the enemy’, to carry our dead child wrapped in a dirty blanket.  Watch one or both … your choice.  

Happy or Merry Christmas, dear friends!

Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
John Lennon and Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir

[Intro]
(Happy Christmas, Kyoko
Happy Christmas, Julian)

So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you had fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young

A very Merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas (War is over)
For weak and for strong (If you want it)
For rich and the poor ones (War is over)
The road is so long (Now)
And so happy Christmas (War is over)
For black and for white (If you want it)
For yellow and red ones (War is over)
Let’s stop all the fight (Now)

A very Merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas (War is over)
And what have we done? (If you want it)
Another year over (War is over)
And a new one just begun (Now)
And so happy Christmas (War is over)
We hope you had fun (If you want it)
The near and the dear ones (War is over)
The old and the young (Now)

A very Merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

War is over, if you want it
War is over, now
Happy Christmas
Happy Christmas, Christmas
Happy Christmas, Christmas

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: John Winston Lennon / Yoko Ono
Happy Xmas (War Is Over) lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing

♪ Yesterday ♪

I played this one in October 2018 … I don’t remember why I played it then, but I know why I am playing it tonight.  Our world has done a 180° in the past year, and nothing is as it was a year ago.  It’s Christmas time, but it sure as hell doesn’t feel like it for most of us.  The world we thought we knew a year ago … well, perhaps we didn’t know it so well after all, but I think that all our troubles look as though they’re here to stay … for a while, anyway. 


According to Songfacts

This is the most covered pop song of all time, with over 3,000 versions Say WHAT??? recorded according to The Guinness Book Of World Records. For years, it was also the song with the most radio plays, but in 1999 BMI music publishing reported that You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ had passed it. Still, at any given time, some version of “Yesterday” is probably being broadcast somewhere.

Paul McCartney wrote this song and was the only Beatle to play on it. It was the first time a Beatle recorded without the others.

McCartney claimed that while The Beatles were touring in Paris, he tumbled out of bed and this tune was in his head. He thought he had heard it somewhere before, and played the melody to different people in the music industry to make sure he wasn’t stealing it. The working title was “Scrambled Eggs” until Paul could figure out lyrics.  Scrambled Eggs???  smh.

This song caused a rift between McCartney and Yoko Ono. When The Beatles Anthology album was released, McCartney asked that the writing credit on this read “McCartney/Lennon,” since he wrote it. Yoko refused, and it was listed as “Lennon/McCartney,” which is how they usually credited songs written by either Beatle.

Some of the artists who have covered this song include Boyz II Men, Ray Charles, En Vogue, Marianne Faithfull, Marvin Gaye, Tom Jones, Nana Mouskouri, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, The Supremes, The Toys, Andy Williams, and Tammy Wynette.  Tammy Wynette???  You’ve got to be kidding me!  

Okay … my curiosity piqued, I had to go listen to Tammy Wynette’s version.  For those who may not know of Wynette, she is heavy, heavy country … twang and all!  I survived a full 17 seconds before I felt ill and exited.  So now, here’s Paul …

Yesterday
The Beatles

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though they’re here to stay
Oh, I believe in yesterday

Suddenly, I’m not half the man I used to be
There’s a shadow hanging over me.
Oh, yesterday came suddenly

Why she had to go I don’t know she wouldn’t say
I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday

Yesterday, love was such an easy game to play
Now I need a place to hide away
Oh, I believe in yesterday

Why she had to go I don’t know she wouldn’t say
I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday

Yesterday, love was such an easy game to play
Now I need a place to hide away
Oh, I believe in yesterday
Mm mm mm mm mm mm mm

Songwriters: Michel Jean Pierre Colombier / John Winston Lennon / Paul James Mccartney
Yesterday lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

♫ Imagine ♫

Yes, I know I have played this one several times already, but please bear with me.  I tend to play this song when … well, when I need to … imagine.  When I need to imagine that there is hope for this world, when I need to believe that humans will eventually find their better side, will begin to care someday, care about others, care about the land, about all living creatures.  Today is the 19th anniversary of the horror that would become known as 9/11.  2,977 people died on that day, more than 400 of them police and firefighters.  Since then, hundreds more rescue workers have lost their lives as a result of the toxicity at Ground Zero. But, we lost more than human lives that day.  We lost … I think that was the day we all came to realize, though even today we would deny it, that “Peace on earth” is a myth that will never be realized.  We came to realize, I think, that … nothing would ever be quite the same again, and that no, it won’t all be okay.  But we want to still believe … I think we must still believe, else … what is the point in it all?  And so, my friends, I give you John Lennon and his view of … a better world.

Imagine
John Lennon

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine all the people
Living for today (ah ah ah)

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

Songwriters: John Winston Lennon
Imagine lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Downtown Music Publishing, BMG Rights Management