Kicking back with a glass of wine listening to John Lennon via Power to the People - The Hits.
I came late to the I-get-the-Beatles party. In 2004/5, an album was released with various artists performing songs from the album Rubber Soul [This Bird Has Flown: A 40th Anniversary Tribute to the Beatles’ Rubber Soul]. During an NPR interview with the modern artists who contributed to this album, I could hear the sheer adoration they had for the Beatles and this album. I did not run out and buy the tribute album (as NPR might have hoped), but I ran out and bought The Beatles’ Rubber Soul. And. I. Loved. It.
I started picking up the Beatles albums in the order that they were released from Rubber Soul. It gave me so much more perspective of their short career to listen to the albums in chronological order. And, as a hack basement guitarist, I burrowed into a massive Beatles sheet music tome that had been given to me as a Christmas present a year or two earlier. By playing along, I was stricken by the musicianship of the band and the wide variety of styles they were creating.
I don’t have a favorite Beatle. Like all great bands, they were greater than the sum of their parts. I can’t imagine the band without any single member. Each brought their signature, recognizable style: Lennon’s heavy, provocative lyrics; McCartney’s pop sensibilities and virtuosity; George, I mean c’mon, George could bend the strings in straightforward melodic solo manner in a way NO guitarists are doing even today; and Ringo, the rhythmic master. Ringo may have been the member whose style first grabbed me. The Beatles parted ways with Pete Best because of Best’s snare-bass-snare thuds, but Ringo added a smoothness to the percussion backbeat that - like George’s solos - remains unparalleled to my ears today.
I recall watching Monday Night Football when they broke in and announced John Lennon’s murder. I was stunned. I was shocked. I didn’t yet grasp a full appreciation of the Lennon’s artistic legacy, but I knew a very important person was gone from our world. Thirty years have passed and I am still saddened.
John Lennon, rest in peace. Thank you for the inspiration.