"John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band" - vote please!!

Backslapping time. Well done us. We are fantastic.

"John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band" - vote for your favourite track, please!!

1. Mother
16
16%
2. Hold On
1
1%
3. I Found Out
5
5%
4. Working Class Hero
24
24%
5. Isolation
13
13%
6. Remember
6
6%
7. Love
9
9%
8. Well, Well, Well
5
5%
9. Look At Me
0
No votes
10. God
21
21%
11. My Mummy's Dead
1
1%
 
Total votes: 101

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Postby Diamond Dog » 15 Sep 2004, 19:49

Mr. Jim wrote:

"God" is another favorite. Thinking about what Rorschach said, I am of two minds about the Yoko reference: I agree it's the most dated thing about it (it automatically blands out the song and aligns it with other songs like "Oh Yoko" and "The Ballad of John and Yoko"), but I do appreciate that even beyond dismissing The Beatles, there was one more sacred cow to dispense with, and that is the image of John Lennon, angry loner. He might not have thought about it that carefully, but the "Yoko and me" line punctures this image effectively. Without it, we might still hold out hope for another brilliant bitter Lennon song. He really was saying the whole thing needed to ... stop.



It's the almost whispered line that follows "and that's reality" that's the clincher. That was the reality from now on - it really was over.
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Postby Snarfyguy » 16 Sep 2004, 00:54

Jimbo wrote:

It worked.


You ended corruption? I didn't hear about this.
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Postby Quaco » 16 Sep 2004, 15:38

neverknows wrote:
Mr. Jim wrote:...


Reading this, I realise that the key chorus lyrics - 'a working class hero is something to be' - still are a mystery to my non-native ears. It's such a simple but ambiguous sentence.

It seems there are a number of interpretations, even among native English speakers. I don't know for sure which one is right. I I have always felt, however, that it's not as straightforward as Lennon claiming he is some sort of working class hero.

He mentions it in this interview from 1971. Here is an excerpt:

TA: Your latest record and your recent public statements, especially the interviews in Rolling Stone magazine, suggest that your views are becoming increasingly radical and political. When did this start to happen?

JL: I've always been politically minded, you know, and against the status quo. It's pretty basic when you're brought up, like I was, to hate and fear the police as a natural enemy and to despise the army as something that takes everybody away and leaves them dead somewhere. I mean, it's just a basic working class thing, though it begins to wear off when you get older, get a family and get swallowed up in the system.

In my case I've never not been political, though religion tended to overshadow it in my acid days; that would be around '65 or '66. And that religion was directly the result of all that superstar shit - religion was an outlet for my repression. I thought, 'Well, there's something else to life, isn't there? This isn't it, surely?'

But I was always political in a way, you know. In the two books I wrote, even though they were written in a sort of Joycean gobbledegook, there's many knocks at religion and there is a play about a worker and a capitalist. I've been satirising the system since my childhood. I used to write magazines in school and hand them around.

I was very conscious of class, they would say with a chip on my shoulder, because I knew what happened to me and I knew about the class repression coming down on us - it was a fucking fact but in the hurricane Beatle world it got left out, I got farther away from reality for a time.

TA: What did you think was the reason for the success of your sort of music?

JL: Well, at the time it was thought that the workers had broken through, but I realise in retrospect that it's the same phoney deal they gave the blacks, it was just like they allowed blacks to be runners or boxers or entertainers. That's the choice they allow you - now the outlet is being a pop star, which is really what I'm saying on the album in 'Working class hero'. As I told Rolling Stone, it's the same people who have the power, the class system didn't change one little bit.

Of course, there are a lot of people walking around with long hair now and some trendy middle class kids in pretty clothes. But nothing changed except that we all dressed up a bit, leaving the same bastards running everything.

RB: Of course, class is something the American rock groups haven't tackled yet.

JL: Because they're all middle class and bourgeois and they don't want to show it. They're scared of the workers, actually, because the workers seem mainly right-wing in America, clinging on to their goods. But if these middle class groups realise what's happening, and what the class system has done, it's up to them to repatriate the people and to get out of all that bourgeois shit.


So, here he does kind of suggest that he grew up working class. He certainly doesn't make a point of saying he wasn't. This may be attributable to the interview itself: he was speaking to the Red Mole, an underground magazine, and likely was not brave enough to admit to them that he had grown up middle class.

It's also possible that his middle-class upbringing might still have seemed a bit lower because of a) his later wealth (wealthy people often give the impression they grew up "poor" because only later did they see what "rich" truly could mean) or b) the general increased wealth in the UK and US during the Fifties and Sixties -- from that vantage point, I doubt Lennon looked back on his upbringing as being comfortably middle-class. It may have seemed pretty austere from the point of view of his life in the stockbroker belt, and '60s college students taking drugs and buying all the records they want. America in the Sixties probably redefined the middle class in a way, because so much was available to those that worked. You could live like a king, but you still had to put in your time at the office. So the middle class lived at a higher level, but could never call itself upper class because they weren't yet rich enough not to have to work.
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Postby Quaco » 16 Sep 2004, 18:45

But it does seem to say that what Lennon meant by "Working Class Hero" was that you're completely fucked from the day you are born, and that the only hope you have these days is to be a pop star. And we know what he thinks of that particular fate.

In other words, not that different from "Street Fighting Man". Another song of questionable veracity: was Jagger really a street fighting man? Does it matter?
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Postby James R » 17 Sep 2004, 04:53

Maryann wrote:"Love"

such a beautiful song


What she said.
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Postby Carl's Son » 18 Sep 2004, 01:58

Well I finally heard this album, listened to every track several times. After the buildup it got here I have to say I was quite excited but I can't say there was much I'll be wanting to hear again. Shame because it starts so well! Mother is the absolute standout, I can't really add to whats been written about it before but I agree the drumming is great and what somebody said about the piano "decaying" was very accurate and it sounds great. Shame mother isn't on my hits comp.
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Postby Quaco » 18 Sep 2004, 02:08

Chris Chopping wrote:Well I finally heard this album, listened to every track several times. After the buildup it got here I have to say I was quite excited but I can't say there was much I'll be wanting to hear again.

It's your loss, buddy. Maybe you should have listened to Abbey Road a couple times first. The feeling of JL/POB is -- ah, finally some reality.

Seems a shame that a Beatle fan such as yourself should be so wrong about something so important. :D

You'll come around one day.
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Postby B » 18 Sep 2004, 02:16

snarfyguy wrote:
Really?

I think of it as posturing, myself.

I do think it's a pretty great album, though, and I guess 'Mother' is the standout, although 'I Found Out' is ace.


Agreed, agreed and agreed.

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Postby Sneelock » 18 Sep 2004, 02:22

when I last heard "well well well", my little tiny hairs stood up. they've only recently relaxed. Time to hear it again!

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Postby Carl's Son » 18 Sep 2004, 15:45

Mr. Jim wrote:
Chris Chopping wrote:Well I finally heard this album, listened to every track several times. After the buildup it got here I have to say I was quite excited but I can't say there was much I'll be wanting to hear again.

It's your loss, buddy. Maybe you should have listened to Abbey Road a couple times first. The feeling of JL/POB is -- ah, finally some reality.

Seems a shame that a Beatle fan such as yourself should be so wrong about something so important. :D

You'll come around one day.

But Abbey Road is a great album! With great tunes, great production and some of the most honest lyrics of the bands career on there.
I can just about handle you driving like a pissed up crackhead and treating women like beanbags but I'm gonna say this once and once only Gene, stay out of Camberwick Green!

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Postby Carl's Son » 18 Sep 2004, 15:48

goldwax wrote:
Mr. Jim wrote:Seems a shame that a Beatle fan such as yourself should be so wrong about something so important. :D

You'll come around one day.


But when you consider his avatar . . .

Well I did spend the evening after that listening to Macca bootlegs. And very good most of them were too! There's Version of Old Siam Sir with the vocal rerally buried in the mix that sounds like something off The Stooges final album!
I can just about handle you driving like a pissed up crackhead and treating women like beanbags but I'm gonna say this once and once only Gene, stay out of Camberwick Green!

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Postby Very Stable Baron » 18 Sep 2004, 15:54

Chris Chopping wrote:
Mr. Jim wrote:
Chris Chopping wrote:Well I finally heard this album, listened to every track several times. After the buildup it got here I have to say I was quite excited but I can't say there was much I'll be wanting to hear again.

It's your loss, buddy. Maybe you should have listened to Abbey Road a couple times first. The feeling of JL/POB is -- ah, finally some reality.

Seems a shame that a Beatle fan such as yourself should be so wrong about something so important. :D

You'll come around one day.

But Abbey Road is a great album! With great tunes, great production and some of the most honest lyrics of the bands career on there.


I think that last quote applies to Plastic Ono Band with even greater force. Except for that bit about "the bands career."
take5_d_shorterer wrote:If John Bonham simply didn't listen to enough Tommy Johnson or Blind Willie Mctell, that's his doing.

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Postby Carl's Son » 18 Sep 2004, 15:59

Baron Bleeding Heart wrote:
Chris Chopping wrote:
Mr. Jim wrote: Maybe you should have listened to Abbey Road a couple times first. The feeling of JL/POB is -- ah, finally some reality.
.

But Abbey Road is a great album! With great tunes, great production and some of the most honest lyrics of the bands career on there.


I think that last quote applies to Plastic Ono Band with even greater force. Except for that bit about "the bands career."

Oh yeah, I totally agree that POB is full of Lennon's most personal writing. But Mr Jim seems to be implying that Abbey Road is the complete opposite of this, that somehow I'll be longing for something "Real" after listening to Abbey Road. I reckon that Abbey Road is pretty real in its own right in places and a long way from the psychedelic fantasising of Sgt Peppers for example.
I can just about handle you driving like a pissed up crackhead and treating women like beanbags but I'm gonna say this once and once only Gene, stay out of Camberwick Green!

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http://thatidiotchrischopping.blogspot.com

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Postby Very Stable Baron » 18 Sep 2004, 16:02

neverknows wrote:I still don't get the 'something to be bit', the more I think of it.


I'll try to translate. I think "something to be" is used to indicate a calling/profession that is perfectly respectable. Though it's not the very pinnacle of what you may wish for someone, it suggests that the speaker/writer is at ease with the choice. So the father who is a professor of classics may say to his child who has decided to become a journalist, "yes, a journalist is something to be." Although he may have preferred his child to be a scholar or a doctor or whatever, the pursuits of a journalist are acceptable and even admirable. Although I basically agree with Mr. Jim's interpretation of the song, I think when Lennon is saying "a working class hero is something to be" he's suggesting that, "sure, this is an admirable pursuit/position to find oneself in."

If anyone else has a differing or better interpretation, bring it. I could be way off, but it has always been the way I understood the phrase.
take5_d_shorterer wrote:If John Bonham simply didn't listen to enough Tommy Johnson or Blind Willie Mctell, that's his doing.

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Postby Very Stable Baron » 18 Sep 2004, 16:03

Chris Chopping wrote:Mr Jim seems to be implying that Abbey Road is the complete opposite of this, that somehow I'll be longing for something "Real" after listening to Abbey Road.


Yeah, he probably is. I can see both sides on this one.
take5_d_shorterer wrote:If John Bonham simply didn't listen to enough Tommy Johnson or Blind Willie Mctell, that's his doing.

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Postby bhoywonder » 18 Sep 2004, 16:10

Baron Bleeding Heart wrote:
neverknows wrote:I still don't get the 'something to be bit', the more I think of it.


I'll try to translate. I think "something to be" is used to indicate a calling/profession that is perfectly respectable. Though it's not the very pinnacle of what you may wish for someone, it suggests that the speaker/writer is at ease with the choice. So the father who is a professor of classics may say to his child who has decided to become a journalist, "yes, a journalist is something to be." Although he may have preferred his child to be a scholar or a doctor or whatever, the pursuits of a journalist are acceptable and even admirable. Although I basically agree with Mr. Jim's interpretation of the song, I think when Lennon is saying "a working class hero is something to be" he's suggesting that, "sure, this is an admirable pursuit/position to find oneself in."

If anyone else has a differing or better interpretation, bring it. I could be way off, but it has always been the way I understood the phrase.


I don't think it's that at all. I think it's something as in, man that really would be something, as in something that matters. A working class hero is a description given to someone who has become a hero despite all the odds, so therefore being the champion of the people, despite having to overcome great hardship is some achievement.

Course, I could be wrong...

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Postby Very Stable Baron » 18 Sep 2004, 16:37

bhoywonder wrote:
Baron Bleeding Heart wrote:
neverknows wrote:I still don't get the 'something to be bit', the more I think of it.


I'll try to translate. I think "something to be" is used to indicate a calling/profession that is perfectly respectable. Though it's not the very pinnacle of what you may wish for someone, it suggests that the speaker/writer is at ease with the choice. So the father who is a professor of classics may say to his child who has decided to become a journalist, "yes, a journalist is something to be." Although he may have preferred his child to be a scholar or a doctor or whatever, the pursuits of a journalist are acceptable and even admirable. Although I basically agree with Mr. Jim's interpretation of the song, I think when Lennon is saying "a working class hero is something to be" he's suggesting that, "sure, this is an admirable pursuit/position to find oneself in."

If anyone else has a differing or better interpretation, bring it. I could be way off, but it has always been the way I understood the phrase.


I don't think it's that at all. I think it's something as in, man that really would be something, as in something that matters.


Yes, something to be. Have you heard people use the phrase "something to be?" As in, "a[n] (insert occupation), yes that's something to be." As I understand it, this isn't the highest praise available, but it indicates hearty respect and sometimes admiration.

A working class hero is a description given to someone who has become a hero despite all the odds, so therefore being the champion of the people, despite having to overcome great hardship is some achievement.


Very helpful, thank you.
take5_d_shorterer wrote:If John Bonham simply didn't listen to enough Tommy Johnson or Blind Willie Mctell, that's his doing.

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Postby Quaco » 18 Sep 2004, 21:05

Chris Chopping wrote:
Baron Bleeding Heart wrote:
Chris Chopping wrote:
Mr. Jim wrote: Maybe you should have listened to Abbey Road a couple times first. The feeling of JL/POB is -- ah, finally some reality.
.

But Abbey Road is a great album! With great tunes, great production and some of the most honest lyrics of the bands career on there.


I think that last quote applies to Plastic Ono Band with even greater force. Except for that bit about "the bands career."

Oh yeah, I totally agree that POB is full of Lennon's most personal writing. But Mr Jim seems to be implying that Abbey Road is the complete opposite of this, that somehow I'll be longing for something "Real" after listening to Abbey Road. I reckon that Abbey Road is pretty real in its own right in places and a long way from the psychedelic fantasising of Sgt Peppers for example.

You're right, I don't think the songs on Abbey Road are particularly real. Of course, "I Want You" is meant to be completely direct and real, and would have fit well (with a sparser arrangement) on JL/POB.

What other songs are real? "Come Together", "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", "Octopus's Garden", "Sun King", "Mean Mr. Mustard" "Polythene Pam", "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window", and "Her Majesty" are emotional throwaways. Doesn't mean they're not good songs -- I adore a number of them -- they just pack no punch at all. "Oh! Darling" does pack a punch as a performance, but it is a stylistic experiment. Linda never told him she didn't need him anymore. I consider this song to have one of the greatest vocals ever, in my opinion. I really do love it. But it doesn't resonate as a real emotion. The emotion I feel from it is ecstasy as being able to sing like that, not anything about the actual song. "Because" seems more wordplay than anything. It may be zen koan-like but it's pretty obscure.

"Here Comes the Sun" sounds sincere in its depiction of hope for the future. "Something" is a wonderful song, though it sounds a bit worked over. McCartney touches on Beatle issues in "You Never Give Me Your Money" and one feels he is reaching for something in "Golden Slumbers"/"Carry That Weight"/"The End", but it is wrapped up so much vagueness and, especially, production values that it's anything but direct and real. Come out and tell us what you are feeling, man. (With "Every Night" and "Maybe I'm Amazed", and later "Dear Friend", he finally did that.) The whole album feels worked-over and polished, and the songs fit in perfectly, but none of them -- not even "I Want You" -- stops me in my tracks and makes me think, fuck! that's heavy, or this guy is really showing us something.

I do like the album a lot -- it's impossible for me not to -- but I don't look to it for real emotions. It's more of a triumph in terms of structure (suite-like second side), production (guitar sounds, esp. Harrison's fills throughout), high standard of songwriting ("Something" in particular has become a classic) and so on. I admire it. It is good. But it's not real in the sense of someone sitting and levelling with you. It's a good, "up" ending to a partnership, but it doesn't make me yearn for more Beatle records like it. Once it was determined that they could still make a good record, I'm happy to let them go solo and see what they have to express alone.

This brings up the question of whether realness is such a great thing. If Abbey Road can be as good as it is, must we always search for realness in everything? I actually think Lennon went on far too much about this search for honesty and reality in songs. It was personal quest of his, but I don't think it's really necessary. "She's Leaving Home" and "For No One" are more real to me emotionally than a lot of Lennon's songs. One doesn't always speak directly. Sometimes a story or a metaphor can make a point better than saying something straight out. I don't think Abbey Road has even this kind of emotional truth to it, except perhaps for "I Want You" and, in some weird way, "You Never Give Me Your Money".

Some of Lennon's later stuff is "real" but sounds forced -- Sometime in New York City in its entirety, for example. JL/POB on the other hand is both real and natural. I am not a Lennon type (like Roger Waters also) who thinks music should always be brutally honest or else it is a waste of time. But I do like JL/POB. It is brutally honest about things. In fact, it's sort of a concept album. It's Lennon's honest reactions to each of his issues: the loss of his mother, the problems he and Yoko faced as a couple, all the bullshit society hands you, childhood traumas, and with "God" thrown in as the great catch-all, as a bit "et cetera" -- Section 1.56., subparagraph a) anything not covered by the previous songs shall be considered to be covered by track 10.

Anyway, I'm not trying to justify the Lennon album. I'm sure you will listen to it again, and you may like it more, or you may not. I tend to ramble on about The Beatles. One reason I think The Beatles is an interesting subject is that there is so much received wisdom about them that it's hard to hear them fresh. I kind of think of Abbey Road as more honest than Sgt. Pepper too, but now that I went through it above, I'm not so sure. "Come Together" is supposedly Lennon writing about himself, but really that's only because he said that about that song. The song itself doesn't say anything, except maybe "you've got to be free". It's only taken with what we know behind the scenes that we feel there's something real about that song. Sgt. Pepper, on the other hand has, "She's Leaving Home" and (surprisingly) "When I'm 64", both of which are more emotionally real to me than "Come Together". Even "I Want You" sounds a bit like a guy proclaiming his love in front of his mates, not because he's that much in love, but because he's trying to show them that he can feel more deeply than they can. (But then, he was always trying to demonstrate his love for Yoko, because so many people hated her. If they hadn't, who knows what might've happened.) Come to think of it, I can't think of one truly honest-sounding song written for Yoko....
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Postby Snarfyguy » 18 Sep 2004, 22:01

Mr. Jim wrote: Come to think of it, I can't think of one truly honest-sounding song written for Yoko....


Move Over Mrs. L ?
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