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....