Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Sharing all the world...

John Lennon released Imagine in 1971. The title track off the album is a radio-friendly call for the end of nations and property, sentiments the expression of which could get you thrown in jail earlier in 20th century America.

One wonders whether the call to reject possessions would include rejecting the Carter's Jacquard Blanket John Lennon, a blanket "[i]nspired by the whimsical drawings of the late singer-songwriter",* or even the John Lennon wallpaper.

Lennon's art is now licensed by Yoko Ono's company, Bag One Arts, Inc. The dictionary suggests that the verb form of bag covers such meanings as "To put into or as if into a bag", "To gain possession of; capture", and "To capture or kill as game". However, it would be wrong to suggest that these notions are poetically evocative of Yoko Ono's perspective on her husband. In truth, "Bag One" was a Lennon title for a compilation of his (NSFW-ish) art.

Imagine the album is more than just its title song. It's also it's wonderful second song, a jaunty little one four five track that opens:
You can shine your shoes and wear a suit
You can comb your hair and look quite cute
You can hide your face behind a smile
One thing you can't hide
Is when you're crippled inside
This has become a favorite of mine in recent days. It's definitely one of the nasty Lennon songs, and one gets the feeling that it's as much about its author as it is anyone else. Following "Crippled Inside", we get the unlistenably syrupy "Jealous Guy", one of far too many "I'm so sorry, Yoko. Really, Yoko, I'm really sorry. Love me, mommy." songs in the Lennon solo repertoire.** There is, thankfully, another "fuck you" song on Imagine.

Later on, we get "How Do You Sleep?", which advises somebody:
The sound you make is muzak to my ears
You must have learned something in all those years
The song also contains the couplet:
You live with straights who tell you you was king
Jump when your momma tell you anything
amusing simply because it's John Lennon calling somebody else pussy whipped.

The album as a whole is pretty good, though, even if it's no Plastic Ono Band. Following Imagine's release, Thomas Bonifield was so moved by what he perceived as the desperation on the record that he wrote to Lennon. Bonifeld told Lennon to buck up, things weren't so bad. Oh, and he also wrote "to share my religious beliefs in an uplifting and non-threatening manner." Apparently Bonifield hadn't quite bought into the whole, "imagine there's no heaven" thing. Lennon responded, writing "Why don't you Jesus Freaks get off peoples backs?". Lennon signed the letter "Peace Off!".

Bonifield had included with his missive a spiritual pamphlet entitled "Four Spiritual Laws". On that booklet he wrote "this might help." Lennon sent Bonifield a matchbook from the St. Regis Hotel, inscribed "this might help, brother."

I guess that one man's meat is the same man's condescension. Or something like that.

*Blogger's spell check does not know the word "songwriter" and suggests as its replacement "congruity."
**Skip it and listen to either "Oh, Yoko" or "Mother", the latter from the album which precedes Imagine, Plastic Ono Band. Actually, you'd not do too bad to listen to Plastic Ono Band first. The thing has an awesome first six songs, and a really fucking cool last song called "Do the Oz."

1 comment:

Jason Goldman said...

Blogger's spellcheck also doesn't know the word Blogger.

It's my least favorite feature.