Tuesday, December 8, 2009

THE TROUBLE WITH REALITY


"The trouble with reality is it leaves a lot to the imagination."
John Lennon



This morning I was driving to an appointment, listening to a local radio station, when the DJ played a clip from John Lennon's December 9, 1974 conversation with Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football.  He followed that with Cosell's announcement of Lennon's murder, six years later (almost to the day).  I was astonished to find my eyes filling with tears, and a massive sadness gripping my soul, as if I was hearing about this tragedy for the very first time.

Twenty-nine years after his passing, this reality remains all the poorer for John Lennon’s absence.


©copyright 2009  J.M. DeMatteis




26 comments:

  1. I'm not especially familiar with Lennon's work, but it's something I've been meaing to rectify.

    If I were to pick up one of the remastered Beatles cds, which would you recommend as a good starting point?

    And I must say, "So This is Christmas" is one of my favorite holiday songs.

    David

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  2. I'd say either ABBEY ROAD or THE WHITE ALBUM. Probably the latter, as it's got so much amazing material on it. And if you want to dip your toe in with some solo Lennon, I'd suggest WORKING CLASS HERO, a two-disc set that provides a terrific overview of his entire solo career.

    And, yeah, "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" is one of the greatest pop Christmas songs ever. It warms my heart, year after year.

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  3. Thanks for the suggestions!

    David

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  4. Any time I can turn someone on to the Beatles or solo Lennon, David, I'm a happy man!

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  5. I can relate.

    That's kind of how I feel whenever I have the opportunity to introduce people to your work.

    David

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  6. Here in Minneapolis, there is a wonderful tradition started that awful night where local musicians take to the stage and play John's music. It's been going for 29 years, and still packs 1st Avenue (you know, that place in the Prince movie...) and some years I can go, and some I can't.

    This year, I couldn't. I was 15 when he died, and all I can think on that day is how different the world would be now if here were still here.

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  7. It's both heartbreaking and uplifting to speculate about what Lennon would have been up to had he lived, Cory. Given his mercurial nature and ever-questing soul, there's no telling what strange paths he would have journeyed down these past twenty-nine years.

    He sometimes talked about wanting to write children's books and I could easily see him producing a series of kids stories as quirky and unique as the ones in IN HIS OWN WRITE and SPANIARD IN THE WORKS. But I can't imagine he would have ever completely stopped making heartfelt and inspiring music.

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  8. A few more questions:

    1. I'm considering taking the plunge and just buying the entire Beatles Box Set, but I don't know. Is there any kind of advantage, cost or otherwise, to buying the box set? If it's just a packaging thing I'll probably buy several right now and then buy the rest over time.

    2. Why can't I listen to samples of Beatles music online like other artists? I'm assuming this is for the same licensing reason you can't purchase them as MP3s. It sure seems strange that I can't listen to twenty seconds of a song that's been circulating airwaves for the past forty years, though. Not exactly music's best kept secret, these guys from across the pond.

    Thanks in advance for your time!

    David

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  9. I'm not sure about the boxed set vs. individual CDs, David. You'd have to check the prices online and see. I believe the boxed set has all the mini-documentaries on one disc (instead of spread out across all the discs), which is a nice extra. I suspect the price of the boxed set is, overall, cheaper than buying the individuals, but don't quote me.

    As for your inability to sample the music, fans have been waiting years and years for the Beatles to hit iTunes and other digital sites. The release of Rock Band, which allows game-players to download a number of Beatles albums and tracks, is a step in the right direction and I think we'll see the songs finally hitting iTunes and other distributors in 2010. I suspect Apple wanted to let the CDs (and the game) dominate the market for a while before going digital.

    Happy New Year!

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  10. Thanks, JMD.

    Hope 2010 is a great one for you and yours!

    --David

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  11. Amen to that!

    David

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  12. I bought REVOLVER and THE WHITE ALBUM this past weekend. ABBEY ROAD was apparently sold out, so I'll have to get that online or wait till they restock.

    I can't say I've had the chance to savor either in their entirety--such is my life--but I've enjoyed them very much so far.

    So far I'd say my favorite is "ELEANOR RIGBY" from REVOLVER, but like I said, I haven't had the opportunity to really listen without interruption.

    I also very much like "BACK IN THE USSR," THE CONTINUING STORY OF BUNGALOW BILL, and "HAPPINESS IS A WARM GUN."

    But to paraphrase Regis Philbin, that's not my final answer! (If one could even have a final answer on such things.)

    I look foward to listening to it all, and I will continue buying!

    Best,

    David

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  13. What's interesting about your selection, David, is that those four songs are all so very different. Amazing, isn't it, that they all came from the same band? "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" is, as my earlier list made clear, one of my all-time favorite tracks. It's an eerie, exhilarating piece.

    I look forward to hearing more when you really dive into the albums.

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  14. Oh, it is fascinating. And for a band that reached serious artistic heights, they have an incredible sense of humor. "TAXMAN" is a very funny song which I'd only heard before in reference. It makes a huge difference to hear the actual--what would be the word--synergy behind it.

    I'll check back in as I explore them further.

    Thanks so much for the recommendations.

    David

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  15. What do you think of "The Past Masters"?

    It seems to be the only format where I can find "Hey, Jude"--which I am familiar with and I enjoy it very much--but I don't know about most of the others.

    David

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  16. The PAST MASTERS CDs are terrific: basically, they collect single and EP (a format popular in England, back in the day) tracks that never made it to albums. The Beatles were so prolific that, for years, the rule was, if it's been out as a single (or EP), don't include it on the album. (Which is why, for instance, "Strawberry Fields" and "Penny Lane" aren't found on SGT. PEPPER -- despite being part of those recording sessions.)

    PAST MASTERS, VOLUME 2 is one of my favorite Beatles albums: it's got "Hey, Jude" and "Revolution," "Ballad of John and Yoko," the single version of "Let it Be" (which is far superior to the album version) and lots of other great stuff.

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  17. Thanks for the advice. I think I'll buy that and ABBEY ROAD next.

    David

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  18. Enjoy! And feel free to keep checking back for more Beatles advice if you need it!

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  19. Oh, definitely!

    David

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  20. I bought PAST MASTERS this week and I'm loving it. A lot of great songs I'd never heard as well as songs I only knew in passing. There's so many snippets of songs you get via commercials and background music that don't do the full works justice. I can't swear, for instance, that I'd ever heard "Revolution" in its entirety before I bought the cd. (Now with the WHITE ALBUM, I've heard more than one version.)

    I'll buy ABBEY ROAD this month.

    What would you recommend next?

    David

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  21. RUBBER SOUL is perfection, David. A HARD DAY'S NIGHT captures all the creativity and joy of the early Beatles. (They're two of my absolute favorite albums.) MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR is, for me, an even better snapshot of the psychedelic era Beatles than SGT. PEPPER. Is that enough for now?

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  22. Yep. That'll do for the next several months. I'll have them all eventually, and then I'll move on to the solo work.

    David

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  23. My first recommendations for solo Beatles?

    JOHN LENNON/PLASTIC ONO BAND (which may be the greatest, most gut-wrenching rock record ever made...and, yes, that includes all the Beatles albums) and Lennon's WALLS AND BRIDGES.

    McCartney's BAND ON THE RUN and TUG OF WAR.

    Harrison's ALL THINGS MUST PASS and CLOUD NINE.

    And Ringo's RINGO.

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