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Thursday 04 May 2017

Review: The Music Of John Lennon - A Fine Epitaph To The Beethoven Of His Generation

John Lennon's musical career is littered with many-a barbed confessional and an equal amount of love strewn ballads. He was a complicated man. Both a lover and a fighter.


Most books based on Lennon attempt to unstitch the fabric that brought together the loveable moptop and the acidic agitator. 

Author, musician and filmmaker Chris Wade gives over his book, The Music Of John Lennon, solely to the creative seam that underpinned the working lifespan of the one-time Beatle.

Mime artist and actor Dan Richter, who worked as John and Yoko Ono's assistant from 1969 to 1974, summed up the man best  when he told Chris Wade:

"John, like many great geniuses, was completely his own man. He was always completely genuine and honest. 

"He saw everything with new eyes and I think his great gifts were sometimes a heavy load for him to carry. 

"What I remember most was that he was a good friend that I had a lot of fun with while I had the privilege of witnessing him create some of the most important music of the 20th century.". 


The first almost two-thirds of the book reads as a battle between the egos and styles of the two main songwriters in the Beatles.

Wade doesn't hold sway with the given that Lennon wrote the biting, serious and satirical material while Paul McCartney added the saccharine asides. The two men, and their recorded output, were more complicated than that.

Also the author doesn't view the band's back catalogue through rose tinted spectacles. It's plain for all too hear, for every Strawberry Fields Forever there could be a Doctor Robert. 


Inevitably the band began to implode. After the relentless touring and releases of the early years came the studio mastery and stay-at-home substance dabbling of the latter period.

Social circles widened and wives/girlfriends took preference over group activities. Lennon admitted that when he met his life partner, Yoko Ono, The Beatles became a hindrance, not the all consuming vocation it had once been.

So began his move away from Beatledom. With Yoko as his muse and co-creator Lennon firstly threw out structure and released a series of albums that were experimental and heavy on the ear.

He then saw the light, and opportunity, to use his position to give voice to social/political issues he supported (or in some cases was badgered into commenting on).

Lennon turned his back on his once beloved home city of Liverpool, and broke a thousand hearts when he was quoted as saying that his new home of New York was the place he wished he'd been born and raised.

Wade is honest about the album, Rock''n' Roll, which was the central release of Lennon"s "'lost weekend" - the time when he was separated from Yoko and drowning his sorrows in alcohol, a new relationship and much more.

On much of the album, Lennon sounded jaded and disinterested. It was a full five years before he was back with new material. The album, Double Fantasy, would be his last. And the follow-up Milk and Honey would be a posthumous farewell cobbled together by Yoko.

Lennon's death in 1980 sealed him into people's recollections as, at just forty, an artist with a lot still to offer. 

Wade, in The Music Of John Lennon, shines new light and insight on the great man's back catalogue. It's a wonderful read and a fine epitaph to the Beethoven of his generation.

To purchase The Music Of John Lennon by Chris Wade CLICK HERE. For more information on the books, music, magazines and film work of Chris Wade CLICK HERE.

by: Mike Cobley




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