Thursday, July 31, 2014

John: The Ballad of John and Yoko

10 days back, in my haste to get a new theme out, I neglected to search the SMM archives: In fact, back in 2008, SMM did a "Johns" theme. That said, there are plenty of Johns that weren't then covered and still haven't been covered this time around. Before clicking "Publish" this time around, I did check back into the SMM history, and while John Lennon has naturally been covered more than once here, I could not find another link to "The Ballad".

Recorded and issued in 1969, the autobiographical lyrics relate some of the events surrounding John Lennon and Yoko Ono's honeymoon - their selection of Gibraltar for the marriage itself, their bed-in for peace, their Vienna show called Bagism.

Although the song was released as a Beatles song, the only two band members recording the song were Lennon and McCartney: it was a single session where they overdubbed multiple tracks without either George or Ringo's input. Credited to Lennon/McCartney, it is primarily a "John" song.

Bits of the lyrics upset various folks, in retrospect, the controversy likely adding to the song's place in history. "Christ, you know it ain't easy .... They're going to crucify me..." For critics who recalled a Lennon comment years earlier about how the Beatles were more famous than Jesus, these words opened up old wounds. For the Spanish dictator Franco, the words "Gibraltar, near Spain" brought about a ban of the song in Spain. And of course, there were the many others who weren't at all inclined to graciously accept Yoko's position.

After all is said and done, the song ended up at #1 in the UK for 3 weeks. Rightly so.

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