Results for John Lennon

interviews

Mark Lewisohn

January 10 marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles stateside debut, Introducing the Beatles! This was 10 days before Meet the Beatles!, but whether you were introduced to these lads from Liverpool or you met them, you were hit with a thunderbolt—one that has continued to electrify decades after. So what were these four like before they were fab? Who were John, Paul, Ringo and George as young men, performing in skiffle groups like the Quarrymen and jet setting to Hamburg with Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best? To get insight into these early days, leading up to Beatlemania and their smash debut, we turn to leading Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn. He worked with the band on The Beatles Anthology and now has a new book out called The Beatles All These Years, Volume 1: Tune In. In its 800 pages, Lewisohn reveals who had the biggest row with Stu (Paul), who had the biggest appetite for prellies (John), and most important, who was the biggest stud (Ringo). He also sheds light on John's complicated relationship with women and why The Beatles were so ahead of its time, even in 1962.

Go to episode 425

Yoko Ono

This week Jim and Greg welcome music legend Yoko Ono. While many know her simply as John Lennon's widow, Yoko is also an accomplished artist in her own right. Since coming into the spotlight, Yoko has often been reviled her for her radical views and radical music (and for "breaking up the greatest pop group in the world"), but she recently found a new role as a heroine in the indie rock underground. A new generation of musicians who didn't grow up with the same kind of reverence for The Beatles have claimed Yoko as their own. This was especially evident at the Pitchfork Music Festival, where she headlined Saturday's show. Yoko not only played to an audience of thousands people — young and old — but she invited Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Cat Power's Chan Marshall on stage with her to perform.

Recently Yoko has been busy working on some new albums. The first is Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, which features two discs of artists covering songs by John Lennon. She's also released a couple of disc of her own work. Yes, I'm a Witch is a collection of remixes of Yoko's songs by artists such as Peaches, Le Tigre and The Flaming Lips. This was followed by Open Your Box, a collection of dance remixes. The title is a testament to the artist's strong will. It stems from her song "I'm a Witch," which she was reluctant to officially release when she penned it years ago. She explains to Jim and Greg that it wasn‘t as acceptable at the time to come out with such strong lyrics. But, it’s much easier in 2007 to proclaim yourself a bitch.

John and Yoko both influenced each other's music greatly. Greg explains that Yoko's collaboration with her husband brought out the“beast”in him as a guitar player But, Greg wanted to know what Yoko first thought of John's“simple”pop songs considering how avant-garde her compositions were. Yoko explains that she actually found that approach quite refreshing. He helped her to understand how beautiful even the most simple, fun songs can be.

It would be unfair to categorize Yoko strictly as avant-garde. In addition to influencing John's undoubtedly mainstream music, she's also influenced contemporary bands like Cibo Matto and Deerhoof. Jim and Greg talk to the artist about hearing elements of the song "Why" in The B52s' pop hit "Rock Lobster." Yoko explains that she never looked at this as any kind of vindication, but that John actually found great joy in hearing "Rock Lobster" for the first time.

Go to episode 86

Donovan

This week Jim and Greg talk with legendary '60s singer/songwriter Donovan. In honor of his 40th anniversary in the music business, Donovan has written an autobiography, released a box set, and set out on tour. A contemporary of Bob Dylan and The Beatles, Donovan was acclaimed for his finger-picking style, which he garnered from The Carter Family and demonstrates for our hosts.

Jim and Greg also want to know about the sex, drugs, and rock and roll in Donovan's life. Specifically, they discuss his experience being busted for drugs in 1966. His arresting officer, Sgt. Pilcher, later targeted fellow British rockers Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Brian Jones and John Lennon.

Another part of the Donovan mythology involves the origin of his song "Mellow Yellow." As Jim points out, many people believe that Donovan was alluding to the ability to get high by smoking banana peels. While Donovan does not refute this idea, which was tried out by Country Joe McDonald, he also admits that part of the song's imagery was taken from a“marital device”he saw advertised in a magazine. In his book, Donovan also suggests that Andy Warhol may have been inspired by the "electrical banana."

Jim and Greg also ask Donovan about covers of his songs. They play for him the Butthole Surfers' rendition of "Hurdy Gurdy Man." Other notable covers include Hüsker Dü's "Sunshine Superman," Eartha Kitt's "Hurdy Gurdy Man," and My Morning Jacket's "Wear Your Love Like Heaven."

Go to episode 7
specials

Desert Island Jukebox

Frequently at the end of Sound Opinions, Jim and Greg add songs to the Desert Island Jukebox. This jukebox is filled with tracks that Jim and Greg would take with them if stranded on a desert island. They‘ve posed this same age-old rock question to many of their guests. In this episode you’ll hear the music that these artists say they can't live without:

  • Saul Williams: James Brown, Live at the Olympia
  • Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand: Leonard Cohen, The Songs of Leonard Cohen
  • Nick McCarthy of Franz Ferdinand: Neil Young, "Ohio"
  • Peaches: Prince, Purple Rain
  • Laurent Brancowitz of Phoenix: Serge Gainsbourg, Histoire de Melody Nelson
  • Thomas Mars of Phoenix: D'Angelo, Voodoo
  • Craig Finn of The Hold Steady: The Replacements, "I Will Dare"
  • Tad Kubler of The Hold Steady: Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti
  • Franz Nicolay of The Hold Steady: American Music Club, Mercury
  • Scott Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit: The Hold Steady, Stay Positive
  • Grant Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit: Bob Dylan, Planet Waves
  • Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips: John Lennon, "(Just Like) Starting Over"
Go to episode 213
classic album dissections
Revolver

The Beatles Revolver

Later this summer Revolver will celebrate its 40th anniversary. To honor that occasion, our own rock scientists, Drs. DeRogatis and Kot, decided to dissect The Beatles' masterpiece. In their interview with Geoff Emerick, the man who engineered the album at Abbey Road, and wrote a memoir on his time with the band, they break down what made the music so revolutionary. A sampling of the fun facts and analysis:

Tomorrow Never Knows

The last song on Revolver was actually the first one written. In December 1965, after a mind-expanding acid trip, John Lennon wrote what would later become "Tomorrow Never Knows." The completely unique four-track song, with its organ drones, backward guitar, bird calls, and megaphone vocals, perfectly encapsulates what Revolver was about: revolution. Geoff Emerick shares two facts about Lennon's lack of technical prowess. First, not being able to communicate how he wanted his vocals to sound technically, Lennon simply asked Emerick to have his voice sound like monks singing on a mountaintop. Also, the backwards guitar part was a happy accident. Lennon, not knowing how to run a reel-to-reel machine, simply loaded the tape backwards and liked what he heard.

Rain

The interesting thing about this song is that it wasn't even released as part of the original Revolver album. It was the B-side of a single (paired with "Paperback Writer") that was recorded during the same session. EMI expected The Beatles to write and record not only an amazing album, but hit singles as well. Jim recommends fans burn their own complete Revolver with the addition of these singles.

Yellow Submarine

Geoff Emerick's description of recording "Yellow Submarine" is one of the most entertaining in his book. The session was attended by a raucous group of notable guests including Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Marianne Faithfull and Patti Harrison. In the middle of recording, Lennon decided that he wanted to sound like he was singing underwater, and in fact, suggested that he do just that. Out of desperation, the engineer agreed to try it, and placed the microphone in a milk bottle filled with water. In order to protect the microphone he used a condom provided by longtime Beatles roadie Mal Evans.

Eleanor Rigby

Emerick was really innovative in how he recorded different instruments. This is particularly evident on this song, written by Paul McCartney, which incorporates an eight-piece string section. In fact, none of the Beatles actually played on "Eleanor Rigby." In order to get the best possible sound, Emerick placed the microphones just inches away from the two violas, two cellos and four violins. Beatles fans are so used to this song that it's hard to imagine what it would be like to experience it for the first time in 1966, let alone on the same record as traditional-sounding rock songs like "Good Day Sunshine" and "Got to Get You Into My Life".

Taxman

Revolver marks significant growth in the band's sound, as well as for the individual Beatles. George Harrison really matured as a songwriter on this album, which has an unprecedented three songs written by him, as opposed to chief songwriters Lennon and McCartney. While Harrison is often thought of as the more transcendental Beatle, Jim notes that "Taxman" expresses a very normal, earthly concern: paying taxes. While Harrison grew as a songwriter, Emerick admits that he still struggled with the guitar during some of the recording of this album. After wrestling for almost nine hours with the song's famous guitar solo, the part ended up being handed over to Paul McCartney, who hit it in on the first take.

Go to episode 25
reviews
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Deluxe Edition)My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy available on iTunes

Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Kanye West knows how to get into the headlines. He's bumped heads with everyone from Matt Lauer to Taylor Swift to President Bush. But, it's important not to forget: he also knows how to make music. Jim says, OK he's a jerk…John Lennon could also have been a jerk. But what Kanye West achieves on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is nothing short of amazing. He combines Iron Maiden with King Crimson; robotic humming and what Greg calls "classical opulence." Greg compares West to ambitious artists like Brian Wilson and Marvin Gaye, but notes that what separates him is his inability to censor himself. That gives his music both bravado and vulnerability. Both Jim and Greg give My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy an enthusiastic double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 260
Duets - The Final ChapterDuets: The Final Chapter available on iTunes

Notorious B.I.G. Duets: The Final Chapter

Next up Jim and Greg review the latest album by the Notorious B.I.G. They hesitate to say it is“by him,”however, being that the rapper died in 1997. Despite this fact, his music is still being released, and on this go-around, Duets: The Final Chapter, he was even paired with another deceased music icon. Biggie Smalls is the latest in a long line of musicians to continue to do big business after death. Other artists with posthumous releases and commercially successful legacies include Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Johnny Cash and Jimi Hendrix. Biggie's posthumous release is approaching platinum status, but our critics wonder if it really needed to be made. Duets is so chock full of all-star cameo that listeners may wonder who this record is about. For the sheer novelty of it, Duets gets a "Burn It" rating from Jim. For Greg, though, the songs are mediocre and the sentiment insincere. He gives it and the entire posthumous phenomenon a "Trash It."

JimGreg
Go to episode 10
dijs

Greg

“Black Sails”Harry Nilsson

Talking about Paul McCartney got Greg thinking about one of The Beatles' longtime friends and contemporaries: Harry Nilsson. Nilsson was especially fond of John Lennon, and the two collaborated on a 1974 album called Pussy Cats. The results, though, were a bit… out there, perhaps because of all the drugs, drink and heartbreak. But that dark mood piqued Greg's interest, and he chooses the song "Black Sails" for a rainy day on the desert island.

Go to episode 413

Jim

“I Put a Spell on You”Screamin' Jay Hawkins

The life and death of John Lennon has been on a lot of our minds these days, Jim included. He recently watched the film Nowhere Boy, which depicts Lennon in his teen years. One of the scenes shows Lennon first discovering a vinyl record by Screamin' Jay Hawkins. As Jim explains, Hawkins was one of the first people to bring“fear and loathing”to rock ‘n’ roll. His 1956 track "I Put a Spell on You" is a classic. It was banned from a number of radio stations at the time, but if it was good enough for John Lennon, it's certainly good enough to add to the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 260

Greg

“Watch Your Step”Bobby Parker

Musician Nick Waterhouse recently told Greg that he's always trying to make his music "swing." Except instead of swinging like Benny Goodman, Waterhouse wanted to swing more like blues-guitarist Bobby Parker. Specifically, Parker's 1961 track, "Watch Your Step", which at the time of its release was a huge influence on everyone from The Spencer Davis Group, to Carlos Santana, to John Lennon. Unfortunately for Parker, the general public wasn‘t nearly as smitten by the song, and it’s since faded into obscurity. Greg managed to find a copy of this rare release, and now he's eager for Parker to earn the recognition his riffs deserve. You can hear“Watch Your Step's”inspiration on songs like The Beatles' "I Feel Fine" and Led Zeppelin's "Moby Dick".

Go to episode 430
lists

Pop Stars vs. God

A big news story this week involves the ever-controversial Kanye West. The February issue of Rolling Stone features West on the cover posing as Jesus Christ wearing a crown of thorns. This is not the first time the rapper has been public about his conflicted relationship with Jesus, nor is it the first time a musician has pushed hot buttons with religion. Jim and Greg explore this issue and pick the top five instances when a rock star made religious waves.

  • John Lennon makes the statement: "The Beatles are more popular than Jesus." While this was more a statement about the absurd level of fame the Beatles had attained, feathers were ruffled nonetheless.
  • Madonna kisses an African-American Jesus figure and includes images of cross burning and the stigmata in her video for "Like a Prayer." As a result, Pepsi dropped Madonna as a spokesperson.
  • In a misinterpreted move, Sinéad O'Connor rips up a picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live.
  • XTC releases "Dear God," causing a controversy by aggressively questioning the existence of God.
  • Marilyn Manson tells a Spin reporter, "Hopefully I'll be the person who puts an end to Christianity." This comment propelled Tipper Gore's organization, the Parents Music Resource Center, to start a campaign against the self-proclaimed Anti-Christ.
Go to episode 9

Anti-Love Songs

With the ghost of St. Valentine looming over us all, this week's show is dedicated to those music fans for whom "Love Stinks." Jim and Greg discuss their favorite anti-love songs and hear some listeners' picks. Here are some songs to get you out of the mood for Valentine's Day.

Go to episode 11

Songs About Work

Despite the fact that most musicians spend their lives avoiding a“real job,”there are a number of great songs about the drudgery and the glory of hard work. During this Labor Day episode Jim and Greg play their favorite Songs About Work.

Go to episode 301

Work Songs

Despite the fact that most musicians spend their lives avoiding a“real job,”there are a number of great songs about the drudgery and the glory of hard work. For this Labor Day episode Jim and Greg play their favorite Songs About Work.

Lou Reed

Go to episode 197

Rock's Best Lead-Off Tracks

This week's show is dedicated to the true rock geeks out there. Continuing in the tradition of "Track 1, Side 1" Jim and Greg take the discussion into the post-vinyl age. What songs best kick-off an album? Here are their picks for the best Lead-Off Tracks of all time:

Go to episode 92

Songs About Mom

Throughout the year Jim and Greg like to mark special occasions by playing the best and most appropriate music to celebrate. And nobody deserves more love than Mom. Here are some of our hosts' favorite songs for Mother's Day.

Go to episode 492

Songs About Mom

Throughout the year Jim and Greg like to mark special occasions by playing the best and most appropriate music to celebrate. There has been Valentine's Day and Father's Day, but shockingly, they've never tackled Mother's Day…until now. Pop music is full of tunes inspired by Mom, and here are some of our hosts' favorites.

Go to episode 337
features

Music of the Beat Generation

If you read On the Road in high school, you know a thing or two about the Beat movement's influence on literature. This week, Text and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll author Simon Warner wants to get you thinking about the Beat influence on rock. Forget the stereotypical bongos; Warner says Beat fathers like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac were most inspired by Harlem's avant-garde jazz invention, Bebop. Warner makes the case that the Beats influenced a whole generation of rock lyricists - Bob Dylan and John Lennon among them - to embrace a more surrealist, personal, and politically engaged approach to lyric-writing. Think of "Subterranean Homesick Blues," he says, as Beat poetry with a, well, beat. But while Ginsberg and Kerouac struck a chord with the hippie generation, it was Beat colleague William S. Burroughs who served as guru to the later musical avant-garde. 1970's punks Jim Carroll and Patti Smith, and alternative era stars like Kurt Cobain and Sonic Youth, all made pilgrimages to Burroughs' NYC bunker-apartment to pay their respects to“Old Bull Lee.”Burroughs'“cut up”writing technique may still inspire wordsmiths from Bowie to Thom Yorke, but Jim thinks it's Kerouac whose legacy may ultimately be the most lasting. It's that writer's spirit of adventure, Jim says, that continues to motivate every indie band still "on the road."

Go to episode 398
news

Music News

Fans have long been wondering when the Beatles will finally come to iTunes. Well, according to Yoko Ono, not anytime soon. John Lennon's widow recently said fans shouldn‘t hold their breath, adding “There’s just an element that we're not very happy about, as people. We are holding out.” But, rest assured, that when Apple Inc. and Apple Corps. do come to an agreement, digital sales will start flying. When the Beatles released their reissues last year, they sold 2.25 million copies in the first five days of release.

Lady Gaga has a record breaking 13 nominations for MTV Video Music Awards. But, ironically, her videos will no longer be available on MTV.com. Gaga's label Universal has decided to take all its content off the music channel's website and show them instead on the label-owned Vevo. Jim and Greg think it will be interesting to see what kind of industry influence MTV can sustain without much music content on its airwaves or website.

Sometimes life does imitate art. "If I Was President" singer Wyclef Jean is, in fact, running for president. The Haitian born former Fugee announced his official candidacy for president of the devastated nation last week. While Jean faces a number of barriers on his road to the office, including controversies regarding his charities and taxes and, of course, celebrity, this got Jim and Greg thinking about some other pop politicos including Sonny Bono, who served in Congress and as the mayor of Palm Springs, Peter Garrett of Midnight Oil, who is an Australian Labor Party member of the Australian House of Representatives and is the Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts, and The Doobie Brothers' Jeff“Skunk”Baxter who now serves as a defense consultant and chairs a Congressional Advisory Board on missile defense.

Go to episode 246

Music News

Recently Jim and Greg saw a flurry of stories in the“People Will Buy Anything”department. John Lennon's Gretsch 6120 guitar, which he used to record The Beatles' classic "Paperback Writer," was sold to Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay for $530,000. And that's not the only famous guitar up for purchase: Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick is starting to auction off some pieces from his massive collection of vintage axes. Some of his guitars have reached prices as high as $8,500.

Meanwhile, the secret buyer of Elvis Presley's very first recording has been revealed, and it's none other than Jack White. The Third Man Records honcho paid $300,000 for the 1953 acetate of "My Happiness"/"That's When Your Heartaches Begin" and plans to reissue it on vinyl for Record Store Day.

Those all may sound like worthwhile purchases, if you‘ve got the cash. But the same can’t be said for some other pieces of music memorobilia showing up on the auction block. A plastic bag allegedly full of air from a Kanye West concert reached bids of over $60,000 before eBay shut down the auction. Many copycat listings have followed, including a bag of Ye's flatulence for the bargain price of $5.

Go to episode 486

Music News

Go to episode 594

Music News

Susan Boye Last week Jim and Greg reviewed the new album by The Black Eyed Peas, and this week they were sure it would be a #1 hit. But if there's anyone that can give the Peas a run for their money, it's…Susan Boyle? The Britain's Got Talent winner is the top seller of the week with her new album The Gift, beating out not only The Black Eyed Peas, but Kanye West and Taylor Swift. This news is further evidence that the physical album chart is dominated by people who still buy physical albums, a.k.a.“older folks.”Which leads to the next story…

Billboard has recognized that its standard album chart might not be a fully accurate representation of what's“popular”in music. In today's world, an artist's tweets, followers, fans, friends and hits are just as important indicators as record sales. So with that in mind they've launched the new Social 50. At the top of Social 50 are artists like Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Eminem and Nicki Minaj – all performers who sell records. But the chart also has the potential to recognize non-traditional acts like Widespread Panic, Girl Talk and Robyn, who consistently sell out shows, but don't have a big retail presence. Jim and Greg welcome Billboard to the 21st century.

Still shopping for holiday gifts and got a few thousand to spare? Well, you could get your loved one the original lyrics to Bob Dylan's song "The Times They Are a-Changin." And by a few thousand we mean $300,000. That's how much the sheet of unruled notebook paper is expected to go for at an upcoming auction. December certainly seems to be the month of rock memorabilia sales. Johnny Cash's jumpsuit, which he wore during his concert at San Quentin and made famous in this image, went for $50,000. Michael Jackson's glove sold for $300,000, and a decades old legal letter featuring John Lennon's original lyrics to "I'm Only Sleeping" is expected to go for over $500,000.

Go to episode 263