10 — no, make that 11 — of my favorite John Lennon songs….

What a songwriter, what a peace activist, what a man
What a songwriter, what a peace activist, what a man

By Donovan Day

Here are mine. What are yours? I’m including “John” songs he wrote alone and with the Beatles.

10. I am the Walrus — The height of John’s word play and a classic, not only the song but the production by George Martin. When he first heard John play it acoustically, Martin said, “What the fuck am I going to do with that?” He figured it out — big time.

9. The ballad of John & Yoko — Has a bouncy quality that made it a hit even in a time when Beatle fans were not so down with Yoko. Did you know that only Paul and John played on the single? George and Ringo were not available and John wanted to get it out quickly.

8. Come Together — The opener of Abbey Road, it established immediately that this was a great record and the Beatles were on top of their game. Back then, there were some doubts.

7. Please Please Me — Yes, this is a “John” song. Man, what energy those guys had. Even now, the single blasts off in a way many records wish they could. Listen and you get an idea of why the Beatles were so popular way back in the day.

6. Instant Karma — This song is the first time I ever heard the word “superstar” but I actually think Andy Warhol came up with the term. Instant Karma’s gonna get you….indeed brother.

5. Happy Xmas (War is Over) — My favorite Christmas song with the Harlem Boy’s Choir. It’s just so beautiful and the sentiment — again — perfect even for our times.

4. Imagine — Another “perfect” song by John in terms of spreading love and peace.  It was rejected for the Abbey Road LP because it wasn’t quite ready. I love this song but sometimes, I do feel I’ve heard it way too much.

3. All you need is love — So simple and yet so right. He wrote it for a worldwide television special and the Beatles played it live in front of 400 million people around the globe. Truly the perfect song for the occasion. John nailed it.

3a. Norwegian Wood — Sorry, just had to add this one. How could I not? John was in his Dylan-influenced stage but came up with a gem and this must be one of the first, if not the first, times a sitar was used in rock and roll. It’s part of what gives the song its unique edge but, oh, those Lennon lyrics.

2. Across the universe — John himself thought this could stand alone as poetry and I have to agree. A lovely song and melody. I find it haunting and I love Fiona Apple’s version. Ironically, he said he wrote it when he was listening to wife Cynthia prattle on and on.

  1. A Day in the Life — Yes, the Beatles masterpiece is also my favorite “John” song. Paul certainly contributed but it began in John’s mind. It does show why the two of them, when they were working together in harmony, were so right for each other.

[If you love John Lennon like I do, please pick up a copy of my new young adult novel on the Beatles — “Get Back, Imagine….Saving John Lennon” I appreciate the support. Peace and Love, DD]

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