21 John Lennon songs that would have been great Beatles songs


Definition of BEATLESQUE:
of, relating to, or suggestive of the musical style or technique of the Beatles

– Websters Dictionary

There are songs by the members of the Beatles that were not used by them but that re-appeared on their solo albums. Songs that was written in the last days of The Beatles and discarded for some reason or another. A lot of songs suffered that faith, not just Lennon songs, but some of the best songs from George Harrison and Paul McCartney’s first albums as well. Some of John Lennon’s stuff from that area would not be out-of-place on a Beatle record (nor some of George or Paul’s songs for that matter).

Today we are looking at John Lennon’s solo output. I will pick his most Beatle-sounding songs, songs that would fit in on an album by the Fab-Four. Some from the last days of The Beatles, some from later albums. This isn’t supposed to be a best of John Lennon list (but maybe it is…), but his most “Beatles sounding” songs , as I said, songs that would have been good enough for a Beatles album.

Please send in your suggestions in the comments.

Here is the post about Paul McCartney’s “solo Beatles songs”

Here are my choices for John Lennon:

Jealous Guy first appeared on John Lennon’s 1971 album Imagine.The song’s genesis came in India, after The Beatles attended a lecture by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi about a “son of the mother nature”. This inspired both Paul McCartney and John Lennon to write songs about the same subject. McCartney’s composition “Mother Nature’s Son” was selected for The Beatles (The White Album), while Lennon’s song “Child of Nature” was not. However, both were demoed at George Harrison’s Esher home in May 1968. The demo featured Lennon’s double-tracked vocal and playing an acoustic guitar. After that, Lennon continued to play it into the Get Back sessions. Eventually, the lyrics were scrapped and replaced by the now well known “Jealous Guy” lyrics for Imagine.

Three recordings of “Child of Nature” are currently known. The first is a demo of the song recorded at the home of George Harrison in May 1968. The second, on which George sings backing vocals, was recorded at Twickenham Film Studios on 2 January 1969. A third recording was made at Apple Studios on 24 January.

Instant Karma! sometimes referred to as “Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)” – it was released as a single on Apple Records in February 1970 (recorded 27th of January!). It features contributions “Beatle-people” from George Harrison, Billy Preston and Klaus Voormann :

Remember is a 1970 song appearing on John Lennon’s first official solo album release, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.  Lennon plays the piano in staccato fashion. Pop historian Robert Rodriguez notes that early in the song, when Lennon begins to sing, drummer Ringo Starr has to “compensate for John’s erratic sense of rhythm,” an example of the benefit to Lennon of working with a musician familiar with his quirks:

Mother, very confessional song from his first solo album and one of my favourite songs. Some says it is too personal for a Beatles album, I disagree. Beatles was not foreign to confessional musings and tales from their own background. Here is a fantastic live version:

Cold Turkey  is written by John Lennon and released as a single in 1969 by the Plastic Ono Band on Apple Records It was the second solo single issued by Lennon. Lennon referred to his habit in songs including Happiness Is A Warm Gun (“I need a fix ’cause I’m going down”) and Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey (“The deeper you go the higher you fly”). It would fit very fine on “The White Album”:

#9 Dream  was the second single to be released from Walls And Bridges, #9 Dream featured John Lennon’s lover May Pang and continued his fascination with the number nine. “…you know, I just churned that out. I’m not putting it down, it’s just what it is, but I just sat down and wrote it, you know, with no real inspiration, based on a dream I’d had.” -John Lennon. The strings are very “Beatlesque”:

Gimme some truth or “Give Me Some Truth”, as the title originally appeared on record sleeves. It was first released on his 1971 album Imagine. Work on the song began as early as January 1969 during The Beatles’ Get Back sessions.

The Beatles version:

Well Well Well is a song from the album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. Instrumentation for “Well Well Well” is provided by Lennon, Klaus Voorman and Ringo Starr performing as a power trio with Lennon on guitar, Voorman on bass and Starr on drums. Rock journalist Paul du Noyer describes Lennon’s guitar playing as “clenched” and “grunge-like” and claims that Starr’s drumming is “some of Ringo’s toughest.”:

Imagine is he best-selling single of John Lennon’s solo career, its lyrics encourage the listener to imagine a world at peace without the barriers of borders or the divisiveness of religions and nationalities, and to consider the possibility that the focus of humanity should be living a life unattached to material possessions. It is his signature song and it wouldn’t be out-of-place on any of the 5 last Beatles albums. Recording began at Lennon’s home studio at Tittenhurst Park, England, in May 1971, with final overdubs taking place at the Record Plant, in New York City, during July. One month after the September release of the LP, Lennon released “Imagine” as a single in the United States:

Give Peace a Chance was written by John Lennon in 1969 (originally credited Lennon–McCartney), and performed with Yoko Ono in Montreal, Canada. It was released as a single in 1969 by the Plastic Ono Band on Apple Records, it was the first solo single issued by Lennon, released when he was still a member of the Beatles, and became an anthem of the American anti-war movement during the 1970s. I see it as a companion-piece to All You Need Is Love:

Love is a sweet ballad written and performed by John Lennon, originally released in 1970 on the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album. The melody is almost “McCartneyish” but the lyrics has Lennon’s more straightforward style from his solo material (I think):

God is a song from John Lennon’s first post-Beatles solo album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. The personnel is very Beatles related, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Klaus Voormann and John Lennon.  I’ve always liked the gospel-like melody contrasting the lyrics, and I think it would be perfect on Let it Be:

I Found Out is a song from the Plastic Ono Band record. It is influenced more heavily by blues music than other songs on Plastic Ono Band. It is more related to Yer Blues and She’s so heavy from the Beatles-years:

Whatever gets you through the night, John Lennon’s only US solo number one single in his lifetime (and Lennon was the last member of The Beatles to achieve his first American number one solo hit!), Whatever Gets You Thru The Night was recorded with Elton John for the Walls And Bridges sessions in the summer of 1974. The inspiration for the lyrics came from late-night television. It has a “jumpy” piano style reminiscent of Lady Madonna:

Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) has always reminded me of Dear Prudence. It is a very delicate ballad in the same vein as Prudence, written for John Lennon’s son Sean, Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) was an album track on Lennon’s 1980 album Double Fantasy. At the end of the song, John Lennon whispers “Good night, Sean. See you in the morning. Bright and early.” in a similar fashion to what Ringo Starr whispers at the end of the Beatles song “Good Night”, which was a song written by John Lennon for his other son, Julian Lennon. Paul McCartney has also said that he love the song:

Mind Games was the lead single for the album of the same name in 1973. This song, which was begun in 1969 and can be heard in the Beatles’ Let It Be sessions, was originally titled “Make Love, Not War”, a popular hippie slogan at that time. Another song, “I Promise”, contains the melody that would later be featured on “Mind Games.

Watching The Wheels is a single released posthumously in 1981 after Lennon was murdered.  It was the third and final single released from Lennon and Ono’s album Double Fantasy, and probably my favourite song on the album. The song began life as Emotional Wreck, of which Lennon recorded a demo in late 1977. He had the central piano motif and the opening lines, but it took many revisions before he finished the song. The idea of passively observing cogs turning in a machine was a theme in Lennon’s songs right back to Nowhere Man on Rubber Soul.

Hold On is another 1970 song from the album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. Great drumming by Ringo and the bass reminds me a bit of Don’t let me down (I know it’s not like it, but there is something familiar…). John plays some beautifully echoed/tremolo-effect guitar on the track. It is also the happiest track on the album:

Woman from album Double Fantasy. Lennon wrote it as an ode to his wife Yoko Ono, and to all women. The track begins with Lennon whispering, “For the other half of the sky …”, a paraphrase of a Chinese proverb, once used by Mao Zedong. Whispering intros and endings was clearly a “Beatlesque” thing to do. In an interview for Rolling Stone magazine on 5 December 1980, Lennon said that “Woman” was a “grown-up version” of his song “Girl” on Rubber Soul:

Oh My Love is from the Imagine album in 1971. George Harrison contributed guitar on this and several other songs for the album. The song dated back to 1968 after sessions for the album The Beatles/White Album. This demo was released on many Beatles bootleg albums.

The Beatles version:

Isolation is from John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. It ends side one of the album, and is the fifth track, released in 1970. Accompanied by Klaus Voormann and Ringo Starr, he sings his heart out in one of his “primal therapy songs”. It would have fitted nicely on “The White Album”:

– Hallgeir

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