The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Music on Mondays: Jim Morrison & John Lennon

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This past weekend was a significant one for musicologists. Jim Morrison of The Doors would have been seventy years old had he lived. Morrison had a severe alcohol dependency which many believed led to his death. Others believe he died of a cocaine overdose. Since autopsies were not required in 1971, especially in France where he died. Pursuant to French law at that time, autopsies were only performed if foul play was suspected. Thus the continuing controversy over how he died. Morrison is buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, and his gravesite is one of the city’s most visited tourist attractions, although I’m not sure I would call it a “tourist attraction.” Let’s just say it’s well-visited….

I could easily include here any number of famous Doors songs: “Light My Fire,” “L.A. Woman,” “Love Her Madly,” “Hello, I Love You,” “Riders On The Storm,” etc., but those standards have been played billions and billions of times through the years; you’re probably quite familiar with them. Instead, I give you one of my favorite non-standard Doors songs: “The WASP (Texas Radio & The Big Beat)” from their “L.A Woman” album released in 1971, just 2½ months before Morrison’s death.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The other event that happened this past weekend was the 33rd anniversary of the death of John Lennon. Lennon, of course, was one of the Fab Four from The Beatles. Imagine, so to speak, all of the Lennon standards I could include here: “Imagine,” “Whatever Gets You Through The Night,” “Power To The People,” “Give Peace A Chance,” etc., and that doesn’t even include all the songs he wrote with The Beatles.

Again, though, instead of including those standards here, I give you a “How Do You Sleep?” Lennon and McCartney had quite a cantankerous relationship after The Beatles broke up in 1970, and they attacked each other in their songs. Listen to their albums in order from 1970 to 1974….

“McCartney,” McCartney, April 1970
“Ram,” McCartney, May 1971
“Imagine,” Lennon, September 1971
“Wild Life,” Wings (McCartney), December 1971
“Red Rose Speedway,” Paul McCartney & Wings, April 1973
“Mind Games,” Lennon, November 1973
“Band on the Run,” Paul McCartney & Wings, December 1973
“Walls & Bridges,” Lennon, October 1974

Pay attention to the words and titles of songs. They weren’t happy with each other. Once McCartney dropped his name from “Paul McCartney & Wings” to become simply “Wings,” the personal attacks on Lennon through music pretty much came to an end. Lennon retired from music in 1975, choosing to stay home and raise Julian, not returning to the music studio until 1980 to record “Double Fantasy.”

One of Lennon’s songs that is most critical of McCartney is “How Do You Sleep?” from Lennon’s classic 1971 album “Imagine.” Lennon gives McCartney credit for “Yesterday,” but after that he says that McCartney is just “another day” (a reference to McCartney’s first post-Beatles hit “Another Day”) and sounds like Muzak, possibly the ultimate criticism (smile if you remember Muzak). The lyrics, I thought, were quite clever, in classic Lennon style. I have included the lyrics after the video.

So Sgt. Pepper took you by surprise.
You better see right through that mother’s eyes.
Those freaks was right when they said you was dead.
The one mistake you made was  in your head.

Ah, how do you sleep?
Ah, how do you sleep at night?

You live with straights who tell you, you was king.
Jump when your mama tell  you anything.
The only thing you done was yesterday.
And since you’ve gone you’re just another day.

Ah, how do you sleep?
Ah, how do you sleep at night?
Ah, how do you sleep?
Ah, how do you sleep at night?

A pretty face may last a year or two,
but pretty soon they’ll see what you can do.
The sound you make is Muzak to my ears.
You must have learned something in all those years.

Ah, how do you sleep?
Ah, how do you sleep at night?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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6 thoughts on “Music on Mondays: Jim Morrison & John Lennon

  1. btg5885

    I have always found the Lennon/ McCartney fued a little childish. They wrote their best songs while together, with a few exceptions. “Imagine” may be one of the most profound songs ever written and I am also partial to “Maybe, I’m Amazed.” I think if Lennon survived, we might have seen some form of collaboration – if Cream could get back together for a tour after their physical altercations, anyone could. Morrison has become iconic. He was one of the more enigmatic people and the songs The Doors sang and wrote were different. Good post.

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