By Tony Sokol.
John Lennon was one of the most influential musicians in modern history. Along with Paul McCartney, Lennon wrote songs that have become the standard-bearers for modern songwriting. The Beatles revolutionized music, not just because they broke from rock and roll’s three-chord roots, but because John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr dared to take their instruments, their arrangements and their lyrics to unexplored areas.
John Lennon, who sang so fervently about peace, was taken away by an act of horrific violence. He was shot multiple times in the doorway of his own home, New York City’s famous Dakota apartment building, while his wife and artistic partner, Yoko Ono, looked on. The world came together in mourning. I don’t even want to name the assassin.
John Lennon is famous for writing about peace. He also wrote some of the greatest love songs of modern history. The Beatles didn’t only write about romantic love. They wrote about love as a larger concept. John’s “The Word” from the Beatles’ “Rubber Soul” is about love as a healing force. Though George Harrison is well known for writing and producing music about transcendence, Lennon was the first Beatle to express in song the idea that love is a spiritual belief.
John Lennon believed that love could not only heal, but save. For the first satellite hookup of a musical performance that would be heard round the world, the Beatles decided that the most important thing they could possibly send was love. It was, after all, all you need.
Plastic Ono Band was the first album Lennon released after the breakup of the Beatles. He had recorded a live album and experimental music on his own while in the group, but this was his solo introduction to the world. It is renowned as a raw piece of power-trio rock, the only musicians are Lennon, Ringo Starr and Klaus Voorman, with an occasional Billy Preston or Phil Spector adding some piano, but it also found Lennon singing, simply, about Love.
It was Paul McCartney, not John Lennon, who wrote the words And in the End the love you take is equal to the love you make, but the Beatles, even in that late stage were still a band and the music was equal parts of each Beatle.
George Harrison was also taken from us by throat cancer in 2001. I’m sure John wouldn’t mind sharing some space with this long-tme friend and collaborator. Not collaborator? Besides writing Cry for a Shadow with George, Harrison’s guitar transformed the songs Lennon or McCartney brought in to the studio to record. Give Me Love is a love song to love.