Saturday, October 20, 2018

Sick and tired of hearing things

Lennon and Harrison during the recording sessions for Imagine, in 1971.
Recorded in May of 1971 as the Nixon administration was arresting over 13,000 anti-war protesters and the National Guard was subduing riots, John Lennon's "Gimme Some Truth" has lost none of its drive or bite in the ensuing half century. The spat-out lyrics about "uptight short sided narrow minded hypocritics," "neurotic psychotic pigheaded politicians," "condescending mama's little chauvinists," and "schizophrenic egocentric paranoiac primadonnas" may have originated for Lennon in the late-1960s, early-1970s, but they cut across time and space, skewering every generation's sad parade. We've seen versions of each of those types lately, from Capitol Hill to FOX News to reality television to a stand-in for a "yellow-bellied Son of Tricky Dicky" in the White House. As was always the case with Lennon, when the feeling is real, the words and his voice rise to the occasion, authenticity and sincerity carrying the day, feelings not always present in his songs from the 1970s, slippery as he was among identities and ideologies. (From the opposite side of the spectrum check the gorgeous "Oh My Love" from the same Imagine sessions, a world away sonically and emotionally from "Gimme Some Truth," yet no less urgently felt.)

To my ears what feels even more relevant than Lennon's timeless lyrics is George Harrison's startling slide-guitar solo, a wailing of anger, resentment, and frustration that scores what I've heard in my head just about every day for the last two years. In this song, as in so much great rock and roll, it's the wordless moment that articulates the most.



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