Just Like Starting Over/Watching The Wheels/Woman (John Lennon [and Yoko Ono]) - day 49
Switching gears from the past few days but also staying within the same time frame, because hey, why the fuck not, today is John day. Let everyone alive rejoice in the gift this beast of a musician bestowed upon us all those years ago.
In all my posts, I have never spoken specifically about the icon who was John Lennon. In fact, I don’t even have to, because anyone bothering to read these posts knows all the gems with which Lennon had gifted the world. To say that he was what made the Beatles the phenomenon it was (and obviously still is, and likely always will be) is an understatement, but it’s also only half true: the partnership between John and Paul is the lore of legends. And, again, assuming you’ve been keeping up with my posts, you’ve heard countless times about Paul, but only in passing about John.
So today, while I’m still in the headspace of the memorable period from 1980-81, we will review the final works of the late, amazing John Lennon. No one will ever know whether the release of the Double Fantasy album was actually the phenomenon we’ve all come to love based on its own merit (critics at the time hated it) or because Lennon was murdered shortly after the release, but it doesn’t matter either way. Three songs from that album changed my life and introduced me to Lennon as a solo machine. Until then I only knew of his music as part of that larger wheel; and then, suddenly and unapologetically, the radio waves were clogged with his music, each song better than the last, each one more memorable for what it was.
The doo-wop feel of Just Like Starting Over was exactly what the radio needed to help claim the stake of a waning genre, and it provided a blend of all the magic of the Beatles with John in the lead. And as usual, most of his music held a message to Paul. This song, in that realm, did not disappoint. He may have been married to Yoko, but Paul was his soulmate.
The instrument-driven Watching The Wheels is one of those sway-worthy, harmony-prone ballads that just seems so reminiscent of the Beatles you could almost smell a reunion tour… but, alas, to no avail. We just had to let it go.
And then there’s Woman. To me, one of the biggest, strongest songs of 1981, one that tethers me to that year and brings to mind my mother, trapped inside herself in that smoky, wood-laden house in the forest. Songs like this remind me of our family outings to visit Uncle Joey in Freeland, always coming home in the black of night, usually in bad weather on narrow highways with giant trucks roaring past us while my father smoked and cursed and coughed. Trapped, Angie and I, and unable to ever speak of it. When I hear Woman, to this day, it is her essence that fills my mind, but it’s the sad, fragile version of her that I’d emulated in that solitary time. If only I could travel back and tell her. After all, I’m forever in her debt.