Take It From Me: John Lennon: The New York City Years

John Lennon once said, “I have a love of this country. Two thousand years ago, we would have all wanted to live in Rome… and now this (NYC) is Rome. This is where the action is.” The current action is located at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex on 76 Mercer Street nestled in between art galleries and upscale boutiques. Aside from the usual treasures, including but not limited to a bedazzled jumpsuit that once belonged to Elvis, a letter that Paul Simon wrote to Art Garfunkel while he was at summer camp, and an assortment of old and decrepit looking furniture from CBGB’s, is an exhibit put together in part by Yoko Ono titled John Lennon: The New York City Years.

New York City was the setting for many of Lennon’s political stunts and solo musical endeavors which is evident throughout the exhibit which includes memorandum from his struggles against deportation (such as his green card and letters of support from celebrities and NYC locals), album covers, articles of clothing such as the famous New York City t-shirt (pictured above), and an art book by Ono which ended up being Lennon’s inspiration for the song, “Imagine”. Are you familiar with that tune?

Also on display are three guitars of Lennon’s and the piano that used to be in his bedroom in the Dakota. In addition, four films are projected onto the walls in opposite corners of the room showing assorted music videos, talk show clips of interviews, evidence of their political activism such as their bed-ins and appearances at protests, and clips from their art films. There is also a small white phone with vague instructions to pick it up if it rings. You may find Yoko Ono on the other end of the line.

The oddest and most moving object at the exhibit was a nondescript sealed bag containing the clothing Lennon was wearing when he was shot. Ono wrote an accompanying statement about how the man who once had everything was returned to her in a simple paper bag and in keeping with her fashion, left markers for people to sign their names to a protest to prevent gun violence which will eventually be sent to President Obama.

All I am saying, is give this exhibit a chance… and peace. Give peace a chance too.

New York City mp3

Music For Your Mama

With Mother’s Day upon us, I figured a mother-centric post was in order. Here are some songs for mothers, songs about mothers, and even some songs with the word “mother” in them. I am trying very hard to resist the urge to add Flight of the Conchords, “Mutha’uckas” to this list right now. Somehow, I don’t think Mother would approve…

1. The Beatles, “Julia”
This 1968 release off the White Album was written by John Lennon for his mother, Julia Lennon, as well as his future wife, Yoko Ono. He is the only Beatle to appear on the recording and it marks the first song he wrote for his mother, who was killed in a car accident in 1958. The first two lines, “Half of what I say is meaningless/ But I say it just to reach you, Julia,” were adapted from the poem “Sand and Foam,” by, poet Kahlil Gibran. “Ocean child” refers to the English translation for Yoko’s name and all in all, it truly is “a song of love”.

2. Elliott Smith, “Wouldn’t Mama Be Proud”
This soulful track off of Figure 8 tells the tale of a successful rockstar debating whether or not his mother would be proud of him. Lines like, “there’s a silver lining in the corporate cloud,” allude to the fact that he has sold out and is ill at ease about the decision he’s made. The track is likely referring to Smith’s contract with DreamWorks Records in 1997.

3. Bon Iver, “Flume”
The meaning of this eerily beautiful song is somewhat ambiguous. Many interpretations have been offered for the opening track off of Justin Vernon’s self released 2007 album, For Emma, Forever Ago. Vernon once described his lyrics as “sounds that eventually turned into words”. With lines such as, ” I am my mother’s only one/ It’s enough/ I wear my garment so it shows/ Now you know,” Vernon confesses to a kind of vulnerability which is present throughout the album as a whole. Lyrics appearing later in the song, “I am my mother on the wall, with us all,” seem to reference a photograph or family portrait.

4. Scissor Sisters, “Take Your Mama”
Introduce your mama to some disco glam pop and “take your mama out all night/ Yeah, we’ll show her what it’s all about/ We’ll get her jacked up on some cheap champagne/ We’ll let the good times all roll out/ And if the music ain’t good, well it’s just too bad.” Thanks to the Scissor Sisters though, the music is good and it will have you dancing in no time. Give this electric track from their self titled debut album a listen!

5. The Shirelles, “Mama Said”
This 1961 single off the album The Shirelles Sing to Trumpets and Strings, reached #4 on the Billboard Top 100 list. It is a jewel of a song from the New Jersey girl group. Revel in this glorious golden oldies piece of pop music and always listen to what Mama says! I know I do.

Happy Mother’s Day from Euphonie!

Also recommended:
The Rolling Stones, “Mother’s Little Helper
Jeff Buckley, “So Real”
The Smiths, “I Know It’s Over”
Kate Bush, “Breathing”
Devendra Banhart, “Hey Mama Wolf”

*Special thanks to Mama Caseley (Curtis), Mama Roth, and Mama Kamens