john lennon - "old dirt road" (from the walls and bridges lp, available for purchase here.)
in brief : say what one will about solo lennon--and be nice today--but could any other beatle have been represented by an album track?
i actually didn't know that until i put on the radio. q104, new york's classic rock station, is dedicating the entire day to the celebration of his memory.
i was never a big lennon guy; i have the requisite hits collection. my favorite solo beatle album : all things must pass; favorite singles artist : ringo; favorite song : "maybe i'm amazed." but listening to "old dirt road"--the closing refrain of which, "keep on keepin' on," is perhaps how lennon himself would address the faithful gathered at strawberry fields--on the drive home tonight, especially the weepy, muted guitar, which has to do something to you, made me reflect on the man, while the interview bits that the station ran in between songs--often better than the songs--made me realize how much was taken from the world w/ his passing.
lennon's voice, whether speaking or singing, is something, i realized, that i'd really like to hear today. what he had that none of the other beatles came close to possessing--and, except dylan, no one in his generation had--was gravity. he thought a lot about the world, literally and figuratively, and the world thought a lot about him--even the crusty, cantankerous howard cosell seemed close to tears as he announced the death on monday night football. w/ his death, and its twenty-fifth anniversary, i don't reflect so much upon the absence of new material in the album racks; rather, it's almost like there's a place missing at the dinner table. that is to say, lennon was more than a recording star, he was an important voice in the public discourse, and what grieves me most is that it's a voice--a popular entertainer who believes art can change the world--that no longer has much of a say.