John Lennon was a singer-songwriter, musician, and peace activist who rose to fame as a member of the Beatles, one of the most influential bands in the history of music. Born in Liverpool, England in 1940, Lennon showed an early interest in music and formed the Beatles with Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr in 1960.
As a member of the Beatles, Lennon’s songwriting and vocals helped to define the sound of the band and cement their place as one of the most important musical acts of the 20th century. After the band’s breakup in 1970, Lennon continued to release successful solo albums, including “Imagine” and “Mind Games.”
Lennon was also known for his outspoken activism and advocacy for peace, which he expressed through his music and public statements. He and his wife Yoko Ono staged a series of “bed-ins” in 1969 to protest the Vietnam War, and he wrote several songs that became anthems for the peace movement, including “Give Peace a Chance” and “Imagine.”
Tragically, Lennon was assassinated outside of his New York City apartment in 1980 by a mentally ill fan. His death shocked the world and silenced one of the most influential voices in music and activism. However, Lennon’s music and message continue to inspire generations of fans around the world.
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1. “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)“
John Lennon's heartwarming Christmas classic, accompanied by the Harlem Community Choir, is a timeless masterpiece that continues to capture the essence of love and hope in our modern world. The song's blend of solemn and uplifting verses, with a catchy chorus that begs you to sing along, make it an essential addition to any Christmas playlist. As one of his most popular songs, "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" has stood the test of time and remains a beacon of positivity in dark times.
Lennon wrote this song as an anti-war statement during the Vietnam War era, calling for peace and unity in turbulent times. The lyrics are simple yet powerful, inviting listeners to reflect on their own lives while spreading messages of kindness and love. Accompanied by hauntingly beautiful melodies played on various instruments from chiming bells to acoustic guitar picking synced with crisp sound design this song resonates with people across all ages.
Interestingly enough, John Lennon initially struggled to come up with lyrics for this tune until he was inspired by an advertising campaign that blew up all around New York City during the 60s. A billboard depicting "WAR IS OVER! (If You Want It) Happy Christmas from John & Yoko" was put up on Times Square on December 15th, 1969 which resulted in one of Lennon's most beloved holiday songs.
Make sure not to miss out on playing this timeless classic at your next festive gathering or while cozied up sipping hot cocoa at home during the holidays. Even if you're not jealous, you'll still feel the sting of this hauntingly beautiful ballad.
2. “Jealous Guy”
This iconic John Lennon hit depicts the struggles of jealousy and the fear of losing someone you love. With its emotional lyrics and soulful melody, “Jealous Guy” is a timeless classic that showcases Lennon's raw talent as a songwriter and musician. The song was originally written during the Beatles' India retreat in 1968 but was not recorded until Lennon's first solo album, Imagine, in 1971. Its universal themes continue to resonate with audiences today, solidifying its place among the greatest songs in music history.
In his signature style, Lennon delivers poignant lyrics that tug at the heartstrings, backed by lush instrumentation from renowned musicians including Nicky Hopkins on piano and Alan White on drums. The song's gentle acoustic guitar intro sets the mood for its earnest exploration of love, insecurity, and regret. With its soaring chorus and haunting harmonies, “Jealous Guy” has become a staple of both Lennon's discography and popular music more broadly.
Beyond its commercial success, “Jealous Guy” has inspired countless covers from artists across genres ranging from Roxy Music to Donny Hathaway. Its enduring popularity is a testament to Lennon's emotional honesty as a songwriter and his ability to craft music that speaks to listeners decades after its initial release.
Fun fact: “Jealous Guy” has been covered by over 90 different artists since its original release in 1971, cementing its legacy as one of John Lennon's most enduring compositions.(Source: CoverMeSongs.com)
Even if you're not a working class hero, you can still rock out to this John Lennon classic.
3. “Working Class Hero”
This John Lennon classic, expressing sympathy for the plight of the working class, captures the essence of his socio-political convictions. The lyrics lament a world where individuals are forced to carry out monotonous work to survive, ultimately leading to disillusionment and despair. The simplistic yet effective arrangement made it into one of rock music's most rebellious and poignant songs.
"Working Class Hero" resonates with Lennon's fans because of its lyrical content. Its powerful message against the Establishment continues to be relevant today. Furthermore, the song has been covered by numerous bands over the years and is regarded as one of his finest compositions.
Interestingly, "Working Class Hero" drew criticism from right-wing activists who saw it as an attack on Western values. In response, Lennon argued that he was not advocating revolution; rather, he was merely expressing dissatisfaction with an unfair system.
John Lennon knew the value of hiding your love away, especially when it's for Yoko Ono. But we all know it's hard to keep true love a secret – even harder than hiding Waldo in a crowded scene.
4. “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”
This classic Lennon hit is a folk-inspired masterpiece, featuring a charming melding of pop and rock. The song highlights the necessity to be cautious about one's romantic relationships, using poetic metaphors and dreamy melodies to convey its message. It has been interpreted as both a cautionary tale about drug use and a subtle nod to homosexuality in an era of intense social conservatism.
The lyrics were largely influenced by Bob Dylan's music at the time. This was evident in Lennon's acoustic strumming and folk-leaning vocal performance, which perfectly matches the song's wistful lyrics. The tune evokes complex emotions in listeners, while showcasing Lennon's talent for penning meaningful tracks that remain immortal to this day.
It is worth noting that this track features only Lennon on vocals and acoustic guitar. Despite its minimalistic nature, it is considered one of his best works, earning frequent accolades in various "best of" lists dedicated to the iconic musician.
According to Rolling Stone magazine, John Lennon wrote this introspective hit while filming Help!, with some critics suggesting that the lyrics are autobiographical in nature. No matter its true meaning or origin story, "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" remains a timeless classic in the Beatles' extensive discography.
Finally, a song that tells us all to just relax and give peace a chance…unless you're listening to it in traffic, then it's more like 'Give Road Rage a Chance'.
5. “Give Peace A Chance”
This Lennon classic was written in 1969, as a protest song against the Vietnam War. The title "Give Peace A Chance", became a slogan for the anti-war movement and carries relevance even today. The song has a simple message and is sung with an infectious optimism that makes it an all-time favorite. It is also considered as one of Lennon's most iconic songs and has been covered by many artists over the years.
In this anthem, John Lennon stresses the importance of peace over conflicts and war. It is a call to stop wars and start living peacefully, not just between nations but also within individuals. The repetitive lyrics become almost like a mantra, urging listeners to join in with the chant of "All we are saying, is give peace a chance". It remains relevant even today when numerous countries continue to be engulfed in violence.
Interestingly, "Give Peace A Chance" was recorded during Lennon's famous “Bed-In” event in Montreal where journalists were invited to their hotel room at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel to cover their peaceful protest against the Vietnam War. During this time, he managed to get many people from various parts of society including activists and strangers into his hotel room recording studio for recording backup vocals.
Lennon's activism made him immensely popular among people who shared his ideology promoting peace. This song continues to inspire millions around the world with its simple yet profound message making it one of the best songs ever created by John Lennon.
Listening to 'Across The Universe' is like taking a trip through Lennon's mind, only without the LSD.
6. “Across The Universe”
This Lennon masterpiece, with its surrealistic lyrics and ethereal soundscape, is a quintessential representation of his poetic genius. The haunting melody, paired with the delicate harmonies of the background singers, creates a dreamlike atmosphere that transports listeners to another world altogether. The song's message of boundless love and cosmic unity is as relevant today as it was when it was first released in 1969 on the 'No One's Gonna Change Our World' charity album.
The writing process for "Across The Universe" was inspired by a phrase used by Lennon's friend and collaborator, Tara Browne. He had expressed a desire to get "inside the universe." John took this as an opportunity to explore broader themes of spirituality and interconnectedness through his music. Producer Phil Spector initially thought the song wasn't good enough to appear on an album but later reconsidered and included it on 'Let It Be'.
Fun Fact: A version of "Across The Universe" was sent into space in 2008 as part of NASA's "Send Your Name Recordings Into Deep Space" project, which beams recordings from Earth toward distant stars.
John Lennon proves that even in his softer moments, he can still make us ugly cry with 'Beautiful Boy'.
7. “Beautiful Boy”
This notable song that belongs to the Beatles' legend, John Lennon, is a touching tribute to his totally cute little son Sean. With its sentimental and heartwarming message backed by a soft melody characterized by a unique blend of folk and rock sounds, "Beautiful Boy" has always struck all listeners for nearly four decades.
Being one of his major hits from his album "Double Fantasy," it is essential to note that Lennon wrote the song while staying with his son in their Bermuda home, further demonstrating his paternal fatherhood love and devotion.
It's worth noting that this track ultimately demonstrates Lennon's incredible talent as a writer of reflective and emotionally evocative pieces. Truly, "Beautiful Boy" remains ever-lasting that audiences worldwide could never forget.
Pro Tip: For optimal listening experience, it's suggested to put this track on loop when relaxing or studying to help attain peace of mind.
John Lennon's 'God' is proof that even deities struggle with existential crises.
Exploring John Lennon's discography, one cannot forget his classic hit that challenges the existence of God. The song presents Lennon's journey from belief to doubt, and ultimately, to rejection of any higher power. In "God," he names different figures whom he no longer believes in; including Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and himself. The song is a reflection of Lennon's spiritual evolution and search for personal meaning beyond traditional religions. Its melody is simple but memorable, with an acoustic guitar riff that accompanies Lennon's vocals throughout the track.
Lennon's raw honesty and introspection make "God" a standout piece in his solo career. On top of its religious themes, it also addresses political issues and stardom struggles. Nowadays, some even consider it a precursor to punk rock movement for its straightforward lyrics and anti-establishment attitudes.
It is worth noting that "God" was part of the album "John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band," which he recorded shortly after leaving the Beatles in 1970. The LP was a commercial success that earned critical acclaim from music reviewers.
Pro Tip: For those looking to delve deeper into Lennon's spiritual struggles beyond "God", his previous works like "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help!" offer glimpses into his early doubts about organized religion.
Listening to 'Strawberry Fields Forever' is like taking a psychedelic trip without leaving your couch.
9. “Strawberry Fields Forever”
This entry on the list highlights one of the most glorious and beloved tracks of John Lennon's portfolio, showcasing his artistic brilliance. The experimental and magnificent “Strawberry Fields Forever” offers a mesmerizing blend of trippy sounds and exceptional songwriting that captivates the listener. It also marks the beginning of Lennon's psychedelic era, where he used music as a tool to express surreal and introspective emotions. With its dreamy arrangements echoing from violins, its mystical colors, and its poignant lyrics humming in our minds long after it fades away, this track is a timeless classic that continues to inspire new generations.
Interestingly, “Strawberry Fields Forever” is not only an emblematic song for John Lennon but also for its backstory. He coined the song's title as an ode to a Salvation Army children's home close to his childhood house in Liverpool. During his trips there, he would play and explore in the garden around the property, which carried symphonic memories with him throughout his life. In short, this masterpiece of art represents more than just melodious tunes and virtuoso production; it embodies affectionate memories turned into magical harmonies.
Notably, this single was released simultaneously with another Beatles' hit "Penny Lane", both inspired by their youth in Liverpool. Its genius melody has inspired countless covers from global artists across various genres such as rock, jazz or pop – ‘The Fab Four’ captured something truly remarkable here.
According to ‘Rolling Stone’, "Strawberry Fields Forever" ranked 76th on their list of 'The 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time'.
Imagine if John Lennon had written a song about his love for pineapple pizza, it still wouldn't be as controversial as 'Imagine'.
This iconic masterpiece by John Lennon, which is the 10th in our list, has been a revered hymn for generations. Its timeless lyrics and overwhelming melody have inspired millions around the world to imagine a world full of peace and love without any boundaries or constraints. Lennon's enchanting voice and his soulful piano chords make this song unforgettable. "Imagine" speaks for itself as an ultimate anthem that articulates a utopian dream that we all aspire to turn into reality.
Lennon's soothing voice and the simple yet profound lyrics make "Imagine" an unbeatable classic. Critics hail it as one of the most influential songs in history – a gentle reminder that we can change our world by envisioning a better future. The song's message of acceptance, unity, and compassion continues to resonate with people across all cultures, races, and time periods.
Despite being released more than four decades ago, "Imagine" remains an immortal masterpiece that captivates every generation it comes across. The track ignites many memories and inspires new ones too. It will always be remembered as one of the greatest compositions in modern music that brought positive change to the world.
Pro Tip: To fully immerse oneself into John Lennon's genius compositions, listen to them on high-quality audio equipment while enjoying complete solitude within peaceful surroundings.