Tag Archives: John Lennon

Joan Baez in Lowell

In the end it was like church. A generational church. A church of humanity. Of joy. Of suffering. Of soulful community. She had brought us together one more time, and there was a poignancy to it because a lot of us who were there are getting “up there” and have seen a lot of water flow under our bridges. A big part of the familiar sound of that water we’ve heard rushing toward us and running under the bridges came back to us last night in the auditorium at Lowell High School. She was in the city for the Lowell Summer Music Series. In a poem, Walt Whitman wrote that he contained multitudes. On her more than 50-year journey of music and compassion, Joan Baez has gathered up a multitude of experiences and people that layer her performances as an artist. In a city with History as one of its top industries, Joan Baez brought and shared her own extraordinary history to the stage. She reached back to her beginnings in the coffeehouses of Cambridge and Boston to play folk standards as elegantly as she did when just more than a long-haired girl with a guitar. She gave us selections of Americana, spirituals, and pop among choices from her own catalogue of compositions—both hits and deep cuts.

Always of her time, whether she was singing for Civil Rights at the Lincoln Memorial or pushing for human rights in Latin America, she name-checked the Supreme Court and this week’s decisions on the Voting Rights Act and gay marriage—one minus, one plus—and sang her commentary. She has a forever bond with Bob Dylan that gets richer and deeper as each of them ages. Her renderings of “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” and “The Lonesome Death of Poor Hattie Carroll” were exquisite, heartbreaking, really, for all the profound emotional freight the music and lyrics carry. We got it straight from the source last night. She was there. She’s the carrier of that truth. She mentioned playing “Hattie Carroll” with “Bob” when the song was new in the very Maryland county in which the murderous act had occurred. “We had to get out of there fast after the show,” she said. On “Baby Blue,” she mimicked Dylan’s outlaw croon on a few key lies, drawing a laugh from the crowd. The audience loved her. The night began and ended with standing ovations.

She is such a generous artist. Her repertoire includes brilliant interpretations of work by the family of composers, those long-gone and others more recent. The encore featured a gorgeous version of “The Boxer” by Paul Simon. I wonder if somebody told her about Lowell as a fighter’s town? Throughout the evening her guitar-playing was a joy to absorb. Other than Carole King on piano, how many other women of a certain age are delivering a 90-minute show of singing and instrumentation? And who from her era is standing up with a guitar all night? Joni Mitchell sang a few songs on stage the other night at an event in Canada, I think it was. She’s younger, and I don’t think on the road these days. Joan Baez remains in play with her signature artistry, intelligence, morality, and subtle humor.

So, there was Joan Baez, who first played in Lowell in November 1975 as a member of the Rolling Thunder Revue, barnstorming the northeast on the Dylan bus. I remember their crystalline singing of “Blowing in the Wind” in the cozy Costello Gym in Pawtucketville. Late in the show last night, Joan Baez thrilled the audience with a beautiful and sly version of “Diamonds and Rust,” her monument to their legendary relationship. My guess is that many of the people in the auditorium last night had been on the lawn at Boarding House Park a couple of years ago when she played the National Park pavilion. My memory is that of a wonderful night of music under the stars.

She closed the show with a group sing of the John Lennon wishful anthem “Imagine.” There were more than a thousand of us in unison on the modern hymn. She led the gray-tinged choir in a wistful community gesture, singing for what might have been or what still could be if the spirit moves enough people at the same time. The auditorium became a cultural church of shared values, which in the moment sounded like the way things ought to be. At least the thoughts point in a good direction, a path for aspiration, a clearing in the woods to which we can head. And there was Joan Baez in Lowell, again, leading the choir. We knew all the words of that song.

‘Hey Jude’ in Trafalgar Square (via T-Mobile)

Next week will mark 30 years since the death of John Lennon, so it’s worth reflecting on the lasting goodness of his legacy as an artist and the endurance of The Beatles’ music. T-Mobile in April 2009 organized a meet-up/flash mob in Trafalgar Square, London, for a “Hey Jude” sing-along. People were told it would be a dance event, but were surprised when they arrived. Here’s the video, forwarded to us by one of our regular readers, John Wooding.

(web photo courtesy of saatchikevin.com)

John Lennon ‘Honoured’ With Commemorative UK Coin

John Lennon’s image will appear on a commemorative coin issued in England thanks to a popular vote conducted by the Royal Mint. He joins other notable persons who have received this “honour,” including Shakespeare, Churchill, Darwin, and Florence Nightingale.

If England can manage this kind of tribute for John Lennon, we should be able to get a Jack Kerouac commemorative stamp in the U.S. before the centennial of his birth in 2022, right Dean?

Read the news here courtesy of NPR and the Associated Press. 


All-John All Day

Here’s the link for the Paul McCartney fan-site that today is playing John Lennon songs on its “Macca Radio” feature all day. On the right side of the page select the music listening tool that you prefer.

There’s a John Lennon YouTube channel loaded with content. Look for the clip from the upcoming American Masters program about him.

Also, www.beatles.com has lots of info today.

Boston.com has a round-up article about Lennon tributes today and this week.

The Liverpool Echo has the hometown report on a Lennon tribute sculpture unveiled today by his first wife, Cynthia, and son Julian.

John Lennon’s Birthday Gifts

Tomorrow would have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday if his life had not been taken away in December 1980. Recently, there’s been some talk in our community about Lowell and Liverpool, Kerouac and The Beatles, with similarities being pointed out. Lennon’s life and artistic legacy continue to generate interest and be the subject of new recordings, films, and books. In today’s NYTimes, reporter Allan Kozinn describes several new music and film projects. Here’s the link; get the NYT if you appreciate the content. The photo below shows the Lennon tribute in New York City’s Central Park, a small area called Strawberry Fields. People visit and leave items expressing affection and messages of remembrance in the same way that pilgrims do at Kerouac’s grave in Edson Cemetery in Lowell.

Lennon Catalog to be Reissued: News from www.beatles.com

Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band played on the Boston waterfront Tuesday night to a large crowd, including many young people, according to a colleague of mine who attended the concert. She said it was an excellent concert, but Ringo did not come out for an encore. What’s the old show biz line? Always leave them wanting more? Now there’s news that Yoko Ono has overseen the re-mastering of all John Lennon’s post-Beatles music and will reissue the songs in a variety of formats in October. Read the details from www.beatles.com:

“London, England – June 29, 2010 – Eight of John Lennon’s classic solo albums and other standout recordings have been digitally remastered from his original mixes for a global catalogue initiative commemorating the music legend’s 70th birthday, which falls on October 9.

“Overseen by Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth” campaign will launch on 4 October (5 October in North America) with the worldwide release of eight remastered studio albums and several newly-compiled titles.
“Double Fantasy, 1980’s GRAMMY Award winner for Album of the Year, will be presented in a newly remixed ‘Stripped Down’ version remixed and produced by Yoko Ono and Jack Douglas, co-producers of the original mix with John Lennon. The new stripped down version of the album comes in an expanded 2CD and digital edition pairing the new version with Lennon’s original mix, remastered. 
“The campaign’s other new collections include:
·        A hits compilation in two editions titled Power To The People: The Hits
·        A 4CD set of themed discs titled Gimme Some Truth
·        A deluxe 11CD collectors box with the remastered albums, rarities, and non-album singles, titled the John Lennon Signature Box
“All of the remastered albums and collections will be available on CD and for download purchase from all major digital service providers
“YOKO ONO said: “In this very special year, which would have seen my husband and life partner John reach the age of 70, I hope that this remastering / reissue programme will help bring his incredible music to a whole new audience. By remastering 121 tracks spanning his solo career, I hope also that those who are already familiar with John’s work will find renewed inspiration from his incredible gifts as a songwriter, musician and vocalist and from his power as a commentator on the human condition. His lyrics are as relevant today as they were when they were first written and I can think of no more apposite title for this campaign than those simple yet direct words ‘Gimme Some Truth’.”
“The albums have been digitally remastered from Lennon’s original mixes by Yoko Ono and a team of engineers led by Allan Rouse at EMI Music’s Abbey Road Studios in London and by George Marino at Avatar Studios in New York.  All of the remastered titles will be packaged in digisleeves with replicated original album art and booklets with photos and new liner notes by noted British music journalist Paul Du Noyer.  The albums to be reissued are:
·        John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970)
·        Imagine (1971)
·        Some Time In New York City (1972)
·        Mind Games (1973)
·        Walls and Bridges (1974)
·        Rock ‘n’ Roll (1975)
·        Double Fantasy Stripped Down (2010) / Double Fantasy (1980)
·        Milk and Honey (1984)

. . .
“One of the world’s most celebrated songwriters and performers of all time, John Lennon was killed at the age of 40 on December 8, 1980.  Lennon has been posthumously honoured with a Lifetime Achievement GRAMMY Award and two special BRIT Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Music, and he has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  In 2008, Rolling Stone ranked him in the Top 5 of the magazine’s “100 Greatest Singers Of All Time” list.
“In celebration of his 70th birthday on 9 October, 2010, John Lennon’s life and music will be specially feted with a variety of commemorative releases and events around the world. Please visit www.johnlennon.com for official announcements and updates.”