john_lennon_-_imagine_john_lennonListen to this track, a lullaby from the Walrus who became John, recorded as a home demo while a househusband taking care of toddler Sean.  Both Lennon’s were born on the same day – October 9th, 1940 and 1975 respectively. Happy birthday!

The song would of course provide the basis for a new Beatles song by the mid-90s, when the surviving Beatles gathered together in the studio with the help of producer Jeff Lynne, with John’s ghostly vocal underpinning the pop sheen that Lynne, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr built up around it.  Unlike the wonderful “Free As A Bird”, the results are less of a success to my ears.  I prefer John’s demo, which I originally heard on the Imagine : John Lennon Original Soundtrack album.

There’s very little known about John Lennon’s househusband period when compared to his former glory days.  But, the sound of his voice here reveals a few things to me.  One, that he was still interested in putting across songs, even if he was no longer interested in being in the limelight.  I think he did it for his own amusement, and for sheer self-expression which is really evident to me here.  His voice is hushed, as if he’s trying not to wake someone, which may have been the case since he was a full-time dad by this time.

And there is something else too; a certain brittle quality, which may be down to the demo quality of the track. But, I wonder if through song he was also working things out.  In many ways, this is how Lennon had approached songwriting almost since he began, from “There’s a Place” to “I’ll Cry Instead” to “Help” to “God” to “Mother” and many other musical moments besides.

There would be the high gloss of Double Fantasy a few years after this recording od course, when he wore his love for Yoko on his sleeve once again (“Woman”), and his love for Sean, too (“Beautiful Boy”).  But, this is late night John, after everyone’s gone to bed.  It’s the sound of a guy singing for himself, pulling ideas out from his guitar, and out of his heart just for the joy of the activity itself.

It’s pure, it’s real, it’s love.


2 thoughts on “John Lennon Sings ‘Real Love’

  1. I think I prefer the take of “Real Love” used in the Imagine documentary / soundtrack. It’s slightly slower and it’s more concise and has more impact because of both those things.

    That said, I think we’re both agreed about the butchery of the Beatles version. I remember hearing that and saying “What the Hell!?” I love “Free as a Bird” but after all these years I still have no idea where the original Lennon song is in the mix.

  2. That said, having now heard the take that the Beatles used (the one you link to, not the one used in Imagine), I actually don’t mind it so much. But back in ’95 my hatred was quite visceral. Maybe I’m just mellowing in old age.

What are your thoughts, Good People? Tell it to me straight.

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