Lennon Scholar Jon Wiener's Top Five John Lennon Songs

​Had four gunshot wounds not claimed the life of John Lennon on Dec. 8, 1980, the prolific singer-songwriter would have enjoyed his 70th birthday tomorrow. 

The former Beatle was murdered outside of the apartment complex he shared with Yoko Ono almost 30 years ago by Mark Chapman, but his music lives on. 

Millions of Lennon's musical admirers around the world will mark the occasion of his birthday tomorrow in celebration of his life and craft. In the musician's hometown of Liverpool, England, a new peace monument will be unveiled in honor of his humanistic hymns. The John Lennon Signature Box Set has also been released just in time to take a comprehensive and reflective look back at the music of the man.

Google has a Lennon doodle on its main search page today, and even YouTube has a channel honoring Lennon today!

Locally, UCI history professor Jon Wiener took the occasion to pen an opinion piece in today's edition of The Los Angeles Times re-examining the deportation battle against the anti-war singer waged by the Nixon Administration. 

As a scholar and aficionado, Wiener has also authored two books on the musician: Come Together: John Lennon in his Time, and Gimmie Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files.

With those credentials in mind, I asked the Lennon-Lovin' UCI professor for his list of top 5 solo recordings from the singer as well as a few words on each on the songs chosen:


5. “God” 

“I was the Walrus, but now I'm John”– Lennon takes the chord changes of the classic rock N roll slow dance, plays them more slowly than they've ever been played before, and builds on them some of the most moving music in all of rock.

4. “Imagine” 

We've heard it a thousand times, including today, as part of the Google animated logo on his birthday–but it's still a great song. And the idea: “imagine no possessions,” is more radical now than ever.

3. “I'm Losing You”  

Lennon's low-down angry voice has never been better: “I know I hurt you then/but hell, that was way back when.” He considered it the strongest song on Double Fantasy and considered releasing it as the single, but feared it would be bad karma at a time when he was trying to make a comeback with a collaborative album.

2. “Instant Karma” 

John's first post-Beatles record. The stark sound and the rich deep voice are irresistible. “Who do you think you are, a superstar? Well, right you are!”

1. “Oh Yoko” 

“In the middle of a bath I call your name” – playful, passionate, and perfect.

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