The BEATLES / JOHN LENNON – ” Yer Blues “

Posted: June 22, 2020 in MUSIC
Tags: , , , ,

See the source image

This is a great hard bluesy song on one of my favourite Beatle’s albums…“The White Album”. This is one reason I like the White Album so much. The song was written and composed by John Lennon during the Beatles’ retreat in Rishikesh, India. The song was a parody of blues music, specifically English imitators of blues. Lennon said that, while “trying to reach God and feeling suicidal” in India, he wanted to write a blues song, but was unsure if he could imitate the likes of Sleepy John Estes and other original blues artists he had listened to in school. In “Yer Blues” he alludes to this insecurity with a reference to the character Mr. Jones from Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man” and with the third verse, which draws on Robert Johnson’s “Hellhound on My Trail.” Instead, Lennon wrote and composed “Yer Blues”  featuring tongue-in-cheek guitar solos and rock and roll-inspired swing blues passages. In the chorus, Lennon sings, “If I ain’t dead already, girl you know the reason why.”

What I like about it is the rawness. This song and Helter Skelter show what a great rock band they were. The room they recorded this in was called Room 2A, which was next to the control room of EMI Studio Two and was a mere 8 ft. by 15.5 ft. The room had been used for storing four-track machines before it was emptied. It was very tight quarters for The Beatles once they set everything up. That added to the sound. They jammed together from 7pm to 5am and after 14 takes produced this song.

Lennon was self-conscious about singing the blues based tune.

John Lennon: “There was a self-consciousness about suddenly singing blues,” John continues. “Like everybody else, we were all listening to Sleepy John Estes and all that in art school (in the late ’50’s). But to sing it, was something else. I was self-conscious about doing it.”

Paul McCartney recalled, “We were talking about this tightness, this packed-in-a-tin thing. So we got in a little cupboard – a closet that had microphone leads and things, with a drum kit, amps turned to the walls, one mic for John. We did ‘Yer Blues’ live and it was really good

Ringo Starr: “We were just in an 8 foot room, with no separation, just doing what we do best: playing.” .

The song is in the key of E major, but like many blues numbers, it prominently features accidentals, such as G, D, and B♭. It is primarily in a 6/8 meter, but as with several of Lennon’s tunes, the time signature and tempo are altered many times.

The stripped-down, bluesy nature of the number bears similarity to much of Lennon’s early solo output, including “Cold Turkey” and his 1970 John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album and marks a retreat from the concerns that Lennon had with such studio experimentation as had marked such songs as “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

A Toronto promoter named John Brower was on the phone trying to convince John and Yoko they should attend a September 13th musical event in Canada featuring a host of ’50s rock ‘n’ roll legends. Maybe, suggested the ever-keen and eager Brower, John might even consider a performance piece?.  Two days later, the Lennons had gathered at Heathrow Airport with guitarist Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann (bass player), Alan White (drummer working with Alan Price), Beatles manager Allen Klein and roadie Mal Evans for the flight to Toronto and a show later that evening.

Only three first-class tickets were available, so the newly formed Plastic Ono Band gathered in the rear of the 707 jet, vamping their acoustic way through a cluster of classic rock ‘n’ roll favorites. Songs that the principal players worshipped. Perhaps this in-flight camaraderie inspired the bout of intense honesty that unfolded en route to the Toronto Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival concert. Later it came out that John had informed both Eric Clapton and Klaus Voormann that he was thinking about starting a new group. It seems he went as far as to enquire about their interest in joining him in this new enterprise . . . At Varsity Stadium the jet-lagged John was extremely nervous. He hadn’t been onstage in three years, and he admitted to throwing up from nervousness before the show — with abundant reason. “Imagine if you were in The Beatles from the beginning, and you were never in any other band?” he postulated. “Then all of a sudden you’re going onstage with this group who’ve never played live together, anywhere. We formed on the plane coming over here, and now we’re gonna play in front of 20,000 people.”

The audio would be released in December of that year as the Plastic Ono Band’s “Live Peace In Toronto” LP. John bounced out onstage, bedecked in a white tropical suit overpinning a black shirt, and was bedeviling with his new band. The Toronto audience was equally uplifted. After whipping through a number of rock ‘n’ roll chestnuts, John plunged into “Yer Blues” from the White Album.

A 9 minute version with Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Mitch Mitchell was performed on the Rolling Stones’ Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus. They called the band the Dirty Mac.

Recorded before a live audience in London in 1968, The Rolling Stones “Rock and Roll Circus” was originally conceived as a BBC-TV special. Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, it centers on the original line up of The Rolling Stones — Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman (with Nicky Hopkins and Rocky Dijon) — who serve as both the show’s hosts and featured attraction. For the first time in front of an audience, “The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band” performs six Stones classics. The program also includes extraordinary performances by The Who, Jethro Tull, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull, Yoko Ono, and The Dirty Mac. A ‘supergroup’ before the term had even been coined, the band was comprised of Eric Clapton (lead guitar), Keith Richards (bass), Mitch Mitchell of The Jimi Hendrix Experience (drums) and John Lennon on guitar and vocals.

Check out this great cover of the John Lennon Beatles song “Yer Blues” covered by his son Sean Lennon

Sean Lennon – “Yer Blues” 2012

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.