Lennon and Beatles Covers

by Harry on December 9, 2005

The BBC is obsessed with the anniversary of Lennon’s death. For my own part I have four memories— the shock of Radio 4 (the Today Programme) announcing the death in the morning; the amazing sense of loss at school, mitigated only by the bizarre spectacle of Lennon-look-alike Nick P crying his eyes out all day long; somebody on Question Time saying that everyone would remember where they were when they heard about Lennon’s death, and finally, watching Not the Nine O Clock News that week (Thursday?) and wondering all the way through the show how they would respond to his death—and being first touched, and then shocked, by the way they did it (am I the only person who remembers this?)

Anyway, I’m deliberately posting this the day after the anniversary in order to alert you to 2 wonderful shows full of cover versions:

Mike Harding’s show, with numerous folkies covering songs from Rubber Soul (released 40 years ago this week? Amazing)


Lennon Live with numerous non-folkies covering Lennon songs, with varying degrees of success (My favourite: Teddy Thompson, whom I’d never heard before, and is eerie)

Other Lennon-related radio shows include a portrait narrated by Mark Ratcliffe and a play based on Ray Connolly’s reflections on his death.

Oh, and you can hear Libby Purves reminisce about him, too, but its a bit odd.



Steve 12.09.05 at 12:52 pm

You were that moved by the death of a professional guitar player? I hope you were 13 years old at the time.



dsquared 12.09.05 at 12:58 pm

I can confirm that this album is rather good


Christopher M 12.09.05 at 1:10 pm

Steve, man, get a soul.


washerdreyer 12.09.05 at 1:26 pm

You’ve never been moved by the death of anyone you didn’t know personally? I hope you are 13 years old.


Tom Scudder 12.09.05 at 1:54 pm

So what DID not the nine-o-clock news do?


a 12.09.05 at 2:15 pm

Lennon’s death is one of the few events where I can vividly remember where I was when I first heard the news: the kitchen of a Cambridge Trinity College graduate housing, as my brother and I (well, mostly my brother) were cooking dinner.


ben wolfson 12.09.05 at 3:37 pm

Teddy is Richard & Linda Thompson’s son.


Steve 12.09.05 at 3:43 pm

You’ve never been moved by the death of anyone you didn’t know personally? I hope you are 13 years old.

Well, of course. When Jim Brown was running… and dropping the hand grenades in the German bunkers… and the machine gun bullets were getting closer and closer… and suddenly you knew he wasn’t going to make it…WAAAAAAAHHH!!!!
(cut to Meg Ryan, scowling, in her perky way).

Actually, I do remember when Lennon was shot. I was thirteen years old.



harry b 12.09.05 at 3:53 pm

steve, where did say I was moved by the death? I can’t find it in my post.

Well, does anyone remember what Not the Nine O Clock News did? If no-one else tells it in the comments, I’ll come back and add it in a couple of days. Maybe its a false memory, but I’d be very surprised if so.


Simstim 12.09.05 at 6:57 pm

A very minor point, but it hurts those of us who are a fan of the man, it’s Mark Radcliffe, not Ratcliffe.


Wrye 12.10.05 at 10:09 am

Some of us don’t remember what Not The Nine o’clock news did because we weren’t living anywhere that got the BBC at the time.


IanR 12.10.05 at 11:02 am

The Beeb is obsessed with any and all anniversaries, specially with topics to do with war. It’s a laughably transparent scheduling device. Just look up in a retro diary and there you have progamming for up to week. Saves thinking of ways to be fresh and challenging.


harry b 12.10.05 at 1:15 pm

I know most weren’t living near the BBC at the time, and many probably weren’t living. But I want to know if ANYONE remembers.

Apologies to Mark Radcliffe’s fans. I mis-type everything that I don’t misssspell. I am a sub-fan, myself — I like everything he does except his show…


nick s 12.10.05 at 3:52 pm

I was seven years old. My mother heard it on Radio 1 — courtesy of the old Bush radiogram, with shelves holding a few Beatles LPs — and told me. I always associated the news with early morning, and it never quite clicked until this year that he was killed late the previous evening, NYC time.


Brendan 12.11.05 at 8:16 am

OK I can’t stand the suspense any more: what did NTNOCN do?


soubzriquet 12.11.05 at 7:18 pm

Steve: Leaving aside the obvious fallacy of classifying Lennon as a `professional guitar player’ (shall we say musician or songwriter instead? Whatever suits, but you get the point, I suspect), I can’t believe that you are really that obtuse.

Saying Lennon was `a musician’ is like saying Joe Dimaggio was `a ball player’. True, but completely missing the point.


Jim Buck 12.12.05 at 5:58 am

Julie Burchill claims Lennon was an antisemite.


Jim Buck 12.12.05 at 10:06 am

>what did NTNOCN

They played Day in the Life over the closing credits.


Harry B 12.12.05 at 11:55 am

jim buck almost gets it. Having done nothing throughout the show they let the opening credits begin, and played “In My Life”. Touching. But the song fades out so that the final phrase you can here is “some are dead”… a bit shocking, to me anyway. At least, that’s how I remember it. I’d be interested to be corrected.

I think steve is just teasing, no?

As for Julie Burchill’s accusation, well, its probably based on comments Lennon made about the Beatles being bigger that a very famous Jew. At least, I can imagine her drawing that inference.


Jim Buck 12.12.05 at 2:10 pm

>jim buck almost gets it

I relayed someone else’s recollection; they now concede you are right.


josh 12.12.05 at 8:24 pm

Julie Burchill’s claim is, I suspect, based not on Lennon’s quip about Jesus, but on reports of anti-semitic remarks on the part of the young (and indeed older, when under the influence of certain substances) Lennon in Albert Goldman’s controversial The Lives of John Lennon. I don’t know if there’s any basis to Goldman’s claims (he also suggested that Lennon was schizophrenic).
There’s also, of course, Lennon’s changing of the line ‘Baby your a rich man too’ to ‘Baby your a rich fag Jew’ in one iteration of that chorus …


Harry B 12.13.05 at 4:18 pm

I was joking about Burchill, but I don’t think she is ultra-reliable in these sorts of accusations. Goldman, too.

My sense, gathered largely from my experiences with family members from that neck of the woods, is that anti-semitism was at least an undercurrent in the Northwest in the era when Lennon was growing up, and it wouldn’t be surprising if working class kids raised there ingested some of that. Its strange hearing the interviews and hearing him use fag and faggy in derogatory ways (rather than “queer” or “bent” which would have been more natural to a Brit then).

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